March 18, 2022
With the quick approach of Spring, I am excited for the final two units of our Pre-AP English 1 class. We are still working on our argument analysis unit, but there will be some overlap as our next unit involves a class novel study, and I want to make sure students have plenty of time to read the book. Unit 4 of our Springboard curriculum involves reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As you may be aware, there has always been controversy surrounding this book because of some of its language (the n-word is used), content (there is a rape court trial), and the handling of minority characters (sorely underdeveloped for the role they play). Having taught this book for a decade and a half, I can understand the concerns. I have always addressed the language and content pieces by having open conversations with the whole class in which we discuss their opinions generally before we even read the book. I follow that up by setting clear expectations about how we will say “n-word” as opposed to the actual word, and that those expectations are to be followed anywhere at North. To address the lack of development in the minority characters, I have decided to do two things: First, in our analysis we will compare and contrast how the different characters are developed, including Tom, the black man on trial. Second, I will follow up this book with literature circles in which students will all be reading books written by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). Our discussions will be focused on how the development of characters of color is different when written through an authentic lens.
I am very excited for these book studies. To Kill a Mockingbird is a well-written and complex text that does bring to light a variety of social justice issues such as the inequalities around race, poverty, and mental health, as well as being a classic coming of age novel. The literature circle books are all vetted by Springboard (our district-adopted curriculum) and provide an opportunity for students to view the world from a variety of perspectives. Due to the controversy surrounding To Kill a Mockingbird, I want to offer you the option to opt out of having your student read this novel. It would be replaced with an alternate book study from the district-adopted curriculum.
If you are interested in opting out, please contact me or our school principal, Heather Paddock, via phone call or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) by next Friday, March 25th. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us.
Pre-AP English 1
North Middle School
February 28, 2022
With the close of mid-winter break, we look ahead to the next five and a half weeks until Spring Break!
This week we begin our unit assessment of the poetry analysis unit. Students have done an excellent job learning how to pick out pivotal words and phrases and explain why they think the author chose those specific words. They are continuing to raise the quality of their academic writing by incorporating quotes in a variety of ways, combining sentences in different ways, and using a formal analysis voice. I am impressed with their growth over just half a year so far. I cannot wait to see what they do with our next unit, analyzing arguments!
I have reminded students recently that this is an advanced placement class with the goal of preparing students for continued enrollment in higher level classes in high school. The first half of the year, I wanted to ease students back slowly into the rigors and demands of advanced coursework; therefore, the homework load has been pretty mild compared to pre-Covid years. I mention this because as we move through second semester, the homework load will increase a bit for our class. I will be providing less class time to work on assignments. That does not mean they won’t be getting any class time, just less; I always like to provide a good chunk of class time for students to at least get started so that they can ask clarification questions and get the help they might need. Next year’s courses will be harder and for English, less class time, so I want students to begin to get a sense of that independent workload now while still in the cushion of middle school.
Finally, if you haven’t heard already, high school transition meetings are happening at the end of March. Keep an eye out for your invitation to your student’s Zoom meeting time happening on or around March 31st. More information to come from school counselors.
As always, please check your student’s grades in EPS Gradebook, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Side note: Please remind your students to charge their computers every night and come with a writing utensil every day. Thank you.
Pre-AP English 1
North Middle School
December 15, 2021
Dear Students and Families,
Another year is soon coming to a close. I hope all has been well with you and your family.
Going into winter break students have finished up a number of items. They should have read three books from the Pre-AP reading list (the first being Animal Farm as a class), taken the AR test for each, and created an Annotated Bibliography entry for each as well. When the year is done, students will have one document that lists all the books they read this year, including citation and paragraph. This will be a good reference for them in high school as they approach AP exams. Students have recently tested for their knowledge of complex and compound sentences, as well. And this week, we are wrapping up our first Pre-AP unit from Springboard with a Performance Task where students are expected to read a fresh text and write an analysis paragraph.
When we come back from break, there will be four weeks left in first semester. Their next independent book from the Pre-AP book list is due January 14th. Our next Springboard unit will be targeting poetry and drama with a focus on analyzing pivotal words and phrases. We will be reading a variety of poets and some excerpts from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
As always, please check your student’s grades in EPS Gradebook, and let me know if you have any questions or comments. I will be accepting late work until January 28th.
North Middle School, Rm 151
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