This marking period I read 810 pages, give or take, there were a couple books I picked up and put back down that I don’t remember the names of. This averages out to about 135 pages a week for the whole trimester. This is actually less than usual and I think it is because of the unaccounted books that were picked up and put down throughout the trimester. I mostly read books that pertained to projects in class, however I made sure to choose project topics I liked so I could choose books I already wanted to read. I mostly read very romantic literature about people living their lives and doing what they wanted. I read two books by John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, and Travels with Charley In Search Of America. I also dipped back into YA literature for a hot second with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, which was really exciting because I haven’t touched a “teen” book since last year probably. I loved the ability to use my top picks for my projects this trimester. Most of my reading was done in class and in between rehearsals for the musical, I had a lot less free time this marking period than in the previous. I think I am growing as a reader due to the fact that not only did I choose to read what I wanted, but I used them in projects that forced me to analyze them as I read, which is becoming easier as the year goes on. I find that when I am in a relaxed state I can read for hours at a time. That being said this trimester stamina was lacking greatly. Looking to the nest marking period I want to continue to incorporate books I’d read on my own into my projects. Next trimester I challenge myself to read more than this trimester and maybe get a few harder books off of my bucket list. Over all this marking period has been a positive growth experience as I have finally found a balance between reading for pleasure and reading for class.
Three of the most challenging aspects of this project were working with the college students, choosing how to format our project, and developing an inquiry decision. Overall I believe this project was a positive experience, mostly because it got me back to reading books I would have picked out on my own and exploring a subject matter that is important to me. That being said everything else, while a learning experience, was actually awful. The first primary challenge I found was the forming of project groups. When I first went through the process of choosing project topics I was working under the assumption I would be able to work with other students in my class and have that kind of easily accessible support. However, due to the large imbalance of high school to cmu students, I ended up being placed into a group with only two cmu students. At first it was really intense working with two complete strangers on a project that, while important to me, was also a very personal and sensitive topic for me.
The other two growth territories I chose to focus on also play into the challenges I had within the group work aspect of this project. First came with developing our inquiry and guiding question. We all had very different reasons for choosing the LGBTQ topic for our project and during the discussion of book choice and guiding topic we found that we all wanted to look at very different things. This being said it took a lot of discussion and compromise to find a book and guiding question that was agreeable. In the end we decided on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, which managed to fit our category but none of our initial wishes for our inquiry. Our Guiding question ended up being “How does a teen’s LGBTQness affect their life and place in society?”. I was not thrilled about this as to me it seemed rather shallow, but I think it forced to to look closer at the text I was reading regaudless to try and find something workable in the reading.
My final growth territory was in terms of writing the final project blog post. Going back to the fact that I had very limited time and interacting with my group mate, this was a very chaotic process. As with the beginning of the project, even while doing the project we all had very different experiences in the reading. We wanted to write a group post but we had an extremely difficult time finding a way to encompass all of our very different perspectives. Then, do to extenuating circumstances, our group post was never completed. This was a pothole on the already bumpy road of this project process. It taught me that I needed to be able to be flexible and self sufficient even in a group project. My cumulative image is an email I sent Mr.schoenborn after I wrote my own blog post. After I had pulled myself back together I was actually delighted to be able to write about whatever I wanted, and I was delighted that someone else liked what I had to say too.
Loneliness is something
That creeps up on
The poem above is inspired by ellen hopkins, a curator of teen angst and writer of books that I love. At first glance this poem is superficial and basic, but right now it means something a lot more. Last night my brother came home from the longest day I think he’s ever had. Instead of going straight up to his room to go to bed, he came in and sat on mine and started to talk. He talked about everything in his heart that was hurting him. He talked about the fact that the friends that he has relied on to help him are hurting now and he doesn’t know what to do anymore. I respond to him with jealousy. And for the first time I shared that I haven’t felt compassion or friendship for nearly a year now. I think this is because I feel like I don’t have a best friend, no constant. I haven’t made a friend of my own since middle school, and it’s only really beginning to show now. I piggy back of my brothers new friends, and even then i'll always be second, they'll always like nick first. Those who I called my friends lost interest, not that I blame them. Not to say I don’t have friends, I do, but they all have their best friend, they don’t have room for another one. It’s hard to form those kinds of relationships because people never want to get along. I can say I like to talking to someone and often am met with “Why? They are horrible, do you know what they said to me once? I do not like them? Why do you like them anyway.”
Anay way, I played around with the phrasing of the piece and spent a lot of time shifting lines around after I had the intial poem written down. Going back to the ellen hopkins idea, after I had the inital outpour of emotion I wanted it to have a distienct shape when it was finished. By turning it into a funnel I tried to caputre the emptyness the speaker is feeling by the end. Slowly as they feel consumed so is their ability to release words until they can’t.
Pay It Forward: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz Brings an Important Demension to LGBTQ YA Literature
I’ve been a lover of books for longer than I’ve been aware of a lot things in my life. I loved books when I wanted a dog, and I gravitated towards a lot of books with kids and their dogs. I loved books when I discovered what alcoholism was and that it was affecting my immediate family, so I found myself reading a lot of books with kids dealing with those kinds of problems in their life. So when I was in middle school and started fidgeting with the idea I may not be heterosexual I naturally turned to my favorite consultant. This is where things started getting dicey.
Let’s look at the two examples I listed up above. If a kid where to look for a book where the primary story was about a kid and the stuff he gets up to with their dog, they could find one really easily. Now, if a kid also wanted to find a book about some really awesome adventure, that happens to also feature a kid who has an awesome relationship with his dog, well they’d probably be able to find that too. Similarly it’s fairly easy to find YA literature with a story primarily about a kid struggling with the influence of alcoholism,or find a book with a completely different story and focus, still featuring characters who struggle with the subject as well. So when I started looking for books that feature LGBT characters it was very easy to find books that had a primary story that revolved around queerness, but well, they never seemed to focus on much else. This was a huge problem for me in middle school because, well, I was in middle school, I wanted entertainment out of my books,and I could only read so much of the same before it got boring. However, now about six years later I see a huge problem with this concept past “I’m bored”. I now realize that whether I think it is or not, LGBTQ is still a very controversial topic, and most literature, whether they also are intending to or not, are treating it that way as well. Thinking back to my other examples, those are topics that have become normalized in our society, that have been played out and explored over decades of cinema, but LGBTQ never had that. There’s very rarely a main character in a novel or a television show that has a non LGBTQ plot line but also happens to be LGBTQ.
Enter Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I found this book on a reading list for a trending topics project in my AP literature class, more importantly,on a list of LGBTQ focused YA novels. However, when I got into it, I was surprised that in the first 50 pages I had not run into any inkling of “ I am a gay teenager and here is my ever horrible life full of problems due to my LGBTQness”. As a matter of fact, Homosexuality isn’t even brought up until over halfway into the book, and even with such a song expanse without, it is still an incredibly valuble oeice of LGBTQ literature. The book tells a wonderful story about growing up and the family dynamic. Instead of focusing on the characters LGBTQness, the reader gets to watch Aristotle and Dante grow up and come into themselves not as gay teenagers, but as teenagers. That’s what’s really important in LBGTQ literature, is that it’s not LGBTQ literature, it’s just literature.By having characters that interact with their world past issues surrounding their sexuality and gender identity, it lessens the taboo, creates a character that’s more like a real person, and most importantly, makes the character normal, because that’s what LGBTQ is, normal.
Chloe Huettig is a senior at Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant Michigan. She is an avid reader, lover of stories and volunteering at her local library. Chloe identifys with the LGBTQ community. She will be studying architecture and sustainability at the University of Michigan.
This marking period I read 652 pages, with an average reading rate of 110 pages a week. I believed this reading rate is a little skewed because one of my books was a graphic novel and some others were poetry, as it is much higher than usual. Our class focus this marking period was to read books that we be used to support a research topic at the end if the trimester. The topic I chose was “The beauty of simple things”. I decided I would focus on works by John Steinbeck because many of his works throughout his career share this theme. I read his book “Tortilla Flat” which details the lives of the “paisanos” who live very dedicated and innocent lives of loving, drinking wine, and stealing. I also read “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki, which is a graphic novel about two pre teens that hang out together every summer while at their cottages. In class Mr.Schoenborn read to us out of two books of poetry “The seed of Thieves” by Robert Fanning and “#NotYourPrincess” edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Beth Leatherdale. This marking period I loved the stories contained in the things I read. Which is also what I loved last marking period. The warm and vibrant story in “This one summer” was one of my favorites because it reminded me of what I love about summer. I got most of my reading done in class this marking period because my books were small and easy to pull out when my class work was done. My growth this marking period came from my project topic. By having to read a novel while looking for specific elements makes a very different experience. My reading stamina has not really changed as it was already very strong at the beginning of the marking period. I can still read for hours at a time. Through the second half of the trimester I plan to continue to read with specific elements of my project in mind. I still want to read about 3 books a trimester, which will be an improvement from this trimester. I learned that I can read with a filter and pick up important information yet still enjoy the story. That realization was very important for me because it changed my mind that reading can still be enjoyable even with an academic goal in mind.
have always struggled with papers, and overall I have a general discomfort of the idea of writing one, but I have resigned myself to the fact that i will be writing them until I am dead and that’s just going to be apart of life. However this did not stop me from being able to look back at this paper writing experience with a few positive takeaways. One of the biggest growth aspects of this experience was that I have been able to pull information from non text sources. The idea of watching something and then writing an 8 page paper about it was terrifying. I was thinking “I don’t have the attention span to watch people talk on screen and remember it”. However between the second and first viewing I did absorbe the story and actually have the capacity to ask myself questions while watching. This aspect of the growth also increased when we got to meet with Professor McDermott from Central Michigan University. This was a very new experience for me because I had never had the chance to get information for projects like this from people well versed in the subject that were not my classroom teacher. She also opened up a lot of doors to different ways of thinking I would not have found in traditional sources. One of the major things I got from her visit was the idea that the course of Macbeth was challenging to the basic idea of Christian Predestination and determination. Another growth area I found came from the “debriefing” with Mr.Schoenborn after our verbal presentation. Very rarely in school have I had the opportunity to discuss the outcome of a presentation with my teachers after the fact. It was nice to discuss and explain the numbers of the rubric instead of having it handed to me a day after and wondering what the arbitrary numbers mean. Through this debrief I could learn what the very specific flaws were so I could avoid those pitfalls going forward in life. Over all this experience saw a lot of growth in auditory skills for me which I greatly appreciate, because I have never been able to reflect on that before.
”At least it smells like Christmas”
I say to myself
As the wind whips my hair
And I hold a chainsaw in my hands for the first time
I tried to leave my house on time
With good intentions
For the first time in months
The weather had other ideas
And now I drag trees through mud
For this Marking Periods creative writing I decided to share a poem. I have never really ventured into writing poetry and really find no interest in it. This piece, which I entitled “I Tried” is the result of a specific prompt we got in class to go take a picture and then write something about it. On this particular day I had shown up late to class because throughout the course of the night previous two trees had blown down blocking my path out of an already treacherous dirt driveway. While cutting out the first two and third decided to fall, which lead to an unbridled sense of annoyance for the rest of the day. This morning was especially inspiring because I had woken up with such good intentions or actually going to morning choir rehearsal, which I hated and had been religiously skipping for several weeks at this point. So by the time I had gotten to school and explained myself I came to the conclusion that just maybe my brain had been swirled around enough to attempt poetry.
Most of the revisions I made on this piece I made sure to make while still in this mindset of chaos because I wanted to try and preserve the feeling of the moment as much as I could. That being said it’s still a significantly different piece from what I initially wrote on the paper. Originally I had more written, it was three stanzas long and talked more about the specifics of the situation. I cut most of this out in favor of just focusing on the single emotion I was feeling, which I really can’t sum up as anything more than “ugh”.
I have always loathed english education. As a kindergartener I was horrible with language. We are talking speak impediment, inability to turn letters into sounds, actual tears were shed because I struggled so much with the concept of reading. Now that I am older I know that this is linked to an auditory processing disorder. Once I got over the hurdles of actually learning to read I found another strong dislike in the english education process. I found that in most of my classes we only had to memorize facts and take tests. Instead of actually learning critical thinking skills we were taught how to write cookie cutter responses and sparknotes entire novels. Throughout middle and high school I found english class pretty much the same every year with no increasing difficulty level, just new books to memorize. When I started Advanced Placement Literature and Composition I was happy to find I was being more challenged in both my reading and writing while also being given more choice in how and why and read and wrote things.
I have enjoyed reading as a main form of entertainment since I was a child. Growing up in a home with only one television and full of people who loved watching television, I used reading as a way to occupy my time with topics I was interested in. As I grew, reading became a way to escape from the severe anxiety I began to find myself facing in daily life, as a way to turn of the loud sounds of the world around me. Often I will start out first thing in the morning reading news articles and nonfiction that seems relevant and interesting to my life. However my real love has always been reading stories. I loves stories that make me laugh, make me cry, or just make me feel warm in me chest with an appreciation for life. Lined on the walls of my room are shelves I put up with my dad years ago, and on these shelves are the nearly 400 books I have collected of all kinds of subject matter. Of course, the most numerous and varied subject is stories. As a kid I spent a lot of time with my Grandmama, who always described her large turn of the century house as a personal castle, secluded and full of books, just like she wanted when she was a little girl. This time spent with my grandmother instilled the idea that the value in reading is immeasurable as it is a way to gather information and learn in a way that is very personal to the reader themselves. While reading a person could pick up on ideas they didn't intend to find and carry it with them into daily life. Highschool has been a changing point in my reading habits as now I spends most of my time reading for class. Keeping interest or even picking up a new book at all can be quite challenging in itself as now instead of reading for emotion and plot I often have to read for information and facts.However binge reading on the weekends is still my favorite way of relieving stress. Currently I am reading A Storm of Swords for the third time along with the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire Series , my favorite author is Ellen Hopkins as over the last year as I have read all of her books.
As much as I don't like to write, I would consider myself a writer. Starting in grade school with the numerous journaling activities I found joy in learning to write. I liked the way it made me process my own thoughts and think about language. People write as an expression of ideas and as a way to organize thoughts for a multitude of purposes, whether professional or personal. Because writing is hard, in my opinion in order to write well someone simply has to be able to transfer their thought stream into coherent sentences. My favorite things to write are my own thoughts and potential explanations of concepts I run across in my day to day life, similar to journaling in a way. However, I do not do it often at home, as even though no one may see the finished product, the act of writing gives me performance anxiety.Once finished I love what I have written as it gives me a sense of completion and mental clarity. The best kind of response I can receive is either an invitation to discuss the topics of the writing further or kind constructive criticism about writing style and structure.
To be able to see Literature for more than it’s surface level story
To be able to confidently communicate my thoughts
To not think of critical thinking as “work” but as a second nature