Yesterday, I received the district’s guidelines on the sort of work we’ll be continuing while we’re out of school. Having reviewed those guidelines, I wanted to provide some information on our ongoing assignments and to suggest some ways that you might be able to supplement our coursework during our time away from school.
With regard to ongoing assignments, I want to be clear that there is absolutely no requirement that students continue making progress on those assignments, and I will be adjusting our calendar accordingly upon our return to school to give time to complete all ongoing assignments. That being said, I do anticipate our schedule being a brisk one to try and make up for some of the lost ground from our weeks away, and I suggest continuing to make progress on the following assignments if possible:
10CP—Reading The Crucible and the reading questions.
10H—Working on the Catcher research paper. Students who complete a rough draft and would like feedback for editing may email me their draft; I’ll respond ASAP with some thoughts. A complete rough draft will be due very shortly after we return (as we had made significant progress towards that last week in class), and a complete final draft will be due a few days later. There will also be opportunities for conferences once we’re back, as well.
11AP—Working on the documentary assignment. It will be due shortly (within one week) after we return.
With all of that out of the way, I do have some suggestions on how to make the most of our time away from school and to keep practicing the skills we’ve been learning all year. Again, these suggestions are by no means mandatory, but I’ve found them personally helpful in keeping myself occupied and focused even as our normal schedule is disrupted.
- Reading—Try to set aside 45-60 minutes a day for free reading. In particular, I’d suggest trying to read texts that you enjoy and wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to read when you have a full workload: fantasy, young adult, sci-fi, graphic novels—whatever you find interesting. Personally, I’m working my way through the most recent addition to Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass series, which were some of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy books in high school. I’ve also been working on the graphic novel series March by Representative John Lewis, an autobiographical work that describes his time marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement. Many local libraries offer free access to ebooks, so I’d consider checking online to see if your town offers easy access to any online texts.
- Viewing—You all know how I feel about documentaries at this point, but I’ll reiterate my feelings: documentaries are a great way to engage with the world abroad, particularly when we’re mostly stuck at home. Since I recently had to cancel a couple of upcoming trips, I’ve been enjoying a virtual tour around the world with BBC’s Planet Earth; I’ve watched through it about ten times, but it never gets old. In addition to any films available on cable/streaming services you might subscribe to, libraries once again usually have access to a number of great films.
- For juniors, getting started on the college essay is never a bad idea. We’ll be going over it more formally towards the end of the year, but a great starting point is to review successful college essays to get a sense of what a good college essay does. John Hopkins University maintains a wonderful collection of “Essays That Worked,” along with feedback from the admissions team as to why the essays were effective. From there, you can start shaping your own ideas and figuring out what story you want to tell that reveals something about who you are and what you value.
- For everyone, I’d suggest engaging in any sort of writing you find personally enjoyable: now’s a great time to write a short story, craft a poem, keep a journal, or compose a letter (particularly to a friend or family member who might live a bit further away). I think you would all agree these are interesting times; and as we’ve seen from our work in class, the writings of the past can reveal aspects of history that textbooks sometimes miss. By documenting and sharing our own experiences, we can play a part in telling the future how the world came together to face the significant challenges before us.
I encourage you to complete any or all of the above with friends—digitally, of course! Feel free to read/watch materials and then discuss through FaceTime, Google Meets, Discord, or any other tools you use to stay in touch with friends. I considered setting up a Google discussion board for us to share what we’ve been reading/watching/whatever, but I haven’t done so yet. If that’s something you might be interested in, email me; if there’s enough demand, I can look into getting one set up and sharing the log-in info here.
In addition to all of the above, Dr. Mobley’s letter, which went out yesterday, has links to some great online resources for additional learning and enrichment; I strongly encourage you to take advantage of them.
I think that more or less wraps things up for now. If you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or just want to say hi, definitely shoot me an email. Please keep an eye on this space for further updates. Stay healthy, stay in touch, and stay optimistic.