Wheatley’s Midterm Experience is designed to give our 9th and 10th grade students hands-on workshops to provide insight into ways in which reading, writing, and speaking skills can be used in the world beyond Wheatley. Over the course of two hours on Monday, 22 January, 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, backstory, 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.
Poetry as the Truest Journalism of Our Time
by Alan Semerdjian, writer, musician and high school teacher
The great Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once said that “poets are the truest journalists of the time,” and Palestinian-American spoken word artist and educator Suheir Hammad wrote, “Do something…start by saying something.” Led by Alan Semerdjian, this workshop explored how contemporary voices such as Claudia Rankine, Daniel Borzutzky, and Chen Chen have reported on some of the most important issues facing our society today using the imaginative forms and techniques found nowhere else except in poetry. Students crafted their own verses and shared their makings with each other.
Will Write for Food
by Michael Dunn, Wheatley English Teacher
Do you love food? Not just eating it but the creation, the look, the all-out pleasure barrage on the senses? For students who can relate to the aforementioned, this was the workshop for them. In this workshop, students blogged and created a food website, reading and writing along the way about food and the culture of food, recipe construction, food tasting, cooking demonstration, reviewing cooking shows. Remember, as Franz Kafka so wisely pronounced, “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.”