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.
Theatre Games and Improvisation
by Rick Leidenfrost Wilson
In this workshop, students explored the theatrical art of improvisation through games, movement, and scene building. They used games such as Freeze Tag, Who Started the Motion?, and Seeing a Sport to build awareness and confidence, and to discover the comedy and drama in our interactions with each other. Mr. Leidenfrost drew on his experience as a playwright, actor, producer, and director to help students through all aspects of improvisation.
Become Your Own Ghostwriter
by Daniel Paisner (New York Times best-selling collaborator and author of over sixty books, including books. He has written books with Denzel Washington, Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, tennis great Serena Williams, “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John and Holocaust survivor Krystyna Chiger.)
Have you ever wondered how our leading actors, athletes, politicians and newsmakers find the time to write their autobiographies and memoirs? Very often, they reach out to writers like Daniel Paisner (Class of 1978), one of the most prolific collaborators in publishing. In this workshop, Paisner shared with students how he came to his unusual writing career (which started at Wheatley), and shared stories of his unique working relationships with a variety of celebrities and ordinary individuals with extraordinary stories to tell. Paisner offered strategies for students looking to develop their own skills, demonstrating how the techniques he uses in his work can be re-imagined by young writers struggling with personal essays and other classroom assignments. He ended the presentation with an activity during which students became “ghostwriters” of their classmates’ stories.
Lyric Writing: Lessons in Framing the Sentiment
by Alan Semerdjian, poet, songwriter and educator
Alan Semerdjian led a discussion about how lyrics are crafted in order to best articulate a song’s thematic concerns, musical elements and emotional terrain. He performed and discussed his own work as well as the work of others. Students engaged in a discussion about the meaning of lyrics and how to convey emotion through song lyrics. Alan was called by Relix magazine “an impressive contemporary sound…rich, textured songs and poetic lyrics.” Alan teaches English at Herricks High School and lives in NYC’s Lower East Side.