I apologize for no new post this week.
When I started my "Year of AP" journey, I overlooked reality - that at any given moment, my life might fall apart a little or a lot.
And it did.
I promise to be back next week with two weeks worth of plans and materials, but right now... Honestly, it's taking all my gumption just to put on my "teacher face" for the kids. Anything extra is just out of reach at the moment.
But I'm hopeful. Today was better than yesterday, and tomorrow might be better than today. One week of stumbling, and then I think I can be back to my (almost) A game.
I cannot take ANYMORE snow or cold or wind. We’ve had three snow days and multiple late starts in the last two weeks, and I am feeling the crunch to get these kids ready for their mock exam.
It doesn’t help that my least favorite moment of each AP year also fell upon me last week…
Maybe you all don’t have this issue, but once a year, my kids just BOMB a prompt out of nowhere. (We’re talking scores that are at least one below their last). I don’t know what it is, but there is always one rhetorical analysis that seems to trick them or something. They forget all their strategies, the entire structure, how to think...and it shows on the paper. Chavez was that prompt this year, so now I’m sulking.
That’s why we need to revisit it together. Which we will on Tuesday, after we finish the documentary.
The rest of the week, we are powering through our activism unit (which I am loving even more than I thought I would). We’ll be wrapping up our study of protest art and memorials and then heading into their summative assessment - a position paper.
This year, I am making an effort to include more of two things: creative writing and extended, formal writing. This position paper is kind of a hybrid of those. Using Malcolm Gladwell and Thoreau as models, they’ll take a unique stance and develop an engaging essay (NOT a research paper) on a cause they care about.
I hate research papers. Not because of the grading, the pain of getting them all turned in, the time they take.
I hate them because they are BORING. In fact, I haven’t done a true research paper in four years, and I will do anything necessary to avoid it in the future.
Research papers are so inauthentic. In what job will they have to sit down and compose a 5+ essay outlining a problem, cause, and solution.
(I mean, I know that job exists, but none of my kids are looking for it).
Instead, I try to work research into writing that is more authentic or creative. For instance, we covered research with their debate assignment. Now, with their position essay, they’ll craft an argument - not just fill out an outline - about something that matters to them, including research. They still have to do the research and the citation and the MLA format, but at least, they don’t groan when I introduce the assignment.
For me, Teaching Sincerely is about this exact adaptation. Even when required to do a research paper, I have adapted or altered it to fit the kids, the time, etc. Because mandates like a 5+ research essay are stifling. And frankly, tedious. When we blanket teachers with these requirements for the sake of “consistency” or “commonality,” we take away the freedom that creates authentic assessment.
So...ya know… down with the man!
(Can you tell we are focusing on activism?)
Sorry to be lazy again, but I am posting this while simultaneously trying to help kids with their campaign speeches and finish my summative assessment for the unit. (You know. Being a teacher.)
Below are my lessons plans. The next phase of our activism unit is to study memorials and protest art (in preparation for the memorials synthesis).
(I hope this finds everyone safe and well. We are on our fourth modified schedule of the last few weeks, so you know, it's chaos. Gotta love those North Dakota winters.)
We had A WEEK. One day was shortened periods after an administrative lock down. The next day was shortened periods for a two hour late start (#NorthDakotaLife). Friday was shortened periods for a pep rally.
Needless to say, we were crunched for time!
In response, we didn’t even start their campaign speech assignment. We did read and look at Harvey Milk, but that’s the extent of what we did. We’ll jump start those speeches this week. :)
That said, we are continuing on our rhetorical analysis review this week. Tomorrow, we’ll watch Obama’s nomination acceptance speech and live tweet strategies! (I’d like to take credit, but someone mentioned doing this on my fave Facebook AP Lang group). Then it’s on to reviewing rhetorical analyze and tacking Chavez!
Ok. New semester and that means a new type of unit! I have dabbled with the idea of themed or topical units for a couple years. However, I usually keep my skills focus. For instance, last year my students did a documentary unit which was really about analyzing and creating visual arguments.
Not this year! Our topic is… ACTIVISM!
I am fairly opinionated - insert smirk - so if I walk away from a year of AP with nothing else, I want them to embrace their own opinions and express them! (You can imagine my face when, at the beginning of the year, they couldn’t think of ideas for their “My Dream for America” speeches). In our current climate, activism is everywhere, so I’m going to jump on it.
The first section of our activism unit is to analyze the rhetoric of known activists (leading up to the Chavez rhetorical analysis prompt next week). So, this week we are studying “How to Fight” by Clint Smith III as an introduction to the unit. Then, we’re tackling Harvey Milk’s Hope speech as a mentor text for their own campaign speeches.
I won’t lie. I am actually really excited for this week.
I swear I didn't forget you guys. We just have finals this week, so not much to post.
The kiddos did their debates Monday and Tuesday, and that was the last I've seen of them. :)
Back with a new unit on Monday!
UPDATE: The world placed an awesome activity in my hands so plans changed a bit for our lesson on refutation. Tuesday night, President Trump addressed Americans during prime time and then Speaker Pelosi had responding remarks.
What an awesome example of constructive and rebuttal!?!
So we did the flowing the debate activity today using Trumps address as an example of a constructive and Pelosi's response as a rebuttal. We also picked out some of her refutation techniques. Here is how I showed kids that a rebuttal responds to each aspect of a constructive:
So tomorrow, before we practice refutation of opposing claims, I am going to give students the handout below. It covers how to use develop persuasive prose and employ refutation tactics.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...
Full Disclosure: I am so buried with grading that I have to keep my post simple this week, or I'll never get through this stack of papers. (#relatable, I bet). So...just lesson plans this week. Forgive me!
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.