When I first stepped into Mr. Ziebarth’s junior AP Language and Composition class this year, I really had no idea how much I would learn. Going into the class, I was not very confident in my writing ability. I knew words and how to put them into sentences but I was not really sure how to reach my reader or how to have a lasting effect. There were many ways that I improved over the AP Lang course year, but my change in writing is most notable.
One writing exercise that my class did was modeling a description essay off of the piece “Rice” by Jhumpa Lahiri. I chose to focus about my grandma and her curiosity. When I choose to write about things that I want, I can be very creative. When writing this description essay, I was motivated to make something that I would enjoy writing, and that pushed me to make it my best. Because of this, I think that my idea about my grandma was unique and special. I think that also in this essay I had a good choice of words. I have broadened my vocabulary in this class by learning morphemes, and it definitely shows in this essay. Overall, I really liked writing this essay and I was very proud of myself when it was finished.
This description essay I wrote was one of my best, but the general weak spots in my writing were still there. Some of my greatest flaws in writing are my structure. Everyone learns in grade school the structure of essays, but advancing upon that has always been a struggle for me. The order of pieces seem rather abstract, and every paper I write it is always different. This is how it should be, however when I am writing I feel as if I can never get the flow right, and that my ideas are choppy. In this paper, this fault was evident. Because I was able to follow a specific model of writing, it was not as difficult as some prompts. Even with this help, however, the problem still was there. Another conflict that I have when writing is my details. Usually, I am detail oriented and give just enough information to get me by. On this paper, however, it was not the case. Since it was a descriptive essay, my details did not satisfy the requirements. Since Mr. Ziebarth and my table partners pointed this out to me, I have noticed that it pops up in my other writing as well. This is okay though, because I can always work on these problems in years to follow!
After receiving feedback from Mr. Ziebarth, the students in my class had the opportunity to do a second draft to add points to our score. The corrections that we made were very detailed and we explained why we needed to make these corrections, and how they improved our writing. I benefited from this activity a lot because it is hard to receive feedback if you can’t directly improve your work. The assignment had us review our mistakes, and correct them. Not only this, but we explained why those corrections were needed. We saw exactly was done wrong, and we fixed it. By saying why it made our style better, we could remember for next time what to improve. This strategy allowed us to only make that mistake once rather than repeatedly. Another activity that definitely helped my writing was doing peer reviews in class. I typically ask my friends to review my work if it is an important assignment, to get another point of view. Making this a requirement in class, though, changed a lot. I was more conscious that my friends from class would be reading my writing, so I put a little more effort into it. I also received a lot of different perspectives before I submitted the assignment. I did not agree with all of the different perspectives, and this was perfectly fine. Other ideas, however, struck me and clearly helped my writing. I will carry this strategy with me in upcoming classes, and always ask my (willing) friends and family to assist me before I turn something in.
I was assigned to read a few books this year for AP Language. These included the “House on Mango Street”, The Grapes of Wrath, Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. I liked reading these because they showed me that there wasn’t only one specific way to write stories. All of these pieces seemed rather abstract. When I read them, I often thought that the author had made errors, even. Once we talked about it as a class, though, I saw that the reader was trying to make a point through the unconventional writing. Basically, these pieces taught me that there shouldn’t necessarily be boundaries to writing, and that helped me relax more when writing on my own. In Catcher in the Rye specifically, I liked how Holden narrated the story from his point of view, simply being a teenager. Throughout the story I really got the vibe of what he was feeling and how he thought. In many situations, Holden would go off on tangents; like when he talked about himself at the museum as a child, or when he was wondering about where the ducks went in the winter. This just added to his personality and style. If I have the chance to write personal things in the future, where I can give the main character charm and age, I will most definitely use this tactic. I love to write like this, with a specific narrator, because the character can tell the reader who they are, what they are like, their age, their desires, their because I feel as if I am making a puzzle for my reader to figure out. My language of the problems, etc.
As a last hurrah for my junior year english class, I had posed the question, “in what form are words best used to connect people and why?” By form, I had initially meant to seek what medium words are best used, like spoken, or written, but after doing some more research, I found so many more forms in which words are communicated. In the Catcher in the Rye, a recurring motif is Holden’s use of the telephone. In this book it seemed that whenever he was on the phone with someone, it was the most sincere form of communication. This is because he had plenty of time to think about what to say to that person. Both times Holden was on the phone with Sally, he had desperately wanted to talk to her and please her. The first time, he was lonely and wanted to go on a date with her. Their conversations on the phone were more brief, and therefore Holden didn’t have the chance to offend her with his unique thoughts. This question brought me down at first, but putting my last spurt of effort in it was exhilarating. Hopefully I made Mr. Z proud :). Thanks for an amazing year Mr. Ziebarth!
Photo ©2017 by Tyler Lastovich [CC-by-2.0]