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.
Students are making great progress towards their preparation for the AP test in May. We have done a lot of in class writing, practicing, and revising! There is no specific homework over break for AP Language, but this would be a great time for you to check in with your student about how much he or she is engaging with all of the available practice opportunities for the course. There are many options for students to prepare; they just need to take advantage of them! Some possibilities for over break:
Let me know if you have any questions and have a wonderful break!
I just entered some things in MiStar and realized that the scores might seem low or cause a little panic.
PLEASE do not be alarmed :)
We have made a major shift in our work. Students are starting to tackle the beast of writing on demand under time pressure. Hopefully you’ve seen them practicing this at home. If you haven’t, that’s definitely something to talk with your student about. Students should be doing one timed practice essay (40 minutes) each week at home.
After three weeks of work on argumentative writing, students chose their best essay from all their practices for me to score. Those scores are now in MiStar. I think some students still have room to grow with their argumentative writing; in the two weeks prior to the AP Exam in May, students will have a chance to revise that essay for a higher score. Please encourage your students to continue engaging with the writing practice so that when they have the opportunity to revise, they’ll be confident and ready to do so!
The other slightly concerning score you may see in MiStar is the Multiple Choice Practice. Please note that this score does NOT count towards students’ grades. The AP Language multiple choice is incredibly difficult. A few things to note:
Please encourage your students to take advantage of all the practice we will do in multiple choice. In my experience, students who practice diligently see their scores improve!
For the next few weeks we will be working on synthesis essay writing. This type of writing asks students to make an argument using source material. Students are also working on a choice writing piece. They chose topics in the last few weeks and have been working on drafting those essays. They should have rough drafts of those essays ready for feedback by Monday.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
Welcome to second semester! New parents and students, this blog is my semi-regular attempt at communicating with parents what we are up to in Rm.266. I will email out weekly (or bi-weekly, or even monthly when things get crazy) a short update of what students are working on in class and what you can expect to see at home.
Second semester is a shift in focus. Instead of learning new skills as we did in first semester, this semester is focused two main things:
The first bullet is key to students’ success on the AP exam in May; the second bullet is key to their success with college writing courses.
Each week will follow roughly the same pattern. On Mondays, I’ll give students several things to work on:
On Mondays we will talk about the week’s theme and preview the practice for the week. Fridays are dedicated to class discussion of the shared texts. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are dedicated to one on one writing conferences with the students so that we can work on their individual writing needs. Students use this time to work on all of the practice activities and try out the things we talk about in our writing conferences.
I was pleased with how they did with our first week! Most embraced the freedom and did a nice job completing their work. Some are still struggling, of course. You will see a number of "not graded" assignments in MiStar in the coming weeks (only one so far). These are my way of communicating to you how well your student is engaging in practice. These scores don't "count" toward your student's grade. If you see a score of 3 or 4, that's great! That means the student is doing good or excellent work. If you see a 2, it means the student is attempting, but I need to see more consistent effort. A 1 or a 0 is cause for concern. It means there was minimal effort put toward the practice or none at all.
It would be very helpful if you could chat with your student about how they’re doing with their individual practice. Some things you might ask:
Ultimately, a student’s individual growth this semester is directly related to how much he or she is willing to commit to practice! Students should be working 5 nights a week for 30 minutes (no more!) on some type of practice.
Thanks for your continued support! Please let me know if you have any questions.
We made it! Well, I guess we aren’t there quite yet, but I’m confident the students will make it through this upcoming week of presentations. Here is a quick update for finals week and a peek at what is to come in second semester.
Midterms Week/Semester Grades
Students have worked hard to learn new writing skills, practice them, and revise over the past 18 weeks. Final revised argument essays were submitted on Friday, and I’ll have those graded and in MiStar by the end of the weekend. The only assignment left is a final presentation which students are giving about their independent novels and research associated with it. Four brave souls gave their presentations on Friday, and I was so excited to see the research and thinking that went into those presentations! Students did much of the prep work for these presentations in class, so they likely won’t have much work to do on them; you may want to ask them to give their presentation for you this weekend.
We decided to forgo a timed, in class midterm for this semester because students have worked mainly on process writing. We have done little practice with timed writing so it would unfair to assess them on it at this point. Students’ semester grades reflect where they are right now with their writing and critical reading skills based on all the work they’ve done with those skills thus far.
Since we spent first semester developing writing and critical reading skills, second semester will be devoted to refining those skills and applying them in a timed, high pressure environment. This is an incredibly valuable skill for students to work on as they prepare for the SAT test in April, the AP test in May, and any timed writing they will do in college. Students will have multiple timed writes and have chances to have one on one conferences with me as well as work with their peers on reviewing those essays. Every few weeks, they will choose one that they submit for me to score. The goal is for students to embrace the practice opportunities so that when it comes time for one to “count” they have multiple essays from which they may choose. Please encourage your students to begin semester two ready to work hard and take advantage of all the practice that doesn’t count toward their grades!
For the juniors in the class, it’s time to start thinking about ELA options for next year. I gave out a handout detailing the different options for ELA 12. The English department worked very hard to create some exciting new options for students; please talk about these choices with your students and help them select one that will be the best fit. Two of the classes (The Incubator and Peer Writing Consultant) require an application and interview. Students should have all the information they need to sign up for those interviews but should see me ASAP if they do not!
Have a great weekend!
I hope your students have shared their presentations with you! They’ve taken us a little longer to get through than I intended--I need to talk less--but I’ve loved seeing how much they’ve grown with both their researching and presenting skills. They all developed well reasoned, complex arguments and presented 8-10 minute, completely professional presentations. That’s no small feat!
This week we will return our focus to on-demand writing and zero in on the skills necessary for the end-of-course exam in May. Students will look at a practice on-demand writing they did several weeks ago, examine strengths and weaknesses, and then practice again. When we return from break, they’ll do one that “counts” for a score.
The week of December 18 will be dedicated to forming teams and choosing topics for the first Performance Task for The College Board. Students will work in teams of 4-5 students to research a problem through different lenses. They’ll all write individual research reports on their findings. Then, in mid-January, they’ll pull all of their research together and develop a group solution. The group will turn that solution into a 10-12 minute Team Multimedia Presentation that we will film in the first week of February. The paper (IRR) and presentation (TMP) will both be uploaded to the College Board website to be evaluated for their AP score.
Please SAVE THE DATE for our Parent Practice Night! We will be practicing our TMPs on Wednesday, January 31. Last year the parents gave phenomenal feedback and presentations improved dramatically.
I hope the holiday season is joyful and restful for your families! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Hello! It’s been awhile, but I wanted to give you a quick update of what’s going on in AP Language.
Writing: Students are beginning an argumentative essay this weekend that we will draft, revise and edit over the course of the next week and a half. We spent this past week brainstorming ideas for five potential prompts; this weekend students need to choose their topics and begin outlining their essays. Next week will be dedicated to one-on-one writing conferences. Students who have complete drafts and specific questions will get the most out of those conferences!
Reading: We are continuing our work with reading challenging, complex texts. As I reminded the students in class, challenging reading is a lot like weight lifting!! It’s hard, but if you try things that are “heavier weight” your muscle (brain!) will grow. I encourage you to ask them about the texts they’re reading. Everything in this unit is related to our Gender theme and our guiding questions about how our expectations and norms for gender roles shape the way we interact with one another.
Notebooks: This past week was dedicated to conferences about students’ contextual pool entries in their notebooks. I thoroughly enjoyed talking one on one with the students about what they are learning about global and domestic issues, history, pop culture, etc. Please ask them about their contextual pools. They have lots of interesting stuff to share!
Finally, I wanted to let you know that we are planning a book related party for the week before break. We are going to get involved in the book fairy movement by wrapping and hiding 30 books around Novi High School. The books will be marked with a note encouraging the finder to take it, read it, and pass it on! We’re hope to spread a little reading joy right before break starts. If you have any great books gathering dust on your shelves that might be interesting to high school students that you are willing to part with, we’d love any donations for our project.
I’ll update again after break. The only “homework” the students will have for the break is READING! Please encourage them to ask me for recommendations or to borrow some of my books prior to break.
Have a wonderful, restful holiday. Please reach out via email or phone if you have any questions for me!
The next few weekends are crazy in Maguire Land so this weekend’s blog update will cover the next three weeks.
What We’re Studying
Monday we will begin a new thematic unit, and we will be considering how work shapes and impacts our lives. We will continue our practice with rhetorical analysis and close reading--understanding not just what a text says but how a writer shapes conveys his message--and begin writing full rhetorical analysis essays. Students wrote one in groups last week, and I was very pleased to see how well those went! They will write a timed, in class essay independently on Monday for feedback only (no score!) to see which skills need the most practice. The remainder of the unit will be dedicated to a rhetorical analysis essay that they will write during Writers’ Workshop. As with our last essay, the more students embrace the writing process and work steadily, the better feedback they will get as they draft. Most did an excellent job with this during the recent synthesis essays, so I’m hopeful they’ll do the same over the next three weeks.
Things to Look For in MiStar
Students should start to see gradual improvements in their grades as we revisit and reassess skills. The constructed responses from last week replaced an earlier score if students saw an improvement. We also did a second annotation test last week. Students reported feeling much stronger with this test and a quick glance through them suggests to me that they are right to feel more confident. I will score those tests and record them by the end of this week. If your student is not showing improvement, please encourage him or her to come see me in AA or before school. Graded synthesis essays will be returned on Wednesday.
What to Ask if Your Student Claims To Have ‘No Homework’?
Many students are swamped by homework, but in AP Lang students get work in chunks and I encourage them to spread it out. As I tell them constantly, if they work 30 minutes every night, they should have no problem getting their work done for my class. Still, that’s very tough for some of them! Here’s some suggested things to ask them about if they claim they have nothing to do:
Enjoy your weekend and the next few weeks! I’ll update the blog after Thanksgiving, but if you have any questions in the meantime, just shoot me an email or give me a call.
The upcoming two weeks are important assessment weeks in AP Lang. Students have been practicing a number of skills, and this is their chance to show me what they know!
Tuesday, they will write a timed, constructed response on James Baldwin’s A Talk to Teachers. They have already written two that I’ve scored, and we have since written a number in class for feedback only. Students have been encouraged to read the piece carefully and take notes on the piece in their notebooks. They will have time in class to compare notes with peers on Monday. Please ask them to tell you about this piece and their preparation.
For the rest of the week, we will work on reviewing and preparing for the other two assessments coming up. Their Synthesis essays on education will be due on Monday, October 30. Students are working on developing an authentic, research based argument as well as a strong argumentative voice. We used this and this as our models. At this point, I’ve talked to almost every student (I’ll talk to the last 4 Monday) about their rough drafts and given them some feedback about revising and strengthening those drafts. Students can come to AA this week to work with former AP Lang students on revision; we will also do some revision work in class. If you’re lucky, they might even share their essays with you!! They’re chosen some excellent, education related topics.
We will also be prepping for a second try at an annotating assessment. On Wednesday, November 1, students will receive a new text in class that they will read and annotate for a score. They did this in the last unit--and they were pretty successful!--but now we are going to see how they do with a slightly more challenging (older) text. To prepare between now and then, students should be reviewing their annotation notes carefully, coming to see me before school if they feel they need extra help, and engaging fully in the practice time in class.
With all of these assessments, please encourage your students to come see me and ask for help if they are unsure of their skills. I want those assessment days to feel like victory laps--they’re just showing me how they’ve improved!
I hope to see many of you at conferences this week. Meeting parents helps me learn so much about my students.I know I still have conference times available. If you can’t make it, always feel free to reach out to me via email.
Hello and happy game day! This Spartan is feeling a little nervous, so I’ll distract myself by giving you an update on what we are up to in AP Language with our second thematic unit: Education.
This week we will dive into a week of solid reading and writing workshop time. This week’s reading challenge is to read pre-20th century complex texts. We will read a number of things to practice, but the one we will focus on the most is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Education.” Students who need extra help will have access to my guided reading videos on Google Classroom. These allow students to read along with me and watch as I model how to annotate. Feel free to read it yourself and continue the discussion at home! I'm sure they'd love that :)
For writing, we’ll be focusing on our first major essay. Students began researching topics of interest last week. This weekend they should be forming their research question. We have talked a lot about the need for them to begin with an actual question--not a topic, not an argument! Students need to go into the research process expecting to be surprised by what they find and prepared to change course if their research reveals something unexpected. Please ask them to share their research questions with you this weekend.
As they work in class, I’ll be meeting with students individually to assess the language and vocabulary sections of their notebooks. On Friday in class we talked about what students need to demonstrate in that conference to earn an A. Please ask them to show you their vocabulary sections in their notebooks as they prepare this weekend.
As always, beyond our reading and writing skills, we are highly focused on students managing their own time and directing their own learning. On Monday I’ll be sharing the plan for the next three weeks with students. I’ll show them which practice assignments will help them prepare for the unit assessments. Their homework Monday night will be to make a plan for themselves for what they need to focus on over the course of the next few weeks.
Last thing! I received an email from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher this week asking for various donations and supplies, and I added a few things to my shopping list instantly because I’m more than happy to do anything to make her life with 25 five year olds a little easier!! It occurred to me that perhaps some of you would have the same response! Please do not feel obligated, but if you’re willing, here are few things that would make our life in 266 a little easier:
--Books for our class library (I’ll take any donations! Books you’ve read and no longer want are always appreciated. Or, if you are like me and love to buy books, here is a list of books that have “disappeared” from my library over the years plus some new ones I’d love to share with kids: http://a.co/5cAcQaC)
Have a great weekend and Go Green!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire