I sent a very stressed/overwhelmed group out of my room today, and I’m feeling a little bad about it. By Tuesday, they are charged with coming up with rough drafts of their research questions, and they all have so many questions about their questions that they are making themselves miserable!! As I told them in class today, most of them are the types of students that would happily jump through any hoops I give them; unfortunately, this is a hoop-free assignment! They need to think about the stimulus materials, consider how they connect, and find a way to channel those connections into a research question. I’m hoping you can help me out this weekend by engaging them in a little discussion about their potential questions. Please assure them that these are just draft questions at this point!! We will talk a lot more, discuss, and adjust as they move through the research process.
I’ve shared a few documents with them on Google Classroom to help them out, including a breakdown of the rubric for this paper. Hopefully they will spend some time looking at that rubric this weekend. On Monday we will do some more talking and thinking about the stimulus materials. By Tuesday, they will need drafts of their questions and I will set them loose to research. We have talked a lot about balancing time as we move into this busy season of AP exam prep. They all have a lot on their plates, so the more you can encourage them to work hard while they are in class, the better!!
Happy discussing!! (Hopefully you’ll get more out of them than I get out of my son when I ask about school.)
I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful weather over break!! It made this past week hard to focus, so I’m (almost) hoping the weather will go back to normal so we can get back to our serious practice in AP Lang!!
On Friday, students wrote their first timed, scored essay for the semester. Some of them seemed highly stressed about it, but I am confident that they were prepared! We have been practicing diligently in class for the past three weeks and most of them have had at least two conferences with me about their progress. A few need to make up one conference. Many were able to talk to me about their synthesis practice essay and received direct feedback about adjustments they need to make for that type of writing. Please encourage your students to continue to use our practice and conferencing time effectively. Students who are engaging in that time and working hard are seeing improvement.
Monday will be our first multiple choice assessment. As with the writing, students have had three weeks of practice with this. Many have chosen to conference with me about their specific problems with multiple choice; others have worked in small groups to practice. To prepare for Monday’s assessment, they should review the three practice sets we’ve done in class. Students who wish to do additional practice should access the two additional practice passages on Google Classroom. I also posted a video of me analyzing the passage and explaining the correct answers for students who need additional help.
Finally, students should be well on their way with drafting their process pieces. I have seen their brainstorming and discussed their plans with them individually; I’m excited about their choices! Many are exploring arguments or topics they are very passionate about. I hope you ask them about this writing piece. For the next two weeks, they should use their conference time in class to talk with me about those essays; students who would like additional feedback are always encouraged to come in before school or during Academic Advisory.
Please let me know if you have any questions about what we’re working on in AP Language, and please reach out to me if your student is expressing a high level of stress about the timed writing. Sometimes they aren’t always honest with me about how stressed writing under pressure makes them and it is helpful for me to know who needs extra encouragement.
Have a great weekend!
They did it!! (Well, everyone except one group, but I know they’re ready and I’m confident they’ll do a great job on Monday).
Thanks again for coming to watch the TMPs last Monday. Your feedback drove them to make some awesome changes and improvements to their presentations. I was really impressed with the finished product. Mrs. Bratney, our Library/Media Specialist came to watch the final presentations and said I wasn’t just being a proud mama!! Her direct quote, “This is amazing. This is what I always imagine students are capable of when it comes to research and presentation!”
So...on Tuesday we will dig into our second performance task. The students will receive a giant packet of stimulus materials intended to get them thinking about new topics. We will spend the next two weeks reading and discussing those articles, narratives, and research studies. When we get back from break, we will start zeroing in on their individual research questions.
If you can, chat with them about what they’re reading in the stimulus materials. The more they talk through what they’re reading, the more they’ll start to think of interesting questions and topics they’d like to explore. Ultimately, they’ll end up writing a research based argumentative essay (about 2000 words) and then presenting their argument in independent presentations. Those presentations will take place in the last few weeks of April.
Enjoy the next two weeks; I’ll update the week after break about how students are doing with the research process.
I’m writing a two week post since next week is so short!
This past week ended up being a perfect example of the best laid plans going completely awry, but, luckily, the kids were flexible!! I lost my voice so the whole “one-on-one conferences” thing wasn’t a great option. We played catch-up with those conferences Friday and will continue to do so on Monday.
During conferences, I am looking for students to ask me specific questions about their reading and writing practice and what they’d like to improve. I’m keeping careful notes of our discussions so we can revisit the skills each week and look to see if improvement/growth is happening. So far, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of questions students are asking and the time they’re spending on their practice. Please encourage them to keep up the great work!
I’m hoping you’re seeing less time spent on homework. This shift toward a full reading/writing workshop is intended to have students practicing in class when I’m there to guide them. If they are using their time wisely, there is truly no reason they should ever be doing more than 30 minutes of homework for my class at home. Some nights they may have a short video lesson to view or a little work to finish up, but a time-savvy student could probably get away with only one or two nights of homework for my class. Please encourage your students to use their time wisely. You may want to ask them to show you their notebooks. These should include samples of their timed writing, multiple choice practice, and text analysis.
The other thing I’m hoping you will see in their notebook is vocabulary. Students should be hard at work finding words in their class texts and independent reading to add to their vocabulary lists. Many of them know a lot of words from SAT/ACT prep, but they don’t understand the nuances of the words’ meanings and thus use them incorrectly. For example, many struggled with the word “belligerent” on a recent multiple choice test. They looked it up and knew it meant “aggressive” but since many had never seen the word used in context, they didn’t understand just how aggressive it means...and that it usually means unreasonably aggressive.
Finally, this weekend students were asked to begin brainstorming topics for their one “process” piece of writing this card marking. The students have three types of writing from which they may choose and the topics are completely up to them. For some, this freedom is exciting! For others, the freedom to choose is overwhelming. Please touch base with your students about this piece and ask them what they’re thinking about using as a topic. Encourage them to come see me if they are stuck!
For our two day week next week, we’ll be doing our first graded, timed essay of the card marking--a synthesis essay. This is the essay type they practiced last week. Please encourage your students to talk to me about their synthesis practice essay during their conference this week. We’ll also be looking at sample synthesis essays this week as well to determine what makes a high-quality synthesis essay.
Have a great two weeks! I’ll update again after our break.
Happy Weekend! I’m hoping that many of you have seen your students practicing or meeting up with their group members this weekend. I know many groups were planning on working over the weekend. I also know that many of them had big athletic, music, work, etc. events this weekend that keep them busy. I’m so impressed by their ability to manage their busy lives, academics and extracurriculars. If you’re seeing stressed out students at home, please encourage them to check in with me. I can’t necessarily simplify their schedules, but sometimes I can help them make better use of their time so that they may juggle things more effectively.
Tomorrow in class we will do final run-throughs of Team Multimedia Presentations in anticipation of our event Monday night. I hope you’re planning to join us!! We will start at 7pm in my room (252) and should be done easily by 8pm. Tuesday we will debrief how the presentations went and make any necessary tweaks. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be devoted to taping our final presentations. If you can’t make it on Monday night, I can probably send you the video of the final presentation.
Thanks for all your support. Some of the students are pretending like they don’t really want you to come watch them, but I can tell that they’re pretty excited to show you their work!!
Have a great Sunday.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend. If you’re planning to watch the Super Bowl tonight, I’d encourage you to pay extra attention to the commercials. This week we’ll be focusing on commercials and the arguments they make. Our mentor text for the week is a sample of a synthesis essay from Fortune magazine about the challenges Fox had selling ad space this year. I’m hoping students will see that the synthesis format is used “in the wild” and is not solely used in school research papers. On Friday, we will discuss the article and how the writer used different types of evidence to support his claim. The timed writing practice this week is also about advertisements. Students will choose a day this week to do the timed practice in class.
Please encourage your students to think ahead about their plan for this week. I’m hoping that they will quickly settle into this new schedule and learn how to most efficiently schedule their own class time. Writing conferences will take place Tuesday-Thursday. Students have the schedule on Google Classroom and should be prepared to talk about last week’s work on their scheduled day. Conferences were optional last week, but many students chose to conference with me about their midterm essays. I was impressed by the quality of questions and comments they had about their own writing. I’m seeing some nice growth from all of them! If your student did not choose to conference about his or her midterm essays but has questions about the score, please encourage him to come speak to me before school Monday-Thursday or during AA.
The other major writing piece we will begin work on this week is the process piece for the semester. Students have three choices: an analysis, an argument or a synthesis. This week I’m asking them to decide which piece they’ll be writing and begin brainstorming their ideas. They have a lot of freedom of topic for this choice, but I hope each week’s mentor text will give them lots of ideas. By next week, I’ll expect them to be able to show me some preliminary drafting of their essay--at least some outlining--during their notebook conferences.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire