Oh boy, the English department was busy this year! From one of the Grade 12 groups taking a Pilot Provincial English Exam to painting beautiful art pieces for a novel study, students in West K’s English classes engaged in a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of language and literature.
Art and Literature:
Gr. 9 students in Ms. De Guzman’s class learned about symbolism by creating their own personal mandalas and displaying them on the walls of the classroom. Mrs. Harder’s Grade 9 and 10 classes did a literature study on the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The main motif in the novel is a tree that reflects the main character’s development throughout the story, so students painted their own to beautify her room.
Critical Analysis and Social Issues:
Mr. Jimenez’s classes were always full of passionate discussions about critical social issues that he then ties to his assignments. He emphasized looking at texts through various critical lenses and identifying issues of racism and sexism within the texts. His Grade 9 students wrote and performed poetry for a poetry unit, and they discovered the art of the slam poem. They also participated in formal and informal debates, further strengthening their public speaking skills.
The English department ordered a whole bunch of books with aboriginal perspectives, and in their meetings, the department shared resources so that our teaching will reflect the spirit of truth and reconciliation. For example, Mrs. Erickson’s class started off the year by looking at various short stories, many of them with Aboriginal perspectives, and Ms. Grimes invited author Beatrice Mosionier to the school for a special interview after her class read In Search of April Raintree.
All period days were spent building a classroom community. Mr. Jimenez’s class went to The Forks to brainstorm ideas for creative writing in nature. Mr. Pinder’s classes went to the Millenium Library and to the University of Winnipeg to learn research skills. Ms. Grimes’ class participated in the #MeToo assembly and workshops put on by the Social Justice Club, and continued the conversation in class discussions later into the afternoon. Mrs. Odaguchi’s and Mrs. Henry’s classes participated in a Shakespeare and drama workshop too, and Mr. Misir and Mrs. Harder created a cross-curricular cross-school amazing race for their students to run. Needless to say, it was highly competitive and fun!
Exploring Shakespeare in 2018:
Students at all grade levels discovered links between Elizabethan society and our modern life by looking at significant themes in Shakespeare’s plays. In Grade 12, students read Othello and investigated the roles of racism and sexism in the plot, drawing connections to today. Similarly, Grade 11’s read the Scottish play, Macbeth (the bloodiest one!), exploring the nature of greed, power, and gender roles. Grade 9’s and 10’s took a look at Julius’ Caesar’s tragedy or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while some read the story of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, examining it from a slightly different perspective by analyzing the roles of family, loyalty, hatred, and the relationship between parents and their children. The best part for Ms. Grimes was watching their modern interpretations of scenes from Act 4!
Finally, a special shout-out to Mrs. Harder for her awesome roast and toast to the grads at the Grad Dinner & Dance!