English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  Animals have been apart of our society for as long as we can remember. We see them in the trees, in
the water, and even in our homes. But when did we start referring to animals as animals? Well the
answer to that question is here. English is a language that was 1st spoken in Scandinavia and other
European countries. During the 13th century the French had control over these English speaking lands
so the people were forced to speak French. While speaking French the English language changed over
time, and the people began incorporating French into English. So I am guessing that animal is a
French based word that was changed here and there to make it our own. With help from the hard
working authors of the Oxford English dictionary the 1st usage of the word animal in writing is
known and much more to help us learn as much about this word as we can.

When we think of animals today we picture birds, dogs, cats, etc, sometimes we even use the word as
an adjective. For Example, Today we may say “you make animalistic noises and gestures” which would
mean you act like an animal. There are several modern definitions for the word animal. One
definition from “the Random House Unabridge Dictionary” is “a member of the Animalia comprising of
multi-cellular organisms that have defined shape and unlimited growth.” Another popular definition
from the “American Heritage dictionary” and it is a “multi cellular organism of the kingdom of
Animalia.” The third and last definition is from the “Webster English dictionary” and its meaning is
a multicellular organism similar to humans that make up the kingdom of Animalia. All these
definitions are extremely similar. They all say It’s a popular noun used to identify the
multi-cellular creatures that help us live every day.

Over the years there has been dramatic changes throughout the English language and this is a great
example. The 1st recorded writings of this word were in 1398 by TREVISA in Barth. De P.R. XVIII. In
this passage the word is spelled “animall” and it means, a living being; a member of the higher
series of organized beings. In this writing the spelling is different but the definition is close to
the one we use today. Researching this word betters our understanding of how the word is formed.

Understanding the language that is common throughout the world is important. It allows people to
learn about how the English language was formed and the role other languages played in the creation
o modern English. As we grow older and wiser the English language will change and this is a prime
example.
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Dear. Beowulf scribe,


We have spent months reading and analyzing your work. Unfortunately, although we enjoyed your story
we feel that it is not the type of work we want being read by our young tenth grade students. Some
of my fellow editors also feel your work is too violent.


An issue we spent a lot off time talking about was why we never heard from Grendel himself, maybe
its because he was unjustly murdered and Beowulf needed a cover up story. The last issue that I
would like to address is the lack of realism.


Our students across the country do not need to be reading about monsters being beheaded and men
killing their cousins. In your story on page 41 Beowulf says “you killed your own kin, so for all
your cleverness and quick tongue, you will suffer damnation in the depths of hell”. Then on page 109
you say “Beowulf cuts the corpse’s head off”. Quotes like this are corrupting the minds off the
young readers today and we cannot live with that. Rephrasing or cutting these violent scenes out can
give you a better chance to be published.


Throughout the story Beowulf refers to Grendel as “the wrecker of meadhalls” and a “fierce beast”
. But we never really understand if maybe Grendel had a reason for what he did. Maybe there was a
cause for his rage. Realistically speaking, animals and/or Beast do not really attack people for no
reason. Is it possible that Grendel was afraid of these Alcoholics? Or maybe Grendel had a sibling,
who these ruthless German men hunted and killed? These are some questions that you should consider
answering and incorporating into your book.


Beowulf is going to Grendel’s home, the swamp, and he fights Grendel’s mother. This is reasonable
until we realize that he is fighting Grendel’s mother under water. This portion of the book is
interesting but the chances of this happening are extremely slim. You also wrote that Grendel was
the size of 50 men. And that contradicts the message we are trying to get across to the students. We
are trying to teach kids how to live successfully in the real world. So we used parables and stories
that have lessons in them. But I don’t think talking about 50 ft monsters and underwater battles
helps.


Thank you for your time and effort. We enjoyed reading your work and we hope you take this as a
learning experience. If you have any other work you feel is worthy please don’t be afraid to send it
in. we will be more than happy to look at it.

Sincerely,
Hamadi Cantave

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s winter time and there’s snow up to your knees. What are you going to do? Well these words are
probably similar to the words that came out of Sondre Norheim's mouth. Sondre Norheim is a
Norwegian man who is currently known as the founding father of modern day skiing also known as
Alpine skiing. But skiing was used thousands of years before the birth of Sondre norheim, in
Northern Europe and Asia. In fact, skis were used in the battle of Oslo in Norway to get around
swifter and easier. Sondre Norheim developed the first stiff bindings as well as several other
utilities that we use to make skiing more enjoyable. These bindings were made off wet birch roots
wrapped around his boot that eventually dried and stuck. 75 Years ago in 1933 almost no one knew
about skiing, and to show how far Europe has come, today skiing is commonly practiced throughout all
of Europe both professionally and for fun.


According to The World Book Encyclopedia, volume 17, Alpine skiing has an extremely interesting
history. At first it was fair to say that skiing was slightly boring and a bit tiring, but with the
help of several European men and women, today it is one of the most popular recreational sports.
Before skiing developed into what we know it as today, it was simply an easier way to get around.
The first skiers used large animal bones or wood as skis, by strapping the bones or wood to their
boots with leather or absolutely anything that they believed could do the job. These skis were
restricted from downhill areas because they weren’t stable and they could fall apart at anytime.
Then in 1721 the Norwegian army developed a ski company. The company pitched a brilliant idea that
would dent the way people saw skiing. They attached skis at the toe and heel for more balance and
control. Mathias Zdarski of Austria, and Hannes Schneider, also from Austria, changed the sport of
skiing forever. They developed turning and stopping techniques as well as ski poles. Shortly after
these inventions skiing became a fairly competitive sport and in 1921 Switzerland held the first
ever organized Slalom race. Today skiing is included in the Olympics, the World Ski Championship,
and the X games.


In the UK skiing is popular but practiced more for fun than it is professionally. This doesn’t
change the fact that today European countries perform well in almost all competitions that they
participate in. A prime example of this would be Didier Cuche who is a Swiss skier who recently won
the world cup downhill according to the London Telegraph website, telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph
also has an article on French skier Jean-Baptiste Grange who has been very successful, earning two
gold medals at the world cup of skiing this year.


Going through the “Oxford English Dictionary” I discovered that the word ski has been used in
several texts over the years, and in several different languages. The spelling has been pretty much
the same over the years but the first usage of the word in writing has been recorded back to 1885 in
a text called “Aurora Borealis” by R. Tromholt.


This unique sport has really helped shape the place that the UK has grown into. Today the UK is
home to some of the most prestigious ski resorts, and its mountains are tourist attractions to
people all over the world. The development of this sport shows the determination of the European
people. Because skiing transformed from a form of transportation to a heart rattling sport, portrays
how competitive the people really are. Thanks to the hard work of the European people today we
Americans are able to enjoy a fun, worth while sport.


The big question now is, what lies in the future of skiing? Well today Skiing has reached a stand
still in popularity. I don’t think this amazing sport will die out but instead I feel as if it will
never overcome popular sports such as soccer, rugby, basketball, and cricket. But who knows maybe
something about this interesting sport will change and draw attention from people all over the
world…

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear School President,

Greetings, My name is Hamadi Cantave and I attend your school, Catholic Memorial. I have attended
school hear since the seventh grade and I have come to really love and become more apart of the
community hear. I try to participate in all the after school activities, and frankly I am have no
problems. This year our sophomore class was obliged to take British Literature, and a lot of us
enjoyed it. We learned about the Victorian period, as well as the 1700’s. Personally I feel some
aspects of the class are very much needed, but at the same time I feel that some of what we learn is
completely irrelevant to what some of us will end up doing in the future. It is extremely important
that we learn about Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Mary Shelly, as well as several other poets and
authors, because they are the foundation of literature today. And if we do not read them eventually
they will fade away, like a lot of ,and that is the last thing we want to happen.

Over the past week I have taken a look at some of the work of the English 10 British Literature
students and some of their work really impressed me. I focused more on the work of two very bright
students, Ryan Cavella and Riley Blizard. In an essay written about the origins of the word scoop,
Mr. Cavella wrote “When most people think of the word scoop, they think of a spoon-like utensil that
is used to pick up objects, or perhaps they think of a scooping action in which you would pick
something up, but the word scoop actually has more meanings then these simple ones. The word scoop
is a good example of the way that the English language is ever changing because the word was used
about 14 different times in the 677 years it has been around.” Cavella showed his understanding of
the Oxford English dictionary and of the English Language. I think this is what tenth graders around
the country should be doing. Riley Blizard a student in the same class, wrote an imaginary letter to
the Beowulf scribe rejecting his work for next years English textbook. His reason for rejecting the
monk was the unreasonable amounts of violence, which he described as “gut wrenching” and “Excessive”
Riley also says that “Too much action scenes ruin this play”, but in the end Riley, similar to
Cavella, demonstrates a greater understanding for the British writing style.

Out of curiosity, I visited the websites of the following schools, Boston College High School and
Malden Catholic, in order to find out whether or not they studied British literature. To My surprise
BC High offered Irish Literature but not British Lit, And Malden Catholic doesn’t offer the course
either. What does this say to me? Well, it says to me that our school offers a unique diverse
curriculum that allows us to explore and learn about the different cultures, as well as understand
the different styles of writing.

I also tried contacting Dr. Barbara Lewis Who is the director of the William Monroe Trotter
Institute at UMass Boston. She also teaches in the English department at UMass. I asked Ms. Lewis if
she thought British Literature should be a mandatory course for sophomores across the country, and
similar to how I feel about the situation, she responded by saying, “the idea behind this is that
literature expresses the culture of a people and gives them validation in the eyes of the world. It
allows them to stand tall and have bragging rights about the good that has come from one's
background. Each culture has produced extraordinary writers and instead of being exposed only to the
usual ones it broadens a student's understanding to have a wider exposure to the written wealth
of the world.”


Still curious as to how people feel towards this issue, I thought to myself, Why not write to an
actual British Writer. I tried to track down a couple editors at the London times and at The Mirror,
but unfortunately they never responded. So I thought why not just find out what a faculty member
hear at our school has to say about the issue. I spoke to Mr. Hurley, one of the English professors,
and although he did not have much to say his output was very helpful. When I asked Mr. Hurley how he
felt about British Literature being a mandatory course for sophomores, he responded by simply saying
“I enjoy my job” and immediately I thought to myself that through this comment Mr. Hurley wanted me
to know that he enjoyed teaching students about their heritage and culture through literature.

Well, Mr. President if you have not been able to tell my approach from the previous paragraphs, here
is a brief summary. Taking this course, British Literature, away from sophomores next year, Is the
equivalent to completely dropping the US History course, which is also a very important class. So,
if it is not too much to ask Please reconsider removing the course from the curriculum, because fact
of the matter is British Literature is essential in understanding the different forms and origins of
literature.

Thank you,

Hamadi Cantave

   
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