Final Exam: Expectations

Things to remember...

  1. Share your Final Exam document with me. The doc must be titled "Last Name Final Exam."
  2. Sit quietly and work quietly for at least 60 minutes. If you fail to do so, you will fail the exam.

In this order, work includes...

  1. Complete all the assignments in the Final Exam document.

  2. Follow the details for each writing prompt.
  3. Proofread your work carefully. On the narrative and analysis paragraphs, if there are "any" mistakes in formatting, spelling, punctuation, you cannot receive higher than an A-

  4. Complete the Year's End Metacognition. Read my essay, "How to Write a Metacognition." Be sure to create new paragraphs whenever switching to a new thought or new direction.

  5. When you finish all your work, post your narrative, analysis and metacognition to your blog. Spend any remaining time watching and commenting on the Video Shorts. 

  6. Have an awesome summer. Thanks for your efforts.


Final Exam: Download the Exam Packet

8th Grade English
Final Exam 2019 

25 Points


Download 8th Grade Final Exam


This is your final exam. It incorporates the three types of writing we have studied and practiced all year—narrative writing, literary analysis, and Metacognition’s.

  • The Analysis, Narrative and End of Year Video should be completed before the exam time.
  • Share your video with me by Wednesday, and I will post it to The Fenn Voice.

  • The “End-0f-Year Metacognition,” which explores your experience in our English class, can be written during the exam period.
  • Rename this document as “Last Name Fitz English Exam” and shares it with me.

Final Exam: Literary Analysis


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Download Through the Tunnel

LitChart Summary & Analysis

Read “Through the Tunnel, By Doris Lessing. Write a single Literary Analysis paragraph that explores a major theme of the story using the Literary Analysis  Paragraph Plan. 300-350 words [If it is longer, create it in essay form]


Combine the broad theme and narrow theme into one sentence. Include one block quote, and at least four insertion quotes and use Parallel Structure in the Head & Heart. 

Post final paragraph to your blog before the exam with title, subtitle. image and quote.

Five Points

Week in Review: Video Short

Final Fenn Project: Video Short

Reflect upon, Capture and Celebrate Your Fenn 8th Grade
in 60 seconds 

Download Design Writing: Video Short


    In years past, I have had my students create a final Fenn Memoir. The videos ended up being pretty long--good, but seldom really powerful. This year, I am going small--but powerful, and to do so, I will copy the style of a master film-maker.

Andre Vlahakis, Fenn 2018, and now attending Lawrence Academy, is making quite a name for himself creating 60 second video shorts about Boston Sports. Andre weaves a series of images and video clips together with a series of clear and concise statements. His videos are exciting and memorable. I think it will be pretty cool to model our efforts on his pattern of creation. 

Continue reading "Week in Review: Video Short" »

Movie Update

I imagine and hope that you have hit some hurdles while making your movie. Few projects in life go as planned, so it is wise to plan for screw-ups, and fixing screw-ups takes time--time that is fast dwindling for you. By now you should be neck deep in editing your movie, fixing and re-recording your audio, tweaking awkward passages, and adding transitions and text to images and video--not working on your script or figuring out how to add audio or images or screen record video.

The video should be done by Thursday--even though the due date is Friday. You will find out just how unsympathetic I can be if you show up Friday morning saying you can't upload your video to YouTube. It is a much different story if you say the same thing on Thursday.

Finally. Make it a good video. If you settle for less than what seems good to you, it will be even worse for a viewer. 

Make today incredibly productive!

Literary Reflection Video Essay Plan

Reflecting on a Literary Experience

This is an updated Design Plan

Download Literary Reflection Video Essay Plan

This is an updated and slightly revised (and hopefully more clear) plan.

Before I preach, I have to confess that I am asking you to do something I have never done well—create a professional quality Video Essay.

This Design Writing Video Essay Plan is one way to structure a video essay—But it is not the only way or even the right way. 

All I am asking is for you to create a video 8-15 minutes in length that explores your personal response to reading a piece of literature that includes both Personal Reflection and Literary Summary and Literary Analysis—how you do that is up to you! 

The industry standard seems to be that ONE MINUTE OF VIDEO=ONE HOUR OF WORK, so plan your time—and your expectations—wisely.

New Due Date: Friday, May 17, 3:00 PM

If you have questions, please post them as comments. I will try and respond as quickly as possible.

Video Requirements:

Continue reading "Literary Reflection Video Essay Plan" »

Fenn Speaks: Fitz

I am You, and You are me...

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Give a damn & figure it out

Download Fenn Forum 2019 Fitz

     I feel like one of my students: it’s the night before my big presentation at All-school-meeting, and I still don’t know what I am going to talk about. I just know I am supposed to talk about me...

That’s pretty scary for me because, well, I’m me. At any given time I know myself too well, and at other times I’m like, who is this guy? 

I’m the guy whose socks probably don’t match, and one of my socks is on onside out.

I’m the guy whose engine warning light in my van was probably on the whole way to school--and I never noticed.

I’m the guy who forgot to post an assignment on and his students are plotting a revolution and mass protest.

I’m the guy who tries to be a teacher--and so he is...

So, how does one start something like this?

I am John Fitzsimmons, and let me tell you about me...

(No--way to vain and presumptuous)

Hi, I’m Fitz, and I may be old, but I’m slow...
(No--you are not here to hear the truth)

Continue reading "Fenn Speaks: Fitz" »

The Week(s) in Review: May 5 - May 18

Video Essay Project


Video Essay Project: Using iMovie and the Video Essay Design Plan, create a Video Essay about All Quiet on the Western Front. Due Thursday before class, May 18:  20 Points 

Download Design Writing Video Literary Essay Plan

Download Video Essay Metacognition’s

Continue reading "The Week(s) in Review: May 5 - May 18" »

The Week in Review


Tuesday: Read and highlight Chapter Nine: (two points):  Take Chapter Nine Quiz (five points)

Thursday: Read and highlight Chapter Ten (two points): Take  Chapter Ten Quiz (five points)

Begin literary analysis... Write a 350 word literary analysis paragraph about a major theme from chapters 8-10

*Use the Design Writing Literary Analysis Paragraph Plan

*Include one block quote

*Include at least three insertion quote (one line or less) in other parts of the paragraph.


Friday: Complete and post Literary Analysis (five points)

Weekend: Independent Blog post

Design Writing: Common Literary Analysis Paragraph Mistakes


This comprises the first third of your paragraph and guides the reader in the direction your paragraph. The three parts act together to clearly state the reason your paragraph exists.

  • Broad Theme: The most common mistake is to make this a long and complicated sentence.  The only purpose of the Broad Theme is to "engage" the readers interest by introducing an enduring, universal theme and tying it into your Narrow Theme.

  • Narrow Theme: The most common mistake is to omit the one-word theme and a specific reference to the literary piece in this sentence. This sentence shows how the Broad Theme is used in the literary piece.

  • One/Two Punch: Don't go back to your Broad Theme here; this is the place to narrow down your Narrow Theme even further to a specific character, event or observation.



This should fill up the center third of your paragraph. It is the physical proof of your theme working within the text of your literary piece.

  • Setup: This is the Text Reference. Oftentimes a writer does not provide enough Specific Detail for the reader to fully understand the context of the coming quote (the smoking gun). Be sure to fully create the "image" a reader needs to "see" by including a meaty and specific who, what, when, where, why leading into the actual text support, AKA: The Smoking Gun.

  • Smoking Gun: This is the Text Support, and so it must be the Actual Text from the literary piece. The most common mistake is to forget to Cite the Source of the quote, or to forget to italicize the quote—or to forget to Block-Quote the selection if it is longer than two lines on the page.



This Head & Heart is the Intellectual Foundation of your paragraph and demonstrates your mastery of the text. Without it, your paragraph will be as empty as it is shallow. It Explains and Analyzes how your theme is relevant to your text reference. It makes reading your paragraph a worthwhile and insightful experience.

  • Focus on the Theme: By far the most common mistake here is to write about the theme itself instead of how the theme is specifically used in the piece of literature you are analyzing—and even more specifically how the theme is used in your Text Reference & Text Support. 

  • Check this section and make sure that "every" sentence refers back to the literary piece (and your narrow theme) in some way shape or form.



This last part of your paragraph should signal your readers that they have either reached their destination or you are taking the next exit off the highway. There is no reason to be wordy here. Too many words is like trying to clear a muddy puddle with your hand. 


  • Going Off-Track: The most common mistake here is referencing your Broad Theme without referencing the piece of literature you just finished analyzing.

  • Transition: The biggest mistake when transitioning to a new paragraph is if there is no logical flow between paragraphs. My rule of thumb is that I "should" be able to put a conjunctive adverb (moreover, finally, however, etc) or a conjunction (so, yet, and,or, nor, for, but) between the last line of one paragraph and the first line of the next. If you can't do that, there might be something more you need to do….

  • Conclude: It is critical to end a final or single paragraph with a sense of finality, so my advice is to finish it clean. The most common mistake here is to introduce a new thought that you haven't already discussed in your paragraph--or you forget to refer back to your one-word theme AND the literary piece.  Never refer back only to the broad theme. This final sentence needs to capture your Narrow Theme PLUS the added insight of your Head & Heart.