English Department Wraps Up a Busy Year

Brother Martin’s English Department is wrapping up a busy year filled with a combination of new and well-established activities from grades 8 through 12.

English 1This year, the English Department coordinated with Lousiana State University (LSU) to offer its first Dual Enrollment course to senior honors students, allowing them to earn college credit during their senior year of high school. The course covers the curricula of LSU’s two freshman composition courses, English 1001 and 2000, writing-intensive courses that demand 4,000-5,000 written words from each student per semester. Taught by Mr. Tom Leggett, the spring curriculum centered on a research paper that required students to argue a position on a selected “real world” issue, then to complete a presentation in which seniors defended their positions in front of their peers. Students created slideshows as visual aids to accompany their 5-7 minute oral arguments before fielding critical questions from their teacher and peers.

Junior classes are concluding a “TPCASTT” poetry analysis research project and presentation to cap off their year-long study of American literature. Each student began by selecting a poem for close reading and research. Then, students incorporated researched sources to analyze and interpret each poem through the TPCASTT method of poetry analysis—looking carefully at the title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude, shift, title (again), and theme.

On May 3rd, all 10th-graders wrote timed, in-class argumentative essays as the culminating assessment for the Sophomore Writing Project, an initiative aimed at improving writing proficiency throughout the curriculum. On May 8th and 9th, all English Department faculty members worked after school to read and score all 215 essays, with each essay being reviewed by at least two teachers. Teachers will work with students individually and in a special after-school session on Monday, May 14th for those who need assistance with improvements.English 7

Mrs. Susan Benedetto’s sophomore honors classes recently participated in Socratic Seminars as they analyzed and discussed Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.  Socratic seminars were led by the students who were given topics on characters, conflicts, and African proverbs by which students provide evidence from the text to support critical reading. Students in the “inner circle” confer with the “outer circle” before conversing with small groups and exchange places to provide everyone in the class with a voice and opportunity for discussion. “It works as a precursor to writing composition that fosters robust discussion while allowing students to be active learners,” noted Mrs. Benedetto.

Ms. Melanie Scott’s 8th-grade classes finished the year by showcasing homemade videos they created to respond to the themes of mercy and forgiveness in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The assignment called for each student to write a paragraph narrating an experience in their lives that prompted mercy or forgiveness—a broken promise, a poor decision, or hurting someone else—then to write a script with dialogue between two people to become the basis for a dramatic performance video.

Also at the 8th-grade level, Mr. Drew Haro ‘03 students competed in a lively “sentence tournament” last quarter. Each class divided into two teams to engage in a double-elimination tournament in which each team created a sentence that conformed to a given set of parameters for judging. According to Mr. Haro, “The kids really enjoyed it, and they learned more about grammar and writing in the process.”