As much as I love having a student teacher - I mean, that’s the only way I have time to write this post at 8:42 Monday morning - it makes me a little sad at times. I honestly barely saw my kids last week, and it’ll be the same this week. I believe that a student teacher needs space as their time comes to a close to get as accurate an experience as possible, and that can’t happen with Cwik sitting in the back of the room. However, that means I am hiding in my office and not seeing what the kids are up to. The only interaction I had with them was to look at rhetorical analysis samples on Monday and meet with a small group before their FRQ on Friday. (I’m like the mean rhetorical analysis fairy that just pops in to crush spirits).
I mention it because usually I like to tell you how things went with the plans last week. But… I honestly don’t know. I think it went well. (Shrug).
This week, we are finishing up The Crucible. As I mentioned last week, the kids have really enjoyed reading it and realizing how hysterical the time period was, so they might be sad to see it go. But we need to move on to our pre-test unit. (More to be shared next week!).
So this week, we’ll finish listening to the play, create anti-witch propaganda for Salem, do our final lit circle, and end with a modified version of the Certainty and Doubt argument FRQ.
I'm back! After what has probably been the worst month of my life, I am ready to get back to who I am. That is, a teacher who loves what she does and loves to help others feel the same. (To my regular readers, thank you for bearing with me).
We have two weeks left of The Crucible, and I have to tell you - the kids are loving it. I always get a little scared when we tackle a book the traditional junior English read earlier in the year. I imagine my kids' friends poisoning their mind about whatever I am about to force on them. (Which is exactly what happened. But I promised them it wouldn't be as terrible as those people said). As it is, they are loving how crazy Abby is (duh!) and honestly, speechless at how hysterical Salem is. In fact, they are sad when we aren't going to read more in class - which, frankly, has to be a miracle.
That said, they'll be a little sad this week, as we aren't reading much from the text. Instead, we are tackling some expository writing. We'll be doing both a set of cause and effect paragraphs as well as a set of compare/contrast paragraphs.
Expository writing is always a challenge, I feel. The balance between making it interesting but keeping it objective is difficult for even a seasoned writer. It especially difficult when every other day, I am BEGGING them to be persuasive and take a stance.
Nonetheless, its an important writing skill, so here we go!
No bells and whistles this week. I apologize. Life imploded a little further, so I am just glad I was able to put these plans together for you. :)
We are off and running with The Crucible! This week, our greatest hits include the mob mentality game (see Week 26) and a last minute inclusion we threw in last week: the "What's the Tea in Salem" Activity. (I'll explain).
Right now, the latest slang is "Tea" whenever kids hear about gossip or drama. As you know, nowhere has more "Tea" than Puritan Salem, so we played on that and gave them the task of creating a tabloid cover with all the big drama in Salem. In their lit circle groups, they read through Miller's paragraphs about the back story throughout Act 1. Then they compiled those "headlines" on a sheet of white paper.
In all honesty, we did this in about 15 minutes, so the tabloids were very simple. However, if you wanted to expand the idea, it could be a lot of fun!
The kids loved it! Earlier in the year, the traditional juniors read the play, so they had heard tons of complaints about the play. However, last week, they all agreed that the play is WAY better than anyone told them. I think the fun hooks - the mob mentality game and the tabloid covers - really helped bring them on board. Hopefully, we can keep them for Act 2.
This week, we are digging in to Act 2 and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." For me, Act 2 and this sermon is about building the context of Salem. They get all the drama that is built up around them, but now, we need to talk about those elements of the culture that build them: social expectations (Act 2) and a domineering religious theocracy (Sinners). It's really our chance to further describe the extremism that created the hysteria we talked about last week.
That said, I am excited for a couple things. We are starting The Crucible with juniors this week and finally setting up some of those opportunities to talk writing with kids one on one.
For us, we use "Office Hours" using our session scheduler, but its just conferences set up during prep hours.
Otherwise, we're plugging away.
Earlier this week, I shared that things are a bit rough at the moment. And progress - though small - is happening. No bells and whistles yet, but here are my plans.
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!