Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Water Bear Facts

Tardigrade don't care.

Tardigrade don’t care.

Note: The collective goal outlined in this post has been raised to a 7. More information to follow.

In the first guide I gave you on grade abatement, I said that I’d like you to become a kind of academic polyextremophile. After the AP exam, I sort of launched you into space to see if you had adapted. We’re now in Week 3 of that experiment.

To the right of this post is a section labeled Current U/E Score, where U/E stands for Ursus Ephemeris, the website you are ostensibly redesigning and repopulating as an extension of your autodidactic work this quarter. (It is also the second time you’ve been asked to make your writing authentic in this way; and, in fact, you’ll need that original “Pushing the Message” post to do this work.) The score is based on the rubric being used for the second half of your final exam, and it reflects the most current assessment of the site overall.

Have you clicked on and explored/revisited each of those hyperlinks? Good. Two things:

First, that score to the right will not be applied as-is to each and every student. I am tracking what you contribute—e.g., who takes charge, who finishes writing on time, who makes changes to the site—and hope to read a lot more about what you’ve been up to on Monday, when you hand in your abatement profiles. Then we have two weeks or so of conferences, emails, and exchanges to settle everything. Each of you will, therefore, receive an individual score.

Second, this student-created writing site is your collaborative project—the one that rests on the fundamental philosophies of this course, especially the concept of true collaboration. Your contributions to the site as an individual matter, but the way you fit into a collective matters just as much. Look again at Sam Eifling’s “The Outrage Over Students ‘Cheating’ Is Mostly Harmful Nonsense” and Peter Nonacs’ “Why I Let My Students Cheat” for more on this.

The school year ends on June 21. Grades will be entered on June 20. Over the next two weeks, then, you should be accomplishing the following site-specific goals:

Goal #1: Layout Editing—Scrap the old categories, create new ones, and redesign the visual layout of the site. Set a template for articles and any multimedia components.

Goal #2: Copy Editing—Clean up the grammar and mechanics of each article. Check the categories, tags, hyperlinks, and other presentation elements of each post. Add hyperlinks to verify sources.

Goal #3: Content Editing—Reject articles that would fall below a 5 on the DAMAGES scale. Revise detail, arrangement, and meaning in any article that would earn a 5 or higher on the DAMAGES scale. Add multimedia elements as necessary.

Goal #4: PR—Publicize articles as they are published by connecting them to the right audience in the right way. Monitor email exchanges and meet in person with the writers and their audiences (whenever possible). Encourage discussion online through the website’s comment section.

Goal #5: Comment Moderation—Monitor the comment section of articles and promote conversation. Follow up with the writers and the audience.

You obviously have more thorough and articulate notes on this from our conversations in class. The point of delineating them here is to suggest that, now that we’re looking at it, this is quite a lot to get done. And that is the reason that you have a bonus score dangling in front of you like a carrot on a stick. It’s already been set up in Infinite Campus, and it works like this: If you pull the entire site to a 7 or higher, you all get 100 points to balance your grade abatement profiles.

There’s no need to panic about the implication of the last clause of that sentence. Just recognize that you had three weeks, and that you’re all a little bit behind. You should have moved quickly through a unit of study in the first week; moved through the writing process for your essay during the second week; and right now, as you head into the weekend, you should be redesigning and repopulating the U/E website.

Most of you are only now finishing the second step. For some of you, this is obviously a failure of time management; for others, however, this is the byproduct of really good writing work. That ought to matter, so we’re going to make it matter. But that moves a lot of the U/E work to the next two weeks, when you won’t be in class at all.

You should also note that your grade abatement profile is going to be submitted well before the site is finalized, which will make a lot of what you give me to read on Monday provisional. This is okay. Just be honest about what you plan to do next, and then follow through; if I have any concerns, I will request a conference with you over email.

As always, check that email regularly and use it to communicate any and all concerns. Good luck! In the cavernous space where my heart should be, I’m genuinely excited to see what you produce.

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