The Hughes News

Sophomore Honors English Newsletter ~ February 2019

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Communication can be tricky at times. And if your home is anything like the Hughes Casa, sometimes you only get one-word answers (grunts?) to your questions. (#thestruggleisreal) In that vein, the short video below features a slew of teenagers sharing what they wish their parents really knew about their day-to-day lives. (The title slide stays on for about 5 seconds.) It is a great snapshot of what I tend to hear in the classroom. But rarely at home. Enjoy!
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As you saw on your student's report card (which went live on 2/4/19), the Midyear Exam results were excellent--both performance-wise and grade-wise. (No surprise there, as honors students typically excel at Doing School.) For me, the best part was seeing the students' high level of critical thinking and rich reflection along with the low level of stress. (See the January Parent Newsletter and/or this blog post for a refresher on what our Midyear entailed.) After the midyear, students reflected on the process. Take a look at some of the responses below.

  • This midyear was the complete opposite of all of my other classes. For the past week, I have spent 6-8 hours per night cramming information for a Scantron that I am going to forget everything on when I finish. ...This midyear is definitely real world as I get to see others opinions and discuss a real world topic instead of creating a cheat sheet on a giant index card that [another] teacher gave me for a test that should be testing my knowledge not my ability to memorize information.

  • In my other midyears, the preparation mostly consists of cramming information in and copying down as much as you can onto a note card. For this Midyear we had to think critically about the topic of education in US schools and where creativity fits in.

  • Having this rather than standardized testing is much better ... it allowed me to see the texts differently from different people's perspectives, some of which completely changed how I thought about something.

  • I think that this type of learning was more interactive than the typical kind of learning. Instead of memorizing concepts for an exam, we’d actually attempt to dig deeper and have a better mental understanding of the topic you are studying about. It is one thing to memorize something and write it down on a test, but it is another to come up with your own complex, formulated opinion which can be supported or challenged by other individuals. I was much less stressed for my English midyear compared to the rest of my midyears. I felt as though my knowledge was tested on a deeper level during this midyear rather than whether or not I can read something off of an index card that I was up writing until 2 am the night before.

  • Other subjects don’t require as much thinking and insight as the English midyear. Other midyears are usually written tests, a good many of them only requiring students to memorize facts, vocabulary, grammar, formulas, etc. In order to do well on the English midyear, you had to be able to carry on an organic discussion with your peers, which prepares students for the real world because this skill is required often in society and the workforce.

  • This was different from my other midterms because I had the opportunity to explain my thoughts. [In my other Midyears], I did not get any chances to express how I feel or have conversations with people on what I think about certain topics. I also really liked how ... everyone could have different opinions on something, but it would still be technically correct. [This] experience is also helpful because it could model classes that we would take in college.

  • Most of my other midyears require studying, memorizing, and a lot of stress...English was not nearly as stressful as any other subject.

    • The learning that took place was stress-free which opened students' minds up because they weren’t just worried about their grades and if they were going to get the answer right or wrong. This helped me learn a life skill rather than content-specific skills about a subject that may not help you with any other topic.

    • My English Midyear was great compared to other Midyears because, while we did have a writing assignment, we also got a lot of choices and independence in the Midyear. The seminar allowed me to voice opinions and actually discuss about topics in a mostly free-form way, allowing for more independence. This overall creates a better learning environment for the student instead of just having to drill yourself with information to past a test and then forget about everything within a month.
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    Every year, sophomores get their hearing and vision checked during English class. (It's one of the only classes that all sophomores take, so it makes for easy scheduling.) While waiting for their turn, this class of 26 turned to books--rather than their spaceship phones. #teachergoals
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