Welcome to AP Seminar!
AP Seminar is the first year in the two year AP Capstone program. This year, students will learn college level research skills and engage in several large research projects. The class is designed to give them opportunities to develop research questions rooted in their own interests.
Their official AP test will be in the form of two videotaped presentations, two uploaded research papers and a 2 hour exam they will sit for in May. Next year, they will engage in a year long independent research project in AP Research that will culminate in a 20 page research essay and a 15 minute videotaped presentation. Completing AP Seminar, AP Research and four additional AP courses will qualify them to receive an AP Capstone diploma.
Our first AP Capstone cohort graduated this past June and the research projects they completed were impressive. This program is an exciting academic challenge for students; I am so glad your son or daughter has taken it on!
We have begun the year in AP Seminar with a thematic study of money and the political, cultural, economic, and social choices we make regarding it. Students are reading everything from older texts (example: Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth) to contemporary texts (example: Elizabeth Warren's "The Vanishing Middle Class"). They are examining poetry, visual art, and music for messages about money as well. They've also begun blogging about potential research questions within this topic area. I encourage you to ask your students to share their blogs with you!
Starting next week, we will begin our first big research project. I'll include more details about that project in next week's post. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions.
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 wanted to check in and give you an overview of what you might be seeing your student working on over break. We worked hard to get their final essays done prior to break, but many really wanted the more relaxed pace of a week off to make final editing touches. To that end, I’ve encouraged students to:
When we return from break,we will be diving right into final presentations. These will be delivered and videotaped on April 26. The month of April is unbelievably busy with field trips and competitions and prep for AP/IB tests; I encourage you to sit down with your student and help talk through a plan for getting this work done! Many have expressed a desire to get started on that presentation over break! We will work on it exclusively in class when we return from break.
Hopefully your student will share the work he or she is doing with you. They have worked very hard and have much to be proud of with these essays!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’ll check back in with updates in a few weeks.
I hope you’re enjoying your weekend! AP Seminar students should be hard at work on developing research questions for our second performance task this weekend. By Monday, they need to have finished a blog entry about their question and added their rough draft of their question to a shared class spreadsheet. Please ask them to tell you about their research question. Forming a good question and being able to articulate what it is you are trying to find out is key to a successful project.
From now until Spring Break, we will be working primarily on Performance Task 2 which will make up 35% of the students’ final AP Scores. When this is done, they’ll have 55% of the score complete; the remaining 45% comes from the timed exam they will take on May 8 (more on that another week!).
For performance task 2, students read six texts from The College Board that all loosely connect to a central theme. We’ve discussed each text at length in class. Now, students need to develop a research question based on one of those texts. They will write a 2000 word essay arguing for a solution to the problem they’ve identified. Then, they’ll develop and present a 6-8 minute presentation similar to the group presentations you already saw--just independently this time. Finally, they’ll be scored on their “oral defense” of their project. I’ll ask them two questions that they need to use their research to answer.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s really the only thing we’ll be doing in this class until mid-April.
How can you help?
Thanks for reading and your interest in our work! I’m so excited about the questions that are bubbling up with this topic. I think the students are going to have a good time with it.
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!
A huge thank you to those of you who were able to rearrange schedules to help out with our practicing on Wednesday night. I know evenings are incredibly busy, and I’m sure some of you were stuck working so you couldn’t make it; however, the feedback the students received was just what they needed. I’ve seen tremendous growth in the two days since our practice.
This weekend they are likely putting finishing touches on their projects. Monday we will practice answering questions, and then filming begins on Tuesday! Please give your students a high five or a pat on the back for all their hard work. Pulling together a large presentation with so many voices and conflicting ideas is not easy; they’ve all handled the task professionally. It has been fun to watch!
After we film this week, we will dive right into Performance Task 2 (the second major task for the AP score). Students will spend about two weeks reading stimulus materials--a collection of articles, essays, research studies, novel excerpts, paintings, etc--that will help them generate research questions. Once we have those questions in place, we will be off to the races on individual research and presentations. The process is very similar to the one we are completing now--it’s just all done solo!
Have a great weekend and please remind your students not to stress TOO hard about the final touches on their presentations.
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.
The end of the semester in AP Seminar is a bit strange because it falls right in the middle of a giant project--the Individual Research Report and Team Multimedia Presentation-- for us. That means that next week will be devoted to continuing work on those two projects, and there will not be a midterm exam.
This weekend, students are doing final revisions on their IRRs. Students have had full drafts that they’ve been revising, editing, rethinking, and rewriting for about a week now. Please help me help them!! Each student is different and you probably know best what they need. Some of them need to stop stressing, hit print, and be DONE. Some of my students have worried themselves into a frenzy about these essays and need to remember that although they are important, this essay is only 10% of the total AP score. Other students are the exact opposite and need a bit of a fire lit under them to keep them going. Those students need to revisit the powerpoint I showed them on Friday (on Google Classroom), and spend more time revising based on those guidelines.
Frankly, I think I have more of the first students than the second!! Please encourage your students be honest with themselves about how much work they have left to do. Midterms are stressful enough; they do not need to needlessly add to that stress.
After students submit their IRRs to me, they will work in small groups to mesh their IRRs into one, cohesive, group argument and presentation. We will be doing trial run-throughs of those presentations at 6pm on Wednesday, January 31. We would LOVE to have all of you attend!! You are welcome to just watch; last year many parents remarked that they were blown away by the high quality work their students had produced. You will also be able to give the students feedback on their presentations if you are comfortable doing that. I’ll give you a crash course in how the presentations are scored, and you will be able to give verbal or written feedback if you’d like.
**Feel free to bring younger siblings on 1/31. My kids will probably be there if my husband is working! We will have snacks and a place for them to hang out if the presentations are too boring for them.
Enjoy your weekend and remind your students to take some breaks from studying!
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.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire