(March 24, 2020):
I hope all of my students have read my brief message from Monday (3/23) that I sent out through Aeries Communication. I am currently updating my records from the work that was collected and graded during my absence. I am also modifying the lessons we will do going forward during this time that the schools are closed temporarily. Any work that was due by Friday, March 13 will be entered into the gradebook. If you are missing any assignments up to that point, we will work out a way for you to make them up to bring your grade current through March 13.
As of right now, the work we do during the closure will be enrichment and not officially graded for the first couple of weeks. We are still waiting to hear from the district about graded work beyond that, so stay tuned.
I am curently reviewing the work given to me by the sub, and I am grading some work that was not graded. It will take me a few days to bring the online Aeries gradebook up to date, but you should be able to see where you stand through the portal by early next week. I will work out a way for you to submit late work if you have some missing assignments.
We will probably go ahead with modified lesson plans on the work I was planning to cover any way, so come back to this web page often and check in. As I do during the "normal" schedule, I will post the assignments under "11th Grade Assignments" and "12th Grade Assignments" with all of the necessary info to complete the work. For writing, we will probably submit it through Turnitin.com. I will post the class ID and User Code as the assignments come due.
For now, just check in regularly and continue to do your Outside Reading and Dialectical Journals, which are actually custom made for thiis time of "distance learning".
Today's Message (March 25, 2020):
I have begun updating grades on the Aeries Portal Gradebook and will continue to do so this week. I still have a couple of written pieces to grade that were turned in while I was out on my absence before school shut down. I will continue to update the gradebook all week, so be sure to check in the student portal and see which assignments you may be missing from the period of time before school was closed. For work that is missing, you may take a picture of handwritten work and email it to me, or send an electronic copy of typed work for make-ups at this time. For new work, I will probably be using Turnitin.com; more on that later.
Assignments that I planned to collect after March 13 are on hold for the moment. Some of you have done work on projects (like the 11th Grade Research Paper) and I want to honor that effort, so I will work out a system to give you credit for work completed. Stay tuned for that.
Later in the week I will post lessons for this interim time period that I encourage you to do, but which will not be entered as grades in the gradebook.
For now, continue to do your outside (supplemental) reading in your novels and complete your Dialectical Journals. That is work you were doing on your own time all semester, and it is perfect for this time of independent learning.
Notice that I have created a new link on the left that will contain previous days' messages in case you missed one.
Today's Message (March 26, 2020):
I have completed grading on all but one or two assignments, and all are updated in Aeries Gradebook. If you have make-up work, send it to me via email with an attachment of a typed file or a photo. If you photograph your work, please be sure the pictures are right side up so I can read them quickly.
I will post assignments soon.
If you have any specific questions email me. I have sent out two group emails through Aeries Communication
(Friday, March 27, 2020):
Yesterday, I figured out that my emails were not going out because I had not checked the correct box on Aeries Communication. So, to all of my students: sorry you did not hear from me by email before Thursday. I try to stay on top of things, but I was a little slow on that one.
I am now updating make-up work as you send it to me via email, either through attached typed files or by pictures of handwritten work, and that is working out very well. Many students have made up their missing work and brought their pre-Coronavirus shutdown grades up to par.
Beginning after the Spring Break week, I will post distance learning activities to move forward. I will try to make it similar to our classroom activities, with reading and writing being the principal assignments. We are still in discussion about when the work we all do will be included in the official grades, and I will update you when I know.
(Monday, April 6, 2020):
Today we begin our new phase of Distance Learning. I think the best course of action is to build on the routine we already have in place, so I am putting weekly lessons under the headings you know: 11th Grade Assignments Spring 2020, or 12th Grade Assignments Spring 2020.
I began by labeling the first assignment, "Distance Learning Week 12" and I will put the entire week's work under that one assignment.
Most of the work will be submitted through Turnitin.com, so register on that website if you haven't already, and I will include Class ID's and Enrollment Keys in the assignment itself.
Things may be a little shaky at first as we get a new version of our routine working, but we will adapt and improvise as we go along.
I am still waiting to hear exactly how we will grade the work, and how much it will count.
You may all still submit make-up work for anything that was due up through March 13, when schools closed, and I will update your grade to replace any missing work with the make-up grades.
If your device you are using to read this message does not show the links on the left, select "View Full Site" to see all the links.
(Tuesday, April 7, 2020):
Many of you are turning in late work to bring up your pre-closure grades, and that is a very good thing! Continue to do that.
Remember to include your Period Number! That shortens the time it takes to update your grade.
Progress Reports will come out at the end of next week (April 17) and your grade will include any make-up work you do between now and then, so get all of those missing assignments completed.
A specific note on the "Intro" to unit assignments: All classes have had assignments to read the introduction to a specific time period of literature and complete Dialectical Journals on that material. 11th Grade students read the "Intro to Civil War" era, and 12th Grade students read the "Intro to 18th Century" era. Both of those assignments require reading in the class set of textbooks, which you do not have access to, so I will mark any missing assignments of that nature as "NA" and they will not lower your grade.
For 12th Grade: The activities you completed for the "Rhetoric of the Op/Ed Page" were not complete before March 13, so they will not be required. You may send me copies of what you did for me to keep on file and use as Extra Credit later, if needed.
Also for 12th Grade: We will continue with the Senior Portfolio project, but on a modified format with fewer total items. You began writing Project#15, "Letter to my Future Kids" just before school closure. That will not be included in the progress report, but please finish it and send it to me for grading later.
For 11th Grade students: You began an original poem, "I Hear ____Singing" based on Walt Whitman's poem. That and the "Research Paper 2, Outline", will not be included in grades for the progress report. Send me the work if you finished it so I can keep it on file.
For both 11th and 12th, "Daily Language and Vocab" for Weeks 9 and 10 will not be counted, but I will keep those on file if you have finished those and send them to me. They are not required if you have not already done them. Beginning with Distance Learning, Week 12, they will again be part of the regular weekly routine.
Please turn in work as I have indicated on my Assignments Pages, to Turnitin.com and type the work your complete. I will put up a new Assignment for each week.
There will be more questions and hiccups along the way, I am sure. We will deal with those as they arise.
Stay healthy and keep your minds active!
If the device you are using to read this message does not show the links on the left, select "View Full Site" to see all the links.
(Thursday, April 9, 2020):
(Reminder: all previous daily messages can be seen in the link on the left entitled Message Archive for Distance Learning)
I am pleased to see most of you sending in make-up work by email and beginning to complete new Distance Learning lessons from my web page by submitting work to Turnitin.com.
One note that I forgot to send before: The texts of the literature that you read online (The Grapes of Wrath for 11th grade and Brave New World for 12th grade) do not have page numbers. I know that the online lessons often ask you to cite page numbers; that is because I am adapting lessons from the in class version of the units. Don't worry about page numbers, just respond to the writing prompts without referencing the page numbers.
Another note on the short writing assignments for both 11th and 12th grade: Be sure to respond to all writing topics in COMPLETE SENTENCES. Remember, even though we are doing distance learning, all the same writing rules apply.
One more important note: some of you have sent me make-up work with links to Google docs or other online programs. Many of those are not"shareable" files, and I can't open them. The only solution is for me to write you an email and ask for permission, and then go back and open it again later. That is just too complex for this time.
Instead, just send me an attachment to an email of a regular Word doc or PDF, or even a picture of the assignment.
For new work, please do use Turnitin.com to submit your work.
Last note on Turnitin: Some students have submitted partially complete assignments, thinking they would submit the rest of it when they were done, but have discovered they can't submit twice on the same assignment. That is a feature that normally is turned on to prevent plagiarism. I have temporarily changed it to allow a second submission, but if you do that, you need to submit the entire assignment, not just the part you recently finished, as the second submission will wipe out the first.
It would be much better to simply complete the whole assignment and then submit it all at once.
Keep checking in with email and on my web page, and I will try to answer questions as they arise in this new reality.
(Monday, April 13, 2020):
As we begin the second week of Distance Learning, I am encouraged to see so many students turning in new work as well as continuing to make up missing work from before March 13.
Remember that Progress Reports come out this Friday, April 17 so finish up any missing work and submit it to raise your grade.
Also, when communicating with me via email, PLEASE remember to include your Period Number--it helps a lot in processing the hundreds of short communications I am receiving.
One more reminder on new assignments: Remember to complete all of the work for one week as a single document before submitting it to Turnitin.com for that week's assignment. The one exception is for Senior Portfolio Projects for the 12th Graders; those Senior Projects will be their own assignments and can be submitted separately.
Keep up the good work and stay healthy!
(Friday, April 17, 2020)
Reminder to all students:
Today (Friday, April 17) we will submit Progress Reports, so if you still have some missing assignments that were due before school closed on March 13, turn them in so I can include them in today's report.
Also, please use Turnitin.com for all new work (beginning with Week 12 assignments) as it is much easier to grade your work and give you feedback on that site.
As always, you may still send me shareable files, PDF's, or pictures in an emergency, and I will update from those.
As of today I have heard from 137 of my students, either turning in missing work, turning in new Distance Learning work, or both, and that is good. However, I still need to hear from everyone so I can update your grades and keep the learning process going strong.
(Wednesday, April 22, 2020):
Some students are wondering about their grades following the progress report. They are uncertain if their grade will stay the same, go down, or go up. I can only speak for my classes, and the answer in the short term is, it depends.
If you do not submit work during Distance Learning, your grade will go down slightly, as each assignment is worth one point, and doing nothing will cause your grade to go down a little.
At the end of the semester, I will re-add points for missed assignments (only those missed during Distance Learning) and your grade will return to what it was at the progress report. That is to conform with the District policy to hold harmless students who are unable to complete Distance Learning work.
Of course, if you were missing work before the progress report, that will still be missing. But, you may make up that work any time, thus raising your old grade. That part hasn't changed in my classes, as I have always allowed peope to make up missing work.
If you complete all of the work during Distance Learning your grade will go up, albeit slowly at first. At the end of the semester, students who complete all of the Distance Learning assignments will get a small bonus, and their grades can go up more. That is intended as a reward for doing the right thing.
The easy answer to the question is: do what you usually do when school is "normal". Read the assignments, complete the writing, finish and submit your work.
Keep working and stay healthy!
(Wednesday, April 29, 2020):
11th Grade Expo Students:
Click on the link below to read a little bit about John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, and the connection to Route 66 that is mentioned in Chapters 12, 14, 15, and 17.
Then click on the link below to see the scene from the Pixar movie, Cars, in which the poignant story of Route 66 (the original title of the movie before it was released) is explained and emotionally expressed in Randy Newman's song, "Our Town", sung by James Taylor.
(Friday, May 8 2020):
A question I have been receiving often lately is, "Are we going to have a final exam?" You may be happy to learn the answer is "No". While I would love give you all a two-hour test of the material we have covered, both in person and through Distance Learning, the logistics of doing so are just too daunting at this time.
You will just need to complete the Distance Learning assignments--which will include the reading and writing on the novel we are currently working on (The Grapes of Wrath for Juniors and Brave New World for Seniors), finish the vocabulary work, and show evidence of your outside reading and dialectical journal writing; that should be enough for this strange time of working independently, together.
Seniors: You will submit your Senior Portfolios through Turnitin.com on May 26. I will put up the assignment soon for those of you who want to get it done early. We do have two more items to put in it. One will be a separate assignment like all the others, and one will go directly into the portfolio without a separate submission. More on that next week.
Stay Healthy and keep working!
(Tuesday, May 12, 2020)
As we get rolling on the last few weeks of this very different school year, remember to stay focused and keep turning in work.
A note for those of you with grades below passing or just barely passing: You may still turn in work from before the shutdown (due prior to March 13) and raise your grades before the end of the Spring semester. Distance Learning assignments have a minimal grade so we can avoid penalizing those who have no access to remote learning, but the "older" assignments are still worth full credit, so when you make up that work it raises your grade more quickly. Get that stuff in and help yourself out while you still have time.
One note for all classes: I will not collect Dialectical Journals on your outside reading beyond the regular check-up I have been doing every three weeks. That means Seniors do not have to turn in five pages of notes, and Juniors do not have to turn in 20 pages of notes. We will simply finish the novels we are working on, and the vocabulary of the week.
Seniors: After thinking long and hard about this, I have decided not to collect the Senior Portfolios. The logistics of getting all of you to turn in twenty separate written pieces remotely make the collection impractical. There will be one more written project to conclude the work we are doing on Brave New World, and that will be the last one required. I hope you save your work and revisit it from time to time, but I will not ask you to send the entire collection to me.
Stay healthy and keep working!
(Tuesday May 19, 2020)
As we approach the final two weeks of the school year, I have some important messages.
First, there will be a significant change in the assignments: This week, Week 18 of the semester, will be the last week of new material for the curriculum. We will not quite finish the novels we are working on for 11th or 12th grade. I encourage you all to finish reading the novels (The Grapes of Wrath for Juniors, and Brave New World for Seniors) but I will not officially assign the reading or writing for the last few chapters. Please finish and submit the work for Week 18 Assignments, and that will complete the semester work.
Seniors: You will not need to turn in your Senior Portfolios. So few seniors are completing the Distance Learning work that it would only be harmful to most students' grades to collect and grade the finished portfolios at this point.
For those of you who still have lower grades because of missing work from before the shutdown of March 13, please turn in (by email) your missing work to raise your grades before final grades are submitted.
The deadline for turning in any work will be Friday, May 29. Those of you who had higher grades on the last progress report will receive those grades as your final marks, unless your full participation in Distance Learning raises them.
This has been an interesting and challenging experience for students and teachers alike; I have found opportunities to exchange ideas on a more personal level in some cases, and encountered frustrations as you have while trying to carry on under these strange circumstances.
My message is simple now: finish strong!