Step Back and Look Back

English has never been my strongest suit. Last year in Hollingsworth’s English Honors 2, our discussions would revolve around the same people talking and talking, never getting anywhere. I would just end up immersing myself in the book we were reading and prepare myself for the next reading check. But AP Language and Composition was, for a lack of better words, different. The class was engaging, and encouraged everyone to participate through so many outlets. I could actually have a say of something I found interesting without someone saying my idea beforehand. The discussions, the assignments, and the class itself allowed me to develop so much more as a student than any other English class I’ve had before.


Yasir Khaleq in Ziebarth’s AP Language and Composition Class 2016-2017

The Discussions

Speaking in my opinion was the most effective way of prepping the AP test as well as regular conversation in general. Most of our discussions felt like an actual conversation between students about interesting subjects within the book. I grew as a critical thinker, thinking about how to effectively respond to the last person speaking to carry on conversation. Going more into depth, a lot of what I was able to say was from listening to what the last responder had replied with in order to carry out the discussion smoothly. Not only did it allow me to grow as a critical thinker, but it assisted me in becoming persistent. Often, a classmate would share their ideas before I was able to share my own. This would mean that I would have to dive back into the book to search for another piece of evidence or thinking quickly about what to say. This helped me become a persistent student when thinking about ideas and pulling out information during the AP essays through all the subjects. Discussions in this class gave me a better sense of community and guidance, compared to my past English classes. As just young disciples, there wasn’t much we could analyze from a book. We can just throw endless phrases around in hopes that one would be correct enough to earn participation points. But teacher guidance paved a path for us students to open up our minds and think deeper about what the text is telling us.

The Blogs

The world is constantly “changing”, or so we think. History seems to always repeat itself. How do we prevent this? We reflect. The blogs we’ve done this year immersed us in the real world, and issues that actually effect us. None of my classes have actually dove into the real world except for AP Lang. You’d think AP Bio do something to save all those poor species facing extinction, but most of these classes are running with their heads downs to get perfect scores on the AP exam. I remember starting off the year with no idea what to write in my blogs. I had no real passion to care about the world’s problems, or even the problems we have in our own communities. But as the school year progressed, I noticed a change in my blogs. They became meaningful; I actually was excited to write about a topic that I cared about. It started with just talking about a teammate with a silly personality to public riots  and questioning change. I developed so much more as a writer, finding issues that were actually relevant and interesting and doing a report of how this mattered to me. Using the tools that AP Lang taught me, such as SOAPSTONE, I was able to create a whole new perspective for myself and share my point of view with others for discussion. Much like Holden from Catcher in the Rye, my blogs reflected how I felt about each topic. Some were shorter, some were longer, some were deeper, and some were just words slapped onto the page for credit. His passion and words reflected him as an unstable teenager, trying to just continue on their lives. The whole novel itself was a reflection of Holden as a character. The constant rambling about issues that sometimes were pointless and irrelevant to the plot, characterized Holden as a troubled teen. Much like Holden’s expressive thoughts, blogs allowed me to address an issue and put in my thoughts about it.

The Essay

I have never been a great writer. I’ve always found myself lacking when it came to sprouting new ideas on spot and being able to create a flow to connect them. My vocabulary isn’t strong either, so I often find myself repeating the same words over and over, creating what could’ve been an interesting narrative into a bore. However, when I was able to create an idea, the idea is usually an interesting one, according to my table mates at least. Throughout the year, my skills improved after working with blogs and having in class revisions with our table group. This helped me with honing in on what I needed to fix and identifying potential errors that I could make after reading works of others. The blogs helped with thinking about what to write. Often, I found myself with writer’s block and not being able to write for hours. But eventually, after watching so many TED talks and discussing about issues on how they connect to our books, I began to be able to come up with ideas quickly.


Photo by Pravaha/CCO/


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