American literature authors lives being used to practice MLA style English classes prepare for college

Beginning to find information, junior Alana Davis researches the life of author Walt Whitman. Students were allowed to choose any author they wanted. “Learning MLA is a necessity because in college we'll write essays and have to cite constantly, so it's better to learn it now,” Davis said. Photo Credit: Grinesa Bajrami

As a way to teach juniors MLA style format, English 11 teacher Laura Penrod assigned students a project that covers famous American literature authors.

“One, I want students to get used to citing information and giving credit to the original author, that can be shown in a variety of ways,” Penrod said. “It can be shown in a project or it can be shown in a paper. I believe in student choice, so for me it was important that students have the ability to practice it the way that they want to implement it. If they would prefer to do it in a more creative way they have the creative option, and if they wanted to do it in a more formal way by actually practicing the essay format, they have the option of doing the essay.”

Students were allowed to choose between writing an essay and doing a “body project” with their research written inside an outline of the human anatomy. 

“I was stressed because I didn’t know whether to do the essay or the project,” junior Kaery Martinez-Marin. “I ended up picking the project because it requires less writing and it allows me to be creative.”

Those who chose the essay had to write a three to five page essay. For those that chose the project, they must create the outline of a body and fill it with information, such as the author’s accomplishments, books and awards. Regardless of the chosen medium, all information must be done in MLA format. 

“I picked the project because I didn’t feel like writing a three page essay and I preferred being able to decorate the paper rather than writing an essay about Edgar Allan Poe,” junior Adrian Reyes said.

Students are being given three class periods create their deliverable. After those class periods, students will present their findings to a small group. They will be graded on their ability to follow MLA style, the grammar, and if their research is reliable.

“I’m surprised that many students picked the essay,” Penrod said. “[I would pick] the project because I like to be creative, so I feel like when I’m creative it actually pushes me to think more than just writing an essay that has this format, anybody can follow a format, it’s much harder to be creative.”

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