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.
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!
Looking ahead at my packed calendar for the next few weeks leads me to believe this blog won’t get written on the weekends! Instead, I’m going to give an overview of the next three weeks and then I’ll check back in after Thanksgiving.
What We’re Working On
Students have started their second practice performance task. This one is independent, and they’ve all chosen research questions and begun their work! One thing we worked on Friday was seeking out information from trusted experts. They all drafted and sent emails to a teacher in the building and shared their blog entries explaining their research questions. I encouraged them to email you, as well! Hopefully you will get a chance to look at their blogs and chat about their questions with them. I want them to get in the habit of talking about their questions with lots of people because that is the best way to make sure you’re considering lots of perspectives.
Balancing the Workload
Since this is a big, independent project, I fear it will be tempting for some to procrastinate. Please help your students avoid this!! They have a calendar for the month, and we’ve talked about ways to manage deadlines, but some reminders from home will help, too.
We have LOTS of work time built into class; the more students can stay organized and work steadily, the happier they’ll be!!
I’ll check back in after Thanksgiving; in the meantime, feel free to email or call with any questions.
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.
Whew! That was a busy two weeks in AP Seminar! I hope your students have shared their successes with you. We have completed a full practice run of the first AP performance task--an individual research report (IRR) followed by a team multimedia presentation (TMP). I think everyone learned a lot--how to better narrow a research question, how to have the tough discussions about what to cut and what to keep, how to make sure your research isn’t full of holes, etc. Students will receive scores for the both the IRR and TMP on Monday. Those scores will count for now, but as we continue to hone our skills, they will have opportunities to replace and improve them.
This weekend they are working on a practice essay to prepare for the end of course exam. The exam in May will have two parts: part A asks them to read and analyze a piece of research; part B asks them to read four pieces of research and find a common theme for which they can make an argument. I really like the assessment because I think it measures students’ ability to think critically about a text and then extend that thinking to their writing. This weekend is their first stab at part B. We will discuss the results on Monday and then do one “for real” next week. As always, this is something we will return to multiple times and students will have many opportunities to improve and replace their score. My goal for them is consistent, high quality critical thinking and writing by the end of the semester.
We are also starting a unit on Monsters this week (Halloween appropriate!). Students will use that very loose term to consider what monsters they see in our world. We will start by looking back into history--all the way back to how early explorers drew maps and created monsters in the margins when they didn’t know what was out there! Then we’ll move to some literature examples like Medusa. Finally we’ll get to present day and talk about what we monster-ize. I think the students will really enjoy it. Last year this theme produced an incredibly wide variety of research topics.
Have a great weekend! I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at conferences and I still have spots available if you haven’t signed up yet.
Mrs. Hattie Maguire