The Grade 9 read and studied Nick Joaquin’s famous short story, May Day Eve. Spanning three generations and revolving around an urban legend, it tells the tale of young Agueda and her future husband, Badoy. Told in a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, it opened up a nonlinear plot example to the Grade 9.
After some exercises on character and plot analysis, it was time to introduce the class to the other side of fiction – the world of creative writers. The students were grouped in three’s and were told to write a story together. They were provided with writing prompts which included:
The students struggled a bit, constructing their stories but they were able to produce their own creative fiction pieces:
Anne Frank remains one of literature and history’s most famous diarists and the Grade 8 students read through excerpts of her extraordinary journey: in hiding, in an attic during World War II. They learned about how the discrimination and murder of the Jews at this time made this the Frank family’s only course of action.
The class read a bit of Anne’s life before she went into hiding – she was a typical student with favorite subjects and fights with her mom. Then they learned about her life in the Secret Annexe: living in silence, sharing one toilet with two other families and interacting with characters she disliked. They also read about her opinions and her dreams.
To give the students an idea of how it is to write such a diary, they were given a similar scenario: they have to hide with two of their classmates, in a 21 square meter space, to hide from menacing agents of society.
The students were told that while provisions would be allotted every week, they were limited to four sets of clothes and to board games and books. Gadgets are banned as they are easily trackable.
The class threw themselves enthusiastically to the project, asking if they can pretend to not know each other at the outset, if they can pretend the delivery man of their weekly food drop is named Bob and so on. They wrote about learning how to prepare meals and how to cope with boredom.
When school opened in January 2018, the seniors hit the ground mind-mapping their way through two classic plays: Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children and William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
It is challenging to be able to write a paper on two plays, written four hundred years apart, with one on war and the other on courtship. However, the SL students tried their best to study both works:
After presenting their mind maps to the class, we came up with these giant versions of the same:
This semester, the Grade 7 class embarked on a journey with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, the fantastical trip through space and time taken with three unique children.
As the students read the novel, they were divided into literature discussion groups. For every round of reading, each student would be assigned one of six roles: Discussion Facilitator, Commentator, Illustrator, Language Finder, Reflector, and Summarizer. Roles were rotated, so that each student was able to experience four of the six roles. This led to student-led and student-driven discussions that focused on developing their ability to analyze the novel part by part, coming together to form a deeper understanding of what they had read.
By the end of the novel, the students were well-practiced in leading and taking part in meaningful small group discussions, accepting other’s opinions but also arguing their own.
Before the December break, the IB Lang Lit HL class began their introduction to their next novel, In the Pond by Ha Jin. In order to further understand the context from which Ha Jin writes, it was important that the students get an idea of who he is. Below is a presentation created by the students that act as an overview of the author, his life, and his other notable works. (Click on the image to be redirected to the presentation.)
As the Grade 10 prepared to tackle Night by Elie Wiesel, they were tasked to delve deeper into the Holocaust by creating learning centers that revolved around topics of their choice. Two groups were asked to create physical learning centers, while the other two needed to create digital learning centers.
Physical Learning Centers
The first physical learning center focused on the effectivity of gas chambers in the annihilation of the Jewish people. Students presented comparative data and also tried to replicate what the gas would have smelled like.
The other physical learning center presented the lasting effects of the Holocaust on the German psyche and national identity. It explored how the generations of Germans born after World War II have dealt with the stigma of Naziism.
Digital Learning Centers
The first digital learning center sought to explore who among the Nazis in power was most responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.
The second digital learning center focused on the resistance efforts that existed during the Nazi regime.
This semester, the Grade 7 class were introduced to a number of new vocabulary and terms that they needed to review for their end of semester exams. One tech tool that the class really enjoyed using was Quizlet, a free-to-use website where users can create sets of digital flashcards.
The Live game in particular proved to be a fun and effective way to review the terms in class. Teachers can host a live game, sharing a code with students that enables them to join a game. In each game, students are grouped into teams and have to work collaboratively to answer prompts before the other teams do.
It isn’t often that students look forward to reviewing vocabulary and terms for class, but the Grade 7 students thoroughly enjoyed studying with Quizlet.