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6/15/1999

Well, my sophomore year is over and summer vacation has arrived. It has been a very good year for me in my Honors II English class. There are many reasons for my great success in this class. I have been privileged to have the great Mr. Luizzi as a teacher, and his teaching techniques have proven themselves beneficial. I feel that my skills as an English student have grown since the beginning of this school year. By mirroring the introduction I wrote to my portfolio, I would like to reflect upon how I have improved this year as an English student.

There have been many times, near the beginning of this school year, that I have tried to explain my view of something being discussed in class, and have failed. It seems that I just wasn't able to get my point across. It seems now, though, that I am improving upon my speaking. Though I have a way to go before my thoughts become crystal clear, I know that I have begun to improve. Probably one of the main reasons for this progress may be attributed to the vocab lessons that we have been learning in class. Because of these studies, I have begun to use words that may seem simple, but were just not in my small vocabulary before this year. Besides the words I use to express myself, I also have a strong voice that helps me with my speech. Having a strong voice is definitely a strength for speech. I'm not sure if I'm improving in the amplitude of my voice or not. However, I'm sure that it is loud enough for people to understand what I am saying. Also, we have had many class discussions in class. These have helped to improve my speech as well through expressing my thoughts to the class. In general, my speech has improved from the beginning of the school year to the end due to my enriched vocabulary and discussions in class. Speech is very important for the "real world" when it is necessary for people to be able to understand you, if you want to persuade someone to do something, or for getting a point across to someone. By helping to improve my speech, the English class has helped me to become ready for when I am on my own.

I know that I have become a better reader this year, as I was required to read many books over the course of these two semesters. I have never really been much of a reader before this year began. I probably read as many books in English this year as I would normally read in three years. As you can see on my Annotated Reading List, I have read many books. I am very grateful for this required reading, however. It has helped me to get to understand different styles of writing better. Also, it has been good experiencing selections from authors whose work I had never read before. It has given me a different flavoring from what I had been reading previously. Instead of reading only one type of genre, we experienced many different genres, from fantasies to dramas. Reading is also very important to other aspects of English, especially writing and speaking. Reading the works of other authors has also improved my vocabulary. This is important for writing, viewing, and speaking because with a larger vocabulary, I will be able to express how I feel and understand how others feel. Also, by reading a variety of books, I have been able to interpret the message of each and give my own views. I have done this for the book "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein by creating an analytical essay on the topic of how Heinlein criticizes Western culture. Another example of how I improved in my reading is when we read the play "Oedipus" by Sophocles. As a class, we were not only able to read this Old English style writing, but also able to put it into modern words. This year, I have discovered how reading could be fun. I really enjoyed the books that Mr. Luizzi had us read and the independent reading books I picked out for myself.

Going along with my reading comes my writing. Writing is probably the aspect of English that I improved on the most this year. I feel that it is also the most important part of English. This is probably because with each topic we covered in class, there was always a writing assignment to go along with it. By being able to criticize an author's work with an analytical essay, I have shown my improvement in writing this year. This is because this is something that I have never been required to do before this year. A View of the West is probably one of my best pieces this year as we had to incorporate reading, research, and writing into a final piece. You can see how I analyze the book "Stranger in a Strange Land" with my writing, "Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein takes the themes portrayed in the book and directly criticizes the Western Culture." This shows how I was able to analyze and use my own thoughts on someone else's work. This can be important for the "real world" as well. If I am in a job that requires me to criticize others' work, then being able to analyze other people's work is a very important skill to have. Being able to criticize is something that I have not covered in an English class before this year. It is an important skill and I am glad to have learned it this year. Also, I was able to analyze "My Name is Asher Lev" by Chaim Potok through my journals. For instance one thing I wrote to analyze chapter 4 was "It seems that Asher's dream makes him think that his artistic gift comes from the devil.... I think that at this point Asher is wondering if he should still be drawing or if he is defying God." The journals that I wrote for the book contained my own thoughts and criticism, questions, and my ideas of what would happen next. This was the first year that we had gone into very much detail with writing journals. In past years we had done journals, but the content had less depth than my journals this year. In English class this year we also had to write personal narratives. These narratives had to do with an event that took place in our lives. This was difficult because we had to remember the event and put it into our own words using colloquial language. I felt that I did a good job with my narrative, like when I foreshadowed what would happen: "I wondered what my parents would have said had they known that I was giving money to some poor people. They probably would have been happier knowing that I was giving the money to someone who really needed it, rather than a person who put on a show for money." Another thing that I'm proud about with my writing is when we translated the story of "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles into Modern English with gangster rap, German accent, priest, etc. For instance, we changed Old English into "Yeah, I know what your sayin. I dig it. I feel for my entire Thebian posse. I'm on the situation. As you can see, I have really improved in my writing from ninth grade to tenth grade.

Another aspect of English that I have improved on is viewing. In class we watched many films, such as "Julius Caesar", "The Crucible", "Raisin in the Sun", and many others. I am probably better at viewing than I am at reading, because with viewing the pictures are already made up for you and imagination is not needed like it is with reading. Since I don't have the best of imaginations, it is easier for me if the pictures are already there for me. Viewing still requires analyzing, however. We talked about what the title "Raisin in the Sun" had to do with the story, how it represented the dying of the father's dream. Many times, also, we watched the films after reading the book in order to get a feel of how the story might look like on the screen. Basically, watching the films helped to give us a different perspective on the characters and their actions that we couldn't get by only reading the story. I feel that I have improved as a viewer because of after watching many films in English, I am beginning to understand how the characters act differently from the story. Viewing is becoming an important skill to possess, as film is becoming a larger and larger media being used. It is good thing that Mr. Luizzi had us up with the times. This goes for our digital portfolio, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

One thing that I wanted to improve on this year was my listening. I felt that in the past I hadn't been listening to people as much I should have been. I feel that I have improved on that this year. I have tried to listen to other people, including Mr. Luizzi and my other classmates. There have been times when I have failed, but for the most part, I have improved and have listened to others as they speech. Another aspect of listening is comprehending what people say. This again goes back to how we studied vocabulary. Because of an enriched vocab, I am able to listen and understand better what people are saying. In the past I have had trouble with this. It seems, though, with more practice, I will continue to get better at listening.

I have definite strengths and weaknesses in English, one of these strengths being speaking. Even though I have many more faults than strengths, I know that I am improving in these weaknesses. English has been up to par in my standards. I expected it to be a challenging class with a lot of reading. It has done both of these. English has been a challenging class with large assignments being completed with limited time, and we have read a tremendous amount of books as seen on my Anotated Reading List. I hope that my same standards are met in next year's English class. English this year has been fun, challenging, and enlightening. Thank you Mr. Luizzi for a great year!

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