Friday, May 5, 2017

WORDS TO THE WISE: Sage advice from our Seniors to the Next Generation of IB Lang and Lit Scholars...

Well, it is hard to believe, but we are almost to the close of another year at Odyssey.  Soon, our second graduating class, the Class of 2017, will be zipping up their gowns, donning their cords, and looking forward to the next phase of their exciting life journey:  college, career, military service...wherever their dreams take them...

They have, no doubt, learned a great deal over these past four years; not just academically, mind you, but also in the realms of life skills, cultivating and nurturing relationships, and learning from both mistakes and triumphs.

It is for this reason that I thought reflection was in order:  reflection that can help our next generation of upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, as they navigate through similar waters and build upon their knowledge as IB scholars.  So, here it is:  advice from your seniors to you...those who have successfully reached the summit of IB Language and Literature in the DP program.  They were the "official first" to finish it, so really take their words to heart!  And to you seniors who are quoted here, please know that I have learned just as much, if not more, from working with you as you did in this classroom.  I will miss you terribly, but I am ALWAYS and FOREVER in your corner, cheering you on, through all of life's challenges and celebrations!  LOTS of love, gratitude, prayer and pride to YOU from me!

Buckle up, here we go...

To the kids who have not yet been through their first year of IB Language and Literature, and those about to begin their second, we have some advice that will help you get through the two years…

First and foremost, DO YOUR WORK ON TIME.  Some credit is better than no credit/getting points docked for it being late. But do try your best. I find it great looking back on my written tasks, projects, and other assignments. You can really see your growth by doing that, so save your work and keep it organized. 

Try to relax and have fun. I'm not just saying this to make you feel better, it's true: I really enjoy DP Language and Literature. Don't make it stressful, and it doesn't have to be. Just do your best, and you'll make it through just fine :)

Although we write many written tasks over the two years, appreciate them.  You get to be creative with them and pretty much have your own structure.  Also make sure you use the in class time.  That is a whole 65 minutes to help get a start on your written task.  The time Mrs. Caraway gives in class helps tremendously, but only if you use your time correctly!

Learn to love "Critical Friends."  Although the first time doing it can be hard and scary, because who am I kidding, who wants to sit in silence and listen to your friends tear apart your essay?  But with all the great feedback they give, it is something you most likely would never have thought to add.  Therefore, you are able to add to your word count and come out with a better written task.

Listen in class.  Although Mrs. Caraway doesn't yell at students for being on their computers in class and for not really paying attention like most teachers do.  The things you learn in IB language and literature build on knowledge that you can use in other classes, at home, and definitely in college or the work field.  We don't just discuss books, but culture, and the history behind these cultures, novels and plays.

A piece of advice I would like to give to the incoming juniors is to be prepared to be challenged because language and literature is not just about reading books or writing essays, it involves critically thinking about pieces of text and applying that into a bigger context.

My advice to the future year one and year two DP language and literature is to not procrastinate when it comes to writing your written tasks.  It is a lot less stressful to write the written tasks in sections.  Also, make sure to actually read all of the novels and plays.  You will definitely be missing out if you don't!

Make sure you're extremely interested in whatever you pick for your Written Task One.  It's much easier to write a thousand words about something you're passionate about.

Put your best foot forward on all of your QPA's.  They may seem restrictive, but you'll learn to love the structure. 

Make a template for the QPA so you never forget the structure!

Always ATFQ.  ALWAYS.  Don't'll soon learn what that means!!

Read books you're interested in for your summer assignment.  Like with the WT1, it's much easier to read a book you're interested in.

Start your summer assignment early.  Don't be the kid who has to spend the last week of summer inside on your computer, writing!


Make sure you mark in your text, especially parts you go over in class.  You might even want to invest in a digital copy of the book to type in notes you take.

If you're having trouble with one of the books, read the chapter first, and then go over the Shmoop or Sparknotes.  Not the other way around.

Ask questions! Seriously!

Try to find ways to see the characters in modern day, it'll help when you are trying to go over their characteristics. 

I want to tell you to buy all of your books during the summer and to put them in your backpacks.  Trust me, if you don't, they WILL magically disappear.  Also, plan out how you're going to write your written tasks before you even read your novels/plays.  It may sound ridiculous, but get a good feel for the book.

As you are entering the second year, make sure to keep up on all of your assignments. Senior year goes by extremely fast, enjoy it, but do not forget about your responsibilities! Senior ditch day is extremely fun, but make sure you have everything ready beforehand, so you do not fall behind.

These blogs are actually fun!  Seeing that I love to write casually, the blogs are a free space to respond in anyway you would like!  There's not a set structure, and you can honestly say anything you would like.

The blogs are easy points!  They will add up quickly and can make or break your grade.  Just do them.  AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  They don't take up much of your time.  Just take the points.

Read the book.  Even when you think they are boring.  If I had a penny for each time I wanted to fall asleep while reading Jane Eyre, I would be a billionaire.  However, I wouldn't have passed my written task if I didn't push through.  The books can be boring, but Mrs. Caraway has this amazing way of talking about the books in a totally different way!  She makes you want to know more about the story, she makes you feel a part of the story.

There is no "busy work."  
Everything that is assigned to you
has a purpose.  Remember that.

HAVE FUN.  Throughout all of my years at Odyssey, I never quite felt like I was having fun while learning through multiple subjects until this class.  Mrs. Caraway is funny, and often lets us discuss things as a class to help with understanding.  We often turn and face each other and talk about our experiences with whatever subject is being taught.  This helps tremendously....
and we almost always end up in a class full of laughter!

So if you decide to stick with IB Language and Literature for the full two years, I promise you that it will become one of your favorite classes!

Now...FUTURE seniors, and those scholars just about to begin the journey that is IB Lang and Lit, DP, it is your turn to comment. What are you MOST excited about? What are your fears? OR, what words of advice really helped soothe your fears or inspire you? I cannot WAIT to begin and continue the journey with YOU!


  1. I'm really excited to read the Book Thief in class and find out what Mrs. Caraway meant when she was talking about Shakespeare's sonnet 18 and who it was written to. I'm also really excited to graduating next year and starting college. I'm kind of nervous form the exams for Language and Literature and my other DP classes. I'm really looking forward to be a senior.
    I really liked the advice for the reading assignment and reading a book you're interested in. I had a hard tome finding one that interested me last year and procrastinated on it. I completely regret that because it caused me a lot more stress than it should've. I found the advice about planning how you are going to write your written tasks before you read the book interesting. I wonder if it really would be a useful technique for me. The advice on getting your work done on time is always good since that was a problem for me. It also helps when you don't have hard things happen at the beginning of the year that affects you till the end of the year and completely throws you out of wack. So to all the future juniors who are possibly reading this, if you end up going through hard times during your junior or senior year, find someone who will be there to encourage you to get what you need to get done finished and help remind you of what assignments you have. It won't necessarily make the situation go away but at least it can help motivate you to do your best.

    1. I can promise you....The Book Thief will become one of the most amazing books you have ever read. It's one of those books that changes you. I LOVE it!! It remains a favorite to me.

      As far as the sonnet will surprise and move you. ;) It teaches how your perspective can seem to change a piece of writing forever!

  2. I am extremely excited to continue this class because, being in this class has helped me start my mornings of well with a class I love! The content is almost always interesting and ponder worthy. The seniors mentioned staying up to date on work which I've never had a problem with before, but I find it important to keep in mind for future late nights when I would love to give up. I am most afraid for the workload of senior year because I worry about being balanced, but I have confidence that it will go just fine!

  3. I am really looking forward to next year, our final year of high school. I am so excited yet so nervous, I am also very excited to continue with this class and all the many more things that there is to learn. Like Kinzy mentioned, this class has also helped me start my mornings of well, I really enjoy it, and can't wait to learn the many more things there is to learn next year.
    " Try to find ways to see a character in modern day, it'll help when you're trying to go over their characteristics" I really liked this piece of advice because it gave me a different way to look at a character, a different and more relatable way where I can connect with the character as well.

  4. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the books were going to read through and study. I've learned this year that I may not have picked up some of our books on my own, but I enjoyed them immensely when we read through them in class and analyzed them further than I thought possible. I did well this year with managing my assignments because I understood their importance and the stress I would feel if I didn't. My favorite piece of advice was, "There is no "busy work". Everything that is assigned to you has a purpose." There have been times in other classes where I have felt like the work didn't serve a purpose but with this class there has never been that feeling. I'm excited to continue next year!

  5. What I am really looking forward to is reading our books for year two. They are books I have always wanted to read and I bet the history behind each of the book will be pretty cool and interesting. Honestly I am not scared of my senior year…... I am terrified!! I feel so scared to leave the comfort of the school I have grown so much in (even though I haven't been here as long as others). I’m scared because going to college mean I actually have to grow up and start doing my own things without anybody by my side to show me the way. College itself is scary because I have no idea what college I want to go to nor what I want to study and dedicate my life to. I guess the advice that helped the most wasn't one that I read but one that I was told person…. Just take it one step at a time.

  6. I am most excited about becoming a senior, even though there isn’t much that will actually change. I’m also looking forward to learning how to become a better writer and entering the second year of my DP classes,(even though that brings me closer to the IB exams). I’m a little nervous about being able to balance all of my classes as well as prepare for exams, however i’m sure that it will all go well in the end. The advice that I liked was to start your reading assignment early. That was one of the things that I procrastinated on last summer and while I didn’t wait until the last week I was definitely cutting it close.

  7. I am most excited to complete the curriculum that I have been working on for so long. Also, I am excited to develop my literature analysis skills further than I already have. I am beyond nervous for the final IB analysis because I do not know a lot about it as I have not gotten a lot of information from my teachers or fellow scholars. Finally, I am absolutely terrified of the lack of information I have on colleges.

  8. I am most excited to start planning my future. Although, that is also the thing that makes me the most scared. My favorite IB class thus far has been Language and Lit and from what I hear from the seniors this year, it get even better next year. Overall I am worried about starting to have to "adult". My high school experience has been amazing so far and I know that my senior year will be one to remember.

  9. I am most excited about getting to be a senior. I am so scared yet also so excited for what's to come and what is going to change in my life in the next year. I am also looking forward to another great year of DP. I know that all of my DP teachers will have me very well prepared for college. My fears are of all of the changes that are going to happen in the next year. I am going to be a legal adult and am scared of all of the things and life that come along with it.

  10. One thing that I am most excited about for senior year is finally being a senior! Senior year will definitely be my busiest year, as I am partaking in student council and NHS, and there will be plenty of schoolwork, but I am up for the challenge! One of the things that I am most excited about for IB Language and Literature Year 2 is all of the books that we are going to be reading. Many of my senior friends have said that the books are super good, so I am looking forward to opening them up. One of the things that I am most scared for in year 2 is the IOC. I have had practice with analyzing books and poems in year 1, but the thought of speaking for 15 minutes straight, and the audio being sent to IB is scary. In my senior year, the idea of being a senior may be fun and exciting, but it also fills me with fear, because I know that I will be close to going into the real world, and I do not know if I am ready for that. Overall, I may have my fears with my senior year, but I believe it will be a fun filled, busy year, and I am looking forward to it!

  11. I am excited to have only one more year of high school, because then i can finally start working towards my goals but I am nervous that I will be an adult. I am excited for my senior year and to explore my IB classes more.

  12. I am excited for the upcoming year in language and lit. The analysis of different pieces of literature that we had done this year really excited me. In the other English classes, all we did was study books. I loved looking at adds and political cartoons. I also loved learning about media bias. I am not to nervous about the next year because I loved this years class!

  13. I am excited about summer because I will be able to finally relax for a bit before going back to school. This class is one out of the two IB classes that I had this year, and in all honesty, I am really excited to continue this class the following year. I am really scared of being a senior, or more of graduating. I know I still have time to think about it, but I stress too much about what I want to study in the future. What helped me soothe my fears are the words "You have time". Some advice that I heard someone do was to go to a college to study something minor and then go somewhere after to study something that I actually want to do. This helps me because I want to study animation or character design but I can't find any colleges/universities here in Arizona that major in those kind of things. And then again, I do not want to leave the state to go somewhere else and study. That advice helps me think about what choices I'm going to have to make in the near future, but hopefully, I will find some reasonable solution soon.

  14. I'm really excited to read the novels we have planned for next year. I really liked the ones we read this year, and the ones planned for next year also look really interesting, especially knowing the way in which they are taught (always fun, creative, and eye-opening). Hopefully they'll lead to fun and creative WT1s. On the other hand, I am not ready to be a senior. I'm honestly not ready to grow up, a fear which I am hoping will fade as we step into the next school year. There's also a fear over the daunting pressures of IB Exams, both IAs, EAs, and the final papers at the end of the year. One of my main goals for next is to find a balance and enjoy my final year in high school. It was really helpful and comforting to read this advice from the seniors; it gives me confidence that I CAN do this and I can make it fun!

  15. I am excited to learn about pop culture, as I have never learned about it outside of art class. I am worried about the summer assignment, as it steals my free time and is to be done during summer break, which sucks a lot of joy out of it.

  16. What I'm most excited about for IB Lang and Lit next year is doing all the activities we did this year as well as learning new information. I really enjoyed all of the activities we did that accompanied the units we were doing, and I felt I learned from each and every activity. Along with this, I'm excited to just be in class again with my peers as I enjoyed the community we created within the classroom. For some of my fears, I feel they are the basic fears that come with being a senior and in DP: the end of high school approaching too fast and finishing the program to get the diploma. However, the advice that was given to have fun and enjoy my time in my classes really helped remind me to do just that and to take all I can out of my last year and being in this program.

  17. I'm overall extremely excited about taking this course again next year, as it was one of my favorite classes. I found myself loving the environment and the literature we took time to look at this year. That being said, I'm equally scared and excited about my senior year. As a high school senior, half of the people in my life treat me like a child, and the rest of them expect me to know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I'm very anxious because I’m not totally sure I know yet, but I'm glad that I have some time left to figure this out. I'm hoping that I'll be able to work everything out and move past the stress to enjoy my last year in high school!

  18. I'm excited to get into my senior year, but equally, if not more so, scared of what it means. I will be one short year away from having to be responsible for myself as a legal adult, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. In one short year I'll have to make very important decisions about where I want to take my life, and I feel as though I'm still just a freshman. I am excited to see what I learn in the upcoming year, though, and see how my teachers can help me to prepare myself for those important decisions that I need to make. I hope I can push myself during this following year and get the procrastination out of my system. I need to have a strong work ethic to be able to make it in the competitive world around us, and I want to prepare myself for that.

  19. Regarding what I am most excited about in Language and Literature particularly, I would have to say simply reading more books and studying the power of the English language. Regarding senior year in general, I would have to say I'm most excited for the major advancements regarding Mandarin that I know I will be making, as well as spending the valuable time we have left with the friends we've made.
    I do have a few fears, however, and that's mainly stemming from my being in the full Diploma Program, which will force me to dedicate at least 150 extra hours of my year to things I wouldn't have to do otherwise. Along with that, I worry about writing the Written Tasks and having to do the Internal Assessment(s) for this class.
    But ultimately, I remain hopeful and trust that I will have the willpower and ability to finish high school like I know I want to.

  20. I got off to a bad start with DP because I was fearful of what could come if I picked them up only to see that they were too much for me to handle. Since then, I've learned to get a strong handle on my fear, and I've found myself succeeding beyond my self imposed limitations. That being said I am excited to see what level this course rises to next year. I've always loved Language & Literature and can't wait to see what else Year 2 holds in store for me. I hope this class stretches the boundaries of my limitations even further so that come college time, I will be the Ferrari in a school full Fiats (if that makes sense). There is no doubt in my mind that next year will add to the collection of happy memories that I'll look back on once High School is over.

  21. For new coming DP scholars, Don't be afraid it's not as difficult it's said to be. If you don't start on the right foot you can find yourself tripping mid first semester. (Personal Experience) definitely don't wait last minute to do your summer assignment, it feels like forever to catch up and it is not pretty.
    Also read the parts and stories you're supposed to this will be a major help towards your written tasks and class discussions and if Mrs. Caraway says take notes take diligent notes.
    I am excited to see how far I've grown in DP Year 1 and I want to see how much I will grow in Year 2.

  22. I'm most excited about having one year down and assisting the incoming juniors in the DP program and sharing my learned wisdom. My fears, after the normal test and responsibility ones, is graduating because then what. Yeah college but that's apart of the great big world out there and I not sure if I want to be apart of it yet. My favorite set of advice is to relax and have fun. Just thinking about all of the stuff I will have to do is making me feel stressed that is why I am ready for this summer break. But I need to keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time and keep smiling

  23. I think I'm most exited about being able to grow significantly with my language and oral skills and be better prepared for things ahead of me in life. Because all that education is about, teaching me how to learn and be a problem solver. My biggest fear is probably just executing on all the assignments well, especially the IOC/extended FOA or whatever it's called, as well as not turning things in late like this blog post response for example because I forget about it. PLEASE HAVE MERCY MRS. CARAWAY.

  24. I'am excited to learn new things in this classroom, as well as grow in the classroom in my knowledge in the English language. My only fear I have that I wont be able to grasp the knowledge given to me and make those connections. I feel like taking this class will make me well prepared for college. Almost finishing my first year of dp will help for next year, kind of knowing what to expect and have high expectations from myself and from this class.

  25. I'm most excited to tackle a new year with a new mindset on school. I'm really excited to finish my junior year and my first year of DP, and hopefully come back strong in the next year!

  26. I am mot excited to start my senior year and finish high school! I am kind of nervous about applying to colleges and having to start my future past high school. To the people starting the IB classes, be prepared to work and as long as you keep up with your work, you will be fine!

  27. Makenna CrawfordMay 15, 2017 at 8:50 AM

    I am looking forward to the fun and diverse topics that we get to study in this class the most! Although this class has a lot of work that needs to be done but Mrs. Caraway makes it all so much fun it honestly feels so easy to do. This class has really helped my presenting skills, I still have a lot of work to do, but with all of the FOA’s that I get to practice on has really helped. I am the most nervous for the Final IOC where we are being recorded because I feel like I will have a hard time getting my thoughts out clear enough, like when I do in presentations. I can’t wait for next year Mrs. Caraway! I really appreciate all that you do and enjoy being in your class! :-)

  28. I am going to be completely honest I am so scared to be a senior next year! I'm excited by I am one of those people that fear the unknown. I fear greatly of being unprepared. I am most scared of the future IOC. I know that it shouldn't be that scary, (especially if you list out the reasons you shouldn't be scared) but it still is. I mean even doing the practices I get so nervous and anxious. The last time we did a practice my hand was shaking so bad during my annotations. IT WAS JUST A PRACTICE BETH SHEESH! Anyways, I am very excited to be reading more books and getting into meanings. I always look forward to discussions in class after reading so next year should be fun, because I know we're reading some awesome books next year! Overall I'm super excited and scared at the same time. It's a bittersweet feeling. :)

  29. I am both scared and excited for my senior year as I know that I'll have to work extra hard and put in a lot more effort as it will be my last year in high school. There's a ton of things I want to accomplish within the next year and I'm hoping to be able to achieve my own goals to make myself satisfied. Thinking about finally finishing high school and moving onto college also makes me quite nervous but excited in a way. The whole process of applying for scholarships and colleges in general kinda freaks me out as I'm just hoping that I'll be able to get accepted to one that I want to go to. Overall,I just have to stay ready and prepared for what's to come in order to tackle it down.

  30. I'm excited yet scared to improve my oral presentation skills and my overall grammatical or writing skills. The reason why I want to improve these skills is that I'm very poor on giving speeches or presenting data.
    I believe that next year would be more rigorous which is very scary. Especially with the oral exam we have to do early in the next school year.

  31. I'm excited to challenge myself and push myself to my academic limits. I want to see how well I can manage three DP classes and try to keep a social life at the same time...
    However, I'm nervous about presenting in front of my peers because I'm still not very comfortable sharing my thoughts in front of groups of people. Hopefully, this class can help me improve that skill. :)

  32. I'm excited to dive in deeper with literature and to see the different perspectives on the work. I am hoping to get better at confidence in my work mainly but hopefully i will get better over time.

  33. I am definitely excited to have Mrs. Caraway as a teacher for the second time, as I've had her in seventh grade and loved each and every day in her class. I want to see how her classroom and teaching style have changed since the last time I had her, or if it has even changed at all. I am also very excited to begin reading novels that require more analyzation and time to understand. That being said I do have some concerns regarding the class, such as the fact that I will be taking the full diploma program and am scared of how much I will be able to handle. I am also apprehensive when it comes to sharing my ideas which, from the comments left, seems like something that will be done a lot in this class. Fears aside I am eager to start on the journey that is DP Language and Literature.

  34. I love reading novels because it takes me on a journey or to a another world that I imagine in my head that is why I am excited to read the upcoming novels that DP Language and Literature year one has to offer.I am interested with the way we will analyze and figure out the deeper meaning of the novels. I am also excited about having Mrs.Caraway as a teacher for the first time ever. What I fear the most is taking the full DP course, one thing I like to tell myself to help me with this fear is that, "I can do this" it's a simply statement but it helps me tremendously because I know that I can do anything if I put my mind to it, that's just who I am. So I know that will help me coming into DP because it helped me overcome some really difficult tasks in sophomore year. Furthermore I am really excited to be a junior and take classes that will stretch my mind to think.

  35. I'm very excited to really dive into the novels that we will be reading this year, and I hope I will improve my analysis skills as the year progresses so I can really understand what is going on in different books. I'm scared of falling behind or becoming confused since I haven't always been the best at creating ideas about what I think about books, specifically how figurative language is used, but I'm excited to work harder in improving those skills.