Saturday, April 23, 2016

Week 32: Progress Reports, Open House, and the Perfect Society (week of 4/22/16)

 4th Quarter Progress Reports come out next Friday, April 29, 2016. Please check grades on PowerSchool now to ensure that there are no surprises next week.

On Monday, we spent one final day working on our Water Unit letters and getting our folders completely finished. Please check with your son/daughter; if they have their folder in their backpack this weekend, it means they need to finish their folders completely. The final collection of these folders is on Monday.

On Tuesday, I passed out the Project Guidelines for the 4th Quarter Independent Book Project as well as the rubrics that go with it. Please check my homework website, specifically the KBAR tab, for digital versions of both. They're at the bottom, below the calendar for the year.

Wednesday through Friday of this week was dedicated to taking the District Writing Assessment on Argumentative Writing. The DWA was placed immediately after the Tap versus Bottled Water Unit in my class because both dealt with argumentative writing and I wanted to ensure that students had their knowledge of argumentative writing fresh in their minds. One day was dedicated to reading and annotating the provided research (students all received the same prompt, directions, and articles). The other two days were dedicated to writing the essay and editing it. Immediately after students left my class on Friday, I printed their DWAs and am working on getting them graded and put online. Timed writing is always stressful, so I made sure to let my students know that I'm really focusing on arguments and counter-arguments as well as a cohesive essay (introduction, body paragraph, conclusion). Spelling, grammar, and punctuation won't be as focused on in this essay as they are in other assignments because we didn't have much editing time. You'll notice that Conventions is worth 1 point online while Evidence/Elaboration and Purpose/Organization are both worth 3 on PowerSchool.

On Thursday, May 12, 2016, Laguna is hosting an Open House from 6:30pm-8:00pm. Please plan on stopping by to visit your son/daughter's classes to see their amazing work from throughout the school year. On display in my classroom will be the following: bullying presentations, bullying informational/expository essay, 1960s presentation, 1960s historical narrative, "The Outsiders" character development essay, 2nd quarter Independent Book Project Infographic, 3rd quarter Independent Book Project group travelogue, Tap versus Bottled Water argumentative essay (letter) and unit folder, and the "Shut Down Your Screen Week" argumentative essay. I will also be on hand to chat and say hi. Please note that Open House is not a conference period. Please set up a meeting to talk specifics about your son/daughter.

Next week, we'll be moving on to The Giver and dystopian literature. Before diving into the novel, we'll be taking a look at specifically what utopias and dystopias are, how they formed (both in fiction and in real life), and why they fail (both in fiction and real life). We'll also be creating our own version of the "perfect society" to present to the class. This is a fascinating unit because dystopian literature is so prevalent in young adult fiction right now. The Hunger Games (pardon the pun) sparked a fire in these young readers that spawned other favorites like The Maze Runner series, the Divergent series, The Fifth Plague series, and many more. Students are always fascinated to learn that dystopian literature isn't a new concept; it dates back to the 1950s with Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (a personal favorite) and earlier with H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Our study of perfect and imperfect societies is sure to be a great end to the year!

Special shout out to Ms. Lincoln and her third-period class for inviting me to watch their debates this week. On Friday, I got to see arguments for and against Supreme Court Justices being chosen by the President and allowing students off campus for lunch. It's so great that students of both Ms. Lincoln and myself are getting essential debate/argument skills, especially if they have both of us. AWESOME JOB, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!!

This week in AVID was a pretty standard week. We continued working on our AVID websites and added a reflection of our college visits. We also had an amazing tutorial and had a lot of fun on Fun Friday!

Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-What is your idea of the perfect society? What are the benefits to your perfect society?
-What would it take to make the current society (San Luis Obispo or the United States) the perfect society?
-What kinds of jobs would your biographical person be good at, aside from the jobs they actually had throughout their life?

Warmest wishes,

Kevin Laffin

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