Everything English

UCPS English Curriculum News and Events

February 2016

Dear English Teachers,

For the past two years, my husband and I have made plans for Valentine's Day. In 2014, a snowstorm ended our dream of a weekend trip to Atlanta. Last year, it was a family-wide illness. This year, we unanimously agreed to dub this month No Plans February.

I suppose I am making up for this lack of plans at home by having plans aplenty at school. In this newsletter, you'll find detailed information about the timeline for English III ACT Writing Benchmark and scoring process. I will also share our progress on benchmark development, news about the SPCC/UCPS Alliance, and an update from NCDPI.

I have also included a few resources, classroom ideas, and happy announcements. As always, please let me know if you would like me to include any information or announcements in the March newsletter.

Finally, I need your help. When you are doing something innovative or cool or engaging in your classroom, please invite me to come and check it out. I want to celebrate you and your innovations, so let me come and be your historian.

Have a wonderful month!


English III ACT Writing Benchmark

This month, English III classes will administer the first English III benchmark. This benchmark is occurring so early in the semester because we have to prepare for the March 1 ACT administration.

I want to thank you all for helping with first round scoring. This feedback is incredibly important for our students, and getting that done in a timely manner is truly a group endeavor. Please feel free to review the ACT scoring module posted to Canvas, if you want to see the exemplar responses from the fall administration. Let me know if I can help you understand the rubric or the scoring process.

And again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

English III teachers, once your students' papers and scores are returned, it's a great idea to have them revise their work based on the feedback. If you have any questions about this practice or how to help your students revise, let me know!

English I and II Benchmark Development

Because of the efforts of the English Curriculum Team, we will be ready to use our revised benchmarks this semester! The team has taken your feedback into account and shortened the benchmarks.

The English II benchmarks will each contain three passages (one poetic, one informational, and one fiction) with multiple choice questions and two constructed response questions (for a total of 30 questions). The first English I benchmark has only two passages (one poetry and one informational) with multiple choice questions and one constructed response. The second English I benchmark will contain three passages with multiple choice questions and one constructed response (for a total of 30 questions).

Thank you to the Curriculum Team: Lindsey Arant, Colleen Bergin, Marisa DiFronzo, Lisa Eaton, Lea Fuller, Jennifer Goodson, GaVonne Hamilton, Rhonda Hill, Hillary Miles, Jennifer Mitchell, Lisa Pendleton, Acacia Sammons, Nicole Shroyer, and Stacy Vickers.

SPCC/UCPS Alliance

The SPCC/UCPS Alliance Team met for the first time on February 1 at Sun Valley High School. We shared a bit about our experiences and curricula with each other. Moving ahead, we hope to develop some ideas about English IV curriculum that will ensure that our students are prepared for English 111 at the community college.

Big thanks to Rhonda Hill of Piedmont, Kayla Losh of Monroe, Lana Evans of Sun Valley, and Aaron Boyles of Porter Ridge for being a part of this group!

Poetry Out Loud District Competition

NCDPI Update

Dr. Tracy Weeks provided the following information this week:

  • Teacher Evaluation Standard 6 is going away. The information on student growth will still be collected and used as a "part of the conversation" for the other five standards because accountability for student growth is still state law. Standard 6, however, will no longer be a standalone measure.
  • There will be no new curriculum standards to be implemented in the fall of 2016. That process is still ongoing, and there will be review and professional development offered before any new curriculum is implemented.

Now, I am just the messenger on these points, but feel free to email me your questions. I will do my best to get responses.

Professional Development Online Resources

We are no longer having a PD morning on February 15, since that will be a regular school day. I am working on adding ACT and SAT writing resources to Canvas. Thanks to everyone who has emailed me resources!

Please take one second to vote on whether I should try to reschedule that PD morning after school one day.

Sustained Silent Reading

One trend I have noticed in UCPS English classrooms is Sustained Silent Reading, often conducted every other day at the beginning of the class period. It is certainly a classroom practice with both its detractors and proponents. Personally, I think we make time for the things we value, so, if we value reading, it makes sense to make time for it.

If you are interested in trying SSR out in your classroom, here is a link to an article to get you started. I'd love to hear about your successes and challenges if you try it out!

What I'm reading (and listening to)

Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Technically, I am re-reading this most recent book in The Dresden Files series. The series follows the exploits of a wizard/detective. There's magic, so either that will do it for you, or it won't.)

Serial, Season Two (If you don't know, now you know. Sarah Koenig is back, this time exploring the case of Bowe Bergdahl.)

*Update: Yes, I am still obsessed with Hamilton. If you need to understand, view this video. It should clear it up nicely.*