Writing, Writing, Writing

In Language Arts, over the last couple of weeks, students have been working on using peer and teacher feedback to edit, revise, and develop polished drafts of their Personal Narratives. After completing them, they began to put themselves in someone else’s shoes by exploring personal narratives through Virtual Reality software. This not only allows them a unique opportunity practicing and reflecting on empathy, but it also will provide a fun connection to our future work with the novel Ready Player One.

Once Personal Narratives were handed in, we shifted our focus back to analytical writing. We reviewed the difference between writing that analyzes and writing that summarizes and compared analytical essays to science labs and math proofs. In the coming weeks students will craft essays investigating the correlation between the theme and the conflict within their new Choice Books and tracing the hero’s journey of a movie character of their choice.




The Hero’s Journey

petit rouge

Illustrated by Jim Harris

In Language Arts, we have been learning about the stages of the *Hero’s Journey.  Students have considered the path of heroes from a variety of sources, starting with the delightful Petite Rouge Riding Hood, continuing with Luke Skywalker, and beginning what will be a recurring examination of the roles of both Odysseus and the women of The Odyssey.

This week, students began to think about their own personal narratives with Ms. Lulu, work that will extend into Performance Studies.  Later in the year, after our study of Ready Player One, students will create a Virtual Reality excursion through their own hero’s journey in a crossover project that continues this combined focus.

Next week, with Language Arts substitute Alison Behnke, students will begin Elie Wiesel’s Night, adding a personal account to the historical foundation they have been getting in Global Studies.  This will begin a conversation on what it means to be a hero in real life and in dire situations that will continue after Intensives with the study of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

* Note: The word ‘hero’ is used to refer to individuals who are male, female, gender neutral, and gender non-conforming, not just males.

LA in 360: Storytelling, Science Fiction, and Society

We have finished 3 weeks of “What’s the T?  Tea Time Storytelling” which happened every Tuesday with wonderful storytellers sitting in the “STORYTELLERS CHAIR.”  We will be sending our stories soon to THE MOTH Education team.  The Moth is featured on NPR.  Next week, the final group will present their stories to their core class.

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We are finishing our unit on storytelling with STORYTELLING IN 360. The students will be utilizing 360 Ricoh Theta cameras to videotape a short story through a 360 lens.   The types of stories range from “36 Random Facts+1”, serenades about french fries through parody, random conversations, and the life of a fridge.  See sample photos below of screenshots of first rough cuts.

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We are closing out our reading groups and dialogues about science fiction novels.  We had four reading groups based on these novels:

  • 1984
  • FEED

We discussed how technology can be used help and hurt humanity.  We had two guest speakers that combined the ideas of technology, science fiction writing, and humanity.  adrienne maree brown discussed how we can recreate the future through writing science fiction.  Christian Schorman  discussed new Microsoft technology and specifically showcased the HoloLens and students were asked to write about their experience through the lens of User Experience Design (UXD).

  • adrienne maree brown (see images below).  She is the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing World.  Emergent strategy is rooted in emergence science, where “complex patterns and systems arise from relatively simple interactions, such as the murmuration of a flock of birds” says brown. In the book, brown builds upon ideas from writers and philosophers such as Octavia Butler, Margaret Wheatley, and Grace Lee Boggs. She shares core principles of emergent strategy such as adaptation, decentralization, interdependence, creating possibility, resilience, transformative justice, and nonlinear change.
  • Christian Schorman from Microsoft talking about HoloLens (photos not allowed).

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“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


“What’s the T?”: Tea Time Storytelling Circles


We have started our “CREATIVE LANGUAGE UNIT: REALITY in 360.”  One of the elements of this unit focuses on  STORYTELLING.  WE WILL EXPLORE CREATIVE USES OF LANGUAGE BY LEARNING TO TELL STORIES.  STORYTELLING is an oral tradition that helps to pass knowledge down from generation to generation and across communities and cultures.  

We will be serving tea every Tuesday for Tea Time Tuesday.  Each student will be assigned a day to tell a story to their classmates.

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We launched STORYTELLING with each student telling a story about Spring Break and learning about cultural rituals such as tea ceremonies in Chile and coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia.  Each student was assigned a country to investigate and learn about that countries’ rituals, traditions, and ceremonies centered on tea or coffee.  Also, we invited Chris Shaw to talk about the connection between rituals and algorithm.  He connected the ideas of coding as a language to the symbols and words we use as coding for a story.  He stated, “Some rituals we create. Some rituals we are given by others.”


Chris Shaw is a Seattle-based ceramic artist, designer, and engineer. He is inspired by tea, its rituals, and its fluidity. Chris’ sculptural work consists of focused examinations of our concept of value. Drawing heavily on his training in mathematics, Chris seeks to form and reform an aesthetic topography through transformative experiences. The process employed in crafting each work combines abstract logic and intuitive perception.



  • 360 in this unit represents the circle in which we deliver our stories
  • We are all storytellers
  • We get to create reality by the stories we tell ourselves and others
  • We create history, because some ancestors dreamed of our reality today
  • Oral traditions are as sacred as the written word.
  • Understanding and creating narratives is a fundamental literacy skill—it is also a universal human activity that brings people together.
  • We can create new rituals and traditions through the stories we tell.


  • Hearing stories:
      • 1. Stimulates the imagination.
      • 2. Improves listening skills.
      • 3. Instills a love of language, reading, and creative writing.
      • 4. Improves language skills, such as vocabulary, comprehension, sequencing, and story recall.
      • 5. Builds community by providing a common experience and collective language of story catch words and phrases.
  • Storytelling:
    • 1. Increases self-esteem by building confidence in speaking before groups.
    • 2. Improves expressive language skills and stimulates inventive thinking.
    • 3. Promotes greater cooperation and stronger relationships among community members. If we know others’ stories, we are less likely to judge or misunderstand them.
    • 4. Encourages personal growth through risk-taking.
    • 5. Gives you techniques for gaining and holding an audience’s attention during an oral presentation (eye contact, use of voice, gestures, etc.)

(SKILLS Modified from Julie DeNeen, “30 Storytelling Tips For Educators: How To Capture Your Student’s Attention” Inform ED.)