We are two weeks into our education unit and students are hard at work on our four different skill areas: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and Language. I thought this week, since I missed sending an update last week (sorry!), I would send an update on what we are doing arranged by skill area. These are the skills areas that comprise students’ grades as well.
Reading: Last week we focused on a piece by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I was elated by how well the students did with it. Typically, it is one of the most challenging for the students because it is dense and old. The students dug into it, though, and we had some wonderful discussions about the text throughout the week. Many of them used the guided reading videos I posted on Google Classroom to help them work through the text. I will continue to do that throughout the year as we tackle challenging texts. I record a Youtube video of myself reading and annotating. Sounds boring, I know, but I think hearing the text out loud and seeing my annotations really helps some students. Please encourage your students to take advantage of those videos when they are posted.
For this upcoming week, we’ll shift to a modern text. Students are reading an essay by Native American writer Sherman Alexie called “Superman and Me”-- a short piece about his experiences learning how to read. If you have time, take a look at it and discuss it with your student!
Writing: Students are hard at work on their first big AP-style essay: Rhetorical Analysis. In this essay, they are analyzing a text and trying to explain how an author conveys his or her message/ how an author achieves his or her purpose with the text. Students chose current op-eds from national newspapers, and we have been working with those for about a week now. They have all received comments from me online on their outlines and a score of 4/3/2/1/0 to reflect how they are doing right now. That score is in MiStar but does not count toward their grade. It was intended to give them feedback about how much additional help they should seek before continuing to write. About half of the students also met with me in person during Writer’s Workshop last week; everyone will have additional opportunities to meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week during class.
Speaking and Listening: Students participated in their second graded discussion last week using the Emerson piece. Many struggled with using textual references to support their claims during the discussion. They also all really struggled with listening!! Many had lots to say, but had trouble listening to what their peers were saying and using that to build a genuine, authentic discussion. I gave students some specific suggestions for how to prepare for the next discussion which will be Monday about “Superman and Me.” I will replace the Emerson score in MiStar with the new score if students show improvement.
Language: Finally, students are working each week on finding new and unfamiliar words in their texts and learning them. We are choosing ten words from our readings each week for the class quizzes. Students are doing well on the quizzes, but I am concerned that many have still not embraced the learning of new vocab. Many of them are waiting until the night before the quiz to memorize/cram the definitions of the words. Instead, I’d like them to look the words up when they encounter them in the text and use the whole week to slowly become familiar with these new words. Approaching vocabulary in that way will be much more beneficial to them in the long run. Please encourage them to tell you which words they are studying this week!
Sorry that was so long!! I guess that’s what I get for taking a week off. Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire