An American Studies Civil War project was introduced to the students yesterday and there will be a Romeo & Juliet project next week. As the year progresses, you'll start to notice a few things: (1) students will be encouraged to think more thematically and link topics from class to their lives, and (2) there will be times they have more choices as to how they show their work.
Linking to Lives
There may be times that students ask the questions, 'Why are we learning this?' or 'How is this relevant to my life?' Those are truly great questions and sometimes the students will come to that realization at different times. Maybe it happens before a unit begins or maybe it takes some time to truly understand the reason for learning certain things. Romeo and Juliet is a great example. Mrs. McFarland's goal is to use that text to explore the truth of humanity. Problems written by Shakespeare hundreds of years ago are still problems for youth today - especially when it comes to making decisions and impulsivity, You'll notice that the focus will not be as much content-specific as it is more on higher level thinking and themes, which is more unique to Jasper. This is certainly not limited to English and Romeo and Juliet. Students will learn about Reconstruction in American Studies 1, but Jasper students will be asked to think about how they would fix current social/economic issues caused by Reconstruction. The same will apply to Global Science Inquiry and Design & Development in the spring.
You'll see that there will be times that Jasper students have many options to choose from when it comes to demonstrating their understanding. Whereas a CP class might be making a Google Slide Presentation, Jasper courses might offer the students several different ways in which they can construct a project. I know after meeting with so many Jasper students that there are students with all kinds of passions - some enjoy movie making, creative writing, digital art/graphics, building/construction, etc... A big part of Jasper is not being defined by test scores and we hope that students take advantage of the flexibility to pursue educational topics through methods that are meaningful/interesting to them.
Parents, please stay up to date with your student's academic progress and attendance through PowerSchool. This first marking period that ends in early November will be 50% of the grade for English 9 and American Studies 1. Remember - we are in a semester block right now and these courses are over in January before new classes begin in the spring. Marking period 1 is 50% of the overall grade and marking period 2 is 50% of the overall grade.
It has not been easy, but here we are after the first 2 weeks and we all have 2 things in common: (1) we have all experienced significant challenges and (2) we have made progress. Everyone involved (students, parents/guardians, teachers) have been resourceful, resilient, and understanding to get us to this point. So, my first point is just to send a sincere 'thank you!' to all of you for your efforts.
Below are a few updates worth knowing for the next few weeks and beyond:
Advisory is an essential part of the Jasper Learning Initiative and you will all find that Jasper activities will increase very soon. For the next few weeks, our teachers will be following this structure:
I personally found the one-on-one meetings over the summer to be incredibly helpful and recommended that the teachers take some time to get to know the students in a similar fashion. We want to take advantage of the Advisory time and have dedicated time for our teachers to get to know the students.
Zoom and Google Meet
As you know, Zoom has been and will be used by our students for their class meetings. There have certainly been challenges up to this point, but everyone is doing their best and we know that you all are too. Directions were sent out earlier for students to authenticate their Zoom accounts. Our understanding is that Zoom is also making improvements on their end.
Google Meet will be used to conduct meetings with parents or members of the community because parents and community members may not have Zoom accounts set up.
With Schoology being new for everyone, including teachers, we recognize that there will be a learning curve and growth with everyone's experience. You will find that Mr. Carolla has his course organized in Schoology by unit and Mrs. McFarland is organizing her course with weekly folders to avoid having her course organized by book chapters/acts. This organization is important to know so that students know where to go. Moving forward, the teachers will continue to collaborate to try and make the Schoology experience consistent for students.
Who are the teachers?
If you didn't get a chance to view the virtual orientation, it's not too late. Check out this page and scroll down to the bottom to click on the teachers to view an introduction video they each made.