An Update For the Shutdown
Hello Parents, Guardians, and Students,
I haven’t updated this blog all spring semester--it has been a bit of a wild ride since the beginning of February! Parents and students new to me this semester, I try to give a rundown each month of what we are up to! Now, with this extended and highly unexpected shut down, I wanted to reach out to parents and guardians and let you know that I’m still working hard from home and available to students who need me.
First, The College Board (company in charge of AP) is being very open and responsive to schools as we navigate these unique circumstances. We are going to do our best to prepare students for AP tests in May, and I think if students stay engaged with what’s offered on Schoology, they will be just fine.
Beyond preparing for testing, this is a wonderful time for your students to flex those writing muscles. What a time to start a journal!! A student remarked in class, “this is our generation’s 9/11” and I think that’s accurate. This will be that memory that they tell their children about--that crazy time everything was canceled for a month. One of my most treasured possessions is a book of emails my mother made for me of our email exchanges in the year following 9/11. I was a first year teacher living abroad and she was a very worried mother. She printed every email exchange we had that year and years later gave them to me. It captures perfectly how I was feeling at the time because it was a daily account of how I was processing such an overwhelming experience. Encourage your students to sit down and write everyday. What did you do today? How did you fill all this open time? What are you wondering about? My own kids and I are doing this (along with adding pictures of our at-home activities) and I think it will be something they treasure when they are adults remembering this experience.
As for the actual school work I’d like your students to do, here’s the plan as of now--all documents and details are on Schoology for students to access.
For AP Seminar students:
We are in the middle of preparing our second portfolio entry. The first is complete and we just need to upload papers to the Digital Portfolio. We will do that when we return. On Friday I walked students through a detailed calendar that would help them stay on track with their Individual Written Arguments. Those are still due April 3 and, honestly, this forced time off might work to the students’ benefit.
This first week they should be planning their essays and outlining. The research is pretty much complete. I have asked them to submit outlines and intros this week, and I will give them feedback on those. Next week they might need a little more encouragement because that’s when they should be doing the bulk of their writing. We will have a shared class spreadsheet on Schoology for them to track their daily progress. I’m hoping that seeing their peers’ progress will help motivate them. This is a 2000 word essay and I’ve found that breaking that word count up by days tends to help students chip away at the task. If they shoot for 400 words a day Monday-Thursday, we will be ready to give each other some feedback in week three. Week three will be dedicated to peer and self editing with final drafts due in Turnitin.com on Friday.
In an ideal world, all of the students will be able to meet these deadlines and we will be ready to hit the ground running with final presentations when we return. HOWEVER, we have seen in recent days that “ideal” doesn’t always happen!! If your student gets sick or needs to help with childcare of younger siblings and doesn’t have time for this, or something else comes up, please encourage them to reach out to me. I can be flexible with deadlines and can support them as we figure out a different timeline.
For AP Language students:
We are actually in a really solid place for AP Language. Students have learned all of the necessary skills for the exam and March and April are always dedicated to simply practicing and refining those skills. We can do that remotely!!
The other AP Language teachers and I have developed a schedule for practicing reading and writing for the next three weeks. It is posted on Schoology with all necessary documents. Students are working on one essay per week and receiving specific feedback on how to revise and improve it from their teacher. Aside from encouraging them to engage in this practice and revision, you can help by timing them! For their first drafts, we want them to practice writing their essays by hand, under a time constraint. Please encourage your student to sit at a table, write in pen, and use a timer. We want to give feedback on what they can actually do in a timed situation! They will be able to revise, but our feedback can be more targeted if they’re honest about the timing.
We are also providing reading and multiple choice practice via AP Classroom each week. Students have individual accounts that they can access from home and we will be able to check their progress.
Finally, they need to be reading and watching the news! We will continue our weekly practice of contextual pool and vocabulary notebooks. This is a great time to really dig into that work. I have posted a list of documentaries that students can use to learn about topics for their contextual pools. Please note that some of the topics covered in these documentaries are college/adult level. You may wish to look over the list of documentaries with your student and choose ones that are appropriate for your student together. Common Sense Media is an excellent resource to help you examine content without pre-screening it! I’m also available via email to give specific book recommendations. I tried to send every student home with at least one independent novel to read, but I’m happy to give additional suggestions when they finish those!
I also created an “If You’re Bored” folder with even more optional practice!! If your students need more to work on, encourage them to dig around in that folder and look for activities that are interesting to them.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Please reach out via email if you have any questions. As I’ve told the students, I look forward to staying in contact with them virtually throughout the shutdown. I don’t know if I have the patience to be a stay-at-home mom to my two little ones, so I will need all of your teenagers to keep checking in on me!!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire