Atlantic & College Board Writing Prize Inspires Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration
Atlantic & College Board Writing Prize Inspires Cross-Disciplinary CollaborationCrystal Barrick, Assistant Director, Communications
St. Thomas High School, Houston, TX. — When AP English Literature teacher Laura Thornton heard about the Atlantic & College Board Writing Prize, she saw a new opportunity — and a challenge — for her students to improve their writing. The contest calls for students to submit essays that “insightfully analyze and interpret a meaningful work of art;” the winner will receive $5,000 and their essay will be published in the September 2016 issue of The Atlantic.
To help her 27 students compose essays that were not only strong pieces of analytic writing, but also thoughtful, critical reflections on a work of art, she asked her colleague, Fine Arts instructor Chau Nguyen, to co-teach. Nguyen led students in observing Édouard Manet’s painting, “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” (1882, oil on canvas), and coached them through a 45-minute discussion about what they noticed.
Students then selected their own works of art to analyze — from classical to contemporary paintings, to pieces of music — and went through a rigorous drafting and revising process with the help of their teacher.
“I was impressed by the enthusiasm, the investment in the process,” Thornton said on St. Thomas High School’s website. “This was our first foray into merging two curriculums and we will absolutely continue next year…Promoting this ongoing conversation about culture and society just opens up another door for our students.”