Wrapping up before Christmas break was a bit messy. We introduced a new project (the debate), completed a dreaded rhetorical analysis, had the counselors in for ACT prep, and then scrambled to finish the first checkpoint of their portfolio.
I’m telling you… We were all over the place. I think everyone was ready for a break and I was RIGHT there with them.
Heading back after break, we are easing in - to be honest. They have another checkpoint for their portfolio due so 1 ½ days are going to that, which is significant with only three days this week. Otherwise, we’ll be doing a second informal reading assessment. (First semester, they did a reading journal. This time they are doing a self assessment).
Then, we’ll be starting their debate constructives, or opening arguments. I modeled this like a synthesis FRQ so that they use their research (six sources max) and argue their stance on the resolution. It feels like a brilliant idea. We’ll see if it turns out that way when I get their essays.
Our week resembled my post from last week very little.
Monday: Collab FRQ
Tuesday: Mini FRQ
Wednesday: Portfolio Work Time/Individual Conferences
Thursday: Portfolio Work Time/Individual Conferences
Friday: Argument FRQ
Here’s the rationale behind the change. Watching the kids write collaboratively on Monday, we quickly realized that they are passed this style of collaborative writing. They ended up spending too much time fighting about working on choices that ultimately, they could alter as individual writers. It was a happy moment, realizing that they were developing enough of a style (finally!) that writing collaboratively became more challenging than helpful.
So we redesigned. They got a second prompt on Tuesday and we had them write claims and one body paragraph. Then, since we had already planned to work on portfolios, we spread that over two days which allowed us to meet with each students for a couple minutes to review their body paragraph.
And it was a good move!
I read one section of FRQs Friday and they were pretty darn good. Lots of fives, a few sixes, and even a few sevens. NO ones or twos. A couple threes. And just a few fours. For this point in the year (and their first independent Question 2 FRQ), I am very pleased.
Sometimes a change in the pattern is all it takes!
Now, I can anticipate the cringe on your face when I say this next things:
We are starting a new unit the week before Christmas break.
I know. I know. I must have a death wish? I must plan on reteaching everything after break.
Not really. The unit itself - which I’m admittedly proud of - is really a sneaky review of the essay types. I’m using the debate unit to review all three FRQs and test their work with those and critical reading this semester. So to start, they will do a RA FRQ with prompts associated with their resolutions.
As expected, the kids are off and running with argument. It always makes me laugh how kids that obsess over specifics and guided instruction give a sigh of relief when it comes to Question 3. They relish in the freedom of the question - maybe, until they realize HOW open ended the question is this week.
It’s FRQ week, and we’re following the same plan. They’ll write collaboratively. Then review feedback. Then write. And then revise.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Give me a little brag moment, please. I passed my National Board Certification! If you want to hear about the process, check out this past post.
I am so happy, relieved, amazed, and proud. But now I am trying to pick out what my next adventure will be. Ideas?
This last week was a bit chaotic with a Student of the Month luncheon, subbing multiple times, a NMSI Saturday session, and a stack of grading that would make the most seasoned English teacher shed a tear. (I have not been listening to my own feedback advice).
My biggest disappointment this week, however, is that I didn’t have time to differentiate the synthesis prompt, as I wanted. I am reassuring myself by banking on student revisions. They have unlimited revision, and they have another one in a few weeks. (Thank you, standards based grading).
This week is a good one - in my opinion. We’re starting argument, or Question 3! We’re also confronting a common AP Lang issue: that students don’t know much about the world around them. At 17 years old, they are too distracted by a million other things to worry about politics, domestic and international affairs, etc. However, as we all know, the test - particularly Question 3 - needs that current awareness.
So it’s News Studies, evidence strategies, and prose this week!