Hello All! Welcome to English Language Arts Grade 10, Unit 1: Cultural Conversations. It is my privilege to have your student in class this year. I think we’re already off to a great start getting to know each other and diving in to our work for the year. But please, don’t take my word for it. Ask your student! I am very hopeful about keeping open communication this year with students and also with you, the family members. As this is my first year teaching, I will admit that the workload will be a bit heavy for me. One of the things that may be difficult for me is to be proactive about communication, but I want to assure you that normally I respond to emails quickly and would be very happy to hear from you regarding your student’s performance and wellbeing. This year all English departments in the district are basing our curriculum on a comprehensively designed resource called Springboard. It has already gotten a bad reputation among students and so I’m working very hard to adapt it and modify it to make learning as engaging and powerful as possible. The info you will find below is derived directly from Springboard and will give you a sense of where we are heading during this first unit. I am very much looking forward to getting to know you and your student this year. Welcome! Sincerely, Justin Tobin Overview In this unit, students explore the ideas of culture and community. Two essential questions focus their attention on the skills and knowledge presented and assessed in the unit: How do cultural experiences shape, impact, or influence our identity and perceptions? What role does heritage play in our cultural identity? Students answer these questions through the activities, discussions, and assessments in the unit. Assessments Two performance-based tasks, called Embedded Assessments, give students an opportunity to demonstrate their new learning in the skills of exposition and argumentation. Specifically, Embedded Assessment 1 asks students to write an essay explaining their cultural identity. Embedded Assessment 2 asks students to argue the importance of culture in one’s life. In both cases, students demonstrate their ability to organize ideas, develop key concepts, and incorporate textual evidence. Developing Skills and Knowledge for the Assessments Throughout the unit, students engage in activities in which they use strategies such as questioning the text and collaboration to practice the important skills of close reading, speaking and listening, and writing in response to texts. Students analyze and discuss a variety of texts such as an excerpt from the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and the essay “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake. Throughout the unit, discussion is highly promoted as a way to encourage lively debate about ideas. Students’ vocabulary study concentrates on academic vocabulary of argumentation and exposition, such as perspective, claim, and counterclaim, and vocabulary specific to literary study such as figurative language and syntax. Helping Your Child Students should be “practicing” every day in class for their upcoming performance on the Embedded Assessments. Help your child reflect on and focus his or her learning by asking the following questions: What did you learn today? What texts did you read, discuss, and respond to in writing? What strategies did you use during your reading, discussing, and writing? What did you learn today that will help you succeed on the upcoming Embedded Assessment? What do you still need to practice? You may also find it helpful to read through the Embedded Assessments (particularly the Scoring Guides) and to note the Learning Targets that are located at the beginning of each unit activity.