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Once my class had finished reading A Christmas Carol, we began a project to explain the meaning of the book. Our teacher, Mrs. Gates, gave us the freedom to choose what type of project to do and how to spend our time. I decided to work with my friend Caitlin to make a movie. The most difficult part of the project was writing the script and filming the movie. When we began filming, we discovered that our script was too long to make a decent movie in the time we had, so we had to cut out half of our original script. However, I think that the movie turned out really well; even though the DVD we put it on didn't work at first. Doing a project with a partner taught me to consider and respect other's ideas and let me understand the book from someone else's point of view. I also learned how annoying it is to add music to a 30-second clip of a movie on a Mac.
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Before I started reading A Christmas Carol, I was assigned a project where I took a passage from the book and changed its theme. I decided to write about a concert for my theme. I think I did a great job with the order of what came in, but it was the hardest part. I frequently reordered everything to make the piece better. Initially, I had the guitars come in first, planning to only have instruments. I soon found out that there weren't enough instruments in the concert I was visualizing, so I added special effects and crowd reactions. I think I used a lot of creativity in this project, and am proud of it. I learned that if I run out of things to say in my writing, I can step a little outside of reality's boundaries and explore.
In came the footsteps with the darkness, and went across the stage, and made a chilling anticipation, and stood like a thousand grim soldiers before battle. In came the shivering silence, one vast sea of eager eyes. In came the twin guitars, ravenous and wild. In came the eight drums whose chains they broke. In came all the colored lights streaming from the sky. In came the screams, with her brothers, the crazed cheers. In came the bass, with its peculiar partner, the blinding bursts of fire. In came the lyrics from a past rage, that gushed out a liquid melody; trying to tame the furious music, that was proved to have drunk the life from the ever-pulsing crowd. In they all came, one after another, some strongly, some smoothly, some sharply, some strikingly, some controlling, some following; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow.
Everyone in my class had to write a 500-word essay about what they believe. My "This I Believe Essay" is about the death and aftershock of my friend's father's death, and finding confidence from it. It was incredibly hard for me to write - I had rarely ever talked about how the death had affected me before. The 500 word limit made telling the story much harder. I had to cut out a lot of my original piece, including my favorite paragraph, to fit in the ending. I learned that sometimes it helps to let out your feelings, and that I should save a marvelous story like this one for an essay with a much greater word limit.
Twenty-three days after my thirteenth birthday, I came to school excited despite the hated fog of Carmel creeping through the sky and seeping into my skin. I walked to the gym for assembly and sat down on the floor next to my friend.
“Hi Mila! Guess...” I began, but something made me stop. Maybe it was her hidden, puffy red eyes staring at the ground, her ghostly pale hands faintly shivering, or the quick, meaningful glances the teachers were shooting her. Maybe it was instinct. Whatever it was, it told me something was very, very wrong.
Before I could ask anything, the Principal walked to the front and began announcements. Hard as I tried, Mila wouldn’t make eye contact. I sat there, worried, millions of thoughts spinning like a dangerous whirlwind through my head, unable to think of any possible, reasonable answer.
Mila got up and walked away the second assembly ended. I turned to my other friend, Chloe.
“It’s a... family issue,” she responded, and didn’t say anything else.
I didn’t let myself think of the matter again until snack. I pestered Mila for answers, even though I knew it was probabaly paining her. Chloe finally signaled me to stop with an Alanna-you’re-HURTING-her glance. Moments later snack ended and Mila left. Chloe stayed behind. What she said next changed my life.
“Alanna, yesterday, Mila’s dad and dog died in a car accident.”
The rest of the day passed in a blur, then the next, then the next. I steadily grew more aware that I couldn’t understand what my friend was going through without experiencing it myself. I felt guilty for being lucky, getting the loss-free life. Then I began to feel guilty for all my other strengths, my “A’s,” triumphs and compliments. Eventually I felt so horrible about my achievements that I refused to see them, and looked only at my weaknesses. I lost hope, expectations, confidence.
I was on the golf team that year, with nearly no clue how to play the sport. On the way to one game, we were talking about the last year’s team. Our coach said something about one person – their name fails me – whose fault stuck to me like glue for a long time.
“...He was good at golf,” she said. “He just didn’t believe he could play.”
I pondered what she said a couple times, but never really understood what she meant. A week or two passed by. I played in a few games, never really enjoying myself.
It was at a game soon later when I discovered something while uncertainly preparing to swing. I looked back and forth from the ball to the target millions of miles away. I looked at the ball again, swung, and thought: I’m never going to do this right. I suck at golf. I suck at everything.
And then it hit me, the club slowing to a metal blur and righting in my hands, a smile sneaking across my face.
I was low on confidence. I can’t just look at the bad side of my life. I can do whatever task is laid in front of me, so long as I believe I can do it. And even if I dread the foggy future ahead, if I have confidence I will succeed.
Before I started my glogster project, I had to write numerous poems (including a sonnet, an Ode, and a poem inspired by one of Robert Frost's). Once finished, I chose the best one and made a poster about it on Glogster.com. The poem I chose is called "Ode to Forgotten Keys." I had to write several paragraphs about my poem; what inspired me to write it, how I wrote it, why it's my best, and what my favorite word and line in the poem are. The most difficult part was choosing a theme for my poem, because none of the availible themes had anything to do with keyboards or seemed to fit. I had to be very creative with my theme, which I'm proud of. This project helped me learn about my writing process and taught me how to use glogster.
My sonnet is titled "Shadows." A sonnet has 4 stanzas, 14 lines, 10 syllables per line, and every other line rhymes (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG). The most difficult part about this project was finding words that rhymed and fit the theme. I started with very different words, but I had to change them becuase I couldn't find words to rhyme with them. The last two lines were also the hardest, again because I couldn't find the right words. Overall, I'm satisfied with my sonnet and think I did a good job writing it. I learned how much harder it is to write an amazing sonnet than it looks.
When the sun sets with a last flash of light,
Out of corners joyous shadows arise.
Silently shrieking with extreme delight,
They turn dark the vanishing rainbow skies.
Through the streets and alleys they sneak and glide
Sprinkling sleep and fears of things of dreams.
Like snakes, to our beds they slither and slide
To shove into our minds nightmares and screams.
Each bearing a callous, pitiless smile
They control cruelty, remorse and night.
Making, shaping, forming everything vile
They hide, they lurk, they prowl just beyond sight.
But when sunlight peeks out to start the day,
The shadows shrink and crumble and decay.
My photo story project was about The Golden Compass (first book in the "His Dark Materials" series) by Philip Pullman. It was one of our choices for summer reading. For the project, we had to find pictures for the story elements and write sentences narrating the pictures. We then would have to put the pictures and narrations on a photo story. I believe that I chose pictures that represented the title, characters, setting, conflict, and denouement very well. The most difficult part was writing the narrations, because I had actually read The Amber Spyglass (the third book in the series) for Summer reading, and I hadn't read The Golden Compass for about two years. This project helped me see the book in ways my sixth-grade mind hadn't allowed. I learned that I must be patient with my partners; I was completely relying on them to help me remember the story.
At the beginning of the year, we were instructed to choose a metaphor for eighth grade and write a paragraph about it. I chose a sunset as my metaphor. I think the best part of my project is the metaphor itself. However, finding the perfect metaphor was the hardest part; it literally took me hours to come up with, and then another hour to paint the right words on paper. When writing the project, I learned that eighth grade really is "the magnificent finish to seven challenging, difficult, exhausting years that were well worth the work," and that I should cherish them.
Eighth grade is a sunset, because a sunset signifies a glorious end to a long, hard, tiring day of work, just as eighth grade signifies the magnificent finish to seven challenging, difficult, exhausting years that were well worth the work. Each student shines with their own personality in the sunset, whether it be laughing, loud, bright yellow; friendly, trusting orange; or quiet, caring violet. Clusters of younger students gaze intently up at the dazzling sky, observing and studying the eighth graders in the hope that their sunset will be as marvelous as this one. As the sunset wears on, the bright colors crowd closer and closer together until the last beam of light has withdrawn itself from the night sky to rest and wait for the dawn of High School.