Senior Skills: Communicating through Speaking AND Listening

Being able to communicate with others verbally is one of the most important skills you can learn, and can improve your outcomes in all areas of life – personal, academic and career oriented. Though we live in the 21st century, with a smartphone in every pocket, you will not be able to get by in life through your mastery of text-messages, emails and DM’s (sorry guys).

But being a successful communicator isn’t just about learning how to talk to others – it is also about learning how to listen. 

Over the course of the semester we’ll be building your skills as a public speaker and an active listener. You’ll be assessing each other as we go along as well, and providing feedback to classmates (as well as receiving feedback from me). You will eventually be graded on your performance as a speaker and active listener based on your ability to demonstrate 16 key skills:

  1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  2. Come to discussions prepared having read and researched material under study and draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
  3. Work with peers to set rules for collegiate discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
  4. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that engage others’ reasoning and evidence and ensures that you are hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue.
  5. Clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions of others in a respectful manner that promote divergent and creative perspectives.
  6. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives by synthesizing comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue.
  7. Work together to resolve contradictions in information when possible and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task/discussion.
  8. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems.
  9. Evaluate the credibility and accuracy of all sources and note any discrepancies among the data.
  10. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, connection among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
  11. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, so that listeners can follow the line of reasoning.
  12. Address perspectives that are alternative or opposed to your own, and do so in a counter argument where the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience.
  13. Make strategic use of digital media (textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
  14. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
  15. Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  16. Vary syntax for effect, consulting references for guidance as needed; apply an understanding of syntax to the study of complex texts when reading.

Before you are assessed though, you’ll need to learn how to do these things and practice. 🙂 Working in your groups, you need to watch the following videos and answer two questions:

What makes a ‘good’/active listener?

What makes a ‘good’/effective communicator’?

Then, you’ll need to work on step 3 above – “Work with peers to set rules for collegiate discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.” Establish who will fulfill the following roles for your group:

The ‘Eyes’ of the group works to look for resources to be used in discussion – they conduct research and are responsible for sharing documents and information with the group. If something needs to be found to improve discussion or arguments, they look for it. They are also responsible for keeping their ‘eye’ on all group members to ensure they are fully engaged, and reports any lack of engagement to the other group members and the teacher.

The ‘Ears’ of the group are in charge of assessing if active listening is taking place, and redirecting group members when it becomes clear that it is not. They report any group members that are not actively listening to the other members and the teacher. They have an important role in ensuring true communication is taking place. These students also are responsible for actively listening to other groups and the teacher, and relaying that information back to their group.

The ‘Nose’ of the group is responsible for sniffing out the accuracy and honesty of statements and resources being used. They check for bias and reliability in all resources and documents the group decides to reference. They also work to give feedback to group members when their communication seems bias or disingenuous. Any use of plagiarism or overly bias/disrespectful communication is identified by the nose and reported to the group and teacher. When debating with other groups, they are responsible for checking the opponents’ credibility.

The ‘Mouth’ is the group member who checks that others are using effective verbal communication. They must assess if others are demonstrating the seven traits of effective speakers, and give feedback based on their performance. Group members that consistently cannot improve verbal communication are reported to the teacher by the mouth. When conversing with other groups, they are the first member to speak on behalf of their party.

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Senior Skills – How To Take Effective Notes

Throughout this first week of class we have covered a lot of content – your summer reading novel, the early history of English in the Anglo Saxon period and the differences between modern and Old English, Anglo Saxon poems “The Wanderer”, Beowulf, and the story of “The Dream of the Rood”. With your first test coming up, you need to ask yourself – am I taking enough notes? Am I taking ‘good’ notes?

As seniors you will probably realize that reading over assignments or texts once will not be enough – likewise, jotting things down in class and reading over them once will also probably not be sufficient to get the grade you desire. Below you will find a few helpful tips for note-taking that will (hopefully) help you out this semester.

1.Write things down in class, but know that these are not ‘notes’. Good notetakers re-write their messy notes.

You’re probably thinking “Wait, what?”, but yes – your messy, jotted down notes from class are not actually good ‘study notes’. Rewriting these notes for legibility does two things – one, it gives you a better copy to study from in the future and two, is a form of studying and reinforcing the information as you have to read the text (visual/cognitive) and rewrite the text (knesthetic/cognitive). See the student examples of messy class notes, and rewritten notes below.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Find a method of notetaking that works for you – yes, there are different ways to take notes!

Simply writing everything your teacher says in a long list is not effective note-taking. You need to find a way of organizing your notes that works for you, whether its a formal style like Cornell Notes or the Outline Method (this works great for textbook note-taking), or even the Doodle Method (yes, drawing pictures helps!). Maybe you have a system of using highlighted sections, color coding, or diagrams. Whatever it is, find the method that works for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Don’t try to write everything down in class.

As seniors you hopefully know by now that trying to copy everything down word for word from a powerpoint, or that your teacher says, is a fruitless endeavor. You need to focus on getting just the key facts down, and doing so in your own voice. Re-reading my technical, dry powerpoint text later isn’t as effective as reading your own voice and natural word choice. Additionally, when you rewrite your notes (see #1 above) you can also go back and add in extra detail that you didn’t have a chance to get in class. Moreover, you will have the benefit of having the entire class to ruminate on, and all the additional connections you made to integrate and add to your notes later.

 

4. You can also RECORD your notes!

Are you an auditory learner? You may want to consider downloading a free sound recording app on your phone (voice memo for ISO is terrible you guys…) and recording yourself reading these notes. I am a strong auditory learner – because of this I use up most of my data on audiobooks and podcasts – and I remember the things I hear. This also means that for big projects, or when I attend a conference and have ideas I’d like to work on or get back to later, I record myself discussing these ideas outloud. Later, I can play them back to jog my memory, or to transcribe in any written or typed notes I take. Or, you can read your written notes aloud and listen to that sound file when its time to study. There are all kinds of new apps coming out for auditory note-takers, but if you don’t want to pay for them, just get a free sound recording app and try it out.

 

5. You might use a variety of note-taking styles.

I listen to auditory notes and podcasts and audiobooks. I jot quick notes on sheets of paper or handouts or napkins or whatever I have around. I rewrite my notes to look ‘neat’ and usable long into the future. I highlight, underline, use different colored highlights. I use everything I need to have effective notes that help me remember the content so I can put it to use and learn it – and so I can refer back to it whenever I need a refresher. Know that you may use a combination of lots of different styles until you find what works for you! Below you’ll see an example of notes I took FIVE YEARS AGO that I STILL USE. In them I employed a variety of styles of notetaking… how many styles will work for you?

 

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Senior Skills – A New Way of Reading

As you may have already realized, senior literature will be a little different than your previous courses. While the larger focus on language use instead of literary analysis is an obvious difference, you may have also noticed that the readings for this class reflect the fact that it is your fourth level English course. Gone are the days of ‘reading over’ your assignments, ‘skimming’ the required text or just reading over it once and being ‘good’.

As your text become more layered and complex, your reading style needs to change to reflect this. Often times you may need to do one, or all, of the following:

  1. Reread the passage multiple times.
  2. Take notes over the passage while reading it to help you understand.
  3. Look up additional helpful information online if you get stuck.
  4. Study and talk to classmates about the readings before coming to class.
  5. Reading any footnotes or supplementary information included in the text.

These are skills that you will need in many different situations – most definitely if you plan on attending a four year college, but also in technical school and training or certification programs, on-site job training and the military. These skills are also not unique to ‘English’ or ‘Literature’ – in fact, I used them most often in my science courses in college.

Steps one through four above should be familiar to you, but footnotes may be new.

While reading a book or article, have you ever noticed little numbers placed at the ends of some sentences?

These numbers usually appear as superscripts and correspond with numbers placed at the bottom of the page, next to which appears further information that is both necessary and supplementary. Sometimes this information will come in the form of citations, but sometimes it will simply present additional notes about the topic at hand.

These citations and explanations are called footnotes (because they appear in the footer of the page).

Long explanatory notes can be difficult for readers to trudge through when they occur in the middle of a paper. Providing this information is necessary, but doing so in the main text can disrupt the flow of the writing. Imagine if every time an author wanted to provide a citation, the entire citation had to be written out at the end of the sentence, like this (Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999] 221). Books would become much longer and reading much more tedious. That’s why footnotes are so useful: they allow authors to provide the required information without disrupting the flow of ideas.

Footnotes can include anything from a citation to parenthetical information, outside sources, copyright permissions, background information, and anything in between, though certain style guides restrict when footnotes can be used.

Inc, S. (n.d.). What Are Footnotes and How Do You Use Them? Retrieved from https://www.scribendi.com/advice/what_are_footnotes.en.html

Footnotes can actually save you that extra step of looking up outside information, depending on how detailed or well written they are. But why should you care about the footnotes? The video below looks at the importance of footnotes from a historical perspective, while the article after that examines the importance of footnotes from a literary perspective. You will be encountering both types in the course, so please review both of these resources.

Click here for Jeff Sommer’s article “Consider the Footnote: Why Don’t More Author’s Use This Powerful Tool?”.

Ultimately, footnotes are there to help you and enrich your reading and understanding of a text, its historical context, the related scholarship and research surrounding it, or to add an additional narrative layer to a work of fiction. Know that it may take some time to get used to reading with footnotes – rereading a text at least twice, first to read the text along and second to read the text and incorporate your reading of the footnotes – can be an effective way to adapt to this new reading style.

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Old English – Beowulf

Last week we dove into Old English literature and analyzed not just the rhythm and structure of Anglo Saxon poetry, but the importance of the comitatius and warrior culture to the Anglo Saxon way of life. “The Wanderer” focused on the experience and loss felt by a warrior – this week we are going to look at another example of Anglo Saxon culture from the perspective of a Lord/King, in a selection from the epic poem “Beowulf”.

We will be focusing on the final speech and death of Beowulf in class, and analyzing the text to understand what was expected of a man as a strong leader during this time period. However, understanding the context of the rest of the epic poem will be valuable to understanding this final excerpt, so please review this background video on the historical context of Beowulf:

Additionally, it will be important for you to understand the earlier actions in the poem so that the importance of Beowulf’s death can be fully analyzed. While I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of this epic poem so that you can expose yourself to even more nuanced uses of language, I am providing a summary of the plot below:

Additionally, click here to access a copy of the readings if you lost your from class.

Please click here for the annotated version of the text from class.

 

Additionally, you will find my ‘messy class notes’ over Beowulf below. Visit the post on “Senior Skills: How To Take Effective Notes”, and use these these in your rewriting to determine which note-taking style works best for you.

Click here for Mrs. Pierce’s class notes over Beowulf.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Old English – The Wanderer

Our first analysis of Old English will be the poem from the Exeter Book of Elegies, “The Wanderer”. Most of the Old English poetry we have available to us today can be traced to only a handful of books or manuscripts. The largest of these is the Exeter Book, which was given to the cathedral by the Bishop Leofric around 1072, though the stories transcribed within it can be traced back further into the oral tradition.

“The Wanderer” focuses on a man, a warrior, that has lost his lord (remember the comitatus) – he goes on not just to lament this loss, but also this loss of friends, family and his entire way of life. The wanderer also reflects on philosophical ideas about what makes a life worth living, and what makes a man truly wise.

 

Remember, these poems were meant to be shared through the oral tradition originally, before they were transcribed into manuscripts. The rhythm created through the use of caesuras and various forms of repetition would have made the memorization and performance of these poems easier, but also more melodic and pleasing to the ear.

For an example, please watch the video below of a performance of part of “The Wanderer”:

Please click here to access a digital copy of “The Wanderer” if you lost your copy from class. 

Additionally, you can follow along with the Old English text and reading below – try to find as many linguistic similarities between the modern translation and the Old English version as you can.

Click here to access an annotated version of the story, with notes we discussed in class.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

The History of English – Anglo Saxons and Old English

As we begin this semester, working towards improving your own language use (spoken and written), it is important that we understand where our language comes from and its own history. Our first unit will focus on the history of the English language, and so we begin with ‘Old English’, and a focus on Anglo Saxon culture and texts.

In class we discussed the language of the Germanic tribes of the British Isle (Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Picts and Celts) and looked at examples that still survive today in modern English, such as ‘daughter’, ‘strong’, ‘wry’, ‘fight’ and ‘wreak’. Many of the Old English words are mono-syllabic, and have a harsh, guttural sound with a strong emphasis at the beginning of the word.

Once Christianity began to spread to the Isles, so did Latin and with it new words and a new alphabet. More poly-syllabic words like ‘omnipotent’ and ‘exuberant’ and ‘tenacious’ were introduced, softening the sound of the language slightly.

Below you can see an example from Beowulf – written in Old English script, then in the modern alphabet, then in Modern English.

In our first poem we are examining some literary devices that are common to poems from this period – alliteration, kennings, assonance, personification and hyperbole. Additionally, we will be examining the presence of the comitatus pledge, and how an understanding of this cultural custom informs our understanding of the poem and changes its tone.

As we read these early Anglo Saxon poems and texts, remember the importance of the comitatus to not just the warrior and lord, but the families and communities that grew around these arrangements.

Please click here for today’s notes on Anglo Saxon culture and the literary devices commonly observed in text from this period.

For an overview on the history of English during the Anglo Saxon period, please see the short, fun video below:

Also, if you would like to check and see what modern words you like would have sounded like in Old English, click here for an Old English Translator.

Image Source: https://www.omniglot.com/writing/oldenglish.htm

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Welcome Back Seniors!

Welcome to 12th Grade Honors English!

 

You are about to begin your last English course as an HCHS tiger – I hope you are as excited as I am!

The primary goal of this course is not just to expose you to more advanced literature, but also to give you the language skills you’ll need after high school. This mean you’ll be participating in a lot more discussion, verbal presentations, and a greater variety of formal and informal writing. Please review the class syllabus below for an overview of the class and grading policies.

Click here for the Honor 12th Grade English Syllabus

Additionally, you will also have a complete a senior project this semester. This constitutes 25% of your grade for this course, and is a sustainable part of the skills we will be mastering in class. You can review the documents for senior projects below, or by clicking on the ‘Senior Project’ drop drown menu under ’12th Grade English’ in the toolbar at the top of the website. Additionally, you can keep up with senior project news by visiting the school website at https://ga02202829.schoolwires.net/Page/1827.

Click here for the overview document of senior project details

Senior Project Permission and Release Form

Senior Project Proposal Rubric

Senior Project Paper Rubric

Senior Project Checkpoints

Senior Project Presentation Rubric

 

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018