Works of Literary Merit

Before joining this adversarial discussion, be sure that you’ve read the material in the last post very, very carefully. Also be sure that you’ve picked up the Regents Exam packet distributed on May 28; copies of that packet will not be made available online, although you will be able to pick up extras at any point in class.

Also note that there is a writing assignment at the end of this post. It is the same one given to you in class on Wednesday the 29th; check back here to be sure that you understand what you must do by the end of the day on Friday.

Have your Regents Exam packet handy as you read this post. Notice that the scoring grid in the packet splits the exam into two sections: multiple-choice questions and writing prompts. You will be practicing the multiple-choice all week through Castle Learning, where you will find a new set of assignments starting today. (You should be finishing the batch assigned to you in early May, as well.) For the writing portion, we’ll start with the lone essay: the critical lens.

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Rudimentary Reader Response: Adversarial

Click to see more book art.

Before doing anything else, be sure you’ve carefully read the directions for the adversarial that are outlined in the previous post.

Now use the comments section below to earn points while exploring your Q4 books. Be clear in your choices, and continue to revisit this post to see what your peers have to say.

Rudimentary Reader Response: Directions

The book you’ve chosen to read is the culmination of our year of reading, just like your last, choice-driven essay is the culmination of our year of writing. We began with 50-word short stories; now we end with a full-length novel you chose on your own.

Next week, we will begin preparations for your final exam and Regents Exam. Your book will be part of those preparations, because most of you will be able to use that book as evidence in the essay you write for the Regents. This week, you will be discussing your book with each other through the comments section of this website.

Obviously, not everyone will have finished. That’s a sad but ineluctable result of this process. But even those of you who didn’t finish have a lot to discuss. This process reflects your management of time and your understanding of your reading habits, not just your experience reading a text; more importantly, what I am asking you to do requires only that you read something. Finishing will help, but it is not necessarily required.

The carrot for this : This is another adversarial score, and you will only receive points for what you contribute to this discussion online. We’ve practiced this kind of thinking-through-writing exercise far too often; you need another chance to see its benefits.

Note: You will need to go to the next post in order to have the conversation. These are just the directions:

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Adversarial Scores: EQ Discussion

We began our discussion of essential questions—the core of the essays you are in the midst of submitting—back on April 30, when we broke down the guide and began brainstorming possibilities for each of you. We did this adversarially to give you a carrot to chase. Your work was approved through individual conferences held between April 30 and May 2. Then you were given a post for discussion, both as an adversarial opportunity and as a means of focusing your writing.

Here is that discussion post. It was open for a total of 20 days. It has 27 comments.

Your scores can be viewed by loading the following document:

There were some small adjustments made to the 10-point scaling. Contributions online were worth slightly more than contributions made in class, due to the amount of time given to you to make those contributions. The gradations between tiers (e.g., 9+, 9-) were also stripped away to benefit those of you who contributed very little or nothing at all. Email me with any questions about this.

Books, Choice, and Self-Efficacy: Q4

Due date: Finish your book by Thursday, May 23. We will begin to work with them on that day.

By now, you’ve had a pair of lessons devoted to discussing and choosing a book to read during the fourth quarter. You’ve heard from your peers, gotten feedback from me, and begun the proposal process. This post is a chance to earn more points toward our current adversarial by posting your proposals and responding to your classmates.

First, a quick rundown:

  • You will commit to reading a book of your choice this quarter.
  • Your choice must be approved by me.
  • You’ll submit a proposal by 4/24.
  • The due date will be set once all proposals are approved.
  • You will write a reader-response essay after finishing your book.

Second, a few lengthier guidelines:

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Jerry Jesness, “Why Johnny Can’t Fail”

In 1999, a public school teacher named Jerry Jesness took to the pages of Reason magazine to discuss one of the most insidious problems in American public education:

The floating standard shields the status quo and guarantees the reign of mediocrity. If standards are set high but students lack the skills or motivation to meet them, the standards will inevitably drop. If many students in a given class take part-time jobs, homework will be reduced. If drugs sweep through a school, lower standards will compensate for the lack of mental clarity. Americans want quality education, but when lower grades and higher failure rates reach their own children’s classes, they rebel and schools relent. Americans hate public education because standards are low but love their local schools because their children perform so well there..

With the full article under your belt, you can begin to respond to it. Use to comments section of this post to earn more adversarial points by doing any or all of the following:

  • Develop your own position in response to Jesness
  • Tell anecdotes about your experience in and out of Brewster High School
  • Examine some of the strategies we highlighted in the essay

Whatever you talk about, use the text. Quote Jesness directly or paraphrase his ideas. The more text-driven your comments are, the more points you’ll earn; we’re after a conversation built around Jesness, not one that ignores him. (That means that those of you who didn’t finish reading are going to struggle, of course.)

One other thing about this conversation: Be specific, but be respectful. Don’t use teachers’ names, and don’t disparage anyone. Failure to follow this rule will get your comments deleted and you banned from the conversation.

Feedback: Q3 Adversarial #2

I’m going to let the facts speak for themselves on this one. Your grade came from your contributions to two adversarial posts about our current texts:

  1. TIM Adversarial: Sympathy for the Devil
  2. James Whale’s “The Invisible Man”

The first post was created on March 19; the second, on April 2. The adversarial was extended from its original deadline of April 1 to include the second post. The new deadline was set as April 12. You had 24 total days to enter the conversation and earn points.

Twelve students did not comment at all. Eleven students only commented once; three of the eleven left comments that were factually inaccurate.

On April 12, your scores were tabulated and converted as they always are:

The total points earned by your comments is reprinted next to your final grade. The conversion chart is included. The normal distribution of scores would give those students who did not comment a 55/100; therefore, the conversion chart was recalibrated so that students who left no comments at all received a 64. The grades scale up from there.

This grade is part of your third quarter average.