Middle School Language Arts
About Mr. Brennan:
Master of Arts
Art of Teaching English
Indiana University of PA
Instructional II Certification
English 7-12 (Pennsylvania)
English 6-12 (Florida)
Bachelor of Arts
Penn. State University
Greetings, School Friends! After coming of age in Western Pennsylvania, then living with my dear wife in St. Petersburg, Florida for nearly a decade, Mrs. Brennan and I, along with two new Brennans, returned to Central PA and joined this pleasant St. Joan of Arc family.
I was drawn to studies in composition and literature because it seemed the business of creative writers was the business of life and the elements of it that matter most. My hope as a teacher is to empower young people by guiding them toward the development of skills essential to making meaning of the world around them, and the spirit within.
Middle School Language Arts:
Greetings, and welcome to students and parents!
Thank you for visiting! My name is Mr. Brennan and I arrive at St. Joan of Arc School after teaching professionally for most of this twenty-first century. I hope to contribute to SJA's tradition of excellence with respect to our current theme-HOPE!
In my efforts I presume that if we remain...
An Underlying Philosophy
Appreciating our approach to studies in the language arts rests upon recognizing that effective reading, writing, speaking, and listening depends, first, on effective thinking. If I cannot (or do not) think carefully, inquisitively, and strategically, I make minimal meaning of messages I encounter, and I stifle the effectiveness with which I use language to craft my own.
Literacy, then, depends on age-appropriate critical thought, and almost every class activity is imagined, first, as an opportunity to speak and write so to gradually, collaboratively refine that independent skill.
Scoring and Grading
When evaluating student work I distinguish formative assessments from summative assessments.
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENTS demonstrate student skill and/or knowledge as it is being developed. Evaluation is based heavily on whether work is completed earnestly and accurately with respect to all instructions. All students received a hard copy of the 4-point scale you will find at the bottom of this page. Please note each score has a precise meaning students may use to evaluate their work, consult with me, and/or Formative assessments are categorized as such in the gradebook and include homework and classwork.
Raw scores would not reasonably reflect the diocesan grading scale. Work meriting a 3 is actually quite strong, but the simple math would calculate at 75% — barely a C. Raw scores must be converted to fair grade-scale equivalents, and for that purpose I use the conversion table you'll find in that same document.
SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENTS demonstrate student skill and/or knowledge after all opportunities for development. Think of these as tests. Evaluation is based primarily on whether students know or can do what they have had an opportunity to learn. Thus, they are, by this time, expected to offer “correct” responses or demonstrate proficient skills.
Summative assessments are categorized as such in the gradebook and additional descriptions distinguish grammar from vocabulary and literature from composition. Categorization helps illustrate where student strengths and weaknesses may exist.
Again, raw scores may not reasonably reflect our grade scale, and for that reason I use various conversion tables to assign fair scores. On some vocabulary tests, for instance, a student who answers 18 of 20 items correctly would earn a B at 90%. However, any student who responds incorrectly on just one item will almost certainly respond incorrectly to another, meaning the only way to earn on A
is to make no mistake. It seems reasonable and fair for students who score 18 to earn an A. Again, a conversion table helps make a mathematically reasonable adjustment.
At the bottom of the provided sample, note the table, while allowing for failure, keeps especially low scores from making grade averages hopelessly irrecoverable.
Various iterations of this table are printed directly on summative assessments to
allow students to reasonably anticipate, then make meaning of all scores.