By: Ms. Theofiles
7th Grade English Teacher
As I reach the midpoint of my first year at St. James Academy, I can’t think of a better group of students in terms of creativity, critical thinking and sense of fun. Students in 7th grade English have been diligently working on various types of creative writing assignments.
Writing has been an important focus for 7th grade English for many reasons: to prepare students for the rigorous writing programs they will meet in high school and college, to expand critical thinking skills, and to foster self-discovery.
This week, we have been wrapping up our discussion of A Girl Named Disaster, a novel by Nancy Farmer. Students created their own stories based on the stories presented in the book. These stories include elements of the spirit world. The main character, Nhamo, often tells stories of alternate realities in order to comfort herself and those around her. We spent the week peer editing, writing, and using our African Story Telling Hut, modeled after the dare (men’s meeting house) in the book, to foster creative thinking.
Prior to writing our own more lengthy stories, we explored storytelling with our own African Story Telling Circle. Students brought 5-10 sentence stories to share with the class. We listened to tribal music and were able to imagine ourselves in the hot climate of Mozambique, fearing the leopards as Nhamo did.
During this unit, students created their own “I am…” poems. These poems were inspired by a song Nhamo sings to give herself encouragement and confidence as she is trying to survive on the island. I displayed these poems outside of my classroom and will be sending these home in the portfolios at the end of the year. These portfolios have snapshots of the work we have completed this year and will serve as a record of the growth in writing. These students have made such wonderful progress; it never ceases to amaze me! If you have time, please come read their inspiring poems.