Freshman year is hard: new school, new people, increased responsibilities, increased work load. By June, however, most freshmen feel a sense of accomplishment. They are 1/4 of the way through high school, and they are no longer intimidated by the urban legends of pool passes or promises of being stuffed in lockers by seniors.
Successful completion of Grade 9 is indicated by a final grade, a percent that indicates the material student earned in each subject. There are other ways, however, to measure success and self-reflection is an excellent way to wrap-up the year. One way to have students to reflect is using a Google Doc form. The form can be tailored for subjective or objective questions. The quantitative data collected (checkboxes, multiple choice, polls, true/false) can be summarized in graphics (see picture below). Students can write longer responses in paragraph form or short answers.
Google Doc forms were used all year to measure student understanding or to allow students to record opinions. In September, the 9th grade had started with the theme “Journeys”, therefore, we returned to this theme to have them reflect on their year’s journey. They took this survey after they completed the final exam for credit points only.
The form was titled “My Memoir of 9th grade” and featured 10 questions that required the students to imagine writing a memoir or autobiography about 9th grade. Several of the responses were very “21st Century” addressing the complications of living with the temptations of social media, but other responses from students were timeless and not entirely different from the high school experiences of generations of students before them. Some responses were funny. Many were very clever. At least one was alarming. Each response captured both a student’s self-awareness in reflecting on the year and a willingness to be critically, sometimes painfully, honest.
There were 79 responses to the questions; here are some highlights:
What is the title of your memoir?
- No Procrastinating
- Thank God for 9th grade
- The Spin-Cycle that this Year has Been
- The Story of a Teenage Drama Queen: Or Something Like That
What is the significance of the title?
- Like a spin-cycle on a washing machine, everything in my freshman year seemed to be moving very rapidly around me as I was caught up in it.
- This means that the year was torture but in the end I have learned so much more than I did in middle school.
- The significance is that some parts of this year will be wounds turning into scars that will be with me forever. The wounds weren’t caused by bad things but good things and that’s why I would want the ever lasting scars so I can remember.
- It shows how to get through 9th grade without being stupid like some other people because they could do something stupid and not make it through the year and will have to repeat it sophomore year.
- It is the first level of your high school campaign.
- I want my memoir to be named the dirt road because a dirt road is bumpy and rough this had been one of the hardest years for me and I want to show that by showing that the road is bumpy and hard to drive on and this year has been bumpy and hard and there is no way to make it go by any faster.
To what novel, myth, epic, fairy tale, or other non-fiction work will critics compare your story? WHY? What is the connection?
- I’d compare it to Icarus. I’m not the best at listening
- Of Mice and Men because I go through struggles that many other people are going through at some times I mostly feel like the main character George because sometimes I have to clean up my friends or my own mistakes and live with them behind me.
- They will compare this story to Phaeton because he has something great that he is using to proceed but it might be the end of him.
- Probably The Odyssey because of some of the trickery.
- This can be compared to Hercules because people always told him he couldn’t do it, but in the end he finished strong no matter what other people thought.
- This would be like The Odyssey because of my constant battle with each teacher in every class, some harder than others.
- The Wizard of Oz because I always get home in the end. And being here really makes me realize that there is NO place like home. (Not that I hate school I’m just really over it by June)
What would the synopsis or description say? What is your memoir about?
- This memoir is all about freshman who find out high school isn’t as easy as middle school. They have to grow up to get all their work done, and not to mention worry about other stuff like sports, extracurricular activities, and friends.
- My memoir is about my experience in 9th grade and how I got to where I am now. (Maturity, strength, knowledge, etc.)
- Basically the adventures of this year but in more detail, the fast flying year for a 9th grader who has had fun on field trips and days when there has been a sub or no work.
- i think it would say that if you are stressed out in high school and need some metaphorical advice then read this book.
- A young man new to the world of high school embarks on the greatest adventure to see how any ways he could get in trouble. You will be with him in the ups the downs the tragedy the success.
What is your protagonist’s (your) greatest challenge or conflict? What is the goal?
- The Internet, so alluring and wonderful, but deadly and destructive to my career.
- The weakness that interfered with my goal is that I was too overwhelmed with after school activities that I had no time to do my homework. I think by next year I’ll figure out.
- Annoying kids
- Weaknesses include: being annoying and clingy, losing your best friend over something that you don’t even know what happened like really what happened ugh, being lied to about important things, holding extremely long grudges, and being bothered by simple memories from like years ago, and never having enough video games.
- Not wanting to talk to new people at first.
What strengths help your protagonist (you) succeed?
- Some days I just do the work to get through it, not because I actually care about it. You’ve got to keep going through the stuff you don’t like to get to the stuff you do like.
- My strength is my stubbornness because no matter what the challenge I refuse to give up.
- Probably not having a phone, that stunk so I made sure I did all of my work to try and get it back.
- I have a great ability to focus when I wants to. I need a little bit of a push to get going but after that it’s smooth sailing.
- Time management.
- Getting sleep helped me succeed alot because I could never focus when I was tired.
- My family and my teacher.
Self-reflection is a great way to have students express what they feel they learned, and a Google Doc form is easily created and accessed. The student answers are digitally recorded and because of the Google Docs platform, these responses will be available for the freshmen in 2016, when they are graduating seniors. Hopefully their entire high school experience remains 0% horror!