I’ll be out of town next weekend so this week I’m letting you know what’s happening for the next two weeks.
Students are doing well so far with monitoring their own work and spreading things out (I think). This would be a great weekend to have a little check-in chat with your student about how that is going. One thing to ask about would your student’s notebook. We are working on “filling out contextual pools”--deepening our knowledge of the world around us---by keeping track of current events or history that we learn. Another great thing to ask about would be your student’s independent novel! They all seemed to start strong with independent reading, and I hope to keep that momentum going.
Next week will be spent practicing for our first unit reading test. Students have been working on annotating texts to show they understand a writer’s choices. This is important for their critical reading because it helps them consider what an author is trying to make them think/do/believe with a text. It's also important as they think about their own choices as writers. Why am I writing this? How can I craft this to make others understand my purpose? This week we will do a number of practice annotations together to make sure everyone is confident with the skill, and then at the end of the week students will take a graded assessment. The more students practice and respond to feedback this week, the better prepared they will feel for the test!
The following week we will begin our next unit. This unit’s thematic focus is education: To what extent do our schools serve the purpose of a true education? The skill focus for the unit is research and synthesis writing. Students will use the critical reading skills we honed in unit one to read various perspectives on education and come to their own conclusion about a research question. By the end of that week (Oct. 6), they should be able to tell you the focus of their research question!
Have a great weekend!
Happy weekend! I hope you’re enjoying all this sunshine!
We had a great week starting writing workshop. The students adjusted well to the self-driven format and I have high hopes that we are off to a great start! I had writing conferences with about half of the class last week. During those conferences, students were practicing critical reading in a number of different ways. They will have two more days to work on that practice this coming week while I finish the conferences. Please encourage your students to use their time wisely in class. I want the time to be self-directed so they can practice that very difficult skill of staying focused, but I also don’t want anyone to flounder! If your student is struggling to accomplish tasks during workshop time, encourage him or her to speak to me about how to better manage time. You may also want to ask to see your student’s notebook. They should have a solid start on vocabulary building, contextual pool filling and writing practice. Hopefully, they can explain to you what they’re up to in their notebooks! These are great places for practicing and developing their skills.
There are a number of things in MiStar and students will be getting quite a few things back on Monday. All of these assignments have written feedback and a score; however, students do not have any grades yet in MiStar. As I explained at Curriculum Night, this can be very challenging for some students. When they realize things don’t “count”, it is harder for them to see the value in doing the work. Please help me help them understand the value of practice and feedback. Things will eventually “count” and when they do, I want students to be confident and prepared with skills that they have honed over time!! I don’t expect their work to be perfect at this point in the year and I don’t want to “ding them” in their grading when they’re still developing their skills.
I do, however, want parents to know what those numbers mean when things are marked as “not graded.” Most not graded work will be scored on a 4/3/2/1 scale. 4=advanced, 3=proficient, 2=somewhat proficient, 1=not proficient, 0= not completed. Students scoring consistently in the 1 and 0 range need to see me!! Occasionally, I will score work on a 1-9 scale. I know that it’s confusing, but the AP test essays are scored on a 9 point scale and it’s important that the students have a realistic idea of where they are on that scale throughout the year. The summer reading constructed response in MiStar right now is scored on that scale. Scores are exactly where I’d expect them to be at this point in the year (lots of 3s, 4s, and 5s).
Please ask your students to help you understand their work and their grades. I’m always happy to answer questions from parents, but I’m even happier when students can explain for themselves. The more we can do now to help them learn how to speak up and advocate for themselves, the better!
Enjoy your weekend!
We’ve had a great (busy!) first week in AP Language. Students have done some baseline assessments to give me an idea of their current level and those assessments will be in MiStar early next week. These scores are to show us where the students are right now. The goal is for them to go UP! Please encourage your student to see those scores as feedback only and to focus on what needs to happen to improve them. Often, students get caught up in scores and have a hard time remembering that it’s the beginning of the year. A student with a C right now can certainly have an A by the end of the semester--that’s the whole point of the class!! I want their skills to grow! Hard work is the way to do that.
If you’d like more information about the class as a whole and the AP exam we will prepare for, please take a look at the College Board’s overview site. You can also learn more at Curriculum Night on Wednesday. I’d love to meet all of you!
This week we will begin our work with rhetorical analysis and close reading to determine what an author is trying to accomplish with a piece of writing. What does the author want me to do or think or believe? How is the author accomplishing that purpose? Which words make me feel a certain way? How does the structure of the argument lead me to that feeling? This analysis is important for two reasons. First, it helps us think critically about our reading. People who don’t think when they read are often easily duped! Second, it helps us persuade others in our own writing. Later in the semester, after we’ve done this careful work with analysis, we will apply these rhetorical skills to our own writing and arguments.
Students will have their first opportunity to manage and balance their own time this week. On Tuesday I will give them a large chunk of practice work: two essays to analyze, some vocabulary acquisition work, and some writing practice. Students will have lots of time in class to tackle all that work while I conference with students individually about their summer writing that they submitted on the first day. Please talk to your students about how they’re using their time!! You’ll know how it went based on how much time they’re working next weekend. If they’re buried in homework for AP Lang, they need to rethink how they’re spending their time in class. If they have “no homework”--give them a high five!
I hope you have a great weekend and I’m looking forward to meeting you all on Wednesday!
I hope you've all had a lovely, relaxing summer. I am excited to get to know all of my students and dig into our work for this year.
For the past two years I have maintained this blog as a way to keep in contact with parents and let everyone know what we are up to in class. I will email you a link to the blog every week (usually!), and it will give an overview of the week's work. I will give you a head's up about big assignments and an overview of the readings we are doing in class. My hope is that this helps you have conversations with your students about both our course content and how they can best manage their time! As these are Advanced Placement classes, my goal is to mimic a college course while still providing some supports that students need in high school. For example, work is often given in big chunks (no nightly reading assignments with study guides), but I will help students plan out how to tackle those big assignments in a way that makes the most sense for their personal schedules.
My goal for my students is that they learn how to take ownership of their work and plan carefully so that they do not become overwhelmed. A student who plans well and works consistently in my class should be able to keep homework to a maximum of 30 minutes a night. Sometimes students prefer to have "no homework" for several nights in a row and then pull an all-nighter to finish something. That practice concerns me, and I aim to help students avoid it as much as possible. The mental and physical health of my students is very important to me; I want to send them off to college with the skills necessary to balance a challenging course load.
This week in class, we will be working on the following:
AP SEMINAR: Today we started class by watching and discussing a Ted Talk called "The Danger of a Single Story." Our research will be built on the ability of students to think about others' perspectives and view issues through multiple lenses. It's a great TedTalk and I'm sure your student would love to chat about it with you! For the rest of the week, we will talk about the purpose of the course, the unique assessments that are part of the AP Capstone program, and our plans for the fall semester. Students will begin working on developing strong working relationships with their peers because there is a lot of group work in the Capstone program.
AP LANGUAGE: Today in class we watched a video called Learn Like a Jungle Tiger and talked about the importance of pushing and challenging ourselves this year. If you have 10 minutes, I'd encourage you to watch it and chat about it with your student. For the rest of the week, we will spend some time reviewing and working with our summer reading and writing assignments early in the week. By the end of the week we will dive into the study of rhetoric--how does a writer craft an argument and for what purpose?
Next week I'll have separate posts about each class, but for now, welcome! I can't wait to meet you all in person and hope to see you at curriculum night next week.
Hello! It has been a few weeks since my last update, but I wanted to touch base and let you know what we are up to in class for these final three weeks.
Students completed a review portfolio prior to the exam. Those have been scored and entered in MiStar; I will return them tomorrow. The students did excellent work reflecting on their work over the course of the year and made some nice observations about how they can continue to grow. Students also created infographic resumes as a way to brainstorm for our final writing piece: college application or scholarship essays. They worked hard on the infographic resumes and made some nice choices about the graphics and colors they might use to best represent themselves. Those have also been scored and entered into MiStar. At this point, the only remaining scores are a final reading project which the students have already begun, a writing conference about their final writing pieces, and a short Fligrid video analysis of their own writing. Students have already completed their final exam. The final exam hasn’t been entered in MiStar yet, but students are aware of their scores.
College Application/Scholarship Essays
Our work in class is dedicated to writing workshop to help students get as much done as possible on these very important essays. I won’t be grading their final product as many will probably want to continue working on their essays over the course of the summer; however, students need to be working diligently on their drafts and engaging in writing conferences for the next three weeks. Their remaining grades will reflect their engagement in the writing process and the amount of growth their piece shows. I know students are sometimes overwhelmed by the college application process; this is an attempt to alleviate some of that stress!!
How can you help?
Please encourage your student to participate fully in our writing workshop days in class. For example, tomorrow students need to bring a complete draft of their essay and be ready to discuss questions they have about revisions they’d like to make. The more ready and willing students are for those types of days, the more they will get out of them! Also, try to convince your student to let you read the essay! They’re writing some wonderful essays and I think you will enjoy them. You may also want to check in with your student about his or her final reading project. There is little homework for AP Language these days; if they can spend a little time reading each night, that would be great.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the remainder of the year!
Greetings! It’s been awhile since I checked in with you, but I thought I should update you on our work in AP Language as we start this final push of review before the exam on May 10. Your students completed a full length exam last week. No one exploded after three hours of writing, so we are counting it as a success!! This exam will also serve as the students’ final exam since it’s a comprehensive assessment of the skills developed over the course of the year.
There will still be a number of graded assessments that will count toward their overall semester grade after the AP Exam on May 10. We will be focusing on narrative writing and students will have an opportunity to experiment with the various college application prompts released for different schools. The hope is that they can leave for summer vacation with a good start on those essays (or even be finished!).
This week and next will be dedicated to review and practice. Students will all meet with me individually to discuss their final exam essays and make a plan for their writing on the AP exam. While I do those individual conferences, students will be working independently on a review portfolio. This portfolio is designed to help them review their work from the year, revise their writing to practice for the exam, and create additional practice examples for themselves. In years past, students have found this work to be incredibly helpful as they prepare for the exam. Please encourage your students to engage fully in this work while they are in class. I know many of them have a number of exams to prepare for; my hope is that this time in class will alleviate some of the out of school study burden!
Students who are traveling to the various academic competitions happening this week (DECA, HOSA or Robotics) may need to do some of the review work outside of class; however, if they are focused and working hard while they are here, it should be minimal.
Please encourage your students to use these two weeks to review and ask for help when they need it!! I am available before school everyday and during Academic Advisory.
Have a great week!
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!
I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful weather over break!! It made this past week hard to focus, so I’m (almost) hoping the weather will go back to normal so we can get back to our serious practice in AP Lang!!
On Friday, students wrote their first timed, scored essay for the semester. Some of them seemed highly stressed about it, but I am confident that they were prepared! We have been practicing diligently in class for the past three weeks and most of them have had at least two conferences with me about their progress. A few need to make up one conference. Many were able to talk to me about their synthesis practice essay and received direct feedback about adjustments they need to make for that type of writing. Please encourage your students to continue to use our practice and conferencing time effectively. Students who are engaging in that time and working hard are seeing improvement.
Monday will be our first multiple choice assessment. As with the writing, students have had three weeks of practice with this. Many have chosen to conference with me about their specific problems with multiple choice; others have worked in small groups to practice. To prepare for Monday’s assessment, they should review the three practice sets we’ve done in class. Students who wish to do additional practice should access the two additional practice passages on Google Classroom. I also posted a video of me analyzing the passage and explaining the correct answers for students who need additional help.
Finally, students should be well on their way with drafting their process pieces. I have seen their brainstorming and discussed their plans with them individually; I’m excited about their choices! Many are exploring arguments or topics they are very passionate about. I hope you ask them about this writing piece. For the next two weeks, they should use their conference time in class to talk with me about those essays; students who would like additional feedback are always encouraged to come in before school or during Academic Advisory.
Please let me know if you have any questions about what we’re working on in AP Language, and please reach out to me if your student is expressing a high level of stress about the timed writing. Sometimes they aren’t always honest with me about how stressed writing under pressure makes them and it is helpful for me to know who needs extra encouragement.
Have a great weekend!
I’m writing a two week post since next week is so short!
This past week ended up being a perfect example of the best laid plans going completely awry, but, luckily, the kids were flexible!! I lost my voice so the whole “one-on-one conferences” thing wasn’t a great option. We played catch-up with those conferences Friday and will continue to do so on Monday.
During conferences, I am looking for students to ask me specific questions about their reading and writing practice and what they’d like to improve. I’m keeping careful notes of our discussions so we can revisit the skills each week and look to see if improvement/growth is happening. So far, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of questions students are asking and the time they’re spending on their practice. Please encourage them to keep up the great work!
I’m hoping you’re seeing less time spent on homework. This shift toward a full reading/writing workshop is intended to have students practicing in class when I’m there to guide them. If they are using their time wisely, there is truly no reason they should ever be doing more than 30 minutes of homework for my class at home. Some nights they may have a short video lesson to view or a little work to finish up, but a time-savvy student could probably get away with only one or two nights of homework for my class. Please encourage your students to use their time wisely. You may want to ask them to show you their notebooks. These should include samples of their timed writing, multiple choice practice, and text analysis.
The other thing I’m hoping you will see in their notebook is vocabulary. Students should be hard at work finding words in their class texts and independent reading to add to their vocabulary lists. Many of them know a lot of words from SAT/ACT prep, but they don’t understand the nuances of the words’ meanings and thus use them incorrectly. For example, many struggled with the word “belligerent” on a recent multiple choice test. They looked it up and knew it meant “aggressive” but since many had never seen the word used in context, they didn’t understand just how aggressive it means...and that it usually means unreasonably aggressive.
Finally, this weekend students were asked to begin brainstorming topics for their one “process” piece of writing this card marking. The students have three types of writing from which they may choose and the topics are completely up to them. For some, this freedom is exciting! For others, the freedom to choose is overwhelming. Please touch base with your students about this piece and ask them what they’re thinking about using as a topic. Encourage them to come see me if they are stuck!
For our two day week next week, we’ll be doing our first graded, timed essay of the card marking--a synthesis essay. This is the essay type they practiced last week. Please encourage your students to talk to me about their synthesis practice essay during their conference this week. We’ll also be looking at sample synthesis essays this week as well to determine what makes a high-quality synthesis essay.
Have a great two weeks! I’ll update again after our break.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend. If you’re planning to watch the Super Bowl tonight, I’d encourage you to pay extra attention to the commercials. This week we’ll be focusing on commercials and the arguments they make. Our mentor text for the week is a sample of a synthesis essay from Fortune magazine about the challenges Fox had selling ad space this year. I’m hoping students will see that the synthesis format is used “in the wild” and is not solely used in school research papers. On Friday, we will discuss the article and how the writer used different types of evidence to support his claim. The timed writing practice this week is also about advertisements. Students will choose a day this week to do the timed practice in class.
Please encourage your students to think ahead about their plan for this week. I’m hoping that they will quickly settle into this new schedule and learn how to most efficiently schedule their own class time. Writing conferences will take place Tuesday-Thursday. Students have the schedule on Google Classroom and should be prepared to talk about last week’s work on their scheduled day. Conferences were optional last week, but many students chose to conference with me about their midterm essays. I was impressed by the quality of questions and comments they had about their own writing. I’m seeing some nice growth from all of them! If your student did not choose to conference about his or her midterm essays but has questions about the score, please encourage him to come speak to me before school Monday-Thursday or during AA.
The other major writing piece we will begin work on this week is the process piece for the semester. Students have three choices: an analysis, an argument or a synthesis. This week I’m asking them to decide which piece they’ll be writing and begin brainstorming their ideas. They have a lot of freedom of topic for this choice, but I hope each week’s mentor text will give them lots of ideas. By next week, I’ll expect them to be able to show me some preliminary drafting of their essay--at least some outlining--during their notebook conferences.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire