Hello, Parents and Guardians!
We are wading into our second major “mock” performance task, so I thought I should update you on what’s going on.
Semester One of AP Seminar is about skill building and practice. Students participate in two “mock” performance tasks that are highly structured and teacher guided. They receive a LOT of feedback on these mock tasks. We have already completed performance task one; now we are beginning performance task two. Students also work on practicing the skills necessary for the end of course exam (EOC). We do practice exams throughout the semester and student grades improve as their skills grow.
Semester Two of AP Seminar is when I have to step back. Students work on the real performance tasks (new topics, new groups) and those are uploaded to the College Board Digital Portfolio and scored externally. I am not allowed to give direct feedback, but I can give whole group instruction if I see gaps in student understanding.
Because Semester Two is more “hands-off”, it is imperative that students engage in the feedback process this semester and ask questions NOW. For the first performance task, some struggled with this and waited until the last minute to ask for help. Their end products reflected that! As we move into this second performance task, we will be spending a lot of time talking about how to plan out a work flow and set small goals. We will also be working on how they can give each other feedback that is useful.
The performance task two scoring guidelines are here.
By the end of next week, students will have a research question approved by me. If you can get them to talk with you about their ideas this week, that would be great!! The more they talk through their ideas, the better their questions become. We will talk a lot about potential questions next week so that they can all get to one that is both arguable and has a potential solution.
Once students have questions chosen, we will move into a research/writing workshop format for about two and a half weeks. I’ve arranged the calendar so that it’s possible for students to be completely done with a solid draft prior to Thanksgiving. I truly believe that breaks should be breaks. However, many of them have expressed a desire to work on their papers during break because they won’t have any other work to do. I want to give students that option, too, so papers won’t actually be due until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving (December 4). Please keep an eye on the work happening at your house and help your student make smart choices based on the plans your family has for Thanksgiving! They should also remember that they will only have limited time to conference with me after Thanksgiving, so even if they wait to do some of the writing that weekend, they should still be conferencing with me about their research and drafting prior to break.
After Thanksgiving we will shift into the presentation portion of the performance task. This is exactly what the students did in performance task one except now they are doing it independently. Please offer to watch them practice!! Students will be presenting beginning December 10.
Sorry for the lengthy update! If you made it to the end and have questions, feel free to email me. This class is a lot of juggling for the students, but they are learning some valuable time management skills along with the research and writing ones.
Have a great weekend!
Hello, Parents and Guardians!
I hope you’re staying warm this weekend. I haven’t updated you in awhile, so I thought it might be useful to check in and let you know what we are up to in AP Language. Unfortunately, I realized as I wrote that I have an awful lot to tell you about.
If you are short on time and really just want to know what kind of things are due this month, skim to the bottom of each section for the italicized line.
We have shifted our focus from analysis to argumentation. During our analysis work, we examined the choices writers make to convey their arguments. Now, students will be flexing their own argumentation muscles while they make their own choices as writers. The big writing project they are working on this month is an open letter. Students have examined a number of them from various publications, brainstormed and planned for their own, and now they are drafting. They have complete freedom over the subject and purpose of the letter; the main thing I want to see is that their choices as a writer match their purpose. Some are funny, some are serious--that’s fine! They will have many opportunities over the next few weeks to have an individual conference with me about their drafts. Please encourage them to take advantage of that!! If you’re lucky, they might let you read their drafts, too. Make sure to ask them to tell you who their audience is and what they’re trying to accomplish with the letter.
The final draft of the open letter will be due November 25.
Students are reading many different texts around the theme of Education for this unit. We are using all of these texts to continue practicing our analysis skills from the beginning of the year. Each text takes a different approach to the question “To what extent do our schools serve the purpose of a true education?” Students have read some contemporary texts so far and one classic text by James Baldwin. Next week we will dive into our most challenging text, an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson. All of them are in the Unit 2 folder on Schoology.
Student understanding of these texts will be assessed two ways: a graded discussion at the end of next week, and an in-class analysis essay the following week.
Low Stakes Practice
We are also doing lots of independent reading and writing. Research shows that the more students have low stakes (not graded!) opportunities to read and write, the more confident they become with both skills. We read independent, student chosen novels everyday, and we are working hard to find the right balance between pushing ourselves toward more challenging texts and remembering that reading can and should just be for fun sometimes, too. Please ask your students what they are reading and share what you’re reading with them, too. Ask for a suggestion if you haven’t read for fun in awhile. Many of them are reading things any adult would enjoy!
For practice writing, we are blogging about current events and sharing that writing with other AP Language students across the country. Last month we shared our writing with students in West Virginia and South Carolina. This month we are working with a school in New Hampshire. I’m so proud of the writing the students are producing and the thoughtful comments they’re providing to our online buddies.
Their next blog post is due November 20 and they have lots of time to write those in class. I promised I wouldn’t post all their links here, but they might share them with you if you ask.
We just finished notebook language conferences and they were a delight!! Across the board, your students are engaging with the activity of seeking out new words, figuring out what they mean, and trying to use them. Many students reported that they “found” many of their words simply by listening more carefully to their parents. I guess an unintended benefit of this notebook is that they are listening to you more! Please encourage them to try out their new words and don’t hesitate to correct them if they’re using the word incorrectly. The hardest part of vocabulary acquisition is figuring out how to use the word. It’s easy to memorize definitions. It’s hard to actually learn a new word.
Students should be updating their vocabulary notebooks regularly (five new words a week) and should have over fifty by now.
If you made it to the end and you actually read it all, I’m impressed!! Sorry for the length, but I needed to share all of the great work your students are doing. We are working hard on balance and planning this year, too, so please let me know if they seem “swamped” with homework for my class. That should NOT be happening and is likely a product of poor use of time in class. We can fix that, but I need to know about it!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend,
Mrs. Hattie Maguire