Exhibition Night

Last night was Semester 1 Exhibition Night at school. It was an extremely exhausting week for me (it was about a 60 hour work week, counting work time both at school and at home, though most of the time was at school). School has been challenging for me lately. I really, really just wanted to come home and crash.

But Exhibition Night turned out to be just what I needed. I got to have really good conversations with students, a number of parents talked with me and said incredibly kind things (one parent of a 9th grader told me that I’m loved by students!), and I got to see what all this energy is going towards. Students’ work was absolutely incredible. It’s nice to be reminded of what we are doing–the big picture–because it can be easy to forget on a day to day basis.

In American History II, 11th grade students learned about the Progressive Era. They had to design their own ideal cities, trying to avoid some of the problems of the Progressive Era. Their models and papers were awesome!

Another model city.

Another model city.

A food web for 10th grade biology; this one focuses exclusively on local wildlife.

A food web for 10th grade biology; this one focuses exclusively on local wildlife.

More biology projects -- food webs and cell models.

More biology projects -- food webs and cell models.

In an 11th grade Environmental Science class, a small group of students are researching green rooftops. I was blown away during a conversation with one student by how knowledgeable he is! They are hoping to raise money to build on on our school's roof this year.

In an 11th grade Environmental Science class, a small group of students are researching green rooftops. I was blown away during a conversation with one student by how knowledgeable he is! They are hoping to raise money to build on on our school's roof.

11th grade Pop Art projects.

11th grade Pop Art projects.

You really just have to see this in person... it's ASTOUNDING! This is the work of two 11th grade art classes. They studied pop art and Latin American art, combining them to create this.

You really just have to see this in person... it is ASTOUNDING! This is the work of two 11th grade art classes. They studied Pop Art and Latin American art, combining them to create this. Unfortunately, a lot of the details are lost in the photos; plus, you can't see the videos!

A close up of the left altar.

A close up of the right altar.

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries. There were some phenomenal 9th and 10th grade art projects–I was especially blown away by a project that drew on students’ dreams–and lots of other amazing work!

Probably the best moment for me yesterday evening was listening to my 11th grade English students read excerpts from their memoirs. Their memoirs are the culmination of our class, “Writing the Self,” a course that I created and taught for the first time this semester. Here’s a brief description of the course:

Since the 1990s, the memoir genre has exploded in popularity. While recognizing the lengthy history of the genre, this course will focus on contemporary personal essays and memoirs. The class will be reading and creative-writing intensive; the majority of classes will be spent discussing the texts we are reading and completing writing workshops. Students will work throughout the semester on a major creative writing piece–their own memoir.

Throughout the semester, we will grapple with questions such as: Who are you?  What events have shaped your identity? How do your memories affect who you are? How can you tell your story?

We will question the ethical and moral dilemmas the genre brings up. Life stories inevitably overlap, but is it ever justifiable to share someone else’s secrets?  How can a writer find a balance between his or her right to tell a story and another’s right to privacy?

We will explore the value of memoirs. Why has the genre become so popular? What does a memoir tell us that a novel or a history text cannot? What compels someone to write down his or her memories, and what makes someone else want to read them?

We will also investigate the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction. How truthful can memoirs be? What are the “rules” of the genre? What happens when history becomes subjective?

While I could only convince three students to read (all of them were pretty nervous), they did a phenomenal job. It felt good to hear people say that listening to my students read was a highlight of the evening. I know that it also meant a lot to my students. To say that I received positive feedback is an understatement; I couldn’t do anything but beam. I feel lucky that I get to claim a small part in what they’ve created. I am blown away by their work this semester. We’ve grown close as a class; it’s been incredible to watch them–and their writing–transform over the semester.

Another hit was the website that I have created to showcase excerpts from students’ memoirs.

You can visit it at: www.innovationcharter.org/writingtheself


3 Responses to “Exhibition Night”

  1. Mom Says:

    Loved the photos - you have to pick out your new camera. I wanted to read the excerpts from your students’ memoirs, but the link doesn’t work.

  2. admin Says:

    Mom, it should be fixed now!

  3. reverse phone numbers australia Says:

    Recently, I didnt provide tons of thought to leaving
    comments on site page articles and have placed comments even much less.

    Reading by line of attack of your nice article, will help me to do so sometimes.