Friday, December 9, 2016

Week 12: Finalizing the IBP and Prepping for Presentations (week of 12/9/16)

The time has come, my friends, to prepare for the Independent Book Project presentations. Due today before class, on Google Classroom, was the students' Written Portion as well as the Works Cited/Bibliography. These assignments have been available online, with the guidelines packet, for some time now (three weeks, give or take, for the Written Portion; the others have been up since the project was assigned). In checking the assignment progress on Google Classroom, I see some students still have not submitted these assignments. Please go on to Google Classroom with your son or daughter to check and see if this assignment is completed and turned in. At this point, it's late but still worth credit.

Today in class, I went over the specifics of how to turn in the infographic link. It's a bit of a process, but it's an easy process. Unfortunately, easy processes tend to be the easiest to do incorrectly. The directions on how to complete the link submission are on Google Classroom and are attached to the submission form. Students do not have to turn in their link until right before they present (time will not be provided in class). Please note that students whose links are unsubmitted or incorrectly submitted will not be able to present in class on the day they signed up for. As such, their grade will be a zero in the gradebook until they present. Makeups in class will not be provided so an arrangement for an alternate time will need to be made. As always, students have until the end of the quarter to make up any and all work.

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, I can talk about the fun stuff. I'm truly impressed by the infographics I've seen so far. Each and every student has taught themselves how to tweak and change the photos, fonts, graphics, and backgrounds to their liking. They're also really focusing on making their project look like a true infographic. Projects this creative sometimes creep into the "way too much going on" category. I'm happy to report that everyone's projects look pretty professional and scholarly. The fonts (colors and style) don't distract from the information. The pictures support all of the information the students researched. White space, super important in infographics, is used perfectly. I'm really proud of how hard my students have been working. If possible, have your son or daughter show you their work and possibly practice their presentation for you. I know you'll be amazed!

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What do you need to work on to make sure your presentation next week is perfect? How can you receive help and support?
2. Which characters in "The Outsiders" are going through an emotional change? How do you know? Why is it happening?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week 11: Upcoming Project Due Date and Presentations (week of 12/2/16)

It's crunch time for the Independent Book Project; the written portion is due on Friday, December 9, 2016, on Google Classroom. Presentations will begin Monday, December 12, 2016. The guidelines for this project as well as the rubrics and paragraph skeletons have been available on Google Classroom as well as in class. Please review these with your son or daughter to make sure they're on the road to success. While we have been spending some time working on our projects in class, it's necessary that extra effort is put into this project outside of class; the time we put into it in class is nowhere near enough time to complete the project, as it's an independent book project. Please bear in mind that I do not assign homework regularly; in the case of projects, extra effort is necessary for student success. Please check in with your son or daughter to see if they're on-track for completing their project in time for the due date. I'm happy to answer any and all questions on Remind, via email, or in class (before, during, or after school).

Beginning on Monday of next week (12/5/2016), I'll be hosting an IBP Workshop in my classroom after school from 3pm-4pm. Students who take the bus will be issued late-bus passes. I've set aside this time for students to work on their Independent Book Projects outside of class with my support. We've worked on the projects in class a bit, but I know some students would like extra support or time to work. While I'm available every day before and after school, I like to make sure every student is aware that I'm available for their support after school the week a project is due.
Here's what students can take advantage of:
     -Chromebook use
     -free-work time: students can work at their own pace, with or without my support
     -one-on-one support: I'm available to help with projects or give them a once-over
     -presentation practice: students can work on their presentation skills
     -a quiet working environment: the students who show up after school are there to work, so the classroom tends to be on the quiet side. Students are also free to bring earbuds/earphones and listen to music while they work.
Students can come and go as they please. It is not required for anyone to show up or stay the entire time.

I've seen it time and time again, we get to this point in the project and students "don't know how to do the project" or "couldn't find the resources" necessary to complete the project or "couldn't figure out the website" to make the project. It's at this point I have a serious conversation with my students; we've been working on this project in class since the beginning of the quarter and I have been available for support this entire time. Waiting until now to express confusion is not acceptable as it is the last minute. Students often look at their progress on the project and compare it to their classmates, getting stressed because their classmates are much further on their projects or their classmates' projects "look much better". This is often the root cause for the "I didn't know how to do it" excuse. I can't stress this enough, please check in with your son or daughter to ensure that they're on the road to success. Because we've worked on this project all quarter, there's very little I can do to ease student stress at this point if students haven't begun their project or haven't put adequate time into it. I'm always happy to help my students, but adequate effort must also be put in on their part in order to be successful in middle school.

Lastly, we're getting to the midway point of "The Outsiders". Next week we'll tackle chapters 7 and 8 and then take a break from the novel to focus on Independent Book Project presentations as well as the upcoming District Writing Assesment on informational/explanatory writing. After winter break, we'll finish the novel. To end the unit, we'll be watching the director's cut of the movie and comparing and contrasting the two forms of media (text versus film). Because the movie is rated PG-13, even if it's a 1984 PG-13, I'll be handing out permission slips. Each student is expected to turn in a signed permission slip. Those who don't will not be able to view the movie and will be given an alternate assignment. I'll go into further detail about the movie later but you can go to IMDB.com to view the "parent's guide" if you wish.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What final steps do you need to complete to finish your Independent Book Project?
2. Which character from "The Outsiders" do you connect the most with? Why is that?
3. Did setting goals for your Independent Book Project help you to find success in your project? Why or why not? What other supports will you need next quarter to help you find success or continue to be successful?


Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams