parent_teacher_student.jpgTalking Points is one of my regular ways to communicate with my students' parents in an effort to team together to help our children succeed. If your son or daughter is like my children, whenever you ask, "So what did you do in school today?" they probably respond with, "Nothin' " or "Same old thing" or "I dunno." We all know they really did do something productive in school, and I, as your child's teacher, would like to give you a few talking points to help improve the conversations between not only you and me but also between you and your child. Working together in partnership will increase the effectiveness of our children's education, as well as add an element of accountability that also increases their understanding of how important we all believe their education is.

Below you will find my Talking Points as sent out in emails throughout the school year:

Wednesday, 5/18/11
Good afternoon, parents:

I wanted to touch base with all of you one last time before the end of your 10th grader's school year. Hopefully they have talked with you about their mock interview scheduled this Friday morning. If not, please ask them about what they will be interviewing for, when and where they will be interviewing, and the tips they will be keeping in mind as they conduct their interview. Hopefully you will hear at least some of the following:

1. Dress for success - all the jobs being interviewed for on Friday require at least khakis or dress pants and a nice shirt (polo for guys & blouse for gals), all nicely pressed and clean.

2. Hygiene - have your hair nicely combed/styled, clean nails, clean teeth & fresh breath - don't let the little things lose the job for you in the first 30 seconds.

3. Enthusiasm - immediately make eye contact with a smile and then begin your polite, enthusiastic greeting as you extend your hand for a firm, confident handshake - this should happen both when you begin and end your interview.

4. Value - Remember that all you do and say needs to show evidence of how you might be able to add value to the interviewer's company.

It would be great to have an encouraging conversation with your child tonight to pump them up and give them confidence as they go into Friday's interview. Thanks so much for your part in helping your child do his or her best.

In partnership with you,
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Wednesday, 4/6/11
Hello, Parents ~

I hope your child has shared with you that we have started our career unit. We kicked off this unit on Monday with a great guest speaker, Mr. Craig Schroeder, human resource coordinator at Menards Shelby Distribution Center and recent college graduate. He was able to provide the students with wonderful, relevant, and real-world information about both resume building and interview skills, as well as information about college. We have continued to discuss and brainstorm about what the students will need to include on their resumes. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss not only what your child will want to include in their resumes but your own personal experiences with resumes, interviews, careers, and life after high school. Students will be completing their resumes by Monday, reviewing them with a community volunteer on Tuesday, and then will be choosing two mock jobs to apply for by next Friday.

We will then take three weeks off from our career unit to celebrate Shakespeare by experiencing Macbeth through an interactive graphic novel, do some creative writing projects, and then pick back up on our career unit the last two weeks of the school year. During those last two weeks, students will learn all about interview skills and be able to both practice their interview skills and apply them in a mock interview situation on either May 19th or 20th. The grade they earn from their community interviewer on both their resume and mock interview will serve as most of their final semester test grade. I hope this real-world experience fosters much constructive communication between you and your child. If you have questions about any aspect of the remainder of our year, please contact me.

Thanks - as always - for your partnership,
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Friday, 3/18/11
Dear Parents,

As you enjoy your Spring Break, there are a few things I'd like to make sure you know:

*To all, thank you for supporting me as your child's teacher.
*To all who attended P-T conferences, thank you for communicating to your child the importance of their education.
*To all who couldn't attend conferences, hold your own parent-student conference at your computer. Go over their parent portal grades, holding them accountable for any areas of concern & encouraging & praising them for their areas of accomplishments!
*To all who took work home for/with your child to complete over break and to those who find in your review of their portal grades that your child has incomplete work, 1) thank you, 2) stay firm, persistant, & encouraging, making sure they complete the work before enjoying their break & then emailing me whatever work they can. Remember to be positive & help them understand you believe in their capabilities & that the completion of their work is not only necessary but do-able.
*To all whose children need to make up one or more speeches, please remind them to complete/gather all their work and practice their speeches a few times so they are ready to present them at 3:30 on Thursday, March 24.
*To all whose children will be presenting their historical person/event speech when they return from break (that's all of you), suggest they lay their speech note cards beside their bed and run through it once each night before falling asleep.
*And finally, to all of you, enjoy your break with your children by doing something special to connect with them in an encouraging way - go for a walk together, go to a movie, start a fun project, go shopping, get a pedicure, go lazer tagging, have a picnic, watch old home movies - something that will communicate and foster appreciation and encouragement between you and your teen. They need it. We parents need it.

Enjoy your Spring Break!
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Tuesday, 3/15/11
Hello, Parents!

It's hard to believe that the month of March is halfway over and that our Spring Parent-Student-Teacher conferences are already upon us, but here we are! I hope to see you and be able to visit with you at this week's conferences. I will be here with other teachers from 2:30-4:30 and 5:30-8:30 on both Wednesday and Thursday. I would love to get the chance to meet with you and visit about your child's progress and achievements, as well as answer any questions or concerns you may have.

I look forward to seeing you,
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Sunday, 3/6/11
Hello, Parents ~ I hope you're having a good start to your March. It sounds as though the winter weather may rear its ugly head again, which is typical since I'm starting my 10th grade research project. :) This project is the culmination of our speech unit in which students choose a historical person or event they've studied in history class this year, research information to support what they already know about that topic, and then present that information in both an MLA-formatted essay (for both English & history grades) and prepare a 3-5 minute speech presented from note cards.

One of the most important skills I hope to strengthen in them through this unit (besides research and speech skills) is time management. Toward that end, I request your help. I walk a fine line in scheduling the research project in a way that gives enough time, obviously, to get the research, drafting, and revising done, but not too much time that they feel they can procrastinate (i.e. mess around instead of working). Below are the due dates for each graded component of the unit. I believe your occasional communication and encouragement with them regarding their progress on this unit would be very helpful in keeping them working diligently.

Mon, 3-7-Bring note cards to class
Thr, 3-10-Note cards and outline due
Fri, 3-11-Rough Draft due
Mon, 3-14-Peer Revision Workshop
Tues, 3-15-Final Essay due
Wed, 3-16-Speech Note Card Prep
Thr, 3-17-Speech practice
Spring Break, 3-18 to 3-23-Practice with Parents
Thr, 3-24-Present Speeches

Thank you for your help in teaching the all-important skill of time management. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact me.

In Partnership With You,
Jennifer Hartwig

Sunday, 2/27/11
Hello Parents,

I thought I would let you know about an upcoming assignment that students have due on Tuesday. As you may remember from last semester, all Eng2R students are required to complete two reading annotations (like a book review in a specific format) per semester. The first annotation this semester is due by midnight on March 1st. The second is due by midnight on April 15th. Please encourage your child to review the reading annotation page of our wiki and to complete the assignment as directed.

Also, the oral interpretation speeches began well on Friday for those who were done. Many students, however, had neither their outlines nor their parent/adult practice sheets complete. Please also encourage your child to practice this with you as well. I appreciate all of your assistance in encouraging them to do their best.

In partnership with you,
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Monday, 2/21/11
Hello Eng2R Parents:

We are about halfway through our speech unit now, and I am seeing growth in the speaking skills of each of my students. Two of the hardest speech skills for early speech students to master are transitions and expression. Our next speech, an oral interpretation, is meant to help improve these skills. We started the assignment today and will be delivering the presentations starting on Friday. Today through Wednesday they will be getting work time to search for three selections of literature that express a theme of their choice. This literature may be poems; excerpts from short stories, novels, play monologues or dialogues, or movie scripts; or even song lyrics. I am askng that you take part in this assignment as well by being their audience and evaluators. In their speech packet, they received a practice sheet requiring their parent/adult to listen to them practice and provide constructive feedback and encouragement. Both your children and I appreciate your help in improving their speaking skills. So thank you in advance for your efforts!

Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School

Wednesday, 1/5/11
Good morning, Parents!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's holiday and that your family was able to relax and rejuvenate with more time together. I'm very excited that our students are back and ready for a new semester. This is my favorite semester of curriculum, as we are concentrating on communication, organization of writing, speeches, and resume & interview skills. Your child will be strengthening his or her communication and speaking skills through many different speech and writing activities. Please visit our class wiki ( to see what activities and content your child will be participating in, learning about, and responsible for. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thanks for encouraging your child to do their best!

Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic Community School District

Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise - that which is common to you, me, and everybody. ~ Thomas Earnest Hulme, Speculations, 1923

Tuesday, 12/7/10
Greetings, Parents and Guardians!

I hope your Christmas and holiday season is starting in an enjoyable fashion. A new sign I have posted in my room is "PERSEVERE!" as I am hoping to encourage all of our students to end their semester on a strong note. This week we have begun our last unit of the semester, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I have decided to put all of the students' assignments and tests in the gradebook already so that you will be able to see all the work your child will be completing prior to the end of the semester. I hope this helps you encourage your child, as well as being able to give you a bit to talk about with your him or her :) If any of you have questions about these assignments or any other concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you and have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!
Jennifer Hartwig

Friday, 10/29/10
Hello, Parents and Guardians:

We are just finishing up our "Oedipus the King" unit today, and we will be starting our unit on To Kill a Mockingbird next week, which will run through Thanksgiving. This is one of my favorite units to teach because we touch on not only the beauty of Harper Lee's writing, but the many cultural issues of the 1930s, including the Great Depression, Jim Crowe laws and segregation, lynching, civil rights, and court systems of then & now. I would appreciate you visiting our wiki to see what your child will be learning and studying and to be able to give them some accountability on keeping up with the unit, as this is probably our most demanding unit of the entire year. They will have two chapters to read five days a week, which is around 13-20 pages a day. I will give them a short amount of time each day for silent reading, but they will need to remain dilgent and faithful in their out-of-class reading each day in order to get through the unit. I appreciate the encouragement you can give your child in this regard. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks much ~
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher

Monday, 10/25/10
Dear Parents/Guardians:

I hope you're having a good start to your week and that you are helping your child start off strongly as well, since we will begin each day with the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITEDs). Please visit the home page of our class wiki (https:/ where you can view a PowerPoint about test-taking strategies.

Also, thank you to those of you who came to conferences last week. I again apologize for my absence Thursday, especially if you attempted to see me after 7:00, as it took longer at my daughter's cross country meet than I had expected and I was, as your child may have mentioned to you, feeling very under the weather with laryngitis all week. If you would like to meet with me to discuss your child's progress and what we can do to help him/her strengthen performance, please e-mail or call me to arrange that. I would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with you.

Thanks much ~
Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher

Monday 10/18/10
Hello, Parents:

I am excited to see you and your student this week at our district's parent-student-teacher conferences. This is a great time for us to all get on the same page about what each of us can do to help your student on their way to success!

The times scheduled for our conferences are this Wednesday and Thursday from 2:30-4:30 and from 5:30-8:30. I have to apologize, however, that I will need to be gone during the beginning of Thursday's conference time in order to support my daughter at the district cross country meet. Therefore, I hope to see you either Wednesday (during any of the scheduled conference times) or Thursday from approximately 7:00 to 8:30. If we are unable to meet because of my absence Thursday afternoon, please contact me so we can discuss your student's progress at another time convenient for you.

Conferences really are a geat time for both you, as parent, and me, as teacher, to encourage your student to do his or her best, so I look forward to seeing you this week!

Jennifer Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher

Tuesday, 9/7/10
Hello! I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend and are ready for a great month of September. I also hope you've taken the time to visit our 10th grade English class wiki at Here you can see both what is planned for any day, as well as what is to come. I also hope your 10th grader has been sharing a bit about what has been going on in Eng2R. If not, here are some talking points you may want to keep in mind when you're at the dinner table, on the couch, or in the car with your 10th grader:

1. I hear you've been talking about perspective. What have you been discussing?

>We had an activity one day called "the me box" where students had to view the box through different perspectives or lenses. The lenses we'll be learning about are archetypal, new criticism, Marxism, new historicism, feminism, cultural, and reader response. We then used those lenses to view music, art, and finally literature.

2. What tests and projects have you had recently?

>Students have recently taken a quiz on the writing process and a quiz on the literary terms we'll be using all year long to analyze literature. The literary terms quiz is one students may retake if they are unhappy with their score. You may want to ask how they did, or maybe you've already visited student portal or - better yet - maybe some of them have already discussed it with you! :)

3. What are you going to be learning about this month?

>We will begin our world lit survey this week, beginning with "The Epic of Gilgamesh." Students will be researching, reading, and annotating this epic to discover its importance in world literature.

4. How are your grades?

>Please visit parent portal. It's a good idea to visit the portal WITH your 10th grader to give you a chance to offer both accountability and praise.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Thanks for all your effort and support with your 10th grader!

Mrs. Hartwig
English/ESL Teacher
Atlantic High School