Thursday, October 25, 2007

This I Believe Essays

For the second year in a row, I have had my students write, revise, and rewrite their "This I Believe" essays based off National Public Radio's segment. These students had to not only write their essay for our class publication, but were required to publish it for the world by submitting their essays to NPR as well with parent permission. Like last year, I found their essays to be pretty good, but to hear them read their essay aloud makes an incredible difference. They truly express their voice and passion for a variety of subjects such as t-shirts, friends, community service, and even family vacations. Please take some time to listen and give some constructive criticism to my ninth graders. Their written work is hyperlinked as well below.

Adam A.
Alena V.
Angelica O.
Anna K.
Annie S.
Averee L.
Berek M.
Brandon H.
Carter W.
Dennis K.
Ethan L.
Jackie N.
Joey W.
Josh T-S.
Kelly S.
Lauren E.
Lauren P.
Mandi G.
Sam H.
Sean B.
Sean D.
Xavia H.


Jim Gates said...

Once again I listened with GREAT interest to these projects. From the discussion of afterlife and adoption to miracles and more. These are terrific. In my blog I encouraged others to read and comment. I hope they do.

I'd like to especially comment on the one message in particular. It was Kelli's, I believe. ;-) It was about the power of forgiveness. Let me tell YOU a story about the power of forgiveness.

Many years ago I was watching an episode of Oprah. Since I haven't watched TV since 1993 this DOES go back a ways. Her guest was a woman who, when she began talking, sounded like any other woman. But, her story was amazing.

In the late '70's the terrorists were hijacking airplanes, but then they weren't crashing them into buildings. They just used the hostages to try to get whatever it was they were after. Isn't it sad that so many people died and now we don't even know WHY?

Anyway, this woman had been on one of those planes. Worse, she was chosen as one who would die if the demands of the terrorists weren't met. When the time came they pulled her from her seat and took her to the cargo bay door, faced her out towards the camera, and shot her point blank in the head. She fell some 20 feet to the tarmac below where she stayed until someone came out to the plane with a luggage cart to take her body back to the terminal.

How did she live? The terrorists loaded their own bullets, and the one used on her didn't contain enough of a charge to penetrate her skull. Instead, it hammered her skull with a severe impact that left her alive, but with severely impared speech, major meomory loss, and the inability to walk. Yet, on this episode she walked onto the stage with no problems.

As she told her story she said that she suffered for YEARS with the impared speech and inability to walk. She HATED the men who did this to her. She was consumed by it. She went from therapist to therapist, both the mental and physical therapists. But, she didn't get better until one therapist told her that she would NEVER get better until she could forgive those who tried to kill her.

WHAT? That was too much to ask. LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID!! But, the doctor was firm. Forgive them or die of hatred. There is an old expression that says, "Hate poisons the vessel it's stored in more than the one it's poured over." So very true.

One day, after a very emotional session she WAS able to forgive the men who had done that to her. Within weeks she was talking almost normally. A couple weeks later she was walking without help. And her memory loss began to return. THAT fast. As she walked and talked on that show you would never know that she had gone through such an ordeal. And it was ALL the result of being able to forgive.

"Hate poisons the vessel it's stored in more than the one it's poured over."

Great job, everyone!

Kevin said...

What a great job. Once I started listening I couldn't stop. Your passion for your beliefs is amazing.
Great job!

VWB said...

I so enjoyed these readings...mainly because the students spoke (and wrote!) about things that were meaningful to them...they had passion and emotion about what they produced because the choices were "real." The piece on adoption and several on friendship and forgiveness were quite heart-warming, but the one that really stands out for me is the young man who spoke so eloquently about his family and their vacations...I could tell these moments were quite special to him...something teens often tend to not express..wanting to hang out with their family!

I will enjoy following your class as the year progresses.

Michael Pauling said...

The students did such a great job! The papers are so much stronger when read! One of the best podcast examples I have seen.

Giovanna Mandel said...


Nate said...

How did you do the podcast? I'm doing a similar project with my 10th graders and I'm trying to find a good solution to the podcast workflow...Is it an odeo site? You can see what we're up to here.

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Anonymous said...

I read some of them and let me tell you that you have great students, maybe they could find a good job in Viagra Online labs or goverments, anyway for me it's very important for people to express what they feel, what they believe, but most important to defend what you believe no matter what.