For this particular project, our class read Red Scarf Girl by Jiang Ji Li. The story follows the life of teenage Jiang Ji Li as the communist Cultural Revolution washes over China. Jiang Ji Li has everything she could want. She earns the best grades in school, she has the ability to do whatever she could want, and, most of all, she has the respect of her peers. However, she is faced with difficult decisions and life altering choices. When her father is detained for his history, Ji Li must make the ultimate choice: she can denounce her family and forever break with them or doom her possible future with the Communists.
When we finished reading the book, we were asked to write a paper reflecting on specified parts of the book. I chose the option which requested that students evaluate several of the sayings, da-zi-bao, in the book for their truth. From this assignment, I learned that many of the da-zi-bao sayings were comprised mostly of fiction or assumptions because people make excuses for the shortfalls. This project was a great revelation into the life of a child in the time of the Cultural Revolution.
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In our first semester, our class read The Canterbury Tales, a collection of short stories written over decades. Students assembled themselves into groups of three to four. Each group was given one of the short stories to read and create a presentation on. My group consisted of myself, and two fellow students and friends, Nathaniel Z and Anna K. Together; we created a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the short story. This project taught us how to better interpret the details of more complex works.
The pardoner is a man who sells “relics” of the church to pardon those who have committed sins. He tells a tale of three men who rush to challenge Death, who has killed one of their old friends. They go not to avenge their friend, but for the glory of killing Death. On their way to find Death, the three discover a large pile of gold under a tree. They decide to split it up, but to take it back home under cover of darkness. When one goes back to town to get food and drink for them while they wait, the other two plot to kill him when he returns, so they get a larger portion. However, the third has a plan also. He poisons two of the three bottles of wine he buys and brings them back. When he returns to the gold, the other two fall upon him, killing him. As they go to celebrate, they both drink from the poisoned wine, and hence, Death claimed all three of their lives.
At the end of the year, we took on a large reading project that was compiled from several smaller projects. While reading a book of foreign literature (Not British or American), students wrote journal entries on chapters as they went, detailing their thoughts and including a brief summary. When we had finished reading the book, we completed a set of six activities from a list of forty or more. The activites included such things as recording a review of the book, writing a small quiz about it, creating "resumes" for characters, and sketching out characters. For my book, I read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. While summarizing the sixty-plus chapters was not very fun, the subsequent activities were entertaining and pleasant to complete. They were easy to do while offering me the chance to exercise my knowledge and comprehension of the book.
The CPAS project is an annual essay assignment tasked upon us, the students, to evaluate our writing capabilities. Though we may grumble about the writing, the assignment is quite entertaining to do. This year's CPAS consisted of writing an evaluation of a quote. Students would choose a quote, then analyze it for whether or not they agreed with it. Afterwards, we wrote a multi-page essay on the quote with supporting evidence from a variety of sources. The results were magnificent works of discussion and detail. The essay was well rounded with good supporting evidence and an excellent style.
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