Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 19: Amazing Infographics and Communication Capers (Week of 1/15/2016)

English
Well, we did it! Semester one is officially on the books. I hope that this semester you son or daughter learned a lot and grew.

We ended the semester on a high note with the presentation of our infographics. For KBAR, students were to choose nonfiction books and online sources/articles. My students created infographics to showcase their research all quarter on the nonfiction topic of their choice. Since late October, here's what we've been up to:
     -students chose their nonfiction topic, they had free choice! (week of October 26)
     -I checked in with students on their progress (November 16, November 30, December 7, and January 4)
     -we had "boot camp" days in class where we had the majority of the period to work (after a tutorial on one of the parts of our infographic). This was with the check-in days
     -we had a "G-2 lab takeover" January 4-8 after school to continue working on our infographics in a quiet place with my support

My sample infographic:

I knew I was taking a huge risk when I took on and created this unit since I'd never done this project before. Taking what I learned first semester, I checked in with my students more often and gave more in-class time to work. I also hosted the lab takeover which was pretty popular for our nonfiction bullying project. The check-ins and bootcamps resulted in some pretty amazing infographics. I not only learned a lot about many different topics, but I also saw my students shine as they presented their products; they've really gotten good at professional and scholarly presentations. The products themselves are pretty incredible, too! I'm sure if you ask your son or daughter, they'll be more than happy to show off their hard work to you (my sample is pictured on the left). I am really proud of my students and their accomplishments this quarter. Overall, I am happy with the products my students have turned in. I noticed that there was a lot of good listening going on this quarter in regards to the different technology pieces we used to complete this project.

Regarding the Independent Book Project, you may notice a score that isn't so great. Overall, this project was a success for the majority of my students. However, some students are struggling to find success and maybe didn't do so hot on this project. Unfortunately, the end of the semester is a firmer "end" than the quarter and I am not able to offer project makeups for this Independent Book Project. However, now is a great time to review the rubrics and guidelines with your son or daughter (available on my website on the KBAR page; I am also sending the scored rubrics home Tuesday). I'd like to echo what Mr. Townsend said over on his blog: grades, whether on an assignment or for the entire semester, do not define the person. Good or bad, it's important to take the comments on these assignments or semester grades and make a plan to move forward. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small, and move forward into greatness. Grades are always a teachable moment; finding success in life means taking the victories or failures, figuring out the lesson attached to them, and moving forward armed with the new knowledge.

Some notes for both you and your son/daughter as we go into the second semester: 
-when sharing documents on Google Drive: DO NOT create Docs on Google Docs. Go to Google Drive, click the shared English folder, and then create a new Doc.
     -If the Doc, Slides, Forms, or Sheets are created in the right place, there's no need to click the blue "share" button.
-following directions: Please take a moment to review the importance of reading and following directions and rubrics while working on a project so that important portions aren't left out and projects are completed correctly.
-ask questions: don't wait until the day the project is due (or later) to let your teacher know that you didn't understand the project's directions. Use the rubrics to guide your progress on your work. Don't know what the rubric is actually saying? Don't know how to complete a specific portion of the project? Ask questions. I am always happy to help those who ask for it. I want my students to be successful.

AVID
This week in AVID was a quick one! We had time for one tutorial this week and my students did great, as usual. On Monday, we dove deeper into "The Raven" by translating the entire poem into 2016 words. Each student got one stanza of the poem and was asked to read the stanza and think deeply about it. They then translated it into words everyone at school could understand. It was a long process, longer than many students are comfortable with, but it was a rousing success. We read the translated poem as a class and it was incredible! Paired with their "snapshot" (drawing) of their stanza, we have a much deeper understanding of the poem and can now move onto the fun stuff like rhyme scheme, symbolism, allusion, and Poe's inspiration for it all.

On Friday, Ms. Ahearn's class joined us for a communication activity. Students got a partner and faced them forming two lines; line A and line B. The lines then were instructed to ask 20 questions to their partner, get the answers, and repeat them back at once. Ms. Ahearn and I had a trick up our sleeve; about two minutes into the activity, we got "bored" and moved the activity outside by the PE classes, who were playing volleyball. The communication was tough in the class with 24 people talking, but it was much tougher outside with those same people talking plus the wind and the PE classes. The students soon figured out what it would take to be successful in this activity, intentional communication and active listening. It was a great note to end the semester on!

Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-What was your favorite thing that you learned this semester?
-What are you looking forward to in this next semester?
-What have you learned about the work load in middle school? What can you do to help yourself manage your time and find success?
-Which characters in "The Outsiders" are starting to change dynamically? How do you know that they're changing dynamically?
-Think about your first impression of a character or person, did it change as you got to know them? Are our first impressions always correct? What do they tell us about other people and ourselves?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

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