Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Writing 2 -- Grades are Coming!

Dear CHAT Writing 2 Students & Parents,

I've just finished calculating the grades for the Spring semester, and you will be finding them in your inbox by the end of the week.  As tutors, these are suggested grades for you as homeschooling families to consider.

For those who are new to my classes, let me share my thoughts on grades.  As I homeschooled, I didn't give my children grades.  I felt that grades were far too subjective.  I taught my own children for mastery.  We didn't proceed with a topic until they were ready no matter how long that took.  In a class setting, knowing where each student is with regards to his/her understanding of a topic is not possible, so any grade given is not a complete representation of what the student learned or accomplished this year.

Letter grades are a funny thing.  For some students, it becomes the only motivation for doing well.  For some, it becomes a measure of their worth as a person or as an academic learner.  I personally don't like these "side effects" of the grading system.  On the other hand, grades can be a valid reflection and reward for working hard, being diligent, and understanding the materials.

When teaching students to be good writers, I give a lot of consideration for growth and improvement. Each student has a starting place; over time I look for him or her to learn the mechanics of grammar, good writing techniques, and analytical thinking skills.

For this class, I gave points for attendance, participation, short assignments, literature assignments, grammar exercises, and longer essays. (I tend to be an "easy grader" and like to see my students encouraged to do their best.)  For this essay assignments, the final drafts were graded using a rubric that divided the papers into the following categories:  focus, content, organization, and mechanics.  The grades will be divided into the following categories:  Assignments (Quick Writes and in class activities), Literature, and Writing.  A student may have been strong in one area and not in another, and this will be reflected in these categories.  The categories are not evenly weighted; in other words, 100% in Assignments, which were almost all Quick Writes, does not have the same value as 100% in Grammar, which included lots of worksheets and new material to learn.

Each student (and parents) will receive an e-mail with percentages and suggested grades for this semester.  I’ve seen each student improve with each paper.  Good Work!

Tammy Prichard

Writing 2 -- Grades are coming!
Grades, Percentages, and Scores Clarification

Friday, May 12, 2017

Writing 1 Class Notes -- Week 15 (May 11)


Well, we've made it through another great year at CHAT.   I know that these great students learned a lot -- just compare their first essays with their final ones!

Even though I had a full day planned for the class, we didn't skip the Quick Write.  Thursday was the 159th anniversary of Minnesota's statehood, the day that SPAM was produced, and National Eat What you Want Day.  Students could write about any of the choices.

We didn't do any Words of the Day this week.  I wanted to make sure we had time for the rest of our activities.

I handed back all the homework that I had graded, and students handed in their Spring Grammar Tests along with any other homework that they had for me.  If there is still any homework left to be handed in, I will take it until next Thursday (May 18).  After that, I will send out grades.  I'm not planning on returning any worksheets, etc. unless a student notifies me.

Now for the fun stuff ...
We finished our Poetry Jam.  Last week the class decided that they would all like to participate in Round 2 of our competition.  So, all students recited again while their classmates judged.  The results:  
First Place -- Team 4 (Grace, Gavin, Samuel, Leah)
Second Place -- Team 2 (Maggie, Isabel, Brady)
Third Place -- Team 1 (William, Ashley, Jean-Marc, Abby)
Fourth Place -- Team 3 (Jack, Daniel)

We had one more poetic activity for the class. We divided up Dr. Seuss's "One Fish, Two Fish" and read it as a rap, complete with a rap music accompaniment.  They did a great job!

Remaining in our teams, the class then played a Jeopardy game with questions related to the grammar, writing, and literature that we've covered this year.  
I'm pretty proud of these kids.  They've written well, engaged well in class discussions, worked hard on homework, and been generally great all-around kids.  We had a marvelous year reading and writing!

Assignments for Next Week:

This week's links:
Class Notes

Have a great summer!
Mrs. Prichard

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 14 (May 4)


Just brief notes about today.  I'll give a fuller summary of the year next week.

This week's Quick Write options:
National Day of Prayer -- write about what you feel is the most pressing prayer need for our country.
Cinco de Mayo -- The 5th of May, -- write about what you know of Hispanic culture or your favorite Mexican food.
Star Wars Day -- "May the forth be with you."  See this article for how this became Star Wars day.

Words of the Day:
trans -- Latin, across -- trans-Atlantic, transportation, transport, transition, trans-continental
tempo -- Latin, time -- tempo, temporarily, temporal, contemporary
ultra -- Latin, beyond -- ultrasound, ultrasonic, ultraviolet

In with the Homework that I handed back were two handouts from My GradeBook:  missing reports, and current grade reports.  Since next week is our last week, I'd like students to be able to get any missing homework in.  (Note:  Be sure you contact me if you have any questions.)  If a student is missing any worksheets, he/she can find missing worksheets on Google Drive:
Students have finished the Mastering the Comma Review, and are to take the Spring Grammar Test about commas at home this week.

After handing in their homework for this week, we settled into our Poetry Jam. When one team recited, the other teams judged.   While we had two winners for our first round, the whole class decided that they'd like to have a replay.  We'll have our Poetry Jam Play-offs next week.

Next week we will also have a final exam in the form of a Jeopardy game.  Students can bring snacks to share.

Assignments for Next Week 
-- Spring Grammar Test
-- Bring a poem to recite
-- Any old homework!!

Links for This Week:
Class Notes

Have a great week!
Mrs. Prichard

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 13 (April 27)


I guess I should not have been surprised to see snow showers on my way to CHAT this week.  After all, it is Minnesota.  However, it does make it hard to believe that spring is really here and that we only have two more weeks of CHAT classes.

We had a fun Quick Write this week.  I have a game called "Man Bits Dog."  According to the makers of the game, it's a game of "hilarious headlines."  This game has cards with words that are to be used as headlines, and I incorporated this into our Quick Write by having them write a story to go with the headline.  They were very creative, both in their word combinations and their stories.

Words of the Day:
scio -- Latin, "to know" -- science, scientific, conscience, conscious, omniscient
scrib -- Lain, "to write" -- describe, scripture, script, scribe, scribble, inscribe, subscribe
sens -- Latin, "to feel" -- sensitive, senses, sensible, consensus, sentiment, insensitive, sensory,
spect -- Latin, "to watch" -- spectator, spectacle, spectate, inspector, respect, specimen, introspective
sub -- Latin, "below" -- subway, submarine, suburbs, subzero, sublime, subliminal, sublingual

I didn't have a lot to hand back to students, but they had their final drafts to hand in to me.  I know that some students have been gone due to trips, sports, and illnesses, so any homework that wasn't handed in this week can be handed in the next.  I will have My Gradebook updated this week so that students can check to see if they are missing any assignments.  With only two weeks left in the semester, it's important to get on top of any late homework.

Our final essay for the year is a "Re-Write."  Students rarely have the opportunity to go back to previous assignments in order to revise and improve them.  These are important skills for successful writers to have.  Students are to choose one of their previous essays from this year.  I've encouraged them to choose either their "worst" or lowest scoring essay or to choose one that is about a topic that they are especially interested in.  They should consider the final drafts of their previous essays as the "rough drafts" for this assignment.  Next week, I would like them to hand in their re-write and the final draft of the previous essay.

In addition to reading poetry, we are doing a "Poetry Jam," a competitive poetry reading experience. Each student is to bring two poems next week and to be ready to recite them with a team.  The rest of the class will score the presentations, and the top two teams will read the following week.  (In class we went over the scoring rubric and the competition details.)  Below are the teams:

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

We finished class with a continued look at punctuation, especially the semicolon and commas.  Students have a Mastering the Comma Review worksheet to do for next week.  The following week, I will be giving students a final test on commas to do as a take home test.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Essay Re-Write
-- Comma Review Worksheet
-- Prepare 2 poems for the Poetry Jam

Links for this Week
Class Notes
Poetry Out Loud 
     -- Jabberwocky
     -- Pied Beauty
     -- My Mistress' Eyes

Have a beautiful Sunday!
Mrs. Prichard

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 12 (April 20)


We had a good, productive day in class today.  I gave the students two options for the Quick Write.  Firstly, this day in 1841 marks the day that the first detective short story was printed.  This story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," by Edgar Allen Poe introduces Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin to solve a series of murders in Paris.  The second option was to respond to the fact that today is National High Five Day.  We had a couple options for additional ways to great or congratulate someone.

Our Words (Latin roots) of the Day:
omni -- Latin, all -- omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnivore, Omni Theater
pac -- Latin, peace -- pacify, pacifist, pacifier, Pacific, pact, impact
pater -- Latin, father -- paternal, paternal, Padre, compadre, patriotic, patriot, patron, patronize, patronage
ped -- Latin, foot -- pedometer, centipede, pedestrian, pedal, expedient, pedicure, podiatrist
pedo -- Greek, child -- pediatric, pediatrician, pedagogy

I handed back homework, and we took some time to talk about the Rough Drafts of the Evaluation Essays.  Usually when I hand back rough drafts I have a list of common corrections that we go through.  For this set of essays, I asked students to look through their own papers and offer up areas for corrections.  This was helpful in that we could discuss issues specific to their papers.  I also encouraged them to pay close attention to their corrections because this is one way that they can take charge of their own growth as writers.  When they do their Final Drafts, they have a half sheet to fill out for documenting the first five corrections on their papers.  They also have the rubric to do a self-evaluation on their papers.

Continuing with our focus on Punctuation, students were given a worksheet dealing with parentheses and dashes, and we worked through a number of sentences together.

Finally, we turned to our Poetry books.  April is National Poetry Month, and I talked about the poetry presentations that we will be doing at the end of the semester.  For the final two weeks, the students are divided into teams and "compete" by reciting poems from their books or originals.  I have some poetry-related blog posts listed below.  We read a number of Emily Dickinson poems.

Assignments for Next Week:
-- Read Wilcox (p. 33); Thayer (p. 34); Dunbar (p. 41 – 43); Frost (p. 44 – 50); Sandburg (p.53 – 54); Williams (p. 60 – 61); Hughes  (p. 75 – 78)
     -- Read all of the poems by the authors listed.
-- No poetry worksheets
-- Final Draft of Evaluation essay
     -- 5 First Errors worksheet
     -- Self-Evaluation Rubric
-- Worksheet 15-4

Links for this Week
Class Notes

Have a beautiful weekend!
Mrs. Prichard

Friday, April 14, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 11 (April 13)


Another great day in class!  We had an unusual Quick Write today.  Before giving the students the actual writing prompt, I asked them to write on the board their favorite letters.  Today's writing was in honor of National Scrabble Day.  Alfred Mosher Butts, the inventor of the game, was born on April 13, 1899.  Scrabble entered in to the Toy Hall of Fame in 2004.  I asked the students to take the letters they had written and see how many words they could come up with.  The top word count for the class was 64 words.

Our Words of the Day (aka Latin Roots)
nihil -- Latin, nothing -- nihilism, nihilistic, annihilate
non -- Latin, not -- none, nonsense, nonexistent, noninvasive, nonprofit, nonfat
nova -- Latin, new -- novel, novelty, nova, super nova, Nova Scotia, innovate, renovate, novice
noct -- Latin, night -- nocturnal, equinox, noctambulist, pernoctate, noctiphobia

I handed back homework and fielded any questions that students might have about any missing work. Any old homework can be handed in; check folders for any missing work.

We discussed our last short story in class today.  This story, "Sanctuary," by Nella Larsen has strong themes of racial inequality and mercy.  In this story, a black woman shields a man from the police only to learn that the man he killed was her son.  This story triggered some good discussion about the value of mercy.

Note:  It seemed that some of the students hadn't read the story, and this was also the case with the previous assignment.  With this in mind, there might be a pop quiz next week, So make sure all of the assigned reading is done.  

Our next book is a book of poetry.  Some students love poetry, but some don't.  I've chosen this specific book because it has well-known shorter poems.  Students should read all of the poems by the assigned authors.

I offered the students the opportunity for some extra credit.  I know that a lot of students love to draw and/or paint, so for extra credit they can illustrate any short story or poem.  In addition, in a couple of weeks we will have a "The Red Wheelbarrow" drawing contest for William Carlos William's poem.

For our Grammar portion of the class, I gave the students 2 worksheets and a handout for using hyphens.  

Assignments for Next Week
-- Read poems Holmes (p. 21), Emerson (p. 4, 5), Longfellow (p. 6 - 10), Whitman (p. 22 - 26), Dickinson (p. 29 - 32)
-- 1 Poetry Analysis worksheet (front and back); choose 4 questions to answer
-- Punctuation Worksheets 14-2 and 15-3
-- Extra Credit:  illustrations for any short story or poem
-- Extra Credit:  "The Red Wheelbarrow" illustration contest

Links this Week
Class Notes

Have a great week!
Mrs. Prichard

Friday, March 31, 2017

Writing 2 Class Notes -- Week 9 (March 30)


We covered a lot of ground today in class, and I appreciated the class's involvement.

For the Quick Write, I asked the students to convince me of something.  They could try to convince me to eat a certain food, read a book, listen to some music, take part in some activity, etc.  For this, they should consider the audience, give specific reasons, and think about what would be appealing.  I look forward to reading their persuasive Quick Writes.

Our Words of the Day (aka Latin Roots of the Day):
magnus -- Latin, great/large -- magnum, magnanimity, magnanimous, magnitude, magnet, magnificent. magnify, electromagnetic, manganese
male -- bad/evil -- malnourished, Maleficent, malefactor, malice, malicious, dismal, malady, malignant
manus -- Latin, hand -- manuscript, manual, manufacture, manage, manacle, maintain, emancipate, manifest
migr -- Latin, wander -- migraine, migration, migrate, immigrate, migratory, transmigration

I handed back their homework, which included the Final Drafts of the Problem/Solution or Cause/Effect papers.  They worked hard on these.  Their next writing assignment is an Evaluation Essay, and the rough draft for that is due the week after our break.  If students have any missing work, this upcoming break might be a good time to get caught up.

We started discussing our Short Stories.  After some initial comments, I divided the students into two groups to discuss each story and to come up with comments for the following literary elements:  characters, plots, and themes.  Also, if they found a "gem" in the story, they could add that.  Following their discussions, they wrote their comments on the white board.  Many times students have great thoughts that they don't necessarily want to talk about with the whole class, but a small group is just the right size.

We still have more stories left to read, but I handed out the next book, a selection of American poems, so that they have it when we are ready.

We reviewed our comma rules during the Grammar portion and made a list as a class:
  • Lists
  • Dates
  • FANBOYS and compound sentences
  • Complex sentences:  Independent clauses and Dependent/Subordinate clauses
  • Appositives
  • Interjections & Interrupters
  • Introductory elements
  • Addresses
  • Direct address
For their homework, they are to write 2 sentences for each rule, appropriately inserting the correct commas.

Note:  For those of you interested in checking out My Gradebook, I didn't realize the the Spring version of the class was given a fresh code, which is writing2spring17.  I will have all of the current scores entered in by the end of next week.  Let me know of you are having difficulties accessing your account.

Assignments for April 13:
-- Read stories by Larsen (p. 110); Anderson (p. 1); Hardy (p. 56)
-- Fill out one worksheet (front and back)
-- Comma review -- Write 2 example sentences for each bullet point.
-- Evaluation Essay Rough Draft

Links for this week:
Class Notes

Have a great break!
Mrs. Prichard