We have been incredibly busy in AP Seminar, and I wanted to catch you up on what we are doing. The more you are “in the loop” the more you can (hopefully) help your students think through these big projects and how they might best manage their time.
This week students have been finishing up their independent research for their first project. I have been blown away with the quality of thinking and research from the students! They are pushing themselves and each other to break down some incredibly complex topics. I encourage you to ask them about their research.
Students met with me one on one for a research conference. They shared their annotated bibliographies with me and talked through their research process. These were graded conferences and you will see those grades reflected in MiStar by Friday afternoon. A score of 100 means the student was prepared with multiple, high quality, academic sources and was able to speak thoughtfully about how those sources addressed their research questions. Students with lower scores should be able to explain to you what they need to do to improve. If they can’t, please encourage them to speak to me.
Next week we will be diving into turning that research into an Individual Research Report (IRR). Students have seen a sample, high scoring essay. I’ve also posted a screencast of me reading and explaining the key points of that sample on Google Classroom. This is a big writing task and I have encouraged students to think about how they might break that task apart into manageable pieces. This is often very difficult for students because their natural inclination is to wait until the night before it is due!! We talked about schedules and commitments and Homecoming and I encouraged the students to think about how they might balance everything and still stay sane!! Please ask them about their plan. I am hopeful that constant reminders will keep them from having long nights of writing at the last minute.
Research essays will be due next week Friday, so you should see consistent writing all week long. If you're lucky, you might get to read a draft.
Have a great weekend!
We are finally ready to dig into our first research project!
This week your students will be forming groups for their first Mock Performance Task. All fall we will practice the skills necessary to complete the College Board Performance Tasks they will do later in the year as their official AP assessment. These "mock" performance tasks are the perfect opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and try again.
For this task, students will work in group of 4-5 students. Each group will have a research f area and each student will focus on a specific element of the area. For this task, we will all work on research areas related to our unit theme of Money. For example, if students wanted to zero in on the impacts of money on the public education system, group members might focus on different elements of the research area:
Students will do individual research and write an individual report of their research findings. Then, they'll reassemble as a group and pull it all together into one cohesive presentation that makes an argument about how we should address a problem they've identified.
It's a big, overwhelming task. Not only do they have to tackle some pretty advanced research, but this is their first chance to start working on group dynamics and holding one another accountable.
The best way for you to help is to ask lots of questions at home! Encourage your students to talk through their confusions about their research. If they're struggling with group members, help them think through how they might approach their peers in mature, direct ways. And always, always, nudge them to ask for support and help when they need it!! I'm here to guide them through this big task, and the more they're willing to ask for help early and often, the easier it will be.
This weekend your students should be blogging about potential topics for their research and reading their small group books. If you're lucky, they might share those blogs with you.
Have a great weekend!
Welcome to AP Seminar!
AP Seminar is the first year in the two year AP Capstone program. This year, students will learn college level research skills and engage in several large research projects. The class is designed to give them opportunities to develop research questions rooted in their own interests.
Their official AP test will be in the form of two videotaped presentations, two uploaded research papers and a 2 hour exam they will sit for in May. Next year, they will engage in a year long independent research project in AP Research that will culminate in a 20 page research essay and a 15 minute videotaped presentation. Completing AP Seminar, AP Research and four additional AP courses will qualify them to receive an AP Capstone diploma.
Our first AP Capstone cohort graduated this past June and the research projects they completed were impressive. This program is an exciting academic challenge for students; I am so glad your son or daughter has taken it on!
We have begun the year in AP Seminar with a thematic study of money and the political, cultural, economic, and social choices we make regarding it. Students are reading everything from older texts (example: Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth) to contemporary texts (example: Elizabeth Warren's "The Vanishing Middle Class"). They are examining poetry, visual art, and music for messages about money as well. They've also begun blogging about potential research questions within this topic area. I encourage you to ask your students to share their blogs with you!
Starting next week, we will begin our first big research project. I'll include more details about that project in next week's post. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire