- Students are improving at organization, topic sentences, etc in their writing. I stressed this a lot last semester, and it seems to have paid off. On the whole students seem to have improved noticeably at this since the start of the year. While there is more work to be done, and I will keep stressing it, I think intensive work will only be necessary with selected students from now on.
- Students still need to improve on thesis and evidence. These are of course harder to work on. My current plan is to give over more classtime to open-ended discussion, so they can think about the material, and I will also push them to use specific supporting evidence in our conversations. Thinking about essay questions before test might also be helpful.
- Students did well on questions which test on recent material, but had a harder time with long-term retention. So I need to help them with longer term retention. With my non-honors students, we're going to work on reading notes. I've have them do notes, and share them with me via Evernote, and we'll work on study methods that promote long-term retention (making sentences with facts, etc.)
When I was planning out the year, last August, I hoped to do more teaching of skills. How am I doing in that area this year?
- Writing: I have made a push to improve writing. As noted above, it has helped in some areas, but still needs improvement in others. The easy work has been done. What remains is to encourage the students to think in a more sophisticated, evidence-based way. Difficult, but very important. That will be a priority for the remainder of the year.
- Reading: I've done some of this with my non-honors students, introducing them to a variety of reading methods. I'm going to focus on reading and note-taking more explicitly for the remainder of the year, with required, shared reading notes in Evernote.
- Presentation skills: With one exception, I haven't done much with this during the first semester. I'm not sure if I'll have time to include it in the second semester, either. But it is something to keep in mind. Maybe once a cycle?
- Primary source analysis: I've done a lot on this with my honors students, and it has helped some, I think. However, it requires further reenforcement.
So overall, some successes, but plenty of areas to keep working on. And even successes require continued reenforcement.