English 9 MAP provides new opportunities for freshmen

October 22, 2010 — by Will Edman

Amid the budget cuts and financial difficulties that face the school, the Media Arts Program has continued to move ahead. Now in its third year, MAP has included the 9th grade by creating new English 9 MAP classes this year.

During MAP’s first two years, MAP classes were only available to sophomores and juniors with electives available to seniors. This gave students a chance to judge their initial high school experience before choosing whether they would dedicate themselves to media arts. However, with the fruition of English 9 MAP, students can be immersed in the world of multimedia even at the start of their high school careers.

“The major reason the English 9 MAP class was created was to help bridge the excitement coming out of the successful Redwood media program with the 10th grade fully integrated program here at SHS,” said MAP program coordinator Kerry Mohnike. “Also, we saw a lot of interest this past year at the sophomore level and we were looking for ways to build skills and meet interests.”

The available class includes five periods, three taught by Cathy Head and two by Suzanne Herzman. More than 100 freshman students are in the classes. According to Herzman, the curriculum offered in the English 9 MAP class meets three basic standards: to teach aesthetic principles, to develop and practice collaborative skills and to provide increased oppurtunity for multimedia projects.

“By the end of the year, students should have the foundation in place for success in MAP and can make an informed decision about whether to continue with the program,” said Herzman.

The new curriculum found in this class has been a boon to many students who find that they excel more in a group-based environment, while increasing their knowledge in media and technology at the same time.

“I wanted to join MAP because I thought it would be more group oriented,” said freshman Ben Smerdon. “We do a lot more group activities and get to utilize media much more than in a normal class.”

This departure from the curriculum of a normal English class was also noted by freshman Yashaswini Vuruputoor. “It’s interesting how media arts and technology can be incorporated into a regular curriculum,” she said. “Overall, it has been a good experience and I plan to probably continue with the MAP program.”

Freshmen are not alone in their new experiences. Since English 9 MAP is being taught for the first time, teachers themselves have had to learn teaching methods and other aspects of MAP.

“I’ve been doing more media work myself to prepare to teach this class,” said Herzman. “At a professional development workshop in September, I planned, filmed and edited a short film—and learned a great deal from the experience.”

Although it has been a mere two months since its start, English 9 MAP has proven to be successful for both teachers and students.

“Student, parent and teacher response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Mohnike said. “While students in the course have no way of comparing it to the traditional English 9 course, the teachers who have taught the traditional classes see that students are producing good work and learning all of the fundamental skills needed to move on to the next level.”

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