This week’s blog is coming early because I’ll be out of town for the long weekend. Next week we’ll be finishing up Antigone in class, but I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to two very important items: MiStar and Scheduling. **I’ll apologize in advance; this is a bit long!**
Hopefully, you know how to access MiStar and you are able to use it to occasionally track your student's progress. If you do not know how to access MiStar and would like to, please send me an email and I can help you out!! It’s a great way to keep abreast of your student’s progress in class.
This semester, I’m experimenting with a way to use MiStar more effectively to communicate progress. It’s challenging because I want to record the practice work, but I don’t want practice to impact overall grades. Still, it’s important that students receive feedback on their practice prior to doing assessments that “count”.
Right now, in MiStar, you should be able to see four assignments. Three of them are related to Learning Goal #1 for Unit 3--Judging the validity of arguments and evaluating evidence in informational texts and one is related to Learning Goal #2--recognizing the impact of dramatic structures. See here for a complete list of the Unit 3 Learning Goals.
Three of the assignments have Practice in the title and are marked as “Not Graded”. These are given a score of 0-4.
4=Advanced understanding. The student understands the material and can explain it to others. This student is ready for a push to higher level material.
3=Proficient understanding. The student “gets it” but not with the same level of depth of a 4. This student needs to develop consistency and depth with the skill.
2=Somewhat Proficient understanding. I can see moments of understanding in the student’s work, but there are also places where it is clear the student is struggling. This student needs more guided practice.
1=Not Proficient. The student is attempting the work but struggling quite a bit. This student needs lots more practice and should come in during AA or before school for some extra help.
0=Did Not Attempt. The student is not taking advantage of practice opportunities so I have no idea what kind of help to offer this student!!
These 4-3-2-1-0 scores are communication only and intended to help us all (parents, teacher, student) better figure out a way to move the student to the next level!
One assignment has Assessment in the title. This grade “counts” and but students will have multiple opportunities to try the assessment again as their skills improve. The ELA 10 teachers decided to make all assessments worth 100 points to help parents and students better see the link between the practice work and the assessments. 4=100, 3=85, 2=75, 1=65.
My hope is that you can monitor the practice assignments along with your student to see if progress is being made. Then, when the assessments come along, the students can show us all what they know and can do! As the semester progresses, you should start seeing this pattern emerge in MiStar--multiple practice assignments scored on the 4-3-2-1-0 scale followed by a larger, “counted” assessment.
Please email me if you have specific questions. I want MiStar to be a tool we can use together throughout the semester to diagnose and address strengths and weaknesses rather than simply a way to report a grade at the end of the marking period.
Scheduling: Wednesday was our scheduling “kick-off” day at the HS and we all tried to talk about options and next steps for students in our classes. I have already shared all of what I’m sharing here with your students in class, but I know sometimes information gets lost between school and home.
Tenth graders have three options for 11th grade English: ELA 11, AP English Language and Composition, IB Literature. I shared this chart with the students in class. It uses their writing scores from this year to help them decide the best path for next year.
Here are the most frequently asked questions and comments I hear from parents and students:
Q: Am I ready for AP or IB?
A: Unfortunately, I can’t really answer that. Typically I tell kids to look at their writing scores (3s and 4s means you’re probably ready) and think about how much they like reading (both classes have a lot of reading!). However, kids always surprise me. I have one young man in AP right now that I had in ELA 10 last year. I did not think AP was the right choice for him, but he decided to take it anyway. He has proved me wrong. He dedicated himself to reading independently all summer, he has pushed himself to ask for extra help with his writing, and he has shown huge growth in his academic maturity. On the flip side, I’ve had students who were a little overzealous in their scheduling and did not realize that “college level class” means a lot of writing (think an essay a week) and a lot of reading (at least 3 independent novels a semester in addition to class readings). Only you know if you’re ready. If you want the challenge of either course, you understand that it is going to be challenging, and you are prepared to accept the grade that you earn, go for it.
Q: Which class is harder--AP or IB?
A: One is not harder than the other; they just approach the study of English a little differenlty. Both programs divide English into two years. AP focuses on nonfiction reading, argumentation and research in the first year and literature in the second. To earn college credit, you can choose to take both AP courses (Language as a junior and Literature as a senior) or just one. IB mixes all the different genres of reading and writing together for two years with a heavy emphasis on world literature. In order to earn college credit, you need to take IB Literature both your junior and senior years.
Q: I really want to take an AP or IB class, but I’m still not sure I’m ready!
A: ELA 11 might be the right choice for you, then! Take one more year to solidify your skills and then take either AP Language or AP Literature your senior year. ELA 11 spends a lot of time on things like analysis of film, narrative journalism, and American Literature. A year in ELA 11 would put you in position to take an AP your senior year.
Q: Everyone is taking AP and IB everything and I feel like I have to, too, in order to keep up!
A: As someone who teaches a lot of juniors, I see the impact of this feeling on my students. For some, it’s the right choice because they are ready for the strenuous schedule. For others, it is a very overwhelming year because they bit off more than they can chew. My advice? Think about your passions--the subjects you really love--and choose AP or IB for those classes.
I hope this helps! If you or your student have more questions, feel free to contact me directly in the coming days. We do not schedule until the first week of March, so there is a lot of time for students to make these decisions.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire