A new way to update!
As you all know, I returned to the classroom this year after four years of serving as the high school technology integration coach. I was so eager last August, and that eagerness has really not waned. I love teaching and I am so glad to have students again. That being said, I spent some time recently evaluating how things are going so far. I surveyed my students and analyzed the data. I have come to two conclusions:
- I have not made much use at all of the class website. This was experimental from the start — the rough idea being that I would populate this site with lessons and documents related to each of things we have studied. In reality, I discovered that Google Docs is our true home base. It quickly seemed redundant to create something in Google Docs, share it with students, AND transfer it to the class website. The students and I land in Google Docs every day. What we need is posted there. I have decided to jettison the class website as a result. I am maintaining Moodle, of course, and for some tasks it works very well (posting links, for example). I have found that Moodle is less useful to me than it would have been before Google Docs. With the sharing capabilities that Google Docs provides, I almost never post files in Moodle. The vast majority of my students report that this system is working very well for them, which is happy news.
- This blog has been less than useful. Some of my colleagues make excellent use of a daily blog, posting nightly homework in one convenient place for students to access. I have found that this is less useful in an English class. Our work tends to be ongoing, projects and papers that we craft over time. I place the due dates in documents that students have access to in Google Docs. As with the class website, I find that it is redundant to transfer due dates over to this blog after typing them in the documents where the students do their work. I am not going to ditch this blog, but I am wondering: do you, the reader, care much about this blog? If I receive a strong response, it will guide me for sure. If I receive no response, I guess that would be its own answer.
I don’t regret the ambitious goal of maintaining a class website and blog. In some ways, teaching is a never-ending series of new ideas, since no one has yet defined the one-size-fits-all prescription for excellent pedagogy. We adapt our methods year to year, course to course, section to section, and student to student. I might come back to an idea I threw out years ago and find that with my current students, it’s a fit. I appreciate patience and flexibility as I strive to find the best ways to serve the needs of my students. Thanks for reading!
I know that many of you are working on your papers right now. Tomorrow, I will ask to see your outline, 5-7 pages, Works Cited and Works Consulted. You may show me in Google Docs, in Word, or on paper. The final paper is not due until Friday, so there is plenty of time to ask questions this week. Please remember that the sample paper is in Google Docs, along with instructions, tutorials, etc. Don’t panic! Remember what I said at the beginning: Research is messy. The struggle you endure as you craft your paper is a normal part of doing this. It gets easier with each paper you write, and eventually, you will think a 5-7 page paper is a breeze. If your paper is ready for tomorrow, go get some sleep!
Ack! I didn’t realize that Poetry Out Loud was coming up so quickly, and I definitely want to give you, my students, the opportunity to compete in this super-worthy venture. I therefore need to change my plan a little bit. Here is the update:
- Research — No changes! The rough draft is due Tuesday, January 3. We will devote time in class that week for reviewing, revising, and editing. The final draft is due Friday, January 6.
- Huck Finn — A few changes. We were going to be forging ahead with the novel in class today and tomorrow, then taking a break until after January 6. I am amending this plan. The break starts now. Hang onto the book. I will begin to assign reading as of January 6, and you will be reading this novel for homework after that point.
- Poetry Out Loud — We will engage in an introductory study today and tomorrow, then we will return to our study of poetry after January 6. While you read Huck Finn out of class, you will study poems in class and prepare your recitation for Poetry Out Loud. Dates for our class competition will be announced after break.
This may feel like spinning plates, but I promise you, I will give you plenty of time to process all of this and complete excellent work. If you are interested, you may want to select your poem over the holiday break. You can access Poetry Out Loud materials on their website. I will show this to you in class as well.
You will have a quiz tomorrow on “IPR” (Internal Parenthetical Reference). It will look VERY much like the examples we practiced with today. You can view those and the sample solutions in preparation for the quiz.
The quiz is intended as a way to make you practice the various scenarios for citation, and if you are familiar with today’s work, you should be fine. Follow the directions carefully and check your work before you submit.
We’re really making progress now! Your notes are complete, your thesis statements are almost all approved, and now you are writing your outlines. Make sure you follow the format provided on pages 8-9 of the York Suburban Style Guide. Check my example as well (it’s in the “Tapp Sample” collection inside the “Research collection”).
Outlines are due Monday. Next up — writing the paper! We’re almost there.
Keep working! We are in the library Monday (today) and Tuesday, then we return to the classroom for a shortened period on Wednesday. All four periods next week will be devoted to workshop time, so if you make great use of the class time, there will be very little work to complete on your time. I am here to assist you as you take notes and work on this project.
We are now in the process of gathering sources for the research paper. We have had three days in the library during class time. We will spend time in the classroom Thursday and Friday working on web research. If you need additional library time, it is up to you to make arrangements. Ten sources are due Monday, correctly formatted and added to the “Bib” doc that you have all shared with me. I will assign 50 points in the major category for doing this work. This is an easy grade, so please make it count!
Falling behind during research can have a devastating effect on your grade. Now is the time to buckle down and get to work. Just do it!
Edits and revisions to the Character Analysis may be made up until 3:00 tomorrow. Signed research letters (parent signature) are due Monday.
Remember your research pledge — you can do this!
Today, students took the Death of a Salesman exam.
Due tomorrow: Grammar exercises
If you have not already done so, please create a new Google Doc that will be your Character Analysis. Name it according to the YS File Naming Protocol. Your keyword is “Character.”
Due Wednesday: A peer conference of the rough draft of your Character Analysis
Due Thursday by 3:00: Final draft of Character Analysis