Hiya! In an effort to prepare the sophomores for the kind of writing they’ll be expected to do on their ACTs and SATs, but in a fun way (it’s actually kind of fun. I swear), 4th and 7th periods are embarking on a persuasive essay journey. For many students, the decision of what topic to choose is often the hardest part of the essay process. I’ve narrowed their topic choices down a bit to: SCHOOL. They have to do a bit of research (not a lot. They just need a few sources. I just want to make sure they get their feet wet in the research process and begin to understand what is a valid website and what isn’t) and they have to pick a debatable topic. For example- a poor topic would be a persuasive essay about how bullying is bad. Because it is. No one (except bullies? maybe?) thinks it’s awesome, so you’re not doing much work there. We’ve been discussing a ton of topics in class… everything from merit pay to teachers to staggered class starts to block schedules to technology in the classroom. Each student will need to choose their topic by Thursday, 11/8. In 7th period, which is the honors course, we watched Taylor Mali perform one of my favorite poems, the incredibly relevant “What Teachers Make.” Then I asked students to use this list, from the Ted Talks website, to choose a video to watch and respond to. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with their topics, but that’s super if it does. The goal is to get students’ minds as open as possible when it comes to the possibilities for change in education. We’ll be working on the essays primarily in class, and doing a lot of peer editing and one-on-one editing with me, so the homework is minimal. Another bonus to this assignment is that students should begin to understand a bit about how their own brain works, and the best way for each of them to approach and assignment like this, which they’ll be tackling throughout high school and college. Some students take notes better electronically, some need scented notecards, and some have to handwrite everything to get it. Some struggle with editing, and some with organization. We’ll work on identifying our strengths and weaknesses so that we can approach them better throughout the year. Please let me know if you have questions or comments; I can’t wait to see what the brains of the future have to say about education.