iesSo I haven't done a reflection blog for the past 2 weeks. For this reason, I decided to just combine three weeks worth of reflections into one whole wonderful blog!
Two weeks ago we had a Poem of the week that we had to analyze and do another essay on. The title was: "35/10" by Sharon Olds. The poem basically dealt with the theme of being replaced by the newer generation and how the older generation often feels about it. In the essay that I had to write for it, I wrote about how the tone of the poem changes from the beginning with the kind of condescending way of speaking to how at the end, it turns into a tone of acceptance for the fact. Along with this, we also started the Tragedy Blogs. These were the reason to why we haven't really done a reflective blog in 2 weeks. Alain de Botton's TED talk was the subject of the second Tragedy blog that we had to do, and his talk was all about how tragic it was that our society's view on success and failure has changed so much since the old days. His point of view on this topic has led me to believe even more that human beings are flawed creatures.
Last week we started the week off with another one of our Tragedy blogs. This time it dealt with the piece by Arthur Miller that we read and analyzed in class. It was "Tragedy and the Common Man." The whole piece was just all about how the common man, meaning the audience, identifies a piece of literature as tragedy, and the author also puts out some ideas that could potentially be the reason to why the common man would think this way. Arthur Miller's piece basically made me think of how I actually perceive what tragedy really is. Then, we transitioned into "Oedipus Rex" for our next tragedy blog post. Yeah I know, so many tragedies so little time. the story of Oedipus was really interesting and I thought that it was a really good example of how fate is often the reason to why tragedy exists. This is because Oedipus basically did everything in his power to not be the 'cause of his own destruction, but fate had another plan and got him on that path anyway. This story made me realize that a lot of the fate driven story lines that I know and love, for example Harry Potter with him and Voldemort being destined to fight each other at the end, is another form of tragedy that I've never really thought of.
This week, we didn't really do anything that major aside from the 5th Tragedy blog post that we had to do. This time it was based on Dan Ariely's TED Talk where he challenges the idea that we are in control of our own decisions. During the making of this blog post, I have still yet to finish that specific Tragedy blog post, so that's what I'm gonna do next. Oh, and we also worked more on our PoW revisions to hopefully get closer to a final product by next week. Overall these past 3 weeks have been really interesting in the fact that it challenged me in what thought of what tragedy really was, and it opened my eyes to other possibilities to what Tragedy can be in literature in general.
Though this week we didn't really do much in terms of lessons and stuff like that, I feel like we still learned a lot just from doing our revisions for our essay that is due this Sunday.
Through the 7 weeks of taking this class I've found that I have gotten better at making an introduction and making it more cohesive. I feel like the amount of time given to us each week to just do creative writing has better prepared me for this, and other essays to come. I completely enjoy doing the Creative Writing stuff just because I get to just be myself without any filter on what I say. This has helped me state my opinions on my essays better and structure them in a way that makes sense.
Before starting this group project I've always thought that I was the only one having trouble in writing essays. But as I worked on it with Eric and Bryan, I find that they have trouble writing an essay too. This means that through working on this project together we get to not only improve ourselves in our own writing, but also help each other in this project.
This week we continued to work on our Creative Writing piece revisions and edits, along with a new poem of the week that we of course TPCASTT-ed.
To start with my creative writing piece, I have gotten farther in my editing and revisions to the point that all I have to do now is to just rewrite the whole thing all over again and actually implement everything that I have commented on my old draft. It's hasn't really been that hard to revise and edit my piece just because, like I mentioned on my last blog post, I have a very distinct connection to my piece. This is because of how personal and real it is to me and how everything I say in it is very true and actually happened in my life. So now, I just have to finish the piece so that I can send it to Ben on Sunday, which I'm pretty close already.
We started to talk about a new poem of the week. It was titled "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke. Just to talk about the poem itself, at first glance of the whole thing it seems to be just about a child remembering how his relationship with his dad was. But upon further inspection we can deduce that it is actually about how a child had to deal with his drunk father one night before he went to sleep. Of course this could mean a lot of things and could lead into a lot more discussions, but I'ma leave it at that. I feel like I've definitely gotten better at analyzing poetry, definitely more than before I started this class. So I'm glad to say that I'm happy about these improvements and that I can't wait to improve even more as the class goes on.
This week we started off with Ben introducing us to Ross Gay, a very interesting poet whose poems tend to have a big switch of tone towards the middle almost every time. Sometimes even if you expect the sudden shift, you would still find yourself caught off guard by how he does it. That's how I see it anyways. Being exposed to Ross Gay was a very eye opening experience. The fact that he delivers each poem that has written in a very enthusiastically comfortable manner helped me connect to each and every word he says even more. This in turn just helped me understand the main message of each poem a lot more.
Moving on from Ross Gay. We also worked on our revisions with our creative writing pieces that we have been doing every week. I personally chose to revise and look at my "I remember" piece. Just the fact that it had me going through my own memories and living through a very specific one that is quite literally the point in where my life took a huge turn resonated with me a lot more than my other pieces. It spoke to me in a deeper level and this fact gave me the drive to want to improve the piece even more. I might even think of finishing it. I didn't get the chance to actually implement any of the comments I left in my document, but I had the chance to write down the revisions that I wanted to add in a later date.
The week also marked the "beginning" of our "What is Literature" project. My group, BEB (Bryll, Eric, & Bryan), chose to work on structure and humor for our project. For structure we had to pick just one of the short stories presented to us and we chose "The Magic Barrel" by Bernard Malamud. For humor we had to choose two of the four short stories presented to us. We chose "Rape Fantasies" by Margaret Atwood and "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville. Then we just chose which one would read which story. I got "Rape Fantasies," Eric got "Bartleby the Scrivener," and Bryan got "The Magic Barrel." I already finished reading my story and I found it very interesting. It does have some humor in it, but it also dealt with something dark, which intrigued me to read on more.
Well, this week started pretty similar to how it did last week. Which will probably be the trend now going forward into the year. We got a new poem of the week, or PoW as we abbreviated them to be. This would be our second PoW. This time the poem that we looked at was "Elegy in X Parts" by Matt Rasmussen.
An Elegy is a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead. Through this definition the first thing I thought about when I first read the title if the poem was that it was going to be about someone that had died and one of his/her friends is grieving over their sad departure from the living world. After I had read the poem, my guess was right for the most part. But, the poem delve deeper than I thought. it had not only a grieving of someone's death but also the confusion of the speaker in what is real and what is not. This actually blind-sided me, because I was not expecting that much more detail from an Elegy. But I guess I haven't really read that many so I wouldn't know how Elegies usually work. But nevertheless, it pulled me into the poem more than it would've if it didn't have the side story.
The whole week was basically focused on diving deeper in the poem and going beneath the surface of the poem to uncover some hidden meanings that the author left for the reader to hopefully find. I especially liked how out of place the speaker felt throughout the poem. It felt as though the speaker was not part of our reality, but trapped within his own, and this intrigued me. The fact that the speaker's imagination was this strong to be able to distort his/her perception of reality and memories made the poem a lot more interesting than ever before.
After a week of analyzing the poem, we had to write/type up a new essay responding to a prompt. This personally made me feel anxious. Just like the last time we did this, for "The Eagle" that time, I was constantly thinking to myself that I was not gonna be able to type up anything and that I was going to have a huge mental block that was going to inhibit my writing. But surprisingly enough, when the timer started, I was not feeling any of the aforementioned possible setbacks and I was typing away, conveying my thoughts and feelings regarding the poem in response to the essay prompt. Now, whether or not my essay was sufficient to actually pass the collegeboard's standards did not bother me. I was just happy that I was able to type for the whole 45 minutes that was given without any setbacks. I'm pretty sure in time I will get better with sentence structuring and cohesion as the class goes on. So overall I felt that the class week went pretty smoothly for me, and that I feel like I have gotten better at analyzing poems and literary texts. Especially comparing to me from before I started this class.
(External link to Matt Rasmussen's wiki page is on his picture.)
This week we went deeper under the surface of literature in order to better interpret the books that we read during the summer. For me, it was: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, The Fall by Albert Camus, and How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster.
Before we did any of the visual metaphor things. We learned that literature can be interpreted in many different ways by different kinds people. For example, Mr. Schoenborn talked about how he read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and he found that the main character Changez, and the "love interest" Erica, had deeper meanings hidden within their names that one could infer. He showed us how the names; Changez and Erica could be linked into the main idea and story of the book by just changing and adding letters into them. Changez can be seen as: "Changes" as to reflect the different changes that Changez had to struggle with throughout the book, and Erica can be looked at as "America" as to reflect how America was the main focus of the book and how different events affected it throughout the book. Before that class I was barely aware of those clues. It opened up my eyes to different interpretations that I could have seen in the book if I had tried to look and paid closer attention to the book.
This then leads to the visual metaphor activity that we had to do in groups of 2 or 3. We had to pick a chapter in the How to Read Literature Like a Professor book that really resonated with our group, a quote from said chapter, and then we needed to link the books that we read into the chapter that we picked by the use of a visual metaphor and not just explaining the connection by words. After we finished our visual metaphors, we had to do a sort of gallery walk around the room to check out and hear the explanations that different groups had for their visual metaphors. As the activity went on it helped me realize how important visual metaphors are. It gives the reader a different way of sharing their interpretation on a type of literature a different way. This also helps with conveying your ideas to people that learn better and understand better by visual cues.
At the end of the week we got to look at the past essays that were submitted to the Collegeboard, and we got to compare these with the ones that we attempted to write about The Eagle on the Friday of the week prior. I gotta say, it was pretty eye-opening. I was shocked at how much detail needed to be in each essay and sometimes it's "quality over quantity," but sometimes it feels like it could also be "quantity over quality," I guess it just depends on how well you structure your own essay. This gave me a slap on the face that I needed to work harder on my essay writing skills if I ever want to have a high score on the AP test that I have to take by next year. Of course essay writing is not only present in AP tests so just in general I have to work on it.
The second week of school has come and gone. Which can mean a lot of things to different people. but, for me it means MORE SCHOOL AND HOME WORK!! Now, who isn't excited about that?
I did a lot of unique things pertaining to the different classes that I have. But I will be focusing on my AP Lit class specifically. On Monday, we looked at the poem: "The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. We got this poem on the 8th of September for us to read for the weekend. This was to just give us exposure to what Andy calls: TP-CASTT.
When we first got the poem on Friday of the first week of school, I thought to myself: "Wow this is a pretty short poem, this'll be easy!" Now this was before I actually read the poem. I actually just looked at the 6 lines that it had and I immediately assumed that it was going to be a simple poem to dissect. And boy was I wrong about that. When I got home that day and actually read the thing, I was surprised of what I saw. I did not think that a measly six lines would be enough to make something complex enough so that it could be interpreted in many different ways. Now, I mentioned something about a TP-CASTT. It's basically an organized way of analyzing a poem and diving deeper into what I think, or what the reader thinks, the author's intention of writing it is. The catch that made me somewhat mad about the poem homework was that, we had to actually do the TP-CASTT thing on the poem itself. Now me not knowing what he was doing at the time, just wrote random stuff about the poem on the document that we copied before we left school for the weekend.
We spent almost the entire week just talking about "The Eagle." Listening to each other's take on the poem itself, and what we thought the poem was about. My table in particular, we had an idea that the poem was actually about the eagle dying. A pretty dark interpretation I know. We got this idea from the fact that the poem discussed no other motion beside it falling fast unexpectedly. Now for my own personal take on it, I thought of the poem as a predator v. prey situation. Where the predator stands waiting for the perfect time for it to attack its prey. In this case, the predator is the eagle and the prey was not given any context.
Analyzing "The Eagle" with the whole class this week was a very good activity for me to have taken part in. It gave me an idea on what everyone else thought the poem was about, and it also gave me insight on what I need to look out for the next time I read a poem. Like how the author tries to tell the reader something, and that how the author sets the stage and the scenery with sometimes oddly simple words that spark the imaginations of the reader.
(The link to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Wikipedia is linked on his picture.)
The first week of school has always been hard for me. This is because during the summer I don't really do anything scholarly or anything that remotely resembles reviewing in order to get ready for the next school year.
The first day of AP Lit was especially scary for me because I have rarely read in my spare time because I got used to just reading textbooks that my schools provide. This is the same with my writing also. I have never really written stuff for fun. I've mostly written for essays and other writing requirements for school, which I have never found fun.
Now, as for what we as a class did for the first non-full week of school. The usual stuff happened for the first day, rubrics, things to sign for our parents/guardians, and setting classroom rules/expectations. For the next subsequent days to come, we build upon our already existing Weebly websites by adding on new pages for our AP Lit class. This includes, of course, this blog page and our background page, which can be found here: http://11474.weebly.com/. We also picked and chose a book, or books, from a specific author that we wanted to learn about. I chose Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. With these chosen books of ours came with a reading rate, that is different for each person, that we calculated in class to see how many pages we should have read by next week.
I found AP Lit to be more interesting than I thought it was going to be initially. The amount of professionalism and organization that is present in the class has definitely helped me get into the class more. From the first few days of the class, my view on reading and how it can affect your life has changed quite significantly. I used to think that reading was just this thing that everyone does in their spare time just for fun. I see now that not only do people read in their spare time for fun, but also for their own self-improvement and, maybe sometimes, their self-realization.