Shimon's News from Room 313

Creative Writing--Theory of Knowledge--American Literature

Reflecting on the start of the school year...

I couldn't have hoped for better students to build creative learning communities in my classroom this year. I start the day with Creative Writing and am fortunate that the overwhelming majority of the students enrolled in that course are not only committed and interested in writing but also write well. My Theory of Knowledge students--who I had last year in class as pre-IB sophomores--have demonstrated themselves to be open minded and willing to consider thinking differently about things they thought they knew and I've enjoyed getting to know the new group of pre-IB sophomores I have in American Literature. So far, it's been a joy.

Quarter 1 Accomplishments

Creative Writing

Students read and wrote dozens of different types of poems, sharing their writing with one another each week and then pulling their best efforts together in a Poetry Portfolio. Currently, students are wrapping up a short story unit, in which they were challenged to respond to myriad prompts of both serious and soft natures.

Theory of Knowledge

To date, students have become generally acquainted with the eight ways of knowing and the difficulty defining and exploring knowledge and they have studied language as a way of knowing in more depth. In the IBDP, students are challenged to complete an Extended Essay--a 4000 word independent research project--in order to meet eligibility for the diploma. This task is coordinated through TOK and students have already committed to subject areas and general topics. At this point, they are prepared to move forward with honing research questions.

American Literature

Students have read two novels this year: The Cherokee Nation and The Trail of Tears and The Scarlet Letter. The first is a nonfiction account of the Cherokee experience with federal civilization and removal plans, and is difficult reading because it is dense with fact. Students worked to find the main ideas as they read. The second is a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1850 but set in the mid 1600s. The syntax--typical of the time period--is more difficult that students are currently accustomed, but the plot was engaging enough that most students succeeded with this text. Students also worked on building fluency in vocabulary and practicing writing about literature.

Moving Forward

Creative Writing

This week, poetry posters are going up around Prosser to showcase the creative talent of these young writers, some of whom will post anonymously and others of whom will fess that it is their writing. In either case, their words will foster the literary community in the building.

With the remainder of the semester, students will collaborate with one another in a writer's workshop setting, in which they share their short stories for constructive and positive feedback and learn to better revise their work and then segue into a nonfiction personal narrative unit.

Theory of Knowledge

These students will continue their study of the ways of knowing--analyzing the difficulties inherent in relying too heavily on any one way of knowing--and begin to think critically about knowledge issues in their everyday experience.

A major goal this quarter will be for these students to complete a rough draft of their Extended Essay; I know they can do it and I know they'll be pleased with themselves when they do!

American Literature

The students are currently engaged in reading various revolutionary texts and analyzing them for rhetorical devices. This will acquaint them with the writing of Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Malcolm X, Gloria Steinem, Gandhi and Barack Obama, and the unit culminates in the students presenting their own persuasive speeches to the class.

Following the look at Revolutionary Literature, students will learn about Transcendentalism and read the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau before exploring the impact that Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson had on American poetry.

Sandra Shimon

Please feel free to contact me at any time with any comments or concerns about your student and/or his or her progress in my classes.