Freshmen: Reviewing Elements of Story

This week, students will begin their first piece of literature: a short story entitled “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. We will use this story to review story elements, teach annotation, and introduce academic writing. Students will be given class time to read the story; however, any reading not complete in class will be finished independently at home.

We will also continue to build on readers workshop this week. Students will set goals on Monday and are expected to read each night in order to meet their weekly goal. On Friday, students will have class time to read as we engage in our first round of conferences.

Parents, how can you help?

  • Ask your child to explain readers workshop policies and procedures to you. Learn about goal setting and grading to ensure that both you and your child are informed this school year.
  • Talk to your child about our short story. What can be learned from Rainsford’s experiences? Why does it matter?

AIR Test Information

Next week, all freshmen students will take part in the new state assessment: the AIR test. This test will assess our students’ mastery of the Common Core Standards.

Today in class, we spent some time on the practice site, focusing on the tools provided on the digital testing platform. Below are some resources in case you’re interested in seeing the testing platform, sample questions, and sample responses.

  • Student Practice Site: On this site, students and parents can access sample tests. This will enable students to practice navigating the test and using the tools. It will also provide a few samples of the kinds of questions students will take.
  • Practice Site Answer Key: In class, students will review a sample essay. This link will provide additional sample responses.
  • Sign In Tutorial: This is a seven-minute tutorial that teaches students how to log in to the test and reviews basic test function. These instructions will also be provided prior to each testing session.
  • Testing Tools Tutorial: This is a seven-minute tutorial that teaches students how to use the testing tools, such as answer eliminator, question flagger, text highlighter, etc.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Freshmen: End of Semester Information

TKaMB Theme Paper: Students will receive their graded theme papers over To Kill a Mockingbird tomorrow. Grades will be entered in the morning, and they will receive their essays in class. This will be the last major grade of the semester. On Tuesday, students will make revisions to these essays based on the comments I provided. Revisions will count as a separate 10-point assignment in the classwork category.

Books Read List: Students should prepare a Books Read List to submit the day of their midterm exam. They may print the list from if they’ve kept it updated, or they may handwrite the list.

Semester Exam Information: The English I Midterm is a cumulative test, so students are responsible for all of the content and skills of the quarter. Last week, students were provided with a handout of the standards being assessed on the midterm with study strategies. In class on Monday, students will organize binders, locating important handouts for studying.

Winter Break Expectations: Over winter break, students are expected to meet their readers workshop goal twice. Students will have three weeks to do this: the final week of classes/exams and two weeks of winter break. Students will be assessed on their choice book reading when they return.

I hope you enjoy your holiday with your family!

Juniors: Choosing Research Topics

Last week, students prepared to begin the research process by reading three short stories (“The Lottery,” “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find”) and by practicing interpreting and responding to literary criticism. This week, students will use this work to begin our next major unit: the research project.

For the research project, students will write a literary analysis essay (4-6 pages) that uses literary criticism for support. This literary analysis might be a theme paper (arguing for the meaning of a story) or it might be a critique (noticing something particular about the style or content of the story). The literary criticism will be provided (15-20 articles available for each story), and students will narrow the criticism down to select a minimum of three articles that are relevant to their topic.

This week students will choose research topics. This will require three steps:

  1. Choose which of the three stories is of most interest.
  2. Skim the available research to begin brainstorming about the argument the student wants to make.
  3. Make a plan for what, specifically, the student would like to argue about the topic.

When we return from Thanksgiving break, we will solidify research plans and begin note-taking and outlining. A schedule for the next three weeks can be found on the daily agenda.

Parents how can you help?

  • Help your child focus on a story and a topic. Because we have just 14 class days until winter break, students will need to commit to a plan quickly so that they can stay on pace with the class.
  • Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with your family! I’m thankful for all you do to support your child’s learning at home!