Our school is in a block schedule with first semester finals in January. AP Language and Composition, however, is a full year course. I considered giving a mid-term AP practice test, but decided that the utility for doing that now was not worth it—students would see what it feels like to do a test for three hours, but given the time issue, I’m not sure if it would be a valid assessment source for me going forward, particularly since the students all have other tests to study for. I explained this reasoning to the students, and also explained that I feel like they are in a good place for the essays at this point in the year, but that I’d like to do a practice of the multiple choice section next week so we can work together to evaluate what skills we should hone in on for the spring (they were cool with this!).
In the meantime, as students are getting started on their independent multi-media argument projects (Popular Culture multi-media Argument Prompt.docx) and completing finals for other classes/transitioning to new classes, I decided to continue our work with Ready Player One by watching a film that makes arguments about the future and technology, and compare that with the arguments of Ready Player One. By watching and analyzing the arguments of the film Her with regard to the influence of technology on our relationships both now and in the future and comparing with the arguments of Ready Player One (as well as some of their own examples they used in their argument essays) students will learn how to evaluate multiple sources for looking at the particular question of how computer and internet technology is influencing us, and where this influence may go (this is a hybrid connection to Reading Informational Standard 7, since we’re using two fictional texts to look at a question like this). Additionally, they will practice identifying the central ideas through specific evidence of a video, which was a challenge for them earlier in the year because of the nature of film and all the tools a director has at his or her disposal.
Additionally, I will ask them to pay attention to the relationship between visuals and language here to continue thinking about different techniques for constructing video arguments that we worked on a couple days ago and that they should be considering for their own projects (this film is very language driven—almost like a play—with the camera shots often enhancing emotions).
Their task for viewing is rather simple: as they watch, write down interesting moments that represent an anticipation of where internet and computer technology is taking us. I will also remind the of the "eyes and ears" protocol (Eyes and Ears Protocol Eastwood.docx)we did earlier in the year--that they should be considering what they see, what they hear, and how those things are interacting.
We will stop watching the film with at least fifteen or twenty minutes left in class so students can share some observations; I think that this is important when watching film—to process what was just seen when it is fresh in their memory. Even doing this for a few minutes will give me a sense of what they are getting from the film (since this is a new film, I’ve never used it in a class before), and let them enter a dialogue that can continue tomorrow. I will do this as a whole group discussion--begin by just hearing responses and move organically to a few moments I feel we should touch on today in building ideas for the remainder of the film.
When I watch movies with students, even when I've seen it a number of times, I always take notes right along with the students--it models that activity for them (since they will see me reading from them in our discussion, and I will specifically say "I noted that" as I refer to them), and it also allows me to tailor the discussion to what we've been doing in class (in this case, thinking about the film in the context of the visual/language relationship and Ready Player One themes). Additionally, there are a couple of provocative scenes that I will be sure to discuss--I always try to address those kinds of moments in film to teach students how to look at those things critically--it also shows them that I feel they are mature enough to handle it, which students usually like. So, we will certainly address any moments of that nature and the rhetorical effect on the audience.