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.
Quick update to next week’s schedule (also posted to the calendar portion of this website):
- On Wednesday, May 22: Period 7 will meet in Room 170 for SRI testing
- On Thursday, May 23: Period 2 will meet in the Library Lab (Room 217) for SRI testing
For SRI testing, you will use the same username and password you used in the fall:
- Login: Firstname.Lastname (not case sensitive)
- Password: P@5sword (case sensitive)
I will accompany you to the labs and go over these directions as necessary. You must retake the SRI no matter how you did previously. As a result of the lost time:
- Your Q4 outside reading will be due on Friday, May 24
- You will have until Thursday, May 23 to submit your final argument essays
Send me an email if you have any questions or concerns.
(With apologies to The Fugees.)
In the past, you have been given vocabulary either as a function of understanding a book or in decontextualized lists. The former approach may help you to decode a text, but it’s as John Holt said:
If children didn’t look up the word they didn’t know, how would they ever learn them? My sister said, “Don’t be silly! When you were little you had a huge vocabulary, and were always reading very grown-up books. When did you ever look up a word in a dictionary?”
She had me. I don’t know that we had a dictionary at home; if we did, I didn’t use it. I don’t use one today. In my life I doubt that I have looked up as many as fifty words, perhaps not even half that.
Since then I have talked about this with a number of teachers. More than once I have said, “According to tests, educated and literate people like you have a vocabulary of about twenty-five thousand words. How many of these did you learn by looking them up in a dictionary?” They usually are startled. Few claim to have looked up even as many as a thousand. How did they learn the rest?
They learned them just as they learned to talk—by meeting words over and over again, in different contexts, until they saw how they fitted.
We’ll define the words that you encounter as we come across them, same as we define vocabulary like Schadenfreude or and cacophony. As for the other approach, the list-driven approach?
As a counterpart to this post, which offers details of the assignment itself, and this post, which contains your Q4 contract, be sure you’ve read the following:
This should give you some much-needed context for the writing of this essay. You’ve been preparing for nearly a month; this week, you’ll be conferencing with me and working together to finish your final drafts.
Don’t forget to use Google Drive to share documents with me and your peers. You may also want to use this adversarial post to discuss your essential question as it evolves.
On Tuesday, May 7, you will be given a contract that covers the rest of the year in English. You’ll have every assignment, due date, and expectation. You’ll also have a version of a previous warning: Failure to use your resources wisely, to take responsibility, and to finish these assignments will jeopardize your end-of-quarter average.
Check your email before you sign this contract. If you are in danger of failing the year, you will have an email from me immediately after this post goes live. You must indicate through a read receipt that you have seen this email to receive credit for signing the contract. Here is a copy of the document for your records:
As always, send me an email or speak to me in person if you have any questions.
Below is a link to the prompt and outline distributed in class on Tuesday, May 7. It details what is due by May 20, when you will begin submitting these essays. A copy has been emailed to you and shared on Google Drive, as well.
We will look at these instructions together, but the onus for the actual response is on you. You must create a plan and execute it. You may work together, and you should work with me when necessary; conferences, including email, are essential to this sort of inquiry-based learning.
Click below to load the guide to essential questions that we covered in class:
Now that we’ve had a chance to conference, and now that your essential question has been approved, you can begin discussing your thinking. This will be raw insight that may eventually focus your research, writing, and revision work.
To help get you started, post your essential question in the comments below. All top tier comments should be essential questions; all replies should be in answer to them. That’s your next adversarial goal: to discuss your thoughts on your peers’ essential questions in this space.