Archive for the ‘Feedback’ Category

Because I have already written exhaustively about the process and purpose of the last month of class, I will keep my feedback here brief.  You can find your scores on the research paper and persuasive essay through the Portal, and the original prompts and guidelines are here:

General commentary and adjustments follow.



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Go back and read this post, which introduces the concept of online adversarial augmentation. It offers you the opportunity to increase your adversarial scores—not a new concept, but one updated beyond the handwritten or typed requirement of the original guidelines.  You were given time in the library lab, in the classroom, and at home, plus a day of specific instruction that reviewed how to post comments.

Here are the results of our first online-augmented adversarial, from 4/25 through 5/1:

The brief notes cover the obvious: points lost for packing up early or refusing to participate; failure to utilize online (or offline) augmentation; and so on.  Here are the results of our second online-augmented adversarial, from 5/2 through 5/8:

The general notes cover your participation, or they point out success with a particular lesson; there are no notes about online augmentation, however, because there was no online augmentation.  And that ought to trouble you as much as it troubles your teachers.

You are in the midst of a final month that depends largely on your ability to use the resources in front of you.  You have all the time you need; you have all the documents you need; you have all the access to your teachers that you need.  If you work hard and steadily, you will do very well.  If you don’t work hard or steadily, you may not do well at all.  That none of you took advantage of this last online adversarial, even when given a day in the computer lab to get started, underscores the necessity of resource management.  You must track your progress and participation without access to the scores and without being forced, on penalty of a zero, to do work.

This extends far beyond any remaining adversarial discussions—and with your copy of our final calendar, you know when they’re coming—but let’s revisit the original guidelines for augmenting a scored discussion:

Augmenting Point Totals
In order to encourage students to continue these discussions after the bell dismisses the class, the adversarial format allows for augmentation of point totals:

  1. Any student who wishes to earn additional points after an adversarial lesson has ended—whether or not the student spoke—can do so by submitting an additional writing assignment.
  2. Based on the insightfulness, specificity, and effort evident in the submission, this work may earn additional points toward the daily point total.
  3. The submission must specifically reference in-class discussion, which can be done in a variety of ways:

a. By answering a question in new or greater detail
b. By elaborating on a classmate’s specific comment
c. By explicating passages not mentioned in class
d. By expanding on an essential question of the unit
e. Etc. —there are many ways to earn more points

As always, you should speak to me or send me an email if you need clarification.  Remember, there are no traps or trapdoors here; the way forward is clear, but it requires you to start walking.

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From 3/21 until 3/31, we read and annotated Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in class, focusing on irony, parody, and satire.  You also dissected its structure and rhetoric, especially the appeals to logic, emotion, and character.  So armed, you have now spent more than a week emulating Swift in small groups:

The site you have been using for this, Typewith.me, allows you to work together in real time, editing language and content according to those directions.  And you’ve done remarkably well with this; after three days of focused work, most of you have completed between 50 and 75 percent of an initial draft.  The final due date remains fluid.  Before one is assigned, and before our spring pseudo-break, you must

  1. leave with me the unique URL of your collaborative essay (e.g., http://typewith.me/regentsenglish10); and
  2. reflect on the process so far.

You’ll be given Friday the 15th to complete the latter, since you are also reflecting then on your comparative analysis essays.  The guidelines for reflection are below.


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Your hard copy of this general commentary will be paired with the following spreadsheet:

Find your student number in the left column. Then move to the far right; your content score tells you how effectively you responded to the prompt overall in terms of our general rubric. More on this in a moment. Next to the content score is a column indicating any bonus credit earned. If you followed the MLA requirements exactly, turned your essay in on time, and uploaded it to Turnitin, you were given 50/50 bonus points. If you failed in any of those areas, you received no penalty (i.e., no zero), but there is no bonus.

In between your student number and these scores is a very brief set of comments about your particular paper. These comments do not address every aspect of your paper; instead, they touch on key strengths and weaknesses. Here is a key to the abbreviations used:

  • D=detail, specifics, evidence
  • D/novel=specifics from the novel
  • A1=arrangement, organization, paragraphing
  • M=meaning, analysis, insight
  • A2=intro, approach, and thesis statement
  • G=grammar and mechanics
  • E=ending, conclusion
  • S=style and voice, especially word choice and sentence variety

Some of you will also receive individualized commentary over the next few days. Regardless, you may schedule a conference with me before, during, or after school to workshop your writing or review this commentary. In general:


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Before the general commentary, a note on the classes held on 3/9, 3/10, and 3/11: For these three periods, you were asked to commit to 35 minutes of focused, individualized work; you were given directions and feedback at the start of the class; and the remaining period was spent completing the steps of the comparative essay, with the opportunity to conference with your teacher.  You were allowed to attack the prompt from a few directions.  You were required, regardless of your chosen focus, to work without pause.  You were not permitted to pack up early, drift into daydreams, or distract your peers.  And if you finished with 35 minutes of unmitigated productivity, two things happened:

  1. You went into the weekend much better equipped to finish the comparative essay before its 3/21 deadline
  2. You received 50/50 points in the gradebook per day

The second item there will boost your current average by 5-6 points, if you earned 50 points each day.  And, as you were told, you could not earn a zero; if you failed to focus for 35 minutes, you simply received no credit in the gradebook.  If you failed to focus, of course, you also harmed your ability to complete the steps of this comparative essay.  This puts the responsibiliy (perhaps culpability) for your current grade entirely on your shoulders.  Since you were also given the opportunity to earn 50/50 points for bringing in your writing folders and organizing them briefly, you could have boosted your average by almost ten points—and for nothing more than doing what you should always do.

You are likely to be given this carrot on a stick again.  Take advantage of opportunities like this; they focus you, improve your understanding of tasks and texts, and boost your final grade.


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Note: Over the next few days, we will revisit and discuss the objective, plot-based quiz on Chapters 17-23 that was given on Thursday the 10th. Scores have been entered into the Portal.

This post contains general feedback on the analytical quiz given on February 2nd, a 25-minute response covering Chapters 9-11 of The Invisible Man. (Clicking that link will load the entire novel in a separate window.) You were allowed to use your copies of the text and any notes you brought with you. The task was relatively straightforward:

Explain why the Invisible Man chooses Thomas Marvel, both in practical terms—i.e., what he wants Marvel to do for him—and in terms of personality. The more specific you are, the more points you will earn.

I’ve broken down both halves of the prompt below.


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For most English teachers, Cliffs Notes, SparkNotes, and their many derivatives are anathema—that is, we hate them and they poison us.  But it might help you to understand why, before I do the unexpected:

  • When we ask you to interact with a text, we are looking for your organic insight into its ideas and style.
  • We have already read and studied the text; we know what we think, and what many others think, as well.
  • We are now after what you think.
  • We do not want some faceless being’s regurgitated insight.
  • When you give us that faceless being’s regurgitated insight, you are consuming and then spitting up a stranger’s vomited ideas.
  • Just let that last image sit with you for a moment.

If you believe that English is a game of guessing what the teacher wants—a rare and unfortunate reality, but a reality nonetheless—then SparkNotes only helps if the teacher agrees with SparkNotes.  Otherwise, you are better off paying attention to the teacher to ascertain what goes in the blank.  But when English is about some facet of the true Humanities, about interacting with the world around us, about experiencing different perspectives and stories and styles, about manipulation and the way our minds work… well, then using SparkNotes makes no sense.

But the unexpected thing I’m doing is this: I want you to use these sites.


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