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.
AP Seminar: Feb 26-March 2
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.
AP Seminar: February 5-9
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.
AP Seminar: Nov. 6-24
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.
AP Seminar: Oct.23-27
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.
AP Sem: Oct.9-13
This is a big week in AP Sem--our first big essays are due on Monday! Students have been hard at work on their Individual Research Reports, and I’m excited to read the final drafts they’ll be sharing with me on Monday. Please ask them to share those with you this weekend!
We will spend Monday and Tuesday moving from the IRRs (Individual Research Reports) to TMPS (Team Multimedia Presentations). Students will work with their small groups to sift through the information they gathered individually and come up with a solution or answer to the question they posed at the beginning of their research. This is a challenging and messy process as they have to negotiate with their group members to create an argument that is cohesive rather than simply a summary of what each member researched. In addition to their argumentation and presentation skills, students are being assessed on their ability to work effectively in a group. I encourage you to chat about this process with your students; some work very naturally and easily in groups, but others struggle. Often, I find that strong students struggle the most because they are hesitant to trust their group members. This “soft” skill, though, is one that will be invaluable to them as they move on to college and their careers someday. The more we can practice it now, the better!
By the end of the week, students will have completed the presentations and will have access to their videotaped performances. We will watch them, reflect on their performance and reflect on the group process as a whole. Students will receive two scores for these assignments. One will be their holistic score on the 4 point scale they received with the assignment and will “count” toward their grade. The other score will be on the AP rubric that will be used to assess their work in April by the College Board. This score will not count this time, but I will urge students to use it as a way to zoom in on which skills they need to improve prior to their AP assessment.
Please encourage your students to work hard in class this week! They are always welcome to work outside of class on group projects, but that is very challenging with such involved students! They have lots of class time to work, and if they are managing their time wisely, they should be able to accomplish most of their work in class.
Last thing! I received an email from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher this week asking for various donations and supplies, and I added a few things to my shopping list instantly because I’m more than happy to do anything to make her life with 25 five year olds a little easier!! It occurred to me that perhaps some of you would have the same response! Please do not feel obligated, but if you’re willing, here are few things that would make our life in 266 a little easier:
--Books for our class library (I’ll take any donations! Books you’ve read and no longer want are always appreciated. Or, if you are like me and love to buy books, here is a list of books that have “disappeared” from my library over the years plus some new ones I’d love to share with kids: http://a.co/5cAcQaC)
Have a great weekend and Go Green!
AP Seminar: Sept.25-Oct.6
This is a two week update because I’ll be out of town next weekend!
We’ve finally started digging into our first big research project! In fact “dig into your research” was our class learning goal yesterday. I talked to the students about truly digging in and reading their research. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that many students have mastered the art of skim and scan for “good quotes” and, up until this point, they’ve been very successful with that method. For the type of writing they will do in this class, they need to use the skimming and scanning to choose their sources, but then they need to actually READ them!! One student said, “What if a source is like 50 pages??” My reply? “Buckle up and start reading.” The goal for Monday was to come to class having read two high quality sources. If you have time this weekend, ask your student how that’s going!!
This week and next will be spent working primarily on the independent portion of this project, the Individual Research Report. Students are researching one small area of their team’s problem or issue and will write an essay detailing their findings. We will have multiple writing conferences throughout the next two weeks, and students will have many opportunities to receive feedback on both their writing and research. If they are working steadily in class, you should see some work at home, but never more than 30 minutes in the evenings. If your student is working all night on this, it is highly likely that things were left to the last minute!! We’ve talked about making a plan for the research and writing process; please check in periodically over the next two weeks with your student and see how that process is going!! Students who are struggling to stay on track need to let me know.
Have a great weekend!
AP Seminar: Sept.11-15
We had a great first week and did a lot of things to get us ready for the year ahead. If you’d like more information about the AP examination and performance tasks your students will be preparing for this year, check out this link to the College Board. You can also learn more by coming to see me at Curriculum Night on Wednesday! I’d love to meet all of you.
This week we will continue our conversation about Wealth and Poverty and the many questions students have raised. Here’s an example of the questions your students are coming up with:
I have a whole stack of questions from the students on my desk, but I wanted you to see an example of how they are already using their own interests to drive their research. This week we will start digging into research and practicing the skill of identifying a source’s argument. Students will read several different pieces with different perspectives and will practice identifying the text’s argument, articulating the line of reasoning, and evaluating the quality of evidence used in that reasoning.
Students are also beginning to blog this week. The goal of these blogs is to help the students collect information about the world around them as they go through their daily lives. Every week they’ll do at least one post about a news article they’ve read, something interesting they learned in another class, a political cartoon they saw that made them think--the possibilities are endless as long as they’re letting their curiosity lead them! This is also great practice for learning how to create a positive digital footprint. I’d encourage you to listen to this short NPR piece about how students can begin to think about their online identity and talk about it with your students. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have some blogs to share with you.
Finally, students are beginning book clubs to deepen their thinking about wealth and poverty. They had the opportunity to choose their book on Friday and chose either Hillbilly Elegy, Nickel and Dimed, or Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Make sure you ask them to tell you about their books!
Have a great week and hopefully I’ll see you on Wednesday!
Hello, Parents and Students!
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.
AP Seminar: April 24-The Exam!
Hello! It has been a busy few weeks in AP Seminar but we have almost completed all of the Individual Multimedia Presentations. I hope your students have shared their presentations with you; they have a lot to be proud of with these!!
Once our presentations are complete will move onto our final task: preparation for the end of course exam. Students have been given some review materials on Google Classroom and should be spending a little time at home reviewing those and preparing questions for when we begin our work in class. We will spend Thursday-Tuesday reviewing and practicing.
I will also be running an optional after-school full length practice session after school on Monday, May 1. This will be for practice only, but will give students a chance to see what it feels like to write for a full two hours. Students who are also taking AP English Language may not find it necessary to sit for this extra practice, but those who have never written for two hours straight may find it beneficial.
The test is divided into two parts and students have been practicing the skills it tests all year long. The first part (30 minutes) asks them to read an article and answer three short answer questions about it. They need to identify the author’s argument, explain the line of reasoning, and evaluate the effectiveness of the evidence. We’ve done this with pretty much every text they’ve read this year!!
In the second part of the test (90 minutes), they will be given four different articles that are all thematically related. The four articles will represent different perspectives on the theme, and students will need to develop their own argument using two of the four articles. Again, this is a skill they’ve done often. They just did it with their IWAs.
The biggest thing you can do to help support them right now is encourage them to sleep and stay positive. These weeks of prepping for the AP tests and then taking them can be a little stressful around here; if they are well-rested, they’ll be in much better shape on test day.
Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire