Well, they survived the IWA process! They would probably say “barely” but I would say they nailed it. Yesterday, students turned in their final drafts of their Individual Written Arguments, a 2000 word research based argumentative essay. I think they were skeptically proud of themselves. Proud they’d finished the essays, but skeptical about the quality. I tried to help them understand that that’s exactly where they should be right now! This was a first attempt at a pretty challenging type of research and writing. We spent the hour reflecting on what we had learned from the process and these were the tips they came up with for themselves:
We posted these two posters on the back wall and will return to them often next semester when they are working on their performance tasks that “count” for the College Board assessments. Obviously, I haven’t graded them yet, but I know these will be solid pieces of writing because every one of the students was thinking like a writer. Ultimately, that’s my goal in this class. Students need to see themselves as writers who are making purposeful choices about how they’re crafting an argument. What evidence should I include? How should I order my claims to make this argument compelling? How does my word choice impact my audience?
If all the stars align and I can stay on task, those essays will be back in the students’ hands with feedback by early next week (the week of December 10).
In the meantime, we will be working on the second piece of Mock Performance Task #2: The Individual Multimedia Presentation. Students will take their essays and turn them into a 6-8 minute persuasive presentation. We will spend all next week working on those presentations in class. Students with a busy schedule should probably be doing some preliminary work on those presentations this weekend. If they are working hard in class and staying focused, the goal is for them to be ready to start practicing the presentations on Wednesday evening. Please start pestering them to practice for you!! They won’t want to, but they need to. At the very least, make them practice in front of a mirror or for an audience of supportive stuffed animals.
The IMPs will be presented (and videotaped!) in class the week of December 10. At the end of that week, students will do some timed, in class writing. Most of our work in AP Seminar is on process writing, but throughout the fall semester we have been sprinkling in some practice with timed writing to prepare for the End of Course exam. You will see that reflected in MiStar as “EOC A” or “EOC B”. On Thursday and Friday of that week, students will have a chance to try those two tasks again and potentially replace a low score with a higher one.
Finally, the week before break will be spent brainstorming and creating groups for our first--real!--Performance Task. Students practiced this one back in October; now we are doing the real thing. They will work in groups to research a problem area from many different perspectives. Students will write an individual research report (IRR) about those findings. Then, they will pull them all together to make a group argument for how that problem area should be addressed (Team Multimedia Presentation). You can save the date right now for Wednesday, February 6. Students will be performing those team presentations in the evening for--hopefully!--an audience of parents. I have found that parents give excellent feedback and this practice really benefits the students.
Over break, the students will not have any official homework. Some students may choose to get a jump on their IRR research, but others may choose a complete and total break. I’m fine with either choice and we will talk about how to think that choice through in class!
Sorry so long, but I know that the next few weeks will get very busy very quickly so I figured it was easier to just give one longer update when I had the time.
Have a wonderful holiday season!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire