Well, we all survived the Mock Performance Task 2. It wasn’t pretty in some cases, but everyone ended up finishing the task and (I think) learning a good deal about how to manage a large, independent project. Many students struggled mightily with breaking the work into manageable chunks, and I imagine many of you saw them scrambling to finish at the last minute. As I told them in class, as hard as it was for me to watch them struggle, I think they all learned a lot from that process. Hopefully, as we move into the real, College Board Performance Tasks, they will be a little (a lot?) more careful about working steadily over time.
Final grades for those essays will hopefully be posted before the break. They will be in Schoology labeled “Mock IWA” (Individual Written Argument). I have promised my family that I will not bring any grading home over the break; now I’m having to practice what I preach to the students and work steadily all this week! I am posting grades and feedback for the Individual Multimedia Presentations as the presentations are occurring, so if students presented already, those grades are updated.
In this final week before break, we will be forming groups for the first Performance Task. It is imperative that students think carefully about the topics they are interested in exploring as this is a project that they will work on for a number of weeks. Due to the group nature of the project, it is likely that not everyone will get to research exactly what they would like to research, but my goal is to get as close to that as possible. If you can, chat with your students in the next few days about potential research areas. This will help once we start narrowing ideas in class.
Over break, students will have the option of beginning research but this is not an expectation. Many have expressed a desire to use that time to get a jump on things before midterm craziness sets in. Others are ready for a complete and total brain break. I think either option is completely fine, and I’d encourage you to talk with your student about his or her choice. When we return from break, students will have about three weeks to complete their Individual Research Reports (part one of the Performance Task) and then at midterms we will shift into the Team Multimedia Presentation preparation. There will not be any additional midterm for the course.
I hope you all have a restful, relaxing break! Please let me know if you have any questions.
I wanted to check in one last time before break to let you know what we are working on and what you can expect to see for the rest of the semester. Our goal for the past two weeks has been to work hard now so we can rest and relax over break.
Students are working on three things:
Analysis and Argument Practice
We have done a great deal of work on analytical and argumentative writing so far. During class we are practicing both skills with some shorter texts (mostly poetry). Encourage your students to take advantage of this practice as we will do some final assessment of those skills after break. This is their chance to get feedback from me without any grade (or stress!) attached.
Research Process Piece
We have been working steadily through the process of generating questions, engaging in research and drafting arguments based on that research. Please ask your students where they are in that process. This week they have opportunities every day to conference with me about their writing and receive feedback. My hope is that they will continue to work hard and turn their papers in early this Friday. The official due date is January 8, but many are in a position to have this off their plates prior to break.
Independent Reading Project
Students have chosen new independent reading books and all of them have chosen books that are a “push” into something a little more challenging. For many of them, that means reading nonfiction. Please ask them to tell you about their books! I’m excited about their choices. The only thing students need to do over break is continue reading these books. They don’t need to be finished when they return, but they should be at least halfway through. They will use these books for their midterm project. Students have all the details of the project already and it is posted on Schoology.
We are having a (contextual) Pool Party on Friday. I love a good theme and students have worked hard on deepening their contextual pools all year so far, so pool party it is! We will be working on making connections between the things we have already added to our contextual pool notebooks this year and our new independent reading books. Mrs. Bratney (our librarian) will be joining us as our guest lifeguard and giving us some easy tips for better researching skills. If you’d be willing to help us gather up some snacks for the day, feel free to sign up here.
I hope you have a wonderful break and everyone gets some much needed time to rest and relax.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire