In this English term I did a lot of writing assignments, as a matter of fact, I probably wrote more this term then other I had had previously. Overall, I feel my writing has greatly improved in the past few months. A good example of this is Lets Get Our Facts Straight On: Marijuana, one of the first posts to my blog. In this persuasive writing piece I focused on the evidence on why marijuana should be legalized. Looking at the post now, it feels sloppy. The image, info-graphic and video I embedded did not go well and the overall flow of the piece and the evidence it brought up was weak. I was thrilled to learn that a revision of this original persuasive piece was a section of the culminating assignment. It gave me the opportunity to go back and fix some of my mistakes and look at the original subject in a new light. My new post Opinion Blog Post Re-crafted: Marijuana Legalization, looked at the topic differently, it was written in a formal essay format while the original post was free flowing. Besides the fact I didn’t even know how to work with this format at the begging of the year, my growth in writing is made clear by the two pieces. The new post flows better and is easier to read, It also states the key points more clearly. In my newest post I also took advantage of a new writing strategy i had picked up earlier in the year. I sent a draft to a friend and they gave me some quick recommendations on how to improve it. With a friends help, I can look at the assignment more clearly from different perspectives and came up with a better result. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can really help improve your writing.
Another great example of my gradual improvement in writing skill is my two informational pieces, one from April, My blogger of the week post: Space Colonization: Mars and Venus and another just recently in June: Why Space Exploration is Worth It. The first post was one of my favorite blogs to write this year. I love space, and the freedom this class had in its structure, gave me the opportunity to explore that! I learned a lot from writing that first post was using questions for the reader for the first time near the end of the post to spur conversation in the comments. It was such an effective technique, I used it again in my new post. Also, after having a few minor grammar issues with the blogger of the week, I learned a new writing strategy. For my newest post, I took advantage of this site. While writing I would stop on occasion, read over my work carefully and copy paste it into this grammar checker. With this technique I verified the blog post was going the way I wanted it to, and to make sure I hadn’t made any dumb errors in my writing. Another technique I tried to utilize while writing “Why Space exploration is worth it” started before I started writing. I thought critically about the key points I wanted to make in my post, and typed up a brief planner going over the points I wanted to make. This small thing that only took a couple of minutes helped greatly in keeping things neat and organized in the final product.
This term I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” for my literacy circles group. We read the novel over five weeks, and read six chapters per week. each week we were given a different short assignment to write about the text, and we engaged in a short group conversation. These group discussions helped as an effective reading strategy after I had read that large segment of the book. I was able to talk it over with friends and discuss ideas. If I was confused by a section, an friend would explain it to me, but more importantly, these discussions helped me look at the book on a more critical level and gain a deeper understanding. Another reading strategy I took advantage of while reading was, after every chapter, I stopped to reflect on what happened. I made a note of verifying that I had picked up the information and to look for deeper meaning behind the words. Finally, I also tried to make connections as I read. One of the best ways to understand a novel is to relate it to you and your experiences. Looking for parallels in the world, in other texts, and myself with the book helped me grasp a better understanding. I wrote down my connections one week for literacy circles.
This year, I learned a lot about interpreting and creating media texts media texts. A good example of this is our analysis of Romeo and Juliet during a large portion of the term. Some assignments we had, such as Compare and Contrast of The Balcony Scene was very helpful for me in understanding just how complex the scene really was. Elements such as the positioning of the characters, the mood of the scene, and imagery used in how they spoke to one another, all added to making the scene complete. I had not looked at moments like this nearly as closely as I did for that assignment. It was also interesting to compare and contrast the different telling of Romeo and Juliet: one from 1968, and one from 2013. While both used the same source material, they came out very different with each tweaking the story to fit a new narrative. The opportunity to analyse than and look for these subtle differences made look for reasons why they made the decisions they made for the perspective films.
My oral communication skills improved greatly as the year progressed. I learned to be more patient and let others speak first in the weekly literacy discussions. I also though carefully and planned my questions before hand during the blogger of the week presentations. Another example was, when a small group and I explained the history of marriage to the class before the test, I learned to be very thorough, and to make all of our points very clear (their marks on the test counted on it). Finally, during my blogger of the week I learned to take advantage of prep time to construct a proper, well made presentation. I also learned to be very precise with my answers to the classes questions.
Overall, I improved greatly as a learner throughout the term. I learned to look at texts and situations more critically, and became a more effective oral communicator. One thing I still need to work on is paying attention. I was sometimes on my computer during blogger of the week presentations, and while it was usually because I was commenting on a previous blogger of the week post, it was disrespectful towards the presenter. When someone is speaking in front of the class, they deserve my attention. Anyway, thank you for a great year Mr. Puley. have a great summer!