Capturing 2016-17

Photo ©2010 by sarah [CC-by-2.0]
When I first walked into Mr. Ziebarth’s classroom after finding out that I had been transferred into his AP Language and Composition Period 2 class, I was unsure whether I would truly grow to be a better writer and thinker because of how lax I heard the teacher was.

It’s now the end of the year, and I’ve come to realize that although my English teacher gives less homework than the other teachers, Mr. Ziebarth actually provides his students with less yet meaningful work instead of the boatload yet mostly busywork that I heard the other English teachers give.

Mr. Ziebarth’s choice to assign less essays but spend more time on those essays to help his students improve allowed me to focus on putting more time and effort into my work instead of finishing it quickly just for the sake of its completion.

I noticed that my learning has grown between my first draft and revised version of my descriptive essay about my neighbor’s poppies. Although I have been exposed to all sorts of descriptive writing in books, essays, articles, etc., writing a descriptive essay was definitely a challenge for me because I found it difficult to include more concrete details.

I felt that most of the descriptive adjectives and phrases I included were abstract and therefore hard for the readers to envision. This is an area that I still need to work on, but with the revision, I learned to use more active words and remember to maintain one verb tense (present).

My argument essay about whether or not schools should start later also represent my learning and growth over my school year. In my sophomore year, I don’t recall writing very many argument essays, but if I did, then I don’t remember having to consider the opposing side as much as I did for this essay. To make one’s argument essay valid or at least considerable for the opposing side, one must note that there is some correctness and validity in their side to the story.

Also, I learned that a works cited page is much more easier to cite the sources. I thought that I could just directly state the person’s name and work to refer to them, but this is a grey area for “plagiarism.” In this essay, I’ve learned to analyze the situation more in depth by acknowledging multiple sides to my stance. Still, I need to work on my rebuttals because I did not directly address them in my essay even though I mentioned them.

The last piece of writing I want to address is my narrative essay about the relationship between my older brother and me. One of the strengths that was apparent was that I was able to make the essay more personal and insightful by emphasizing the chain of events caused by my thoughts and actions.

Unlike in my descriptive essay, I felt that I was able to use more active verbs, but the description was still not enough for the readers to picture. Additionally, the active verbs that I did use weren’t very effective in contributing to the overall message of my essay because I moved from one scene to the next so quickly that my readers may not have enough description to truly understand all that was happening.

With the revision, I acknowledged Mr. Ziebarth’s comments and suggestions and spent more time adding more descriptive phrases to show the complexity of the events and more background knowledge so that the readers can get a sense of how I see my older sibling.

From all the different types of essays that I’ve written over the course of this English class, I’ve come to realize that words can be used to both build and limit connections with others. In Holden Caulfield’s (the main character in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye) case, his pessimism and refusal to act more maturely causes him to jump from one topic to the next without smooth transitions. This leads to people being unable to comprehend his chain of thoughts, and most of the characters in the book are not as patient as Holden’s sister, Phoebe, to simply sit and listen to Holden rant about life.

Personally, I think the only real connection Holden makes is with Phoebe who has grown up with the main character. Holden doesn’t make such a strong connection with people like Mr. Spencer and Mr. Antolini who want to give him advice because Holden always finds something to hold against them while with Phoebe, Holden places her on a pedestal. Phoebe was constantly exposed to Holden’s language and his habits of rushing from one idea to the next, and she accepts him as he is and is still genuine towards him.

Like Holden, I also build and limit connections through my words, or essays. In my narrative essay, I build a connection with the readers by showing them  the complexity of my connection with my older brother. However, although my brother and I are not close, we still show each other that we care in the little things that aren’t so noticeable. At the same time, I still limit the connection because I filter my  thoughts and ideas so that readers won’t get confused and mixed up with all the events that I shed light on.


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