Wednesday, June 10. 2009
For your final piece of English 9 writing, I’d like to expand upon the reflective process we started in the last thread (“The Hits Keep Coming”).
In that post, I asked you to think about the things you really valued. The end result is that I made many people pretend to resent their iPods! (Obviously, there was more to your writings than that, but bear with me.)
My goal was not to make you feel bad about putting an iPod in your “bundle”! I know that’s how a lot of you felt, especially since I was mean enough to show that you hadn’t taken a family photograph or something instead.
But let’s be honest: over the course of your entire life, the iPod will probably make you happier than a photograph.
It sounds awful – every fiber of our being rejects that sentiment – but it’s important to make a distinction between what we want things to be like and what they are like. It’s important, in other words, to be honest. Without honesty, you can’t reflect, and you won’t find some truly interesting truths.
Take the iPod, which should be recognized for what it is – a toy. That doesn’t make it irrelevant. Mine, for example, houses music that has served as creative inspiration for essays while at school and lessons while I teach. Take away the toy, and I may never get around to hearing those songs; my lessons may go uncreated.
I’m not a bad person for saying my iPod is important to me. I am a bad person – probably – if I say the iPod is more important than Shannon. But I never said that, because I don’t believe it. Really, I wouldn’t have said that even if I had kept the iPod instead of remembering to keep her photograph, because the photograph isn’t her. I didn’t give you the option of stuffing your little brother in the bundle!
The question we should be asking ourselves, then, is not the question we ask ourselves. The question we ask ourselves is, “Which is better: the iPod, or my family?” And of course you know what you’ll say, even if it completely ignores the fact that a) the photograph of your mother is not your mother (again, this doesn’t make it unimportant, but we need to treasure that picture as a picture and not as a parent) and b) the vast majority of you will derive more enjoyment from a music player over the years.
But that’s the problem: you already know what you’ll say. There’s no excitement there, no discovery waiting to be made. You think you know what you should say, so you say it. (I’m aware I’m over-generalizing here, so bear with me.)
For those who haven’t already figured this out, the point of reflective writing is to surprise yourself. (Thankfully, I saw that in a lot of your writings as well.) Your answers should leave you feeling satisfied. You should grow through the exercise, building your skills as a thinker just as repeated pushups and proper nutrition will build up your arms.
Good reflections end up in surprising places because we can often discover questions within the question – which is what we’re doing right now.
To review, the question we had asked was, “Which is better: the iPod, or my family?” As I’ve shown you, that’s a leading question – a reflective dead end. Virtually everyone will respond the same way.
The question we should ask – the question hidden in the question – is “Why is an iPod important, why is a picture important, and how do they compare?” You may think that’s cheating – three questions in one! – but it’s the only one that will give us the answer we’re really seeking.
See, we sound like better people if we dismiss our gadgets and cherish our pictures. It shows we have our priorities in the right place. But saying so doesn’t prove we love our families enough. If anything, it proves that we spend hours a day on an activity you’ve just decided contains little meaning. Not only is that harsh, but it’s not really believable.
The nice thing about the second question is that it turns our issue on its head in a way that promotes honesty. You get to say you love your iPod without making yourself feel falsely guilty.
Look, it’s OK if you have an iPod because you love music, because you like sharing songs with your boyfriend or girlfriend, because the idea of customizing a portable soundtrack to your life is exciting. Music is beautiful! As long as you maintain a healthy social attitude/aptitude and don’t lose yourself in headphoned isolation, why rage against iPod love?
It doesn’t replace family love. Those are entirely separate emotions. Perhaps the problem is that we use that four-letter word to describe so many things that, rather than adding to its shades of meaning, we’ve drained them.
Where am I going with this? I want you to think about thinking – a process Kevin has rightly called metacognition. Over the course of your freshman year, I have tried to teach metacognitively – tried to refuse to settle for answers that told me only “what” instead of “why,” and chased the “whys” behind that first “why” (why that why?). It sounds like a mobius strip of thought, but it isn’t.
When I ask you a challenging question, you shouldn't try to answer without looking for questions within that question. I'm not trying to lead you to specific answers, but I am trying to broaden your understanding of something - and only you can allow that "broadening" to take place.
I genuinely think that people are happiest – happy most consistently and most richly – when they thoroughly understand things like themselves, the people around them, issues and events, etc. If you don’t think about your thoughts, you miss out on a “layer” that can yield a lot of happiness. So I’ve tried to give you some opportunities to think not just about your beliefs, but their sources and motivations.
Therefore, I want this to be a metacognitive extra-credit thread. I want you to think about your thoughts again.
Specifically, I want you to reflect on how this semester has shaped or re-shaped your perceptions of yourself and the world around you. Has your view of that world changed? Do you see other people the same way as you once did? Do you feel the same as you did in the beginning of the class?
Basically, I want to get a sense of how you’ve grown since I met you, since I made that initial investment in your well-being and tried to get as much as possible out of you.
Here are some questions to help you get started. You can stick with answering a question or two, or you can write a more free-form response to the whole thing.
+ Did you have a goal – something you wanted out of the class – when you walked into class on September 2nd?
+ What do you feel you have learned this year (if anything?)
+ How would you describe this class – the material, the community, your experiences – to someone who’s never taken it before?
+ In your opinion, has this class been successful? Knowing what you know now about it, would you make your eighth-grade self sign up again? Would you go elsewhere? Would you “re-enlist” with reservations?
+ Are your experiences in this class meaningful? Are your class experiences outside of class (blog, studying, work, etc.) meaningful? (Why/why not – as always)
+ Do you feel you have improved as a student since you enrolled in this class? Has this class strengthened an area of weakness for you, or played to your strengths in a way that makes your experiences here meaningful?
+ Do you want to learn something that the class never got to address? If you returned to this type of class, how would you deal with the next, similar set of challenges?
Each response should be both reflective and detailed. Don’t just write – respond specifically, and ground your writing in the things we know. We’ve all read “Ballad of Birmingham,” “The Lady, or the Tiger?”, or “The Gift of the Magi.” If those taught you something specific – as Night did for some of you – mention it!
This blog should be at least two five-sentence paragraphs long – although you may, of course, write more – and is due by 5pm on Thursday, June 11th.
It has been a wonderful year, and I have been privileged to teach you. Thanks for being my first freshman students at Arcadia High!
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English 9 - Period 1
10 July 2009
In my long freshmen English journey, I have learned plenty and changed so much as a person. But actually, when I look back, everything happened so quickly, I have that feeling inside of me that I still want to learn more. When I walked in your class and I first met you, I honestly thought to myself that this class is going to be an easy A, and that was my goal. Now when I look back, I regret saying such a thing, and realized that my real goal was to give it my all and become a better person. Not only did you change me as a person, but the people in you class inspired me to be a better person.
I'm pretty lucky to have you as my freshmen English teacher, because if it wasn't for your class, I wouldn't be the same person I was when I first walked into your class. Though your test were hard, they didn't really change or challenge me then compared to your blogs and our in class discussions. When we read Romeo and Juliet, I was excited coming into your class every morning, just because of your in class discussions. I really didn't talk much though, but instead your impossible questions that you asked in class and people like Kahao and Kevin G. arguing back, got me so interested. Your blogs really got me thinking and the questions you ask us in class made me view the world differently. One example is fate, we talked about that a lot in this class. When I first entered your class, I barely knew the definition of fate. After learning the interesting thoughts towards fate in your class, I look at fate totally different. Its like now, whenever I have to make a decision I become super paranoid about fate and that fate led me to make the decision I made.
Not only did you change me as a person, the people I met in your class as well as the people around me influenced me. I had amazing people like Priscilla and Simon around me and I didn't even know their names in the beginning of the year. People like Kahao made me think more about the things I say before I say them. I wouldn't say that everyone in your class changed me as a person, and I can admit that I cant name every single person in our class. But the people that I did know really well, all contributed in changing me as a person someway. I came in your class as a person just looking for an A. I came out of with a new heart, mind and view towards the world.
Mr Feraco, Im so lucky to have you as my freshmen english teacher. If you read above that basically sums up how I feel. I didn't formally thank you for such a great year, and here it is. I will definitely see you around this summer or next year. THANKS FERACO !
In September I entered high school as a much different person. My perspective looks, and attitude were completely different. I came to high school, insecure and immature, but all of that has changed. As I started to adjust to the new environment I became more comfortable and easy going.
When I first stepped into your classroom I thought it was going to be boring and I wouldn’t have to try. I was wrong by far though, not only was it harder then I thought, no matter what you didn’t let us give up. You always encouraged us to go that extra mile, and unlike other teachers when we were going downhill you gave us the opportunity to pick it up. Being in your class, it taught me that nothings easy in life, it’s not just going to be handed to you. You always had something good and inspiring to say that kept me and the class going. However it may have seemed that I wasn’t paying attention when I looked away, you really did open my eyes and ears.
Another thing I wanted to thank you for was a few weeks ago you taught us about first impressions. I never really thought about it before, but it made me thing about how I presented my self and how I acted. Also it made me think twice before I looked and someone and made a judgment, because I truly don’t know who they really are.
Other all thank you for giving me an amazing freshmen year, you helped me get through a hard transition, and you never gave up on me. I’m not the best student to have but you were patient with me. Thank you for everything you’ve done and taught me. As this years ending and imp entering another stage in my life I can say to my self that I’m a better person and look at the world in a better perspective.
When I walked into class at the beginning, I wasn’t thinking about any of my goals. I was just so nervous, and no idea what to do or where to sit. Just the thought of being at a school where I had none of my friends was nerve-racking enough, but to have to think of goals at the same time as worrying about a first impression was impossible. My mind was so caught up in what other people thought of me, and not what I should have been focusing on, my goals for the rest of my freshman year. High school is so superficial, and it takes you away from all the real priorities in life. And, I have learned from my mistake, and I now just realized that by setting goals for my school year, will help me focus more in school, and help me to have a brand new (and better) outlook on life.
And, as I recall everything that has happened this year, I realize that I have learned a lot of lessons from my experiences. Also, I have learned a lot about myself, like that I can be outgoing, if I really try. I am naturally quiet and shy, and don’t approach people out of nowhere just to talk to them, but this year I noticed that if I do that, I could make really good friends that way. I met really awesome people this year, but of course there are those that are just there to create drama, but that is ok, because every experience makes you a better person. I don’t think anything I have experienced this year made me worse in any way, I think by experiencing things like drama, or fights with your friends, help you to see everyone in a truer and deeper manner. I also learned to never procrastinate, no matter what happens, because it just gets you in deeper trouble. (Sorry Mr. Feraco for my constant procrastination streak.) But overall, this year has made me a better person.
This year was interesting, but the discussions in English were the most interesting and memorable part, that I will remember. I enjoy assignments like these, that make me think, and how even during class there were assignments that made us all think of what we really want from our life. They really made me analyze my outlooks and beliefs on my life. And, I feel that by doing all of these assignments, I am slowly improving on my writing skills. I may not show it, but I really enjoy writing, essays, memoirs, fiction, poems, etc. No matter what it is, I really enjoy it. And even so, this class has really opened my mind to writing even more.
Thank you Mr. Feraco for being such a great teacher. You really taught me a lot, and being in your class was a fantastic opportunity for me. You really opened my mind to a lot of new things. I hope you have a great summer! THANK YOU!!!
When I started this year, I was nervous about how all my classes were going to be. I knew that High School was supposed to be hard so that we would get prepared to head off to college. After a few weeks of getting into the groove, I realized that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. As the semester continued, I sort of stopped trying hard to get grades because I knew I could get all B's without putting in the full effort. I found out when my report card came home at the end of the first semster that my mom wasn't happy with that. She was mad at my lack of effort.
This semester I have been trying much harder and have a few A's, and although I am satisfied with my grades, I know I can do even better. I'm a lazy person and I don't like to work hard, but the effort I put out in High School is going to affect my work habits for the rest of my life. This freshman year has taught me a lesson to always try your best, and for sure next year I am going to strive for straight A's. Due to the bad economy now days, colleges are even more challenging to get into. That means I have to help myself as much as I can so that I can have a successful future.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Feraco, for this great year I had in your class. You expected us to perform at a level that pushed us to better our writing skills. The high school would lose a great teacher if you don't return next year.
English 9 – Period 1
10 June 2009
Coming into your freshman English class I didn’t know what to think, but the first thing that popped into mind was, wow Mr. Feraco seems pretty intelligent. Well I was right and now I can add a few more things to the list like: always going beyond the question asked and never giving up on us. You pushed us beyond are limits and I thank you for that because if you didn’t then I would have never even attempted. Even if I didn’t seem like I was fully enjoying our in-class conversations I thank you for them because you went above and beyond with me and were always asking “why?” At first I was overwhelmed, but slowly I got the hang of them and enjoyed them greatly.
Some of my friends that didn’t have you think that you’re the, or one of the toughest English teachers because you give “so much homework and class work.” They also bragged about how they didn’t get nearly as much work as we did. I told them that you weren’t easy or hard, but you were forced to think outside of the box and of course do all your work. If you did those things you would succeed, and thankfully I can say to my friends that I will be passing next year because of you and I’m not sure about them. As a student I feel that I morphed into a better person than I was at the beginning of the year because I have learned to value things more carefully and know why I value them the way I do. Night helped me tremendously with that, but most of all your discussions about family and value improved them even more. I believe at the beginning of the year when you gave us the paper that said, “What grade we wanted to achieve and what grade we deserved” I put that I wanted to obtain an A, but would probably deserve a B. The reason I put that was because everyone wants to get an A, but not everyone wants to go the extra mile for it. At that time I thought that I wasn’t “A material,” but now I believe that I am and I want it. The reason being is because of you, Mr. Feraco, you changed my thinking and made me believe in myself, now I believe that I can get that grade that I want if I push myself. I have had a lot of fun this year and although it wasn’t easy, I am glad that I got you as my teacher, personally I am honored that we could be your first freshman English class. Thank you Mr. Feraco for everything, and I hope that you stay at Arcadia High School and continue teaching. If my sister is lucky maybe she can have the pleasure of having you, growing as a person, and learning as much as I did.
Coming into this class, I had thought that I was going to finally change from a slacking, failing student into one who would actually excel in school. I had set high goals and although it's commonly said to set goals you can actually reach, I just finally learned that lesson the hard way. Even as corny and cliché that those few phrases had sounded, I think it's all actually pretty accurate. Don't we all wish that we could all just go back to a former self, sometime in the past, and warn ourselves about the coming events? How to handle them, what to do at exact moments, and how to change the ultimate outcome? Had I been able to do so in the beginning of the year, I think that one of the major things I would have told myself would be to stay aware of situation, and to keep consistency. For me I've learned that the academic school year is pretty much like running the mile; you can start out nice and strong, giving it your best, but you end up not having enough energy throughout to keep up that speed. I’ve come to realize that I need to set a pace, not only when I'm running the mile, but also in everyday life.
When a person does something, they’re responding to their desires. Whatever their body/mind desires, the body does the best to satisfy. Therefore, is there really a good/bad? This is something that I learned while reading about the Nazis and the Jews. Is there really a good side of doing something, or evil? The way people judge whether or not something is good or evil, is if people are willing to help less of themselves and, instead, help others. If I were to spend a hundred dollars I found on the floor, people would think that it’s worse than taking that money and giving it away to other people. Now, is either really good or bad? We would probably say that giving it away would be good, because that’s what we’ve been taught by society’s guide. With this new piece of information, I look at the actions of other people with more tolerance, and with more acceptance.
It’s hard to believe that just about 9 months ago I stepped onto school campus as a freshman. And now tomorrow brings me to the exit, and then onto sophomore year after the passing of what to me will be a long summer. The first day of school, to me, was of course frustrating and full of shock. From trying to find my last year’s friends to finding all my classes begged a question, “Why am I even here?” To learn was what I was expecting, but in the end I also learned more of myself along with the basics in class.
Walking into fourth period in the beginning of the year was just like my first three periods. And I just wanted to get out and eat lunch with my friends. But half way through the year, I let myself slip; away from school, away from friends, and horrible my family also. That’s when I decided I really wanted to change. I actually started paying attention in my classes. Especially, in what was my fourth, which is now my first. Listening to the lessons, reading the materials given, and comparing the prompt to my life seemed unbelievable.
What I was learning in this class related to me very well. From being thankful for what I have to thinking about my future, this class was definitely the best class I’ve taken this year. I’m not just saying that because its being posted online, but because even though I wasn’t doing well, I learned something. Actually, I’ve learned more in this class than the classes I have A’s in. Overall being in this English class has not only helped me in most of my academics but in my everyday life.
~So thank you Mr. Feraco, for a great year!~
Feraco - Eberle
English 9 - Period 1
10 June 2009
When I walked into class on September 2nd, I did have a goal. What I wanted out of the class was just a good grade. I thought, just do the homework and study; I'm not going to truly learn anything that I could use in everyday life. Obviously, I was wrong about that. Everything we did during class, all the lectures, had impacted through my everyday life. For example, you would constantly tell us about appreciating the things we had. Always I would forget to do that, but you would always be there to remind me. One thing I learned is that once you lose something, you appreciate it then. You think about how much you could have done with that time when you had it. For example, this is the last blog I am ever going to do for this ninth grade English class. When I left D1 today, I felt that I had not took every lesson to the heart, especially because I slacked off on some days. I feel like I have learned a lot this year, but I always knew what I learned, I just never took the time to analyze it. I think I would describe your class hard in a way for the people that don't like expressing their emotions towards anyone in general. Some people don't like thinking about the way they think, or for that matter, what they truly feel. In my opinion, this class has been successful. If I never had someone teaching me things that were in the back of my head, it would not have pushed me to where I am today.
I honestly can say that this class is the most meaningful one I have. All my other classes were like repeating the same routine everyday. Each day we had in D1 was something different. Whether it was fate, love, death, mistakes, it actually taught me something where I would be satisfied at the end of the day. I have improved a lot since I enrolled in this class. First semester was average, I'll admit I did not try as hard as I should have. But unlike my past teachers I've had, something made me want to try more. I honestly still don't know what that thing was, but I liked it. I think if I had a next topic to address, it would have been about people in general. We've talked about humans emotions, judgements, and basically humanity. I would want to learn more about why people act the way they do, why they even try, when people think so full of themselves compared to the people who think so little of themselves or others. I probably know the answer now, but I wouldn't be able to do it myself without someone constantly challenging me with questions related. Thank you Mr.Feraco, for being the best English teacher I have ever had. You didn't give up on any one of us, when most teachers do. Hopefully I'll have you Senior year and not fail Have a great summer and thank you again !
English 9-Period 1
10 June 2009
In the beginning of the school year, I was panicking because I was scared that the classes I take would be tough and confusing. I was especially worried about English class because personally it has been the hardest subject to survive in (for me). But once I arrived in Mr. Feraco's class, my thoughts changed and my goals changed. My goal was to become more confident and less worried about the tiniest things that involves my grade. As time went by, I became more responsible of my own actions and took more notes. Earlier during the school year, I was incredibly lazy who wanted the days to pass by quickly. Now that it is already the end of the school year, I reflect back during the days in D1 and I kind of regret that I should've been more confident. Overall, I have learned many things (especially knowing how to use the comma), and I have also learned to think deeply into my head to find answers that never really were expressed into my feelings.
From now on, I would always remind myself that I had the nicest and coolest english teacher that I have ever had during my school years. After reading Night, I appreciate a lot more of the time I spend with my family and friends. I learned that in English class and I feel very proud that I have been taught about appreciating more about life and stuff than to appreciate an Ipod first. Therefore, I would have never changed if it wasn't for the deep thinking that we did in class which had changed my perspective.
THANK you Mr. Feraco, for an awesome freshman year, and I am very glad that you could stay to continue teaching! Anyways, Have a GREAT summer and I hope to see you around Campus or even during lunch time.
As the time of my first year at Arcadia High School is now officially over, I can tell that I’ve changed. Maybe not by appearance, or not even the characteristics that make up my identity, but the way I looked on life. When I walked through those doors on September 2nd, 2008 in room D-1, I was a happy-go-lucky kid who could care less about the world she lived in. As the days progressed, I saw how the world was really like; my mom unfortunately lost her job having to leave me for the last 6 months across the globe taking care of my grandparents to find out how reality was like. Although it was tough, it gave me a chance to find my true self, a person that was hiding that kept trying to crawl out of me. My friends from middle school, most are still my friends, others have drifted from me. I’ve learned that the phrases “Friends forever” are just words, having to be replaced with “Live in the moment.”
I too, probably like the other student found English to be easy, apparently, after a year with you, you have to actually work to earn that A, which to me was completely fair. The way you taught and spoke to us was almost like a college class, call me crazy, but it was kind of cool! Although I do agree that your standards are that of an average level, the work showed me I had to work harder to get the grade I wanted. The literature and writing pieces that you assigned to us is a start of what advancing classes are going to continue to look like, the process isn’t going to stop. So I must thank you for introducing this form of work to me now, before I fall flat on my face later.
You’ve also shown me that by comparing to your senior classes, ours is just the beginning. Hopefully with the knowledge I’ve learned this year from you and the stories you’ve picked out for us, I’m able to express feelings and emotions more vividly than ever. Before I just thought that they were just words put into sentences to make a story have more details, but now I know feelings and emotions are meant to be lived through and felt, as if yourself is in the person’s own shoes. In the “Gift of the Magi”, the meaning of sacrifice to please your loved one can be used to express, if you love someone so much willingly to sacrifice something that you treasure, isn’t that what real love is? And in “The Cask of Amontelado” Revenge may be sweet, but sometimes not satisfying or even fulfilled. The end is here and even though it’s time to me to “fly out of the nest” I’ll always remember the memories we shared in that one little classroom with 30 other people.
I had a wonderful time this year with having you as my teacher Mr. Feraco. Although I must admit I’ve gotten frustrated at times when you had piled homework on us, but that was also when I had homework in my other class too so I can’t really complain. I’ve really learned a lot this past year from you and I hope to get you again in my senior year!
This year was fun. Thanks to Mr. Feraco, ive had more exerience in English and in life. When i first stepped into my new 4th period, I looked at him and thought he was going to be mean and give us alot of homework. I was right on the homework part, but was astonished on how nice he was to us. Ya, there were sometimes when i didnt like him because of the way he graded things. But then i found out it wasnt him, it was the computer. Then i remember setting up a master plan to steal his computer with Pablo. It didnt happen but then i realized that that he was nicer than most of my teachers, so i decided that his computer looks nice where it is.
In his class i realized on stuff in life i needed to work on, in class, and in life because of the lectures. before i thought they were bogus and seriously thought that, if anything, they would make me fall asleep. Then, we had on e on the Odessey and i realized that i wasnt reaching my full potential in his class, but unfortunatly im going to summer school because i didnt change my work habits. But thats not the point, the point is that i grew more mature in his class and it REALLY sucks that the retarded buget cuts fired him. THANKS MR. FERACO FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME AND ALL THE OTHER KIDS THAT HAVE BEEN TAUGHT BY YOU!!! THANKS!
English 9 – Period 4
11 June 2009
Walking into D1, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that Mandy Ponce told me that she loved you and that you were a good teacher, she was right. Your class made me think, it made me set higher bars for myself, it made me realize my full potential. This English class made me dig deeper into the question or statement finding the meaning most people can’t find.
The first time you told us we had blogs to write, I was really angry. I didn’t like posting things up on the blog knowing that everyone could read it. But, later in the year, I started to realize how the questions you ask on the blog made me open up my mind more than anything. I liked it when I submitted my blog and thought to myself “ I really liked that one!!” If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be the student I am now. You have opened so many doors for me and I hope they stay open until next year. Thank you so much Mr. Feraco and I hope to see you next year!!
During this year, I had very high goals, but the goals I had had to be compromised. In the beginning of the year we had a paper that asked what should we deserve as a grade in this class. My not knowing the challenge of the class I pick a fairly high grade. As I progress though the semester i find some things to be somewhat challenging so my expectations changes. The grade that I wanted didn't happen and so my my expectation lowers a little bit.
This doesn't mean that I did not like the class because it was too hard. I have learned a lot this year in English. I believe that I have really change and improved this year. I have gotten into more depth of poetry and writing and used words that I knew last year but do not know how to use it. I think Mr. Feraco's papers and lectures are effective and interesting and make me question things and get into more description and details for assignments. Overall I did not regret having Mr. Feraco as my freshman teacher and I have learned a lot since the beginning of the year and Mr. Feraco did an effective job setting the foundation for my sophomore English year.
English 9 - Period 1
11 June 2009
This year when I first walked into this class, I set a goal for myself; It was to pass my English and History class. I set this goal because i have always failed those classes. But I got lazy and I gave up. I regret not doing my homework and studying for my test because now I have to go to summer school. Overall I think this year was fun and educational.
This year I think I've learned a lot. I learned about Greek gods and some roots. I also learned that you should treasure your stuff more from reading "Night." To love someone sincerely is also something I learned from reading "Romeo and Juliet."
The first day of class, I just sat down, a little quieter because I didn’t know anyone, and just listened and running through my head was the Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” song going on. Summer having just ended; I felt bitter going to school again. What was there to do? I regularly write on my own, I can learn math on my own, just memorize a biology book, and I even self taught myself bass guitar, guitar, and flute over the summer. What did school offer me?
Right as I stepped on campus, I knew I’ve had enough of high school. My goal simply became to walk through the year. Same as it has always been. Maybe this year will be the year I would stop procrastinating; like I said I would since the 3rd grade. Or I can shove back just one more year (honestly, what’s more likely). It’s a weak goal, but a goal nonetheless. Amazingly, I actually followed through on it this year. Due to an increase in homework due sometimes days or even months after they were assigned, I had to take initiative in starting and finishing the homework. Fortunately it wasn’t too late to address. That was probably the most important goal of this year; to shape up my work habits and not turn in last minute papers.
As it turns out, all of my classes had much to offer me. But of all of them, Mr. Feraco’s English 9 gave me the only time I could just say something; none of my other classes needed any conversation at all. Philosophical questions and analysis has been something that has fascinated me since I was a child of about 7. I’ve already begun to question many of the questions that were used to determine our baseline. Now was finally a chance to see how others tick and challenge my own beliefs. Now I can critique my ideas and adjust them as I see fit. That is after all, how we improve.
On improvement, Mr. Feraco stated on September 2nd, period 4, that we would become better writers. This thrilled me! I thought that I would be doing much more creative writing than we actually did. In that aspect, I believe the class didn’t do so well on. We could have done much more hard writing than we did. However, I feel that too much time was given to grammar, and not the application of the grammar. I believe the application of grammar is more important than the grammar itself because you can write without knowing that much grammar, but if you had grammar knowledge but didn’t know how to use it effectively, it is pointless.
However, the poetry unit was very involved with writing. Writing over 10 poems was very impressive for a class, and I enjoyed it up to a point where I just vented frustration. But I guess it works out because poetry is expression. It would be wrong to simply fake a happy poem when deep down I’m feeling distraught. So in a sense, I did become a better writer.
Would I tell my eighth grade self to enroll in this same class? Yes I would. If not, then I probably wouldn’t have a single class where I can think philosophically. Everything else is memorization, comprehension, and application. This was the one free thought class I had this year, and it was very effective, and instrumental in helping me solve out larger issues that will impact my life. Had I not learned to organize my materials and my time, I would be in trouble in the near future.
Thank you Mr. Feraco, have a wonderful summer. Now you have time to garden!
English 9- Period 1
11 June 2009
When I first stepped into you classroom in September, I didn’t really know to expect. A part of me wanted to just get high school over with, but another part of me wanted to try hard and make the experience last. I did have a goal though: to try my hardest in English. I feel like I accomplished that goal, even though I didn’t get an A, I know I improved.
Over the course of this year, I have learned more than how to use a predicate noun correctly. I learned many life lessons and how to be an avid thinker. This class has made me a person overall. To someone who hasn’t taken this class, I would tell them to be prepared to have many deep class discussions. Working hard is essential to success and everything in the class requires searching beyond the surface.
This is class was one of the most successful classes I had all year. I feel like I have learned so much this past year and I’m glad they make you take English in 9th grade. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else or having another teacher; I just wouldn’t be who I am today.
Throughout my first year in high school, I had my ups and downs, but I am ultimately happy with it. It was your lessons and class that helped me through it. I learned so much this year. As I go into sophomore year, I can fully utilize the lessons you taught us and make the most out of it. Thank you Mr. Feraco!
Justin De La Guerra
English 9 – Period 1
11 June 2009
The Final Chapter
I had a goal when I first walked into class at the beginning of the year. My goal, although as simple as it may sound, was to become a better writer. My writing was not very good and I had trouble organizing and structuring my written work. As weeks turned to months, I learned more grammar and writing techniques. I could tell my writing was improving. Eventually, all my hard work in class paid off and it clearly showed in our last Romeo and Juliet essay. I feel that I have learned a whole lot this year but the main thing I noticed, and am most proud of, is my writing skills.
This class has been a great success for me. I accomplished a lot this year and would definitely sign up for it again if I had to do it all over again. I think it has really prepared me for English and possibly honors English next year. Although this year was not a walk in the park, the hard work was well worth it. Not only did it teach me English skills, but other skills that will be useful in other aspects of life. The books we read gave me new insight and exposed me to interesting, and sometimes very sad, experiences of the writers. I learned how to think differently and approach problems from different angles. I learned what kind of questions to ask while reading a book and how to take useful notes on them.
THANK YOU MR. FERACO FOR BEING SUCH A SUPERB TEACHER!!!
I have definitely learned a lot this year. I learned to believe in myself more than I did before. My self-consciousness and lack of confidence held me back from excelling in several things. At the beginning of the year I was not able to do an oral presentation without stuttering or turning bright red. Now I am more comfortable with my abilities and limits because I’ve established what they are. By being in Mr. Feraco’s English class I overcame my fears of speaking out what I think because we had to do a lot of essays and activities that were opinion based.
When I first walked into the class I really wanted to work on my essays because I got a really bad grade on all of my essays in middle school. The only reason I passed was because of homework and extra credit. I did improve on writing essays, but I want to improve my skills even more. In the beginning of the year I also wanted to push my limits even further than I’ve done in the past. It may sound foolish, but I worked really hard to try to be the top in every one of my classes, but that only worked out in one class, and it was Spanish. These goals have all made me a better student, and if not a better person because I have never set these kind of goals for myself.
I want to thank you, Mr. Feraco, for sticking with me throughout the whole year. You have been a great teacher. Sorry, you ARE a great teacher, and I hope you can teach other students what you have taught me. It would be wonderful to have you for senior year. I’ll see you when I see you. If I ever get famous you can say that I was your student or if I ever get an award for any type of writing like even a children's book I’ll be sure to put your name in the thank you speech. If the laying off of teachers wasn't based on seniority I think you would be the last one on the list to get fired. Please don’t mark me points off because I have been waiting all year to put a happy face so here goes.
After completing a less than successful 8th grade year, my only goal was to pass English 9. Taking my first steps into English after a long summer, I began to reminisce of the discouraging and demoralizing comments I received from my past English teacher. Having barely scraped by with a low “C” at some points during the class, I was compared to my brother, who the teacher had also taught. My teacher compared him to me with high hopes but was sadly disappoint and constantly assured me of it. Broken by poor grade after poor grade despite my hardest attempts, my competitive drive was dwindling and deteriorating. Thankfully, some good news arrived: Summer Break. However, with the good comes the bad: Although I was free from the torture of my past teacher; I entered English 9 with out a sufficient English 8. I was essentially a high- rise building with nine floors, and yet the 8th was missing. Just as the building would, I was bound to fail and come crashing down.
Through all of my experiences in English 9, each one is meaningful to me. In that class, D- 1, for the first time in an English class, I experienced a little taste of success. When I was handed back my first “A” on an assignment, I had a chill inside of me that I could barely contain: it was the happiest I had been in a class room in a long time. This is mainly thanks to the encouragement and challenge I received. Outside of school I have also seen success. It now seems as though I have a reason to study. Prior to English 9, it seemed as though my teacher would grade me based on name and not skill. Seeming hopeless, I gave up and ceased to study and began to look to faith for some sort of success. Now I have a reason to study, to do homework, and to care about English class. Of all my classes’ freshman year, English 9 has meant the most to me because I got to taste a little bit of success.
This year I learned both moral lessons and basic knowledge of the English language. In morals, it’s now obvious to me that what my old teacher thought of me doesn’t matter: I am who I am; not my brother or anyone else. I now have a stable confidence and, unlike last year, feel ready to build the next level on this high- rise that is my education. From English 9, I learned better writing techniques brand new to me, grammar that finally made sense, and how to present myself as a student and a member of the working class. Although my “8th floor” still lies in ruins, from what I learned this year I have begun to patch up what, unfortunately, may never be rebuilt. At the very least, what I learned this year provided a better foundation for me to build upon.
As my Mom used to assure me almost exactly a year ago, “You have the ability to succeed; you just need someone to bring it out of you.” Apparently you were just the “someone.” Thanks for an unforgettable year Mr. Feraco!
Around 12:40pm on June 11, 2009, I skipped out of the classroom D-1 for the last time as a freshman. Walking briskly through the halls, I paused at glanced at the concrete. Strange, there ware something...different about it. How could that be so? The halls we walk through everyday didn't change from back in September, but the people who walked through them did. This concrete path has been a road that the students of AHS walk, a road that has been shaped by the obstacles that we've overcame through the year. When I first walked this path, I was an outsider, not knowing what this place was. Now, glancing at the concrete, I am a student of Arcadia High.
That itself is a change to be reckoned with. The fact is, in September, I was a quiet person who was scared. I didn't know anyone save for my buddies in middle school, and I heard much about the intimidating middle school. Now, I can skip through the halls, because I'm more carefree than ever. (Is that actually an improvement?)
There was only one goal I had: get an A. I didn't care about anything else, I just wanted the grade. Did that change much? I say it's still half-and-half. Despite the many times people have told me that school is about learning, not getting grades, my GPA is still my prioity. But is that everything now? Surely not. I have a stronger initiave to learn, to "think outside the box". In your class, I was overcome by a curiousity to understand more than I do now, because it's, for lack of a better term, boring the way it was.
This class was...entertaining to say the least. I've learned, I've forgotten, and I've pulled all-nighters with my fellow classmates for the sake of acing tests and scoring full points on projects. Do I regret it? Of course, I lost a lot of sleep because of those. Will I still do it again? Of course, procrastination is an art.
I can't really say if this class has improved me as a student or not, but I can reluctantely admit that this class has changed me to a better person. (Why reluctantely? I don't like admitting that I wasn't a better person before...arrogance is an art as well.) Although I might not be a compassionate person, I can understand how compassion affects others, like in Night (Elie feeling sympathy for Moche in the beginning). I've learned the tragedy of ignorance, in Romeo and Juliet (Just because of one letter...).
So really, was this year considered an "achievement" or a "pass"? I really can't say, and it isn't something that I can say. I don't believe that it can be answered with a look at my grades, or with my test and essay scored. Whether or not I succeeded as a freshman in English is something that only those around me can evaluate.
If there's only one thing I've learned over this year, it's that change isn't a bad or good thing. It just...is. Thanks for teaching me the difference throughout this year, Mr. Feraco.
(can you BELIEVE how long this turned out to be???)
Anonymous blog from a student submitted via instructor e-mail:
I have always enjoyed this class, actually, despite the fact that I was never much of a good student. In the beginning I enjoyed class just as I did any other English course I have taken throughout my academic career, be it what it is, but towards the end of first semester/ beginning of second semester things began to fall into place for me. Many of our discussions in class have influenced me greatly; I have just now started to prioritize things and have realized what I really want out of life. Embarrassing as it is, several of our discussions have actually sent me home crying. I remember when we talked about what we were going to do with our lives; I found out that I had what I wanted to do for the next ten to fifteen years after high school figured out, but I had no idea what I was going to do after. I was honestly petrified of the idea that I could be that old woman whose grandchildren never call and she has to talk to strangers on the subway to try not to feel so alone.
However, then I thought, "I don't have to have my whole life planned out at fourteen," I have time to think on it. You know how little girls sometimes would sit and chat together and discuss what they thought adult life would be? How their wedding dress would look, and how many kids they would have, how rich their husbands would be, and other silly snippets of thought that might come across the mind of a nine year old girl child. I was one of those girls, and I still am. I enjoy playing pretend, but I also know that what I would like to happen, might not actually happen at all. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't really want to grow up, at least, not completely. I relish the fact that I have time to pretend for now, but I also know that I need to set realistic goals too. I think, what I have gathered from this class is that I need to be able to live life to the fullest, and enjoy it while I'm young, because you never know when you could lose it all.
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