English 8th Grade Portfolio

 

Section One

Design Writing

Narrative Paragraph Plan

 

The Power of Commitment

Dedication to the water

 

Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.

~Abraham Lincoln 

 

Commitments are things that stick with you. That’s why, for almost ten years now, I’ve been on my town’s swim team. I’ve had many commitments in my life, but none have I been as dedicated to than swimming. Rain or shine, as long as there wasn’t thunder, I was in the pool. 

    The five swim teams pile into the field and deck, carrying tents, food, goggles, and more. It was Champs, the last and annual meet of the year, and I was excited. Our club, normally open and large, feels small as families drag themselves to the signs with their team names. Westford, Wailand, Heritage, Wedgewood, and Chelmsford. It had always seemed odd that every team’s town started with a “W” except for ours (Heritage is in Weston). That didn’t cross my mind at this point in time, though, especially when I hear a shout by the diving board: “Chelmsford Twelve and Unders Warm Up!”

    I throw off my masquerading shorts and shoes revealing the bathing suit underneath. I grab the silver silicone cap and the black goggles, and run to the pool. I meet up with my brother, until we have to get in line. One by one, kids trickle into the pool, doing their strokes of choice. I start swimming and get stuck behind people, and pass a few of them. I never stop until I hit the wall. I focus on my arms, because I get tired when I do my stroke. Even in exhaustion, I continue and I am committed. After warm-up is over, I meet up with friends under my mom’s tent. We dry off, and start to play Smash with each other on my switch. We wait and recuperate until it’s time to actually race. We get on the blocks and wait. A take-your-marks and a beep later, the rush of water and excitement fills me. I swim as much as I can, but even though I didn’t win, I got a new best time. 

    It never matters what we do each day in practice and meets. Whether it’s easy like kicking with flippers or as hard as gravestone kick, I’ll do it to the greatest extent I can. I am fully committed to swimming, and I have no plans to stop.

    A commitment is more than a task; it’s a promise to self.

 

Metacognition….  

This is an older writing piece and one that I used for a secondary school essay.  This story depicts my last swim meet in August. I always enjoyed my time while swimming and am getting excited for the nearing summer so I can swim more. Sadly, Westford sold the land and closed a few weeks ago, so this piece will be the memory of the last “full” championships meet. I easily tied this topic into the story and followed the plan to a tee.

 

Section Two

Design Writing 

Literary Analysis Paragraph Plan

 

All Quiet on the Western Front

The estrangement of the enemy

 

A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.

~Winston Churchill

 

War and fighting causes the enemy to become alienated. In Chapter Eight of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul goes to the Russian prison on guard duty, watching the estranged young soldiers. As he watches the Russians and makes note of how “they seem nervous and fearful,” he realizes that they are young men just like him. While guarding at the Russian prison, Paul starts thinking about the troops as they silently stand at the wire fence:

A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies... At some table a document is signed by some persons whom none of us knows, and then for years together that very crime on which formerly the world’s condemnation and severest penalty fall, becomes our highest aim.

    After the realization of this harsh truth, Paul decides against thinking about it for the time being: “I am frightened: I dare think this way no more. This way lies the abyss. It is not now the time but I will not lose these thoughts, I will keep them, shut them away until the war is ended.” Paul sees the young soldiers and susses out the fact that they are just like him; young boys; scrappy boys; soldier boys, who are only fighting because someone commands them to. They are hungry, they are tired and they are scared. Paul is hungry, Paul is tired and Paul is scared

    Later, once it’s evening and the “stars are cold,” Paul knows some of the prisoners who speak a small amount of German. One of them used to be a musician, so he brings out a violin and starts to play it for everyone:

He plays mostly folk songs and the others hum with him. They are like a country of dark hills that sing far down under the ground. The sound of the violin stands like a slender girl above it and is clear and alone. The voices cease and the violin continues alone. In the night it is so thin it sounds frozen… —out here it makes a man grow sad.

The music of the violin and cold air makes Paul fully realize that he and the Russians are one in the same. When he goes home for Sunday, his mother makes him potato-cakes and jam, and as he’s going back he “takes two cakes to the Russians,” because he has developed a care for the prisoners. War leads to alienation, but at the end of it all, men are the same to any other man, nobody is less.

 

Metacognition….  

One of my most recent writing pieces, this is a literary analysis with a central theme of “alienation.” I’m pretty sure this is the first analysis in which I used two block quotes along with multiple insertion and line quotes. Honestly, I don’t really like this piece compared to some other past works of mine, since some parts don’t flow well in my opinion. However, I used the plan well and it shows in this piece.

Section Three

Design Writing 

Literary Reflection Paragraph Plan

 

The Call of the Wild

The call that I called back

 

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.

~J.K. Rowling

 

Getting engaged with anything is one of the most important things to do. The Call of the Wild by Jack London was a book which I always wanted to know what happened next, no matter if it was good or bad. Reading The Call of the Wild was one of my favorite things to do in English. I could not stop reading it even from the start. Whenever I finished a chapter, I read the next few paragraphs in the next one until I had to stop myself.

    When I started reading it, it was just like an English assignment, highlighting unfamiliar words like “veranda” or “demesne” until every last page was covered with highlighted words and phrases. Then, the story started to pick up. The man with a lottery addiction sells Buck for some money to pay his debts, and Buck lashes out. That was when I got really interested in the book. Everything — every little detail, character, place — stood out to me. I got excited every day coming back from school to read. Going from the man in the red sweater to the journey of François and Perrault to the fall of Hal, Mercedes and Charles then to John Thornton and the wilderness.

    Even with my partial unwillingness with annotation, it still brandished words, customs and themes previously sewn-up from me. If engagement to a story never antecedently heard is what is needed to see everything Buck sees, then I’m happy I was invested in the story to the degree that I was. Buck taught me many things, like we all have our beast within ourselves, and I listened with ears wide open. I need to stay engaged with everything I do, focus on the sole task and pay attention.

    Starting the book, I had no mindset except my normal one. Now, I know what I must do when I start to work. I need to look at every little detail and take my time, being thorough.

 

Metacognition….  

I wrote this back when I was at what I think now as the time where I had my best writing ability. I loved Call of the Wild as much as I claim to in the essay. I was also able to capture the theme of being engaged with something. Looking back, i wish there were a better word to use instead of “engagement,” but I can’t think or find anything.

Section Four

Design Writing 

Tell a Good Story

 

Windsor Mountain

Exhaustion, Confusion, and Anticipation

 

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood. 

-Henry Miller



    During my trip at Windsor Mountain, I felt many things. Serenity, anger, happiness, sadness, excitement, boredom and so on. It was a trip where the 8th grade went to a mountain in New Hampshire for three days, so all of us would bond and reconnect. There were nice experiences that I enjoyed. There were experiences that I’d not prefer. Although, some emotions I felt, some themes, stood out more than others. The main three themes that stuck out to me were confusion, anticipation, and exhaustion.

    Confusion is an odd occurrence. It disorients us and makes us lose our way, as it did to me, during my trip. It was in the afternoon of the first day at Windsor Mountain. I wandered around the large, gravelly and grassy terrain aimlessly, trying to find the cabin I was in not many hours ago. I had a bad headache from the bus ride, as there was shouting in all directions as all the other kids blabbered to their buddies. My head pounded as I searched multiple times; always reconvening at the main area to be careful I wouldn’t get lost. I realized the next day that I got close, as I went to the little garden near the path. I didn’t realize that, as I was still adjusting to something that didn’t feel real, like a fever dream, like I would wake up from it any minute. The headache didn’t help, either. It only made me more confused. My brain and legs both wandered, both to no avail. I didn’t know where to walk, I didn’t remember the route. I was confused, angry, and lost. It wasn’t until the beginning of free time that I finally found it, and my headache simmered down, too. I got to the cabin by following all the other kids running towards them. I soon memorized the route, so I didn’t get lost again. If you stop and sit down for a minute or so, you can think straight. I had to do that in order to get my head working right. It is always possible to overcome confusion.

    I like and dislike the feeling of anticipation at the same time. It makes you recognize something before it happens, but it also makes it lose its full charm. Though, that downside didn’t stop me from looking forward to returning home. It was the final meal at Windsor Mountain. There was a tenacious feeling of weariness through most everyone, wanting to eat up fast and return home. I was sitting with friends in the shade, my worn and small backpack on my back, and my sweatshirt around my waist. The five others all said that they wanted to leave. As I was eating my sandwich, I was thinking about what I would do once I finally got home. I’d rest on the couch, or play on the computer, or call a friend. I was longing to go home. The sun combined with a lack of sleep left bags under my eyes and still two full days later make me lethargic. Everyone I slept in a cabin with or talked to was tired. Everyone longed for the moment they could step foot in their house for the first time in 3 days. Once I finally stepped inside my house, I sat down on the couch and looked back upon my time. The cabins, the water, the dining hall area. It all seemed “distant”, as if it happened to be a month ago, instead of a day. I was home, and it didn’t feel exactly like I was at home, but nonetheless, I had returned, and I knew that I probably wouldn’t ever return to Windsor. Anticipation can be a lot of different things, whether sad, longing, excitement, or even frustration. Take a moment to think about what anticipation really is to you.

    By the end of the 8th grade trip to Windsor Mountain, I was exhausted from a lack of sleep. I lugged my bags onto the bus, then slowly sauntered into it. I sat down and threw my stuff on the other chair, and felt my eyes start to close. I was on the bus ride home, looking out the window, listening to my music. I felt a sudden lure to close my eyes. I tried to stay awake, and I was successful, for a short time. I felt more tired than I had been on the entire trip. I raised the music’s volume to attempt to stay awake, but it didn’t work for long. Even everyone else’s loud clammering and shouting couldn’t stop me from sleeping. I closed my eyes, thinking I would only be asleep for at most ten minutes. It only felt like five minutes, during my slumber. After those “five minutes” in which I slept, I was awoken by Jason asking me “Are you awake now?” I leaned forward and looked at him, but had an unpleasant surprise when my neck and back ached. I quietly responded “Yeah, I am.” to him. I checked my IPod, and to my surprise, I slept for a full hour. I was still a bit tired, although I didn’t sleep again until that night. Sleep is inevitable for us human beings. Whether it faces us in a noon catnap, or late at night in a heavy slumber, it always returns. It is essential for us to sleep. Without it, we wouldn’t have advanced so far as a species. We wouldn’t exist. Sleep took me and made me regain my energy. But, other than that, we still don’t know why we sleep. It’s an unanswered enigma.

We can have and remember feelings. But why do we?

 

Metacognition….  

This was one of, if not the first writing assignments in Fitz’s English. Reading makes it feel like our Windsor trip wasn’t over 7 months ago. It must have only been a few weeks, because I almost fully remember it. This piece is likely why I remember it so well. When I wrote this piece, I poured out and described the three feelings I felt were major: anticipation, confusion and exhaustion. If I could improve one thing, it would be the conclusion; however, I find it okay to leave it as is. 

Section Five

Haiku Poetry

Top Three Techniques

 

Winter

It’s getting colder;
The dormant shovel
about to be used again.

 

Spring

The dark storm clouds
Water the azaleas
Less work for me.

 

Summer

On the beach
The white sands
Blaze hot and bright.

 

Fall

Rush of cold wind
Howling through trees
Taking their leaves with it.

 

Metacognition….  

If I had to pick a singular project in English class this year to be my favorite, I’d choose this. It was a simple, fun and thought provoking unit that I think most of my fellow classmates would agree that this was something that Fitz should continue for future eighth grade classes. I liked that it was an open-ended assignment with only four guidelines: You had to have three for each season, you need under twenty syllables in each, each season needed one of every haiku technique, and you can’t write about skiing.

 

Section Six

Top Ten Comma Rules

 

I was originally going to write this yesterday, which was Tuesday, May 31, 2022 [4, 9], but [2] I didn’t because I couldn’t keep my eyes open and gave up, because I like dinner before I fall asleep [4].  This was caused by multiple prior poor circumstances: high pollen, drowsiness after a warm shower, less-than-desirable amount of sleep the night before, and staying up late over the long weekend. [1] Now, [3] I will write this and get a good grade on the exam, hopefully. [10]

 

Metacognition….  

This is the one thing that I had to write at the time of putting together my portfolio, and I extremely doubt that anyone prepared or wrote this ahead of time. This piece used one of my main writing techniques: writing about current or recent events in my life in open assignments or pieces of writing such as this. First approaching this part, I thought it would be difficult to write all of the rule number, but it was surprisingly easy to just write them as I went along and I cranked through it in about only five minutes.

 

Section Seven

One-Minute Video

A Blank Page

 

 

Metacognition…. 

I used to hate how I sound in recordings with a passion; however, I have been getting more used to it the more I record, and I can now say I am more comfortable with my voice after this video. I still don’t necessarily love it, but it’s a step forward. I only took a few videos with a general idea in mind and six words: “A blank page; a thousand possibilities.” I used all but one of my shots, though I wish I took another one on the green and replaced my other shot there.

 

Section Eight

Metacognition

My Year in English

 

This year, I was part of Mr. Fitzsimmon’s Eighth Grade English class. Early on out I could tell that this wasn’t some standard, boring and lame class; we had blogs, guitars, and a desk setup that reminded me of the few Socratic Seminars I had in seventh grade. English class never felt like a class this year. Instead, it was like a book club or a writing group, depending on what we would be doing that day or week. I was always happy to participate in lessons. It is a place where I can read, it is a place where I can write and it is a place where I can share all of my readings and writings.

    In this class, we mainly did two different things: reading and writing. At the start of the year, we mainly focused on the latter, due to the fact that everybody in the class was applying out to secondary schools and needed material for essay and text submissions. We started with a narrative essay about our grade trip to Windsor Mountain, then four essays, titled “the Power of” followed by a theme, which were family, friends, place and a fourth that each student could choose on their own (I chose “Commitment”). Then, after most of the secondary school process was completed, we focused on reading, with the two major books being The Call of the Wild by Jack London and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. We wrote literary analyses and reflections for these.

    With the knowledge that I will have Mr. Fitzsimmons again next year makes me excited, happy and ready for my 9th grade year and ultimate year being taught at Fenn. However, that’s in the future, and I’m supposed to be reflecting on this year at Fenn in Fitz’s English class, my penultimate year. This year was honestly my favorite year in all of my Fenn “career.” I put the word career in quotation marks because it doesn’t feel like just some forced work. Throughout most of my classes, especially English, I have felt that the assignments guide you to what your supposed to do at what time, instead of just doing something for an assignment and just moving onto the next. Anyways, I thank Fitz for giving me all of the opportunities I have been presented with in this class and I yet again await returning to your class next year.

    I do not believe that anything in this class would need changing. Maybe, we shouldn’t attempt a book during the first half of the year like we did with The Poet X and save readings to later on in the year. Maybe without it another “Power Of”  essay could be created, perhaps open-ended like the fourth one.  Also, at the beginning of the year, after Windsor Mountain, you told us to keep our journals and we would be doing some journaling, but, sadly, we didn’t end up doing any. I think it would have been somewhat fun and interesting to try.

    All in all, this year in English has been great. The room, the peers, the teacher, all of it. I will continue to write in my own time over the summer, and keep in mind all of Fitz’s comma rules.

 

    I can’t wait for next year,

   

~Max Yerid

 


Final All Quiet Analysis

All Quiet on the Western Front
Either lucky or lost

 

Death is overarching and unavoidable. In All Quiet on the Western Front, it is death that circles the Second Company; that borders them. The soldiers feel that “life is simply one continual watch against the menace of death,” and death will come to them. All will die, sooner or later, all they can do is wait to see who will be taken sooner. 

    After Paul brings Kat to the dressing station and discover that he’s dead, he is stunned since he had a conversation with him minutes ago:

Do I walk? Have I feet still? I raise my eyes, I let them move round, and turn myself with them, one circle, one circle, and I stand in the midst. All is as usual. Only the Militiaman Stanislaus Katczinsky has died. [Chapter 11, Page 138]

After Kat dies, Paul is shocked and claims that his untimely death was “ ‘Not possible. Only ten minutes ago I was talking to him. He has fainted.’ ” He doesn’t believe that the last of his true comrades is gone. Then, he knows “nothing more.” Loss is luck on the other side.

Luck is behind all chances. In All Quiet on the Western Frontluck is what keeps the soldiers alive; what keeps them fighting; what decides their fate; what decides their death. Chance could decide the war. All know it, and “every soldier believes in chance.” Their luck is crucial; without it, they’d already be dead.

    After a German shell lands in his own trench, Paul reflects on how he is still alive while others have already fallen:

It is just as much a matter of chance that I am still alive as that I might have been hit. In a bombproof dug-out I may be smashed to atoms and in the open may survive ten hours’ bombardment unscathed. No soldier outlives a thousand chances. But every soldier believes in his luck. [Chapter 6, Page 49]

Paul may still be standing, but he knows if luck wasn’t with him he’d be lost with the others who have fallen. He knows that above all “Chance hovers,” and all will be judged by it; all will lose to it; whether sooner or later. Life runs out once luck runs out.


Letter from Paul Baümer

Dear Max,

    Hello! I hope your life has been kind to you, for mine has not been the greatest. Earlier today, at about noon, I went out on a patrol to spy on an enemy base. I was close to death multiple times. Shells landed near me, troops walked nearby me, and one man entered the shell hole I was in. In a moment of desperation, seeing him as an “abstraction,” I sprung at him. I cut his throat, and watched him die. The truth about slitting is that the dying man won’t go dead for a long time, compared to a bullet from a pistol or rifle. I watched that man die for three hours, and within those I started to see him for who he was, instead of an enemy and an abstraction.

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All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter Eight Literary Analysis

All Quiet on the Western Front

The estrangement of the enemy

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A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
Winston Churchill

War and fighting causes the enemy to become alienated. In Chapter Eight of All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul goes to the Russian prison on guard duty, watching the estranged young soldiers. As he watches the Russians and makes note of how “they seem nervous and fearful,” he realizes that they are young men just like him. While guarding at the Russian prison, Paul starts thinking about the troops as they silently stand at the wire fence:

A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies... At some table a document is signed by some persons whom none of us knows, and then for years together that very crime on which formerly the world’s condemnation and severest penalty fall, becomes our highest aim.

After the realization of this harsh truth, Paul decides against thinking about it for the time being: “I am frightened: I dare think this way no more. This way lies the abyss. It is not now the time but I will not lose these thoughts, I will keep them, shut them away until the war is ended.” Paul sees the young soldiers and susses out the fact that they are just like him; young boys; scrappy boys; soldier boys, who are only fighting because someone commands them to. They are hungry, they are tired and they are scared. Paul is hungry, Paul is tired and Paul is scared.

Later, once it’s evening and the “stars are cold,” Paul knows some of the prisoners who speak a small amount of German. One of them used to be a musician, so he brings out a violin and starts to play it for everyone:

He plays mostly folk songs and the others hum with him. They are like a country of dark hills that sing far down under the ground. The sound of the violin stands like a slender girl above it and is clear and alone. The voices cease and the violin continues alone. In the night it is so thin it sounds frozen… —out here it makes a man grow sad.

The music of the violin and cold air makes Paul fully realize that he and the Russians are one in the same. When he goes home for Sunday, his mother makes him potato-cakes and jam, and as he’s going back he “takes two cakes to the Russians,” because he has developed a care for the prisoners. War leads to alienation, but at the end of it all, men are the same to any other man, nobody is less.


All Quiet on the Western Front Literary Analysis

All Quiet on the Western Front

Chapter Six & Seven; The physicality against the mentality

C690D073-C874-44B9-90A8-29F5A81DB1C1“Just because you come back to the safety of home doesn’t mean you know how to stop fighting your war.”
-Melissa Hawks

 

Fighting and war have effects on both the mind and the man. In the novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, The two struggles of war are openly expressed within the protagonist. Chapter Six explores the physical conflict through an onslaught led by the French. However, Chapter Seven shows the reader the cognitive conflict through a mental breakdown after going on leave. In Chapter Six, Paul and his friends are under attack by the French and have to fight back against their advance to protect themselves:

We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. …now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger. No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged. [Chapter Six]

After the French attack has been repelled in Chapter Six, Paul gets a break and gets sent on leave for seventeen days, so he goes home to see his family; however, In Chapter Seven, he finally makes it to his house, and then freezes on the staircase after hearing his sister’s call:

I lean against the wall and grip my helmet and rifle. I hold them as tight as I can, but I cannot take another step, the staircase fades before my eyes, …my sister’s call has made me powerless, I can do nothing, I struggle to make myself laugh, to speak, but no word comes, and so I stand on the steps, miserable, helpless, paralyzed, and against my will the tears run down my cheeks. [Chapter Seven]

Even though the brutality and physicality of warfare is barbaric and harsh, the worst part of the fighting is the mental side-effects. People may know of the brutality of war, but not as many know about the mental side of it.


Not Enough Time

Not Enough Time
Why People Need More Free Time

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”Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
~Susan Cain

People don’t live for a long time. Everybody knows that, but not all accept it. Since we don’t stay long, we need to spend it to the fullest, yet so much of our time is spent doing work or school, even though only a small fraction of what we learn will actually be used. Kids spend time with useless work, instead of spending time exploring themselves and their interests. Teens and children should have more free time and less work.

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W.W. Fenn Poem

Sailing to Byzantium

 



 

 

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

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The Call of the Wild by Jack London Literary Review

The Call of the Wild
The call that I called back

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I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
~J.K. Rowling

 

Getting engaged with anything is one of the most important things to do. The Call of the Wild by Jack London was a book which I always wanted to know what happened next, no matter if it was good or bad. Reading The Call of the Wild was one of my favorite things to do in English. I could not stop reading it even from the start. Whenever I finished a chapter, I read the next few paragraphs in the next one until I had to stop myself.

Continue reading "The Call of the Wild by Jack London Literary Review" »


The Call of the Wild by Jack London Literary Review

The Call of the Wild
The call that I called back

1005F14C-FFFF-4FC4-B777-FF408981EB09
I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
~J.K. Rowling

 

Getting engaged with anything is one of the most important things to do. The Call of the Wild by Jack London was a book which I always wanted to know what happened next, no matter if it was good or bad. Reading The Call of the Wild was one of my favorite things to do in English. I could not stop reading it even from the start. Whenever I finished a chapter, I read the next few paragraphs in the next one until I had to stop myself.

Continue reading "The Call of the Wild by Jack London Literary Review" »