Semester Report

We are learning things every day, school only extends the learning process. In this essay, I will be discussing and explaining the learning process and topics that I’ve encountered during my time in English class. Most of these techniques and tips have helped me and some I have already familiarized myself with. I’ve learned things like writing and organizing a bibliography, citing references correctly, organizing my thoughts, and doing book reports and reviews and comparing them. This is just a handful of what I’ve learned and I continue to learn in this class as the days pass.

When I first started in the class, about the first 10 lessons, it was pretty straight forward and simple. There were a few essays to write, and a book to read. That book to read was called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. If you are interested in learning more about the book, I wrote a separate review for that and even an in-depth comparison later on. The essays were openers, very simple instructions writing about a page worth of words, sometimes posting it publicly. All this practice led up to the eventual process of learning how to make mind maps and outlines, and organizing your thoughts which also organized my paper a little bit better. I’ve heard of a mind map prior to this, and I’ve done outlines in the past, but still it was relatively new to me but nothing I couldn’t handle on my first try. I continued to learn how to better organize my thoughts into a compact paper and turn it into a 3-paragraph paper consisting of the introduction, the body, and the conclusion, which helped me see the bigger picture. I also learned 3 points on what good writing was.

Good writing was easy to read and understand, follows conventional grammar standards, and is creative or entertaining to read. After a couple weeks this was drilled into my head which also helped my priorities for every topic and essay. Eventually these were applied fully to my essays in the first several weeks, and we focused individually on each point until we concluded each point on the right note by applying what we learned to the essay we would write at the end of the week. This practice and mindset helped me later on, especially.

After these few weeks, we started reading another classic novel. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This book’s plot was really well-crafted I can tell and is very interesting with exciting moment in the book. Unfortunately, I wasn’t genuinely interested but was a good read nonetheless.  It was interesting to see some influences and practices that went on at the time of the French Revolution.

At this point let’s say we’re nearly 30 lessons or so in. Another book, Out on the Pampas by G.A Henty was introduced. It is one of the better books in my opinion form this year so far. It was about an English family moving to colonial Argentina to pursue success and profit there. Many events occurred and things happen but I won’t spoil it for you, you can read it for yourself.

We also learned to write under a clock. So, we wrote in a timely manner, usually anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour at most. We reviewed most of the basic writing standards and understood the tips that were applied to our writing. After getting used to being timed while also organizing the essay and planning responses, we ventured into writing longer essays. Specifically, 3 to 5-page essays. The task was very daunting at first, but soon I got over it and it proved to be easier than expected. Now I can write these longer essays without much trouble, provided I’m not under a 30-minute timer and I don’t have a tough subject to write about.

Some of the longer topics were on music, and research papers, which I will talk about soon.

Around this time, we also covered font usage, verb tenses, noun-verb agreement, and more.

Eventually, we dove into book reports and book reviews. Things like comparing characters, comparing each book read, and explaining a certain part of the book and the structure of it. It helped me recognized each book part, and the analysis of it.

We also started a few new books since speed essays, one being The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy, and the other being With Clive in India by G.A Henty.

The Scarlet Pimpernel was also based around the French Revolution but not being specifically reactionary to it. It’s background certainly points to the French Revolution and is very open about it. It is about a mysterious hero (the Scarlet Pimpernel) who rescues targeted guillotine victims from the aristocratic government at the time. I did a comparison of this book and A Tale of Two Cities on my blog earlier if you want to check it out, this includes a review of the plot.

The next major topic on improving the versatility of my writing was research papers. The first research paper was chosen by the teacher of the class, which was Butterflies. More specifically, the life cycle of Butterflies. The teacher supplied us with good sources which I mainly took from which boosted the efficiency way more. We also got to pick our own Butterfly to apply the life cycle to that particular Butterfly and explain it’s lifetime which was pretty cool. It is up on my blog as well.

After a successful completion, it was time to do the research and response on my own, including choosing the topic I had to write about. The topic I chose was on the American Civil War. I consider myself one of the largest history buffs that is under the age of 18. I had to find and research all the info by myself, including organizing the paper and preparing for the rough draft. I also proofread and wrote the bibliography, same as the Butterfly research paper.

Speaking of bibliographies, we learned about this before writing the final draft of the Butterfly Life Cycle research paper. It was confusing to learn, and it still kind of is hazy to me now, but I suppose I did alright. We learned the different ways to write references as works cited for encyclopedia articles, web pages, books, and even media such as movies or videos. We also learned the two different formats for each application, the MLA and APA format. I learned that the MLA format was most used today.

We started reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and eventually Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

This basically wraps up what I have been learning so far for this semester. Like I said, I learned many things, some things I already knew. Things like mind maps, analyzing books, citing references and organizing a bibliography, and doing detailed book reviews were a few things that were relatively new to me and I’m glad I got to familiarize myself with them and learn more about these subjects.

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