A short post since I'm running on fumes this Sunday morning. This weekend ends two straight weeks of birthday partying at the Maguire house. My kids’ birthdays are a week apart and for some reason I thought full-on, house full of kids, themed birthday parties was a good idea this year. Yikes! I’m whipped. Monday will feel like a vacation :)
This week we will be working on our in-class essay writing again. Students wrote sample essays in class and will receive those back in class on Tuesday. We’ll discuss what went well , figure out where they struggled, and practice those skills that still need more work. By the end of the week, we should be ready to write the second (counted!) in class essay.
Students will receive their A Doll’s House assessments back this week and their monologues/angry letters. Both of those scores count and should make an impact on the grades in MiStar. Look for those scores by the end of the week.
Last thing: next week students will be performing their speeches about social norms and values and how they are reflected or challenged in various forms of media. Please ask your students about the topics they've chosen. Ideally, students should be practicing those speeches at home by the end of this week.
Have a great week! No School Friday!
This week we are shifting our focus back to dramatic literature and reading the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. On Friday, students received their scores from the Antigone formative assessment. These scores were just for practice, but should give the students an idea of how they’re doing with our three focus areas for drama: understanding dramatic structures, recognizing how a playwright manipulates time, and considering how a character develops over the course of a play. These scores are all recorded as practice (4/3/2/1) scores in MiStar. We will read and discuss the different focus areas all week and then students will complete an assessment on Friday independently. This assessment will count for their grade. Students who are still feeling shaky about their understanding of the skills by Wednesday should plan to come see me in AA for some extra help.
Students will also turn in their final drafts of their monologues or angry letters on Wednesday. Originally, these were due last week, but I pushed the due date back to make sure everyone gets a chance to get feedback on their rough drafts. All students who submitted their drafts online to me received individual comments. We will spend a little additional time in class on Monday revising drafts.
Finally, students should be thinking about the media they plan to use for their end of the unit speech. Students will give a speech analyzing a piece of media (song/tv show/movie/youtube video/commercial/etc) that either challenges or reflects a social norm or value. By the end of this week, I will ask students to share their choices with me so that I may check them for school suitability.
Let me know if you have any questions about what we’re up to! There are a lot of formative scores (not counted) in MiStar right now but there is only one summative (counted) assessment. Looking at the formative scores with your student should give you an idea of which skills your student is mastering and which ones need more work. Please encourage your student to ask for additional help if he or she is struggling with any of the skills we are practicing in class. By next week and as we near the end of the card marking, more summative assessments will start popping up in MiStar.
Have a great weekend!
Last week was a little challenging with snow days and scheduling and a meeting in Lansing for me! We didn’t get through quite as much material as I had hoped, but I have figured out how we can adjust.
This weekend or Monday, students will need to share their Angry Letters or Monologues with me in Google Classroom. We missed time in class for writing conferences, so this will allow me to give them feedback on their writing before moving forward. Students should be revising using their notes about varying syntax for maximum impact. I will give specific feedback about their ability to vary their sentence structure effectively, and they will submit their final drafts of their writing on Friday, March 11.
The bulk of the week will be spent on shifting from our critical reading focus (students will receive scores on their final annotated article on Monday) to a critical writing focus. We will use the article they annotated last week to work on writing an argumentative essay. Students will practice organizing their main points, selecting quality examples, and forming a complete essay in a timed environment. By the end of the week, we’ll be ready to do a practice in-class essay. This will be scored and recorded but will not count towards their grades as it is just practice at this time.
Finally, this week I will introduce the unit speech assignment. We have been studying how different types of texts (articles, cartoons, plays) challenge or reflect our social norms and values. For their speeches, students will choose a piece of media (tv show, song, movie clip, commercial, etc) and examine how the clip challenges or reflects a social norm or value. Students need to submit a link to their clip by next Wednesday, March 16 on the shared Google Presentation in Google Classroom. Once I have had a chance to check all the links for appropriate content, we’ll get started writing and practicing the speeches.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
We didn’t quite get to everything as planned last week due to the snow day, so this week we’ll be playing a little catch up. We’ll be working on three of our learning goals this week: Reading-- Informational Texts, Language--Using Varied Syntax, and Writing--Maintaining and Supporting an Argumentative Claim.
Reading Informational Text Critically: On Friday, students received their scores for the second try assessment on reading and annotating an informational text. We have been practicing identifying evidence, evaluating arguments and identifying bias. Many students showed great improvement with this! These scores are posted in MiStar and there is a note with the score indicating if the student’s score improved based on the second attempt. We will work on this skill one more time on Monday with some in class practice, and students will have a third (and final) opportunity to improve that score in class on Thursday. Students who are still struggling with the skill after our in class practice on Monday should plan to see me in AA on Wednesday for extra help.
Language--Using Varied Syntax: On Tuesday and Wednesday we will continue our work with varying syntax (sentence structure) to improve students’ writing. Last week we experimented with some different grammatical structures--phrases, clauses, appositives, parallelism-- and students have produced two short pieces (a monologue and an angry letter) in which they have experimented with those structures. This week, students will choose one piece to revise and edit to show their mastery of varying their sentence structure. Students will have an opportunity to conference with me about their sentence structure on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Final drafts of these short pieces will be due next week.
Writing--Maintaining and Supporting an Argumentative Claim: This week we will also begin practicing turning our annotations of informational texts into written arguments. Students have been assessing the validity of the texts; now they’ll need to organize those assessments into their own coherent arguments. We will practice doing this throughout the week and students will receive feedback scores in Mistar (not graded) to help them understand how they are doing with the skill. All of this practice will lead to an in-class essay that students will write at the end of the unit (final week in March). This in class essay is excellent preparation both for the in-class writing they will do in eleventh grade and the SAT and ACT writing they will do in the upcoming years.
Finally, students will meet with their counselors on FRIDAY to complete their schedules. Hopefully, all students turned in their signed course selection sheets last week. If they did not, they need to do that asap so that they may meet in person with their counselors Friday.
Have a great week!
We are roughly halfway through our first unit of the semester and students are making great progress on our unit learning goals. We finished reading Antigone and students completed a practice assessment of the drama reading goal on Friday. We will examine that practice assessment next week when we begin our second drama, A Doll’s House, next week. Students will use the feedback they receive on the practice to figure out which skills they need to focus on while we read A Doll’s House.
We will revisit our informational reading goal this week as well. Students will look at their first annotated article assessment, examine what went well and what didn’t go so well and we’ll practice reading and analyzing some more informational texts. In particular, we’ll be reading some articles about Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai and considering how her experience of challenging social norms is similar or different to Antigone’s experience.
Later in the week, we’ll do some more creative writing when we return to our language goal--writing with varied syntax. Last week students had some fun experimenting with writing monologues. This week we’ll continue that work and our experimentation with creating variety and interest through our sentence structure.
Finally, on Friday, I’ll introduce this unit’s major writing assignment: an analytical essay. Students will be choosing (or creating!) a piece of media (tv show clip, song, movie, internet video, etc) that either reflects or challenges a social norm or value. In their essay, students will analyze how effective the media is with challenging or reflecting that norm. Friday will just be dedicated to looking at examples and brainstorming; students will have several days to choose their topic, and then we’ll begin drafting and writing late next week.
One last reminder: Scheduling plans are due on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25th to me. Students need to submit their plans on Thursday, and I will turn them in to the counselors so that they can prepare to schedule with the students the following week. If you have questions about which class to take next year, please take a look at my blog entry from last week. If that doesn’t help, feel free to shoot me an email or encourage your son or daughter to ask me before or after class.
Have a great week!
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.
Last week we kicked off our Drama and Social Norms unit by discussing the differences between norms and values and considering how media (tv, music, movies, etc) reflects or challenges our norms and values.
One of our unit learning goals is reading informational texts for valid arguments and relevant evidence, so we started with that. Students read many different types of texts: print articles, editorial cartoons, and commercials. With each text, we considered the author’s assertion, evidence used by the author to support the assertion, potential counterarguments, and the validity of the assertion. For this weekend, I asked students to apply that same process to the ads they see during the Super Bowl on Sunday. We’ll start class on Monday by discussing the arguments made during those Super Bowl commercials. Students will also take their first graded try at annotating an informational text on Monday. We’ve done lots of formative practice, but on Monday they’ll do one that “counts.” Hopefully, they’ll all do really well this first time, but if not, there will be two more chances throughout the unit to improve their scores.
On Tuesday, we will start reading our first play of the unit, Antigone. Students are sometimes hesitant to pick up a Greek Tragedy because it looks so…...old. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince them that the story is not old at all. A teenager standing up to someone trying to tell her what to do? Sounds pretty relatable to me!! We will spend the week reading the play, discussing how it fits with our unit theme, and examining how the playwright uses different techniques to build up the tension in the story.
Please ask your student to tell you about Antigone this week! It is a great story and students are usually pretty intrigued by it. Also, please continue to encourage them to dig into their independent novels. There will be very little homework this week since we’ll be reading so much of the play out loud together. This is a great week to get a jump on those independent novels!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
We survived the first semester!! I’m excited to continue the work we’ve been doing with reading and writing this year. Most of you are returning from first semester, but some of you are transplants from other ELA 10 classes. Welcome, if you’re new! I write a weekly blog to keep parents and students up to speed on what’s going on in class.
I’m happy to report that, overall, the students performed very well on the midterm exam. It was a challenging exam--multiple choice especially is tricky for lots of kids--but the results were great! Students will get their combined reading and writing scores on Monday along with their final grades for English for semester one. Later in the week, we will spend some time discussing the test , but students who wish to discuss their own tests with me one on one should plan to come see me in AA or before school.
This week we will be recommitting to our independent reading for second semester and making plans for sharing our book recommendations with one another. This semester each student will write at least one book review (see samples here) so that they can begin sharing their book suggestions with one another. We will spend Monday looking at suggestions for books to read this semester and examining some popular authors.
Later in the week, we’ll begin discussing our Unit 3 focus question: How does drama shape or reflect our social norms? We’ll read two plays in this unit: Antigone and A Doll’s House. With each play, we’ll consider whether or not the playwright was challenging the social norms of the time or simply reflecting them. Then, we’ll look at modern dramas--tv shows, movies, etc--and consider how pop culture is shaping and reflecting the norms of today.
There are no major assignments or projects to be thinking about just yet, but if you could, ask your student what he or she is reading for an independent novel. Students who are strong readers become students who are strong writers. The best thing you can do to support your student at this point in the semester is make sure they’re reading!!
Have a great week! Next week I’ll give you some more information about scheduling and how to make choices about English classes for Eleventh Grade.
Friday we finally had our Art of Protest Museum. What a cool exhibit of your students’ talents!! Here are some pictures of some of the projects. I wish I could include more, but I kept forgetting to take pictures! The students did a great job flexing their creative muscles and thinking about different ways to express their point of view. It was a nice way to end the semester.
Next week we will spend Monday and Tuesday preparing for the multiple choice portion of the final exam. Students were given a review packet for the multiple choice skills last week; we will begin Monday by discussing the answers in that packet. Tuesday will be more specific review and practice. For the actual midterm on Friday, students will read a new short story and a new news article and answer 15 comprehension and analysis questions about each one. To review at home, students can revisit the review work we did in class, their notes about the elements of style from unit one and their notes about reading news articles from unit two.
I hope this week is not too stressful in your homes! Next time you hear from me, we will starting fresh in semester two. Last thing: NHS is collecting toilet paper this week for a local food pantry. If you have a chance to grab an extra package, please send it in with your student. They should take it to their first hour teacher for collection.
Well, last week didn’t go quite as planned. My husband often accuses me of trying to fit ten pounds of fun into a five pound bag, and that’s exactly what happened. I thought we’d be able to work on students’ art projects and writing assignments simultaneously, but that was a bit too ambitious on my part. Combine that with some technology snafus and we had to do a little adjusting of the schedule!
Students did write their argumentative constructed responses, and I was very happy with the results. We looked at a model in class, graded it together, revised together and students had lots of time to ask for feedback. I returned those on Friday. Some students received hard copies if they turned in hard copies; other students received digital feedback if they turned their final drafts in via Google Classroom. If your student turned in a digital copy, please encourage him or her to revisit that assignment this weekend and read my comments!! Lots of students were having trouble seeing my comments on Friday. The problem has been fixed and they should be able to see them now.
Why is it so important that they see my comments?? Two reasons:
On Wednesday, we’ll go back to the art portion of this assignment. Students will have time in class Wednesday and Thursday to work on creating their art pieces and we will have our Art of Protest “museum” on Friday. This will also be a chance for students who would like a second chance at the speech. If students did not do as well as they had hoped on their art speech, they may give a speech about their own art on Friday as a replacement score.
Have a great weekend. Encourage your students to step away from their studies for a little while on Monday to reflect on the reason we have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off. A day of service and reflection could be nicely capped by attending the Unity in the Community celebration at the high school at 7pm. This year’s theme is “Light the candle, Pass the flame” and organizers hope to inspire the community to a year of service. I’d love to see you there!
Mrs. Hattie Maguire