We are officially done with our Money unit and the students have their first set of grades in MiStar. Many are a little nervous about the grades, but I promised them that this is simply a starting point. This class is Standards Based and that means they will have multiple opportunities to show me improvment. As they improve, I’ll replace their scores.
Writing and Research: They all wrote some interesting, research-based essays on money and What it Means to be Wealthy. I encourage you to read those with them!! With each student’s essay, I provided specific feedback about what to work on for the next essay. As we begin writing in this new unit--Monsters--we will revisit those comments and see which skills we need to focus on. Some students need more work with research, some with forming a logical line of reasoning, others with creating a complex, nuanced argument. My goal for the students is that they use their writing and my feedback to improve rather than simply moving on to the next assignment and hoping for the best! In this unit, students will be identifying a “Monster” that impacts our world--figurative or literal--and making an argument about how that Monster could be vanquished. Encourage them to tell you what we have brainstormed so far. They’ve come up with some great ideas for research.
Reading: Students will continue to grapple with lots of different types of texts this unit. This weekend, they are reading four different articles about different fears or problems in our world. In class this week, we will return to some work we did early in the last unit. Students will pick those articles apart to identify the author’s line of reasoning and then try to assess the validity of the author’s argument. Now that they’ve written an argument themselves, I think this process will make a lot more sense to them. We will continue to work on this skill all year as this is one of the tasks they will complete for the AP test in May.
Presentations: Students delivered their presentations this week, and I am happy to report that this is a strength for most of them! They quickly understood the concept of clear visuals and, though we will continue to work on that skill, I think they will easily create excellent visuals for their official presentations this spring. They spoke with confidence and ease; this is a great sign going forward.
In this unit, we will add a little wrinkle to the presentation element of the class. They will be working in groups. This is much more challenging, especially since many of them are accustomed to being leaders. I think this is one of the best elements of the AP Seminar curriculum. We will spend a lot of time in this unit talking about group dynamics, equitable division of labor, and how to make sure everyone’s voice is valued.
I can already tell that the students have awesome ideas about monsters they’d like to tackle. Some are thinking very literal: terrorism, nuclear war, dictators. Others are thinking more figuratively: pressure/stress, self-doubt. Ultimately, their groups will have to figure out how those “monsters” can be addressed--not necessarily solved. One student wisely remarked yesterday that these were all complex problems with no easy solution. YES! That’s the big take-away I want them to get from this unit. Hopefully we will have some awesome projects and presentations to share with you by early November.
Have a great weekend. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire