The biggest project of the second semester for the freshies may be the English/East Asian Studies joint project, in which students are supposed to utilize their humanities skills and create two main products: first, an excerpt from a “published” historical fiction novel based on a picture from World War II, and second, a presentation “pitching” the book to hypothetical “publishers”. Not only is this project important because of the opportunities it offers for students to bring out the full potential of their research and writing skills, but also because it counts as a big grade for TWO core classes. On Wednesday, March 2nd, the freshman class held a convention in which students will present their posters and pitch their ideas about their books to teachers and other students.
There are definitely many benefits to this project: it has been a long-term project with extended deadlines, and we have had plentiful opportunities to conference with our English and our East Asian teachers about the project. Because this is the first time that freshmen are given so much freedom and independence with a big summative project like this one, many students feel that their writing and research skills have been tremendously enhanced with this project.
Students, however, also find that there are obstacles they face whilst doing the project. Given the large amount of time that they are given, some find it difficult to manage their time efficiently and work in accordance with the schedule teachers recommend. Many fall behind the project because there are no major checkpoints, despite optional conferences and occasional checkpoints by teachers. Another common worry that freshmen have is the extent to which the assignment covers. Although the excerpt is graded by the English teacher and the presentation by the East Asian teacher, the rubric for both are highly correlated. As a majority of the students feel a high pressure to get good grades, this project is causing them stress. A recent controversy that has triggered students is the time that the convention is held. Christina Kim, a fellow freshman, expressed, “I hate how the teachers are taking away our autonomous time.” With the packed schedule for freshies, teachers find it difficult to find an appropriate time for the convention to be held; however, with the autonomous time, teachers believe that holding it during that time is most efficient for it does not intervene with other schedules.
A recent controversy that has triggered students is on the time that the convention is held. Christina Kim, a fellow freshman, expressed, “I hate how the teachers are taking away our autonomous time.” With the packed schedule for freshies, teachers find it difficult to find an appropriate time for the convention to be held; however, with the autonomous time, teachers believe that holding it during that time is most efficient for it does not intervene with other schedules.
There are both positive and negative sides of the assignment as students have claimed. It is, however, strongly recommended that the freshies take this project as an invaluable opportunity to develop core skills and to become more independent and responsible with their learning, rather than an assignment wherein they must receive a high grade; this assignment, perhaps, would allow the freshmen—who put extreme weight on grades—to realise the importance of becoming an independent and empowering learner.
Check out this Prezi created by Ms. Jane Clarke to learn more about the project!
– Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19) and Sarah Oh (’19)