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English 2 students create their own short stories

A+few+sample+covers+from+Ms.+Matthews%27+English+2+short+story+assignment.+
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English 2 students create their own short stories

A few sample covers from Ms. Matthews' English 2 short story assignment.

A few sample covers from Ms. Matthews' English 2 short story assignment.

Lela Coker graphic

A few sample covers from Ms. Matthews' English 2 short story assignment.

Lela Coker graphic

Lela Coker graphic

A few sample covers from Ms. Matthews' English 2 short story assignment.

Miguel Blanco, Staff Reporter

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Sharing a creative piece in front of your peers is by no means an easy task, however English 2 students were able excel in doing just that with the aid of a supportive environment formed by classmates and teachers. This previous week, the English 2 classes attempted to instill the students with an appreciation for writing and public speaking through the presenting of student-written short stories.

Students were given several weeks to prepare an original short story, which was to be presented in front of class as a major grade. The majority of preparation time was devoted to allowing students to develop their own characters and writing voice, a noticeable change in the typical assignments English 2 students are used to.

“For the second six weeks, we decided to give them something a bit more creative and fun as sort of a respite from intense literary analysis writing,” English 2 teacher Ellorie Wilkins said. “The students were so excited for the creative writing unit when I announced it, and they did such an amazing job going through the whole writing process to create their final creative products.”

This new project format seemed to resonate with the students, and the care many students placed into their pieces came as a surprise for Wilkins.

“My favorite part has been seeing how passionate and excited students have been about this assignment,” Wilkins said. “They have asked so many good questions about revision and come into tutorials to get extra help on idea and plot development. I have been dumbstruck by how beautifully and eloquently written some of these creative products have been. I have loved seeing how vulnerable and personal the students got, and it allowed me to see another side to them that I don’t get to see in the everyday classroom.”

One possible reason for the student’s willingness to be vulnerable both in their writing and in front of class could be credited to the emphasis the project placed on character development.

“So for this particular project we wanted them to really focus on the writing process, and also to focus on the importance of building a character,” English 2 teacher Jenn Naumann said. “There was a lot of preparation that went into the project where the students had to think about their character and their character’s backstory, along with their character’s fears or goals. Even if none of that was used in their story, we wanted the students to explore that so that they would be able to write a better story.”

Students were given an extended time period for this project in order to fully develop their creative process prior to the actual writing and presenting of their pieces. Due to this, students were able to determine which methods of conceptualization suited them best.

“I like brainstorming,” sophomore McKenzie Peacock said. “It allows me thinking of different ideas, and if one idea doesn’t work I can always go back on a different concept I had. Also we got to play our own spin on this project rather than having to just write information down, and for me that meant that this project was more visual.”

Along with the writing portion of the story, emphasis was also placed on the student’s ability to recite their creative writing in front of the class.

“We wanted the students to present for two different reasons,” Naumann said. “The first reason is that we wanted them to celebrate one another’s work and the best way we could achieve that was to have everyone share with everyone else. The idea behind it was to be positive and to celebrate one another and all the writing that they had done. The second was because oral presentations are a big part of the curriculum in IB which is what they students may go into their junior year. We want them to be prepared through these exercises.”

If the amount of dedication students put into this project is any indication, a fair amount of English 2 students were able to gain an appreciation for both creative writing and public speaking. Furthermore, while students may have enjoyed this particular assignment, some teachers were also able to admire the passion students had for these past couple of weeks.

“The students have left me with goosebumps, giving me pause due to how insightful and creative they have been,” Wilkins said. “I projected a fake stage background with a spotlight behind them and turned the lights off so it felt more like a performance, and the way the audience was engaged and captivated by the student reciting their product was one of my favorite moments teaching here at Vandegrift High School thus far. They were so encouraging and supportive of their peers’ work, and it was something I will cherish forever.”

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About the Writer
Miguel Blanco, Staff Reporter

Miguel is a senior at Vandegrift High School and this is his first year on the Vandegrift Voice staff. He enjoys learning about history, spending time...

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English 2 students create their own short stories