Wheatley’s Midterm Experiences Bring the World to Students (Part 1)

Wheatley’s Midterm Experience is designed to give our 9th and 10th grade students hands-on workshops to provide insight into how English can be used in future endeavors. On Wednesday, over the course of two hours, students worked with acclaimed authors, poets, comedians and creative artists in activities designed to engage students in a way that can be challenging during the regular school day.

The Midterm Experience occurs thanks to the dedication of our Secondary English Chair, Mr. Steve Collier, our extraordinary librarian, Mrs. JoBeth Roberts, and our dedicated English teachers.

Some of the workshops given include:

Thinking Like a Writer
by Todd Strasser (Wheatley Class of 1968)

Wheatley graduate and renowned author Todd Strasser (The Beast of Cretacea, Fallout, Wish You Were Dead series) shared with participants what makes stories work. Many films, plays, and novels share common story elements, such as exposition, conflict, rising action, crisis, climax, and resolution. In the first part of the workshop, students identified these elements in popular films and novels. In the second, highly interactive, part of the workshop Mr. Strasser guided students in discovering why these elements are essential, helping them create a story of their own. In the process students discussed character and plot development, theme, back story, foreshadowing, subplot, and many other aspects of creative writing. By the end students not only had a greater understanding of story structure, but experienced “thinking like a writer” as well.

We All Have a Story to Tell
by April Armstrong, award winning performer and storyteller

Professional storyteller April Armstrong, winner of the 2015 Bronx BRIO award, helped to bring storytelling to life. This workshop examined the art of storytelling as a vibrant and necessary form of communication. Using voice, character, dialogue, gesture and song, students explored stories and their personal relationship to them. Emphasis was on story writing and telling prompts, using drama exercises as well as other sensory and visual exercises to help make story telling memorable.

Stealing Poetry (or Every Poet is a Thief stolen from U2’s Mysterious Ways)
by Leah Umansky, poet, collagist, teacher, pop-culture fanatic

This workshop was designed for students who love television, movies or theatre, often finding themselves thinking about a certain character, or something a character said in a TV show or movie, days after they saw it! This workshop was designed to help students find what inspires them as a writer. Leah Umansky read from her Game of Thrones and Mad Men inspired poems and discussed the genesis of her inspiration.  Participants learned how to be inspired by their surroundings – including pop culture!  This workshop was designed to break the stigma often applied to poetry, opening students up to new ways of approaching and entering poems. Emphasis was on writing prompts and reading contemporary poetry.  Participants were asked to share their work!

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