Tuesday, December 3, 2013

second quarter quickly drawing to a close

This won't be exciting--mostly just reminders.

The second quarter is quickly drawing to a close, and every single day will prove important for student learning and success. I recommend using the Assignments page to stay  up to date on what is going on in class. We're all trying out a team assignments document to share exactly what graded assignments were completed each school day in the four core classes. Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciative.

This week, December 2-6, features work on a collaborative rocket unit centered on the question: what do good problem solvers do? In English, we'll be reflecting upon the history of rockets, the movie October Sky, and the process the students go through to build their own water rockets in order to answer this question. On December 5th we'll be taking a field trip to Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) to view the programs of study available there. It will be a fun and informative day. If students do not turn in their permission forms, they will be staying at school and working on alternative assignments. Other than the previously mentioned focus for learning, we'll be working through a few minilessons (capitalization of seasons, directional terms, family relationships; punctuating different titles; comma and semicolon use) to prepare for the Language Arts Performance Series Test.

The week of December 9-13 features Performance Series Testing. This will be our middle-of-year round of testing, to measure improvement from the beginning-of-year tests, and to pinpoint what areas we still need to continue to improve upon. Students MUST complete this testing before December 19, so if a student is absent, they'll probably be pulled from other classes or have to come in early to complete the testing. We believe it is best for students to complete the testing with their English classes, so absences during this time should be avoided. This week is mostly consumed with assessment, but through the assessment we can still learn quite a bit. We will think about and discuss test taking practices; we will reflect upon previous learning and place it within the context of this situation; we will receive our new scores and look to focus our learning for the end-of-year test that we will take in May.

The final week, December 16-19, features work on a Letter to Author that students will have the opportunity to send off to a writing competition. I hope that students take the opportunity to enter their work in the competition; it's a great opportunity to send student work well beyond our walls in order to see how our writing compares. The learning that takes place this week is a culmination of work that has been completed through the quarter. Students will look back on their reading experiences this quarter in order to reflect upon their reading habits and discover further what type of a reader they are and are becoming. Helping students to learn about themselves is an important aspect of the reading that we do throughout the year, and that won't happen without a reflective process. The letter students will write to an author is another opportunity for reflection, but the focus this time being a text, rather than themselves. Following the format is important, and working through the process of reflecting and writing and revising and sharing and revising and writing provides so many individual opportunities for learning about the little things of being a reader and a writer and a learner. I really enjoy getting to work with students through these weeks, because it's more of a workshop during this time than any other point in the quarter. I wish we could do it more.

With all this in mind, the nitty-gritty element is that there will be five more graded assignments:
  • --December 3--MLA citation of book/author choice for Letter to Author (10 points)
  • --December 10--Performance Series Testing Reading score (15 points)
  • --December 12--Performance Series Testing Language Arts score (15 points)
  • --December 17--Second Quarter Reading Record (60 points)
  • --December 19--Letter to Author (50 points)

Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.

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