I haven’t updated in awhile (sorry! So busy!), but we are clipping right along with Individual Written Arguments. Students are working this weekend on rough drafts and bringing those to class on Monday. We will spend this whole week revising, editing, and rethinking those pieces. It would be fantastic if you could offer to be a second set of eyes on their drafts. I am very limited by the College Board in the amount of specific feedback I can give at this point. I can ask lots of questions and make general suggestions, but I can’t correct grammar, suggest phrasing changes, etc. If they’re unwilling to let you look at it, encourage them to ask other trusted editors to take a peak!
I’ve been very happy with their level of commitment to the writing process with this piece. So many of them have struggled all year with the desire to put their writing off until the last minute. They’re sure they write best under pressure. I pointed out that if they always write under pressure and they’re doing well, imagine how great their writing could be if they took time to think and process!! With most, that seems to have worked, but there are still a few stragglers out there insisting on waiting until the last minute. If you see your student burning the midnight oil tonight, I’d encourage you to have a little chat about planning and working over time. It’s not always possible--they are so, so busy--but when they do have opportunities to spread out their work, they should.
Final drafts of the IWA will be due a week from Monday and then we will spend the week before break working on preparing their Individual Presentations. My hope is that most of them will be able to get the bulk of their work done prior to Spring Break so that they can take a true break from Seminar that week!! After break (the second week in April) we will start practicing and giving each other feedback. The students are hoping to have another parent night since that was so useful last time. I’m trying to figure out the logistics of that and will get details to you as soon as possible.
Sorry for the long pause in updates!! The Maguire version of March Madness is March birthdays. I’m on party #2 this weekend and the last one is next weekend. Instead of updating the blog on the weekends, I’ve been refereeing Nerf gun wars for 8 year old boys and hosting a houseful of five years-olds for an art party.
We have been incredibly busy in AP Lang, too. The students are working hard on three big skills at the same time: critical reading, writing, and time management.
We are turning up the heat on our reading work in preparation for the AP exam in May. Students are doing at least one set of practice multiple choice questions each week. They have chances to practice, time themselves, check their answers and discuss those answers with partners. I also provide numerous guided multiple choice practice videos on our Google Classroom site for students who want extra practice with multiple choice. As I’ve told the students many times, I’m conflicted about all the multiple choice practice. On one hand, it feels solely like test prep, and I hate that. On the other hand, the level of reading and types of questions are excellent for preparing students for the high level types of reading they’ll do in their college classes. Regardless, most of them are taking the test, and I want them to be ready!! On Thursday we took our second multiple choice, timed test. I will put those (curved) scores in on Monday and students will have one more opportunity (next week) to take a timed test and replace their score. Students who are still struggling need to take full advantage of the online practice and should also talk to me about their multiple choice practice during their conference time.
Students have been writing a lot the past few weeks. Each week they are completing at least one timed practice writing and then last week they also turned in a “process piece” that they worked on over the span of a few weeks. With their practice writings, students have the opportunity to meet with me, look at high scoring samples, and figure out what they need to do to take their writing to the next level. I’m seeing some nice growth with students who are fully engaging in that process! Please encourage your students to continue practicing. For some, the timing is the biggest issue. As with multiple choice, I’m not a big fan of the timed element of the test, but that’s the reality. You can help by offering to time them when they write practice essays at home. Some students really benefit from sitting at the kitchen table and having someone tell them when it’s been 10, 20 minutes, etc.
The final--and perhaps most important--skill we are working on in AP Lang is time management. At the beginning of last week, students were given a calendar that takes them through the AP test the first week in May. April is jam-packed with special events, state testing, and competitions. We wanted students to think ahead and make plans for what their in class and out of class work would look like. Additionally, these two months (March and April) are dedicated to one-on-one conferences between teacher and students to help student refine their individual writing abilities. In order to make that happen, students need to be organized and motivated. They meet with me at least once a week individually and show me what types of practice they’re doing. For some, this is working very well. They are engaging in all of the practice opportunities and coming to conferences with specific questions. Other students are struggling to use their time wisely and don’t quite have the academic maturity--yet! They’ll get there!--to manage their own time. As this is supposed to mimic a college class, it’s important that students begin to develop that maturity and ability to self-monitor when given large chunks of time to work. I’d encourage you to chat with your student about his or her plan each week for workshop time.
Have a great two weeks! I will update after spring break!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire