Extension of 2012 homework and class notes listing for all work after Mar 8 2012
June 11: HOMEROOM:
1. Bring permission slips and CASH (checks will not clear in time for field trip) for June 19th field trip to Camp Everwood by TUESDAY--TOMORROW. Sign both sides of permission slip.
  • Kids MUST wear sneakers or other shoes they can RUN and CLIMB in--flip flops are not safe for field trip.
  • Kids MUST bring lunches.
Send me a note or contact guidance if there is a problem with the COST of the trip or if a student is to be provided lunch through the free and reduced lunch program. We can make arrangements so no one misses out on a fun day to bond with peers one last time this year.
2. ELECTIVE course forms due TUESDAY. (pink slips that SHOULD have come home to you with your student Friday)
Students give top 3 choices. Selections from forms received AFTER tomorrow will be done once the ON-TIME forms are processed, so do not be late with these.
1. STUDY for final. Study guide is in reprints and you have ALL had a hard copy for more than a week. You should have been reviewing a few terms EACH NIGHT so this week would be a breeze. If you have not chunked this review, the results may not be that pleasant.
  • If you draft a response to the possible short answer questions I put on the study guide and show it to me tomorrow, I will give you feedback. I will NOT look at draft answers on Wednesday.

2. If you did NOT hand in the Poetry project that was due today, it will show up on powerschool later this evening. I will accept LATE poetry project packets tomorrow for partial credit. They count as a test grade worth 115 points--as you could tell on the rubric.

3. Bring in LITERATURE books (purple texts) to avoid receiving $65 bill later this week for the replacement cost.
4. I will collect novels on Thursday and Friday. Hold onto them.

5. EMAIL me any poems you would not mind sharing with future seventh graders. Many were so well done they should be shared.

THere IS an afterschool bus tomorrow for anyone who MISSED a day of either the standardized comprehension test we took today or the essay test we took LAST week. This is last chance to make up this work. No other work can be made up.


I collected all poetry project packets. Most look very good and show that grade seven students are completely capable of

  • reading and following directions,

  • using all resources on-line, in class and in notebooks,
  • writing creatively and communicating independent ideas
  • using literary devices and vocabulary we have studied all year
  • following the complete writing process of brainstorming, planning, drafting, and revising to improve work and dazzle yourselves and others
  • identifying and creating symbolism in writing
  • integrating technology for publishable final documents;
  • proofreading and
  • finalizing a neat, edited copy that shows pride in your work
Pat yourselves on the back for a job well done.

June 8: Homeroom needs to bring in field trip money and permission slip by Tuesday.

CIVIL RIGHTS ENRICHMENT PROJECTS: see separate web page. Due Mon or WED (Monday if you want extra credit or plan to participate in charity walk and will miss class Wed)

Bring in Purple Literature texts by Tuesday June 12.
HW: Complete Poem projects:
  • 3 brainstorms
  • 3 drafts
  • 3 revisions (completely separate sheet from draft) marked to identify Poetic Language as directed on Poetry Analysys Worksheet
  • 1 final publishable poem that shows you have paired a poem thematically with a picture you downloaded from my web site and inserted into document. (You may also use other clip art or pictures from my site with 2 other poems, but you MUST insert one from my web page so I can measure whether you have mastered the tech skills of Website navigation and desk top publishing. This is an ELA learning standard we have to meet. ) The LEMON picture is now on the Poetry Project Resources page for you to copy and paste if you used it as a prompt.
  • YOU MUST fill in Revised Poem Worksheet included in "2012 Poetry packet directions and Resources" put it on TOP of final poem in packet you hand in Monday.
  • Use the CLEAN rubrics I handed out in classes today to put on top of entire packet to pass in Monday. DO NOT be gathering brainstorms, drafts, and revisions in class Monday. Put your packets together and paperclip ALL required items together before entering my class on Monday. If you can honestly check off EACH item on the rubric--you have AT LEAST a B. The A will depend on the QUALITY of the poems and the effort shown in making MEANINGFUL revisions to drafts.
  • If you lost your packet instructions or the required rubric and Worksheet- items can be found in the "2012 Poetry Project directions and resources " file on Poetry Project Resources page.
  • PROBLEM SOLVE technical issues. Email work as attached files if you have printer issues. Hand-write in ink if you have total computer meltdown. Call a friend--visit the library computers...

Class notes:
LITERARY MAGAZINE SUBMISSIONS: IF you don't mind sharing at least one of your brilliant poems with the Ahern community, email it to me as a file with a sentence saying "It's OK to use this on-line AND in printed copies of school Literary Magazine. "

Students given class time to use computers to print pictures if they expect a problem on home system.
Students used class time to work on revising drafts and labeling. Mini-lesson on tips for revising.

SImple approaches to revising are:
If you use the poetry Devices Analysis Worksheet and can't identfy at least one or 2 poetic devices, ADD them. Look at things you have merely described, and use a simile, metaphor, etc. to create a more poetic description.
Use Z>A>P>S>- Works with poetry just as it does with prose:
The tornado was taking everyone's stuff
leaving devastation and tears behind
The tornado screams through town
Tearing apart lifetimes
Grabbing and slamming like a spoiled child
After the twisted anger is spent
A wedding photo, a shattered mirror, and a child's shoe nestle in the rubble that remains
Scattered silent memories .
ZOOM IN: Take a general description and imagine a close up--then describe specifics --EXAMPLE: becomes the
ACTIVE VERBS: Cut Forms of Be (am are is was were) and other linking verbs and replace them with ACTIVE VERBS--Check verbs on Vocab list to spark ideas) Note in example above how deleting 'WAS taking" and inserting "tears" improves the energy in the line
PERSONIFY: Note how making the tornado act like a child having a tantrum, coupled with VERBS "Slamming and grabbing" improves the lines.
SENSORY LANGUAGE (especially sound): Note how making the storm "scream" and contrasting with "silence" creates mood.
THe revision ALSO added a simile, allitertion,imagery, a metaphor, and consonance by ZAPPING it.
I conferenced with students seeking input in class today. If you need help over the weekend, I will check my email Saturday night and will try to respond to requests for help identifying where to improve poems. If you wait until SUNDAY to do this, I will not have time to respond.

June 7:
  • Write drafts of 3 poems to revise in class tomorrow. Review poetry project directions packets and come in with ANY questions about what you need to do to finish projects by MONDAY.
  • Bring drafts on flashdrives if you prefer working on computer. (I recommend doing the work on computer to ease revision process of adding lines, moving lines around, changing where lines end--etc. It is an extremely valuable writing tool and saves lots of copying over. Just SAVE drafts and copy to new file to revise so you will have draft and revision(s) to turn in.
  • ALSO bring hard copies (printouts) since we have limited number of computers to work on. We will spend MOST of period on revising and creating publishable final for those done revising.

REMEMBER: Poems will be graded for QUALITY as well as whether you finished all steps. Spend 20 - 30 minutes to develop drafts that communicate ideas that MATTER--not just any old 8 lines to meet FCAs.
Bring in purple LITERATURE BOOKS starting tomorrow through MONDAY. Place on back table WITH STICKY NOTE WITH your NAME and put in pile with YOUR CLASS--just as you did with Grammar Books.
Class Notes: Students in BB class did SRI. Some students from other classes finished SRI.
All classes were walked through new sections of poetry project resources website. In all except OO class we modeled how to add REQUIRED vocabulary to meet FCA for poetry project.
Poetry Resources page has
  • Project summary packet with directions, FCAs, rubric, vocabulary resource sheet, and a worksheet that MUST be filled in to show student understands elements of poetry used in the project.
  • Poetic language analysis worksheet to use if you need reminder of types of Figurative Language, sound devices, etc and reminders of how to identify and label. One copy is in hard copy packet I handed out today. Students can print out 2 more if the template helps you stay organized. Copy your REVISED poems onto the sheet and mark up as directed.
  • link to art show pictures to download as prompts
  • copies of pictures from documentary to use as prompts
  • tips for kids with writer's block
  • at bottom are past year samples of what FINAL PUBLISHABLE great products look like.

ALL classes received summer reading packets. NOTE to PARENTS ABOUT BIG CHANGE in summer reading--

The book STAND TALL by Joan Bauer is REQUIRED reading. There is written work REQUIRED on Stand Tall and on a second selection student chooses. There will be project and/or assessment on Stand Tall first week or so of next year, so students should read CAREFULLY. The theme to look for is "People need to respect differences" and it might help for students to put sticky notes on pages,or take notes jotting down pages and paraphrasing specific events related to the theme. Blanks to fill in are in SUmmer Reading packets ALL studentshould bring home today. Students also were given notice of PAC coordination with Barnes and Noble in an upcoming fundraiser if you plan to purchase books.
The more specific and detailed the notes are, the less kids have to REREAD in the Fall. that show events or character traits related to that topic In MOST classes we briefly reviewed summer reading. I have read most of recommended selections and can help students interested in knowing whether books are "easy" and general topics. There is something for every interest on the list. I can recommend a few not on the list as wel based on what students have enjoyed.

June 6: HW: Per OO and RR brainstorm topics and at leat 4-5 possible details to use for three poems for poetry project. Project description, rubric, worksheets, visuals to use and sample finished products loaded on Poetry Project Resources web page.

All other classes have no NEW homework, unless you want to begin drafts to avoid weekend homework. We will use class time Thursday and Friday. Project will be due MONDAY June 11.

ALL STUDENTS SHOULD HAVE TURNED IN ALL PACKETS FOR Out of the Dust AND any extra credit notes you prepared for Socratic Seminar. Place any work you "Forgot" to turn in into the LATE/MAKEUP work bin to avoid a 0 quiz grade.

ANYONE WHO MISSED SOCRATIC SEMINAR MUST do alternative essay due next Monday. See me for prompt.
Class Notes:
Most classes completed SRI and used any time after completion to work on brainstorms for 3 poems. BB class will take WRI standardized test Thursday due to Patriots presentation today.

June 5: HW: ALL classes EXCEPT OO class-- Brainstorm Ideas for 3 poems. As explained in class, we will brainstorm, draft and revise 3 poems and create on publishable final poem by next Monday.
Tonight is the first step--
  • just generate at least 3 topic ideas for possible poems
  • Add 4 or 5 possible details you might connect to each of the three topics. Use whatever prewriting technique you prefer (webs, list, a paper divided into fourths to add connections labeled "noun" Verb" Adj. Memeories--like we did for a journal....) to come up with what you might say in a poem to present each topic. The finished poems will be short, a minimum or 8 lines and a maximum of 24 lines, so you don't need to spend more than about 20 minutes on this.

  • ONE of the topics MUST connect to one of the visual prompts I showed you in class today (OO and RR classes will get more info on this tomorrow. ) Go to the newly created Poetry Project Resources page of this website.
  • Follow the link to the photos you took of the Ahern Art Show exhibits--scroll through the 100 remarkable pieces to get at least ONE idea for a possible poem.
  • THEN return to the Poetry Project Resources page and look at the pictures I took from the documentary we saw on the DustBowl.
You must use ONE of the visuals (Art Show OR Movie still picture) for ONE of the three poem topics you brainstorm tonight. You can use these pictures for all THREE brainstorms, but you only HAVE to use them for one.
More info on next steps in mini poetry project will be posted on the web page later and reviewed in classes tomorrow. We will use what limited class time we have between tests to do some of the work in class between now and Monday.
Class Notes:
Students finished essays in Mrs. Clough's class so we could complete our Socratic Seminars on Out of the Dust. Part of the YY class will conclude the seminar tomorrow. All other classes finished. The RR and BB classes in particular conducted highly successful discussions--helping peers dig for new insights into the book and into life. Congratulations to all--especially to those who said the preparation was difficult and they worked hard. You should be proud of doing what is difficult.
There will be no more time for completing essays unless you were out one of the two days--in which case you should see me if you have not already done so. I recognize that very good writers may not have completed the work in the limited time frame allowed. I will grade the quality of thought and writing based on what was finished. Unfinished essays will not hurt your term grade.
who may want to do the assignment outlined below to get ahead for tomorrow.
June 4: I was out today.
HW: Due to my absence today, you have more time to prepare for Socratic Seminar and Poetry "Smackdown."
  • I will accept any written notes or charts you prepared to help you during the seminar for some additional credit after completion of the seminar. Notes are optional, but 2 completed packets must be turned in for credit after the seminar. I will be checking to see that you took opportunity to revise as necessary for final packet scores.
BRING grammar books to turn in.
Class Notes: Students took first session of final standardized essay assessment for year. Students will finish drafts and finals during Social Studies classes tomorrow. Anyone absent either day should plan on staying after Wednesday to complete the assessment. All students will receive no more than two periods to complete the assessment.

June 1: Bring Grammar Text Books or RECEIVE $70 bill to replace book.
HW: Finish ANY missing pages or sections of pages from Out of the Dust Packets. You should ALREADY have completed
  • 5 Reading packet pages (Discussion Dir, Character Squares, Passage Picker, etc......)
  • 5 Wordfiner pages (10 words) and keeper words (choose your own if group did not)
  • 5 Group Discussion Summary pages (Inividual MUST COMPLETE ANY that group did not finish)
  • FINAL PAGE in Wordfiner packet on Causes and Effects related to CLIMAX
HW 1. Use completed packet and the stickies you put in book to create notes to help you in Socractic Seminar. Find POEM TITLES, QUOTES, and DETAILS to use as evidence to support YOUR opinion about what you think HESSE would say are the TOP one or two ESSENTIAL conditions for building happiness. Refer to the philosophies of happiness sheet to see possible options--such as "family and frineds, "work" "wealth" "Health" "Doing good for others" "Freedom of choice"....

Prepare between 5 and 10 quotes and details... Or make a chart like the one I shared in class. Remember, if someone else uses YOUR evidence you CANNOT repeat a point already made with evidence already used. YOu have to have something to say quickly--you can't waste time flipping through the book or your packets.

2. ALSO--all groups picked a poem the group thinks is a GREAT example to show Hesse is a talented poet. Review your group's choice to find AND LABEL as many examples as you can of Figurative LAnguage, Sound Devices, Graphics, and powerful ideas and messages in the poem. (All the things we looked for in the poem packet examples using short poems.) IF there is time after Socratic Seminar, we will "debate" which is the best poem in a group-vs.-group Poetry Smackdown. If "Smackdown" does not happen tomorrow, it will happen Wed or Thurs.

I will collect ALL Out of the Dust packets at the end of the Socratic Seminars. There will be NO FURTHER TIME to finish unfinished work. If you have LOST pages, print out blanks from Reprints page of this site and Rewrite!!!! You will need the notes for the Seminar AND for final unit grade.

Class Notes:
We reviewed different ways to use packet info to find quotes and prepare notes for the Socratic Seminar. Groups were given 20 minutes to discuss final section of book and finish group packet work.

Students who were SUPPOSED to have come in during 20 minutes after lunch or stayed after Wednesday or Thursday to make up missing pop quiz on novel's climax were given one last reminder to do so today. I am giving zeros on the missing quiz to students who did not make any effort to make up the missed work.

May 31:
Bring back Grammar Texts Friday and Monday (the green texts) DO NOT bring back purple texts yet. If you cannot find the book you will have to pay about $70 so find it!!! I will have the office send out bills for any green grammar book not turned in by end of day Monday. KEEP texts with you until I direct your class to bring them to me individually. DO NOT dump in my room or you will not get credit for turning it in and get charged for the book.
1. complete reading novel--pages 209- 227
2. Fill in a packet page and a wordfinder page. You will have some pages left-over.
Tomorrow you will have final small group discussions.
NO NEED to finish POETRY packet yet.
Class Notes: Classes discussed Topics for Monday's Socratic Seminars to finish this unit on the novel. Students will come prepared to discuss what HESSE might say are the one or two MOST important ingredients for human happiness. Students will back up their opinions with specific evidence from the text. Students will be able to use texts and their packets during the discussion, but should come with at least 5 examples ready to go. If another student uses your point, you have to have a different example.

I presented 3 ways philosophers have defined happiness to help students think about how a person can define the MOST important ingredients for a good and happy life. Below is a handout that summarizes this class discussion.

May 30:
1. COmplete ALL steps in analyzing next two short poems in packet, "Tiger" and "Sidewalks".
2. REPAIR poorly done work from last night.
HUGE numbers of students did not follow all steps at the top of the worksheet and received poor grades for lack of reading comprehension. READ and FOLLOW all directions--if teachers expected you to just GUESS what to do, you would not think that was fair, right? Directions are there for you to USE.
3. LOOK for FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE BEYOND simple similes--I know you can identify them--look for some of the harder stuff! I expect to see a FEW DIFFERENT types of figurative language labeled in each poem (if it is there). HIGHLIGHT AND LABEL!!! (don't just do part of this).
ALSO look for SOUND DEVICES--Find MORE than just one or two--try to find how the poems use rhythm--it is very subtle.
Get out of the weird habit many of us have developed of just searching for blanks to fill in and pretending the top third of every handout (the directions section) is blank. I ALSO gave you a model to follow--there is NO excuse for not having executed all steps.

I am not the only teacher who has noticed even usually conscientious students slacking off a bit. You have two weeks left to show us HOW MUCH YOU HAVE LEARNED this year. Do not instead show what you may be choosing to forget.
I am not retyping the poems tonight for people who "forgot" packets. Call a friend to dictate text to you--if you do the work you are more likely to remember how much easier it is to take home handouts than it is to retype.

CLass NOtes: Clues for how to find theme when analyzing poems.

We reviewed (again) that you must
1. read the title and THINK about what you expect the content of the poem to be before you even read it.
2. Read the poem OUT LOUD if possible, at least twice.
3. Look for words that seem like they don't fit what you'd expect the poem to be about. These are clues to deeper meanings--you are supposed to slow down and HAVE to THINK about ANY possible connections between the title and the things that don't SEEM to fit.
4. Look for SHIFTS in where sections of the poem are set; who the poet is speaking to; or tone/mood. THese contrasts ALSO often hint at deeper meanings which lead to discovery of themes.

We used the poem "Haunted House" to follow this process.
1. The title would lead us to expect something scary, supernatural, ghosts, mystery, maybe even evil, shadows....
2. We read twice and paraphrased. The poem literally seems to say:
  • There are sounds that echo, doors that don't move easily, stairs that "ache"--are tired perhaps
  • The sounds and the door and stairs make us think about the former residents who got old and died
  • These owners are still there--like everyday things such as a curtain rod in a closet or a used Smucker's jar empty in the basement.

3. After reading, we noted words that seem very unusual in connection with a haunted house--such as curtain rod, and jelly jar, and instead of ghosts, the poet mentions ordinary "Owners, who/Gre old, who/died, but..."
These are ORDINARY images of everyday life. The tone is NOT mysterious or threatening, but instead is almost cozy and familiar.
4. We noted a shift between stanzas one and two--stanza one describes the THINGS in the place and shifts to Stanza 2, telling that PEOPLE lived there--and died. The language is natural and straightforward--not scary or dramatic. THEN the final Two Stanzas describe everyday simple stuff left behind.

5. THIS SHOULD help you to see a possible theme or deeper meaning is: "Everyone leaves a mark on the world in the everyday things they leave behind when they are gone." or even more simply "Memories are often made of ordinary things."
Lit devices to find in HW
We also reviewed that students must look at Literary Devices as directed to at the top of the worksheet page and modeled (AGAIN) how to complete this work.

I passed out Study Guide for final exam scheduled for June 14--a very busy week. Start studying now. Reprints are on the Reprint page. This year you have 2 finals, math and ELA--this is practice for the future when you will have to handle up to 5 academic finals.

We reviewed the contents of the handouts and how the test will be structured. Know this stuff cold!!! NOthing here is new and you have ALREADY done flashcards for most of it--Hope you kept them as I told you to.
  • BEWARE: do not wait to last minute to review--review in chunks. If flashcards are NOT the most effective way for you to review--do what you have learned works or try something new.
  • Make up hand signals,
  • draw pictures,
  • connect definitions to story examples,
  • find some pattern in the words or letters,
  • highlight the HARDEST ones and spend the most time reviewing them,
  • CHUNK them into groups,
  • Look for small clues that help you remember the difference between very similar terms (for example Tone has to do with the AUTHOR, while Mood has to do with the effect of the words on the READER.)
  • Prewrite ideas for short answer questions--you can not bring the prewrite to the final, but doing it ahead of time will keep you from WASTING time during the exam trying to think of the best evidence or examples. NO exact quotes are necessary and I will only be looking for 4-6 sentence answers.

The study guide is set up in sections that should help you divide what to review on different nights. ALSO--prepare examples to use on short answer questions NOW--it is not cheating to ASK me if you are on the right track before June 12. I will NOT respond if you wait until the 13th.

I will NOT GIVE EXTRA TIME--this test measures how well you know this material--not whether you can figure it out AS YOU take the test. Besides--there is no time LEFT to take extra time. There will be less full sentence writing on this test than I usually require and students who had been doing class and homework all year have finished in the allotted time in the past. Student who have waited until JUNE to start learning this, will have more trouble--but it is STILL doable.

May 29:
Do ALL parts of poetry worksheets as shown in model using the poem "Fireworks" below fireworksmarkup2.jpgfor the poems "Haunted House" and "Sun" in packets you received last week. You will need to enlarge the view setting of your screen to read the picture of the model, or right click on the image-save it as a document--and enlarge it that way.

Identify Figurative Language, Sound Devices, Form, graphics, literal meaning, and theme as directed to in the packet.

Worksheet copy:
Poem text only:

CLASS NOTES: We all took quiz on "SOmething Lost, Something Gained" and had full class discussion to review answers. We discussed the Critical SYMBOLISM in this poem which is the climax of the book.
In the poem, the man on the train takes biscuits and leaves Billy Jo a photo of his family. This is a turning point that makes her realize she cannot be like this man and run away from the problems. Unlike him, she has hope and she believes in herself and her ability to make a go of it with her father. She becomes the adult in this moment--acting more responsibly and caring more about others than the man is able to It is signiicant that she remembers it is her birthday--since the story opens on her birthday and circles back at this moment near the end. We recalled how she is moving into adulthood and birthdays signal new starts and change.

The biscuits in the scene (something lost) symbolize the physical needs we have for a good and happy life. One theme (insight) Hesse shows us is that for many, it is almost impossible to find true happiness if the basic survival needs are not met (food, clothing, shelter).
The family photo left behind (something gained) symbolize our emotional need for people-especially family or at least someone who loves us. Another message/theme Hesse illustrates here is that meeting our emotional needs is often MORE important than triumphing over physical obstacles. This "truth" echoes what Dickens showed us when we looked at folks who preferred risking hunger and life on the streets to avoid the workhouse and stay with families and have personal freedom.

By coming home, BJ loses and gains. She loses the possibility of getting away from the depression and sense of failure that haunted those who stayed behind--it is a brave thing for her to do. She loses, or at least postpones, the possibility of better food, a career, maybe doctors to help with her hands. She does not get to seek her forturne as Mad Dog does. She GAINS however, a sense of family and control and dignity that she does not run from a fight. She is willing to be the adult and find a way to make her Dad see that he has to talk and think about the future by taking care of his cancer. She is gets to keep her family's pride in the land and keep strong links by being physically near her deceased mother and brother. This is not a completely happy ending--it shows the real give and take in life's biggest decisions.

ALL except BB class also did quick exercise in journal section of notebook coming up with possible poem titles by looking at pictures. Titles are often the KEY to understanding a poem--ALWAYS notice titles.

Final Exam--I have posted the study guide for my final exam in the Reprints section of this website. I will hand out hard copies tomorrow.

May 25:
HW: No new homework UNLESS you did not finish the Group Discussion Summary, Parts a,b,c,d,e. Be prepared for pop quiz Tuesday on the poem "Something Lost, Something Gained" which I directed ALL groups to be sure to discuss in their small groups. Be ready to tell me a symbolic meaning behind the interaction Billie Jo has with the man on the train... What is significant about the "trade" the man makes before he leaves the train?

Correct and catch up on any reading or pages you have left incomplete. Happy Weekend.

Class Notes: Students had 20 minutes to discuss last night's reading and complete SUmmary sheet. We then toured the art from the art show to get ideas for poems. I will download all the pictures over the weekend and post them by Monday night in an album you can access from Links to Websites page of this site.
May 24: HW: OO class--write a Haiku related to the Lemon picture and revise it. See yesterdayy's entry where I gave full instructions to other classes. Samples of how to write and revise as well as the brainstorm with connections to the painting, and the painting itself are all in files in yesterday's homework entry below. You must also do reading homework 180-209 plus packet page and wordfinder page.
HW: ALL classes (including OO class) finish reading pp 180 to 209. Do one packet page and 1 wordfinder page.
EXTRA HW: ANYONE WHO RECEIVED a graded packet back with a score of LESS than 80 out of 80 or 90 out of 90 (depending on class) --You have until we finish the novel pages (which will be no later than next Thursday) to REVISE AND REPAIR missing and poorly done work. If you correct your errors I will drop this first grade and give you what you earn on the final packet only. If you have a high grade, you get to keep the interim AND the final packet grade--which should be an advantage to you.

Class notes:
In some classes we reviewed some of the Haikus students wrote and worked on how to make the most EFFECTIVE revisions. We saw that ADDING powerful verbs was the best way to increase the impact of most of the poems.

Literary Term: We continued sharing some examples of CONCRETE poetry.

Concrete poetry is a FORM of poetry in which the shape the words form (the way they are printed on the page) enhances or compliments the meaning. In our text book, the poem "Seal" on page 754 shows how a concrete poem communicates the messages and mood through the shape as well as the word choice,.

May 23: All classes EXCEPT OO class: Using your notes on the Lemon painting we looked at in class, write a draft haiku and then REVISE it. A copy of the painting is in yesterday's notes, along with a copy of some of the items students wrote into the brainstorming planner. ) Use words and/or ideas from the 4 sqaure prewrite-bainstorming we did in the journal section of binder. (the page with adjective, noun, verb, and memory/mood) associated with vieweing the "Lemon" painting.
Your Haiku MUST meet the following 3 part definition ALL classes put in the Literature Notes section of binder: HAIKU requires
  • 3 lines that follow a 5 syllable/7syllable/5 syllable pattern
  • Must focus on small details in nature
  • Must use those small details to suggest a deeper meaning or truth about life.

The Basho Haikus we discussed in class yesterday and today (on page 756-757 in text) show these 3 characteristics. We noted in class how the smallest touches make a difference in symbolism. The fact that Basho begins by ASKING "Has spring come indeed?" instead of saying "Spring has come to us" matters in establishing the deeper meaning of the poem, which has to do with unknowns connected to change. The lines that speaks of a NAMELESS mountain, not simply a "giant mountain" adds to the mystery and emphasis on the unknown. The discussion of the season in nature is symbolic of the unknowns that come with change in life in general. The "thin layers of mist" at the end of the poem hint again at the lack of clarity in the distance that is the future. The language is not harsh, however, which may indicate that the future or changes should be looked at as shadowy but beautiful--a good kind of mystery.
Below are a few examples generated in different classes for you to use as models. Notice how different each sounds and "feels" and how much deep thought is generated by taking time to notice details THROUGH visual art and make connections to big ideas through a simple natural object.

Brainstorm prewrite, Looking at Lemons--with OO class suggestions added.

Sample Haiku from classes--with example of how to make simple revision

Most classes also discussed how tesselation pictures in art show are like poetry:

They use repetition, just as poetry uses repetition as a Sound Device. Tesselations repeat colors and shapes, like poetry repeats words and sounds. Different colors are like the "color" of different word choice. The many shapes connect into a bigger picture, the way details in a poem come together to "paint a bigger picture" and mean more than the images do by themselves.

PACKET CHECK IN: This can SINK or SAVE your grade!
YY class continued movie. BB, YY, and RR classes turned in Novel packets for a quick check (which should take me several HOURS)--A grade will appear that you may not like--do not panic-this is for your own good. As I warned, if you missed steps such as identifying WHICH pages you read for the packet page, (or Heaven forbid if you are missing ENTIRE PAGES) or do not use SPECIFICS in your answers, I will give NO credit for that page. You should have done enough work so far to earn 80 points in per YY and up to 90 in per BB and RR. I will circle missing items--a circle on a page means you lose 10 points--a question mark is at least a deduction of 5 points. IF YOU MAKE UP MISSING ITEMS by the time I collect final packets at the end of the novel, THE GRADE WILL BE DELETED. IF you are missing nothing, you get to keep the extra perfect grade. If you do not learn from your mistakes--and REVISE--you keep the poor grade.

May 22: HW
No new homework. Use tonight to catch up on any missing homework packet pages or Group Discussion summary pages up to the assignment that ended on page 157. Classes will finish summaries tomorrow.
CLass notes:
YY, RR, and GG classes discussed poetry/art project that we will do in about a week. OO and BB classes will discuss and do "lemon" poetry journal excercise tomorrow. I had told classes I would look into letting kids take their own pictures of art show exhibits to use as writing prompts but have learned that will not be allowed. As a backup plan, I will have some SCHOOL cameras to snap pictures of interesting, thought-provoking art work you can write from. If you have a piece in the art show or are touring with parents/friends during the evening portion of the show--you can take pictures of what interests you then. We will talk more about this project as we get closer to starting. For now, keep it in mind and scan the halls for pieces you like.

Lemon Prewrite Poetry Journal:
In 3 classes we modeled how to brainstorm for a poem using a painting a student from a prior year did of lemons. Students listed nouns, verbs, adjectives, and then memories and moods that were triggered by the painting. We then chose a theme--an insight into life that came to us by looking long at hard at a lemon picture and came up with how lemons symbolize the sweet that comes after working with the sour. Students thought about making lemonade and said "You have to work hard to get past what seems bad to the sweet part of life."

We then scanned the list of words in the prewrite and constructed a Haiku that is more than just a pattern of 5 syllables/7syllables/5 syllables. We tried to find a pattern to the words, moving from bad to good, we replaced words and moved them around, and tried to choose words with the right sounds--(playing with repetition, alliteration, assonance, consonance)... the prewrite and finished products are in the files below. Students seemed interested to see the creative process and understand how taking the time to observe art, really think about details and connect to deeper and deeper thoughts can produce a piece of written art from a sample of visual art.

Students will keep the observations in the journals to use as possible material for at least one of the poems we will write over the next few weeks.
Classes that did not do this today will do it tomorrow.

Art show prompt

May 21:

  • read 158-179
  • Do assigned Packet page and 2 wordfinder words (1 full word finder page)
  • If your group did NOT complete the Group Discussion Summary as you completed the in-class group discussion, you MUST do so independently at home.

As I reviewed in class today, by the beginning of class Tuesday you should ALL have
  • read through page 179
  • completed homework 3 packet sheets (114-135; 137-157; 158-179)
  • completed 3 wordfinder pages (114-135; 137-157; 158-179)
  • completed 2 Group Discussion Summary pages (the sheet with the A.B.C.D.E blanks that comes after the Wordfinder pages in each packet)
Class Notes: we looked at sample packets students have done so far to show examples of work that is done well and items to correct. You are expected to CORRECT any items you may have skipped or done incorrectly so far. Do not lose credit when I am giving you a chance to learn from your mistakes.
We began lesson on Form and Graphics in poetry and will complete that tomorrow.

MAY 16 and 17 HW :
DUE THURSDAY: ALL classes have now had review of how to do Literature Circle packets and discussions. Students must read pages 114-135 and do one packet page and a wordfinder page (fill in 2 words on wordfinder page).
DUE FRIDAY: All clases read pages 137-157. Do DIFFERENT page in packet and another wordfinder page. Complete Group DIscussion Summary page for pages 114-135 if not finished in class.
WEEKEND: NO HOMEWORK UNLESS students need to finish Group Discussion Summary for pages 137-157 from class.
REMEMBER to use specific evidence (poem title, character names, events, descriptions---) to SHOW you read the assigned pages when you write your answer. NO CREDIT if you do not follow all directions and LABEL the homework packet pages with the pages read for the night's reading.

Students will fill in Group Discussion Summary page in class as a group after discussion in class tomorrow. ANy Group Discussion Summaries for pages 114-135 tomorrow will add finishing that page to tomorrow's homework.

BRING BOOK to class tomorrow AND EVERY DAY to use during discussion or lose 5 points.

We did a wordfinder page together in class for last reading section to model how to do the work.

ALL packet pages are reprintable from Reprints page of this website. If you can't print and don't have packet, just copy format onto notebook paper. This packet will be an EASY 180 points if you stay caught up.

IF YOU ARE IN MY CIVIL RIGHTS ENRICHMENT CLASS --YOU MUST CHECK the Civil Rights Enrichment page of this sight to be sure you do homework to prepare for QUIZ THURSDAY

May 14 and 15, 2012

I collected Movie questions for from oo and BB classes. If you missed part of the movie and need to finish questions, see MAY 11 notes for directions to the link to the movie on line. If your computer can not stream the movie, click on the Transcript button on the page to READ the text of the movie.

No HW due to MCAS:
I explained lit circle work that will begin tomorrow to RR and BB classes--will review with other classes Wed.
We did a sample wordfinder page together and groups assigned roles for how and reading due THURSDAY (using pages 114-135 in novel.) One packet page and one wordfinder page will be due at start of class Thursday for all classes--if members of RR or BB classes want to get started. YY, OO, and GG classes MUST wait until we review the process and group members each choose a page to do.

All packet pages are loaded on the REPRINTS page of this site if you forget packet at school. NO LATE WORK!!! NO INCOMPLETE SHEETS!! NOT doing the work on time will hold your group back and will not be tolerated. These packets will count for a test/homework page totally 190 points..

May 11:

HW: 1. See last night's directions for reading and blog due Sun at 8 pm. READ and REREAD blog directions and double check my example to do the work correctly. NO ONE can remember all the steps without double checking. That's why you have directions and an example!!!
2. Tell someone important to you, "Happy Mother's Day!"

Class Review:
Examined connsonance and assonance (see yesterday's notes) in all classes. Finished our experiment to show HOW send suggests mood and meaning. I drew a jagged shape and a round cloud like shape on board. Students "invented" words to name these shapes. In every class kids gave the sharp-edged shape names with short vowels and consonants that are quick and sharp to pronounce--like t, g, k... THe rounded shape was named using more long vowels and consonants you have to close your lips to pronounce.

Jagged shape Names: sting; frin, steek, schinty, rike, skorit, flip, pipik, kitig, frin, trutmit...
Rounded shape names: lakadin, egmapo, oobol, molob, sloom, shoopo, fuffy, swozal

If you remember any more we shared, let me now Monday....

Some classes saw more of movie--OO and RR have finished. Other 3 classes will finish Monday. If you need to catch up because you missed a class: BB class has seen up to 40 minutes; GG class has seen up to 35 minutes; YY is up to 23 minutes. MOVIE QUESTIONS WILL BE PASSED IN FOR GRADE ON TUES. If you missed any portion of the film you can view it on line. Go to the Links and more portion of my website; scroll down to Picture of Out of the Dust book cover; click on "Surviving the Dust Bowl" link. You can watch the movie OR click on "transcript" which gives you the text of the movie to read through to find missing answers.

May 10:


  1. Read 84 -114 of novel

  2. put post it notes on more great examples of how Hesse uses literary devices AND on lines that show what is a source of happiness or unhappiness. If you do not like to use post-it notes, keep a journal of the pages and lines to go back to. We will be discussing these in a future Socratic Seminar to prove you read closely.
  3. Respond to Blog #2 which is now posted. It has 3 parts. If you do not have internet access over the weekend, get a hard copy of the prompt in class tomorrow and write your response.

Some classes had some reading time. OO and GG took yesterday's homework back and added missing elements to quotes to show they can identify the SPECIFIC literary device Hesse used. See your notebooks and prior days notes on line for lists of Figurative Language and Sound Devices. Homework was then resubmitted for grade.

YY, BB and RR added the following Sound Devices to the list of literary devices to look for as you read: (copied into Lit Notes section of binder)
CONSONANCE: The repetition of consonant sounds on a line or two of poetry.
ASSONANCE: The repetition of vowel sounds in a line of poetry.
Consonance differs from alliteration in that alliteration refers to the repetition of the INITIAL (first) consonant sound in consecutive words. EX: Jumping giraffes

Consonance is when a consonant sound is repeated anywhere in the line--at the beginning or end or even middle of words. The repeated "s" sounds underlined in the following line are an examples of consonance.

"Waves splash and soar, pulsing then shattering into rivulets that slither back to the sea."

Consonance is more subtle than alliteration--and it is more common. Find it---then try to craft some of your own. Using alliteration too many times in a single poem makes the poem sound silly--like a tongue twister. Consonance is a more useful tool and can be used throughout a piece.
ASSONANCE is repeated vowel sounds within or at the beginning of words. It is harder to notice than consonance but equally effective. Repeated long vowel sounds in a line stretch the line out while repeated short vowel sounds move the line along more quickly--note the difference in the examples below.
EX. Peaceful sleep feeds the dreams of a poor wounded soul. Note how the long "e" and the rounded "o" sounds give the line a sad and peaceful feeling.
ex: Little pops and bits of remembered insults skittered through her skull. Note how the combination of the short vowels (repeated "i") adds to the sense of short, swift action in the line. Assonance is much harder to pick out than consonance, but it works on our subconscious to make the line more musical when read out loud.

May 9

HW: No new homework.

CLASS NOTES: We reviewed homework.
Good work on quotations from most students. You are sounding very literate.
Some students did not explain WHY they believe the quotes they chose were examples of good writing.. We reviewed that complete answers should note WHAT literary device the author used to explain WHY the passage they quoted was good writing. I will not give credit for anyone who just copied quotes---WHEN HAVE I EVER had you just copy quotations without explaining why you chose them? Keep this in mind because there will be more work like this.

CAUSES of accident: We discussed the causes and effects of the "Accident". Students identified that a lot of people had to make mistakes for the horrible accident to have occurred and no one person is responsible. I mentioned that Hesse go the idea from a news clippling from the time about similar accident involving kerosene in a kitchen. We discussed that kerosene would have been a common substance for farmers of the time---used as lamp oil and as a cleaner. It is colorless, odorless, and it would therefore be logical for MA to think it was water.

Science facts used in this historical fiction
We also looked at average rainfall maps to show that the period that PA started farming would have been abnormally rainy and that the Dust Bowl years were a sudden switch from a decade of up to 10 inches of rain more a year to 10 inches LESS than was average for the area. We receive about 45inches of precipitation a year in MA. The panhandle of Oklahoma where the story is set receives 10 to 20 inches a year, but received less than 3 inches a year during the 1930s. That is why Billie Jo was so quick to get the burning pail out of the "bone-dry' kitchen." She would have been living with the extreme precautions people would have been conditioned to take during the drought. I reminded students that its a little like the way you are much more careful about fire at a campsite in summer.

Theme of Tranisiton to adulthood/ loss of innocence is painful: We also discussed that the "Accident" poem begins "I got burned bad, " but ends "Ma got burned bad." This simple contrast is symbolic of the rapid change in Billie Jo from before the accident to after. Before the burn, she is a normal kid--complaining about tests and strict parents and boys....she uses "I" because kids focus naturally on themselves. After the accident--the focus switches to "Ma"-someone beyond herself. The character, like grade 7 students, is at the transition point between childhood and awareness of the bigger world with more problems and fewer instant answers.
A child would worry about his or her self in a fire, but we expect responsible parents to worry first about their kids--this may explain why Ma headed back toward the house. After the event, we see Billie Jo acting like the adult and her dad assuming a less responsible role. This is a tension that lasts and creates more and more conflicts as the story continues to unfold.

May 8

HW: SEE HW entry from yesterday that is due tomorrow. Pay particular attention to step 3-which lists common tools writers use to add pizzaz to writing. We spent a fair amount of time in class discussing these tools, called Literary Devices. Students should reference specific literary devices as part of their explanations of WHY the lines they chose appeal to them.

Remember--you are finding examples from poems in the ASSIGNED section of reading--pp. 60-84. If you choose to add a fourth example from a poem you read earlier in the novel, you can add that for extra credit. I will use your choices to choose a few poems to analyze as a class.


ALL but YY class took pop quiz on 6 elements of an effective introductory paragraph. (YY took is earlier). I expect to have these grades entered later tonight. Anyone not happy with the grade should read the handout I posted May 3 and handed out in class for students to put in Writing Tips section of binder yesterday. Retakes are possible after school tomorrow ONLY unless there is a note from a parent about a problem with that time option.
I collected remaining missing essays and parts of essays. No more late work will be accepted for this assignment, unless student was absent.

We did small group discussions comparing the 6 elements of opening paragraphs to the scientific method. Students offered terrific connections:
  1. HOOK is like the opening question or problem because it gets the thinking going.
  2. CLAIM is like hypothesis. It is a clear statement of a belief about a topic--yet to be proven.
  3. Reason 1: Like the first procedure to test the hypothesis.
  4. Reason 2: Like a second test--students noted the need to work with both variables AND controls--two ways to prove things to validate claims.
  5. transitions: Experiments have to proceed in LOGICAL order, first, second, third... to have valid, reproducible results. Essays also need to proceed in logical order and the connections BETWEEN ideas need to be clear.
  6. Concluding Sentence: A researcher always comes back to the hypothesis the way a writer should return to the claim---Restate what is LEARNED after looking into the question. A good conclusion sums up and also extends.

  • For example, an experiment to answer the question "What happens to aerosol cans in an open flame" might have the hypothesis that "Aerosol cans will explode." The conclusion after trying different cans might be summing up AND adding how the info might matter in life: "Aerosol cans explode in flames AND the magnitude of the explosions in the two test cases is proof that it is extremely dangerous and a poor choice for thrill seekers who value their safety and want to prevent forest fires."

LIterary Devices Terms
Students drew T chart in literature notes section of binders dated and titled "Literary Devices I already Know"
Students listed Figurative Language on one side and Sound Devices on the other. They then worked independently to come up with 5 terms under each heading. Most came up with 2 or 3. We then had small discussions at tables in filled in some missing items. Few tables had all 10 of the basic terms that ALL seventh graders are supposed to have mastered. This tells me we need more work on the definitions of these terms and examples. Tonight's homework requires using some of these terms--all of which were introduced in the lower grades.
Figurative Language Terms include:
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • personification
  • hyperbole
  • sensory imagery
Sound Devices include:
  • Rhyme
  • onomatopoeia
  • alliteration
  • repetition
  • rhythm

Some classes continued taking notes on Dust Bowl movie



1. read pages 60-84 of novel Out of the Dust. \

2. Fill in cause and effect chart we copied into notebooks today. You can also open and save the chart in the file below and write in the boxes or type into the boxes. You must give 4 causes and 4 effects tied to the central event on the graphic in the file below--"Ma Gets Burned". Give one way that MA, PA,and BJ each contributed to the Accident and were affected by it. In the fourth boxes give any other cause and effect related to any character or other influence in the book (i.e. the environment). The effects you choose can come anywhere between page 61 and 84. Do not limit yourself to the "Accident" poem alone.

3. STYLE NOTES: What literary devices does author use to make the words "sing" on the page? What makes this great writing, not just great thinking?
  • Copy at least 3 lines or short passages from between pages 60-84 in which the writer's STYLE iimpresses you. You must use at least 3 different poems. I suggested putting sticky notes on about 10 passages that you notice as you read--then go back and choose the 3 that you think show Hesse's greatest talents as a writer and explain WHAT is special about the lines.
  • Copy the passage exactly and give page number(s) and poem titles.
  • EXPLAIN WHY you think Hesse's writing "works" for each passage. Identify any literary devices she used: imagery (which is use of sensory details); similes; metaphors; personification; hyperbole; rhyme; onomatopoeia; alliteration; repetition; rhythm; word choice connotation...

Class Notes:
Finished passing back exposition quizzes. Any poor scores can be replaced if student retakes quiz Wed after school.

COLLECTED 3 paragraph essays we planned, wrote, and revised TWICE last week. Friday's classes modeled what to look for in your introductions and topic sentences of body paragraphs as particularly important areas for revision. A number of people handed nothing in, even though I have checked progress several times so students KNEW what they were missing. Late papers turned in TUESDAY will be marked down a grade, but I will accept them. After tomorrow, you earn a 0 out of 100 points for a quiz grade if nothing is turned in.

Discussed how to fill in homework Cause/Effect worksheet.

Defined Pivotal..
Students showed what a pivot step is in basketball. We then applied this idea to literature. A Pivotal event is a TUNRING point. There is a fixed event that changes things around it. The Poem "The Accident" on p 60 of the novel is turning point--it is actually the INCITING CONFLICT because it is the match the lights the fuse to launch all the remaining important plot events in the book. Without this ONE event, there would not really BE a story.

Classes then watched 5-10 minutes more of movie about DUST BOWL years.

May 4: HW:

1. Revise opening paragraph of essay we have worked on this week to include ALL 6 elements of a great introduction for an essay. Refer to the reference sheet attached to yesterday's homework listing.

DO REVISIONS IN A DIFFERENT COLOR. If you are deleting, put a simple line through what you no longer want so I can still read the before and after.

To improve transitions, consult the the transitions handout reference in the Writing Tips section of your binder. (List is also printable from Reprints page as I showed ALL classes today).

2. Your draft should have at least 3 paragraphs. If you have not added at least two body paragraphs to the introduction you MUST do so over the weekend. I will be grading to see if you have at least one quotation to support a major reason in your paper.
3. CHECK to be sure each body paragraph topic sentence expresses one of the reasons you include after the claim in your opening paragraph. Revise if necessary.

I will grade whatever is turned in on Monday as the final. Late work loses a grade per day.
We "Fishbowl Revised." 3-5 students in each class read portions of their drafts. Students asked questions to help readers identify missing elements and to help them key in on phrases that were not clearly stated. The most typical questions were "What was the hook?" and "What was your closing and how does it restate your main claim." Students are to image peers handing out near them as they work this weekend and ask themselves the kinds of questions peers were asked today. ALL students must revise, not just those who engaged in the Fishbowl.

May 3: no new homework.

Classes consolidated knowledge about elements of introductions and defining "claim statements" in group work. Students copied notes on introductions to promote thought. Attached is file that summarizes lesson--IT is a CORRECTED version of MAY 1 class notes summary and now includes some extra pointers and a student sample from the recent batch of drafts.
SOme classes saw some more of movie.

May 2: HW: YY class -- revise opening paragraphs using what you learned in class today.

All other classes: Have first three paragraphs written and first paragraph revised for tomorrow.

Class Notes: All classes (except YY) recorded what they remember about what makes a good opening paragraph. THen they continued, (or began) the PBS film "Surviving the Dustbowl" about living through the Dust Bowl years.

May 1

HW: all but YY class--1. revise planners and opening paragraphs, using the points we went over in class (bulleted in class notes below). 2. Then add AT LEAST 2 draft body paragraphs.

REREAD the sample I gave you for ideas about how to use quotations properly. Set up the quotations so there is some information to help someone who did not read the stories (Mrs. Abrams) understand your points. You do not need to retell the entire story--just paraphrase enough to explain HOW your evidence relates to one of your main claims. LIMIT each body paragraph to ONE claim. If you have time and want to write 2 paragraphs to support a claim you should!! I would be happy to see a 4, 5 or maybe even 6 paragraph draft. Try to get better as a writer--it is not JUST about finishing homework. Spend about 30 minutes and then have parent sign if you are not done. The 30 minute limit does NOT apply if you are spending extra time tonight because you did inadequate planners or did not write paragraph 1 last night as assigned.

YY class will do more revising after special class tomorrow.

Class NOTES:

On openings....FCA 1 requires a clear introductory paragraph that LOGICALLY sets up the points you will unfold in the body paragraphs. TRIM OUT ANYTHING not related to the main points you will make later in the paper.

We looked at my model opening paragraph and students "dissected it" to see the following elements--which you should have in YOUR opening
  • a Hook that is a QUOTE that connects clearly to one of your main points. YOU are not limited to quoting songs, just because I did. Quote a commercial tag line, a familiar saying, a figure from history, a cartoon character...Mrs. Abrams and I will gag if all we see are song quotes--choose something that really helps communicate your main message--not the first thing that occurs to you.
  • Claim: Topic information: title, author, paper's purpose (something to express that the story is a superior choice for grade 7 students). DO NOT mention the other story--since your paper won't discuss what you didn't pick. This paper is to say why your story choice is terrific--not why the other story is less terrific. This paper is too short to add "Cons"--you are persuading Mrs. A about the "pros"
  • Reason I: A basic introduction that sums up the most important reason ( and maybe a sub reason related to it) WITHOUT using specific characters names or details from the story yet.
  • Reason II: A reference to the SECOND major point you will elaborte on in the body paragraphs
  • Transition(s) --especially between the first and second claim to make it clear the rest of the paper will focus on two separate ideas.
  • A final sentence with a phrase that refers back to the main point of the entire paper--that your story choice is a great piece of literature for grade 7 students.

April 30
HW: Do prewriting and introductory paragraph for tomorrow's in-class writing assignment.
I have done a SLIGHT revision to the planners and instructions I handed out today to try to clear up a few points students seemed confused about in class. The revised HANDOUTS are at the bottom of today's entry if you need to reprint. It would be a good idea to scroll through the new versions--especially if you are unsure about what to do. The Samples file should help. I did not make huge changes, however, so you can use the hard copies I gave you to fill in infomation.
REMEMBER: you are writing an ARGUMENT to persuade Mrs. Abrams so be sure your ideas tell why the story is good for making seventh graders THINK about things that matter and learn skills that will make them better readers or writers.

Step ONE: Read "Student Instructions" SHEETS...there are a few.
Step 2: Fill in Planner A. YES you have to do BOTH stories. I am grading this to measure that you actually understand what was good about EACH story before deciding the BEST one to keep in the grade 7 schedule.
Step 3. FILL in the story that "wins" at the bottom of Planner A. Then go back and put a STAR next to the three or four reasons you will use in your essay. See if these reasons have anything in common that you can combine into 2 GENERAL statements for your opening paragraph. The things you star will be your MAIN arguments in the opening. You will use specific evidence to support one or two MAIN ideas in the body paragraphs.

Step 4: Work from the ideas you highlighted in planner A and then find the quotations and other specific evidence you can use to support the main ideas. Don't just write in random quotes--find the ones that support the key ideas you will be writing about based on Planner A.

Look through the quotations you already found on the two stories. Find NEW ones if none of them work. Put MORE than you may need on Planner B. Some points might be best proven with EXACT quotations, and some points might be made by talking about specific events or characters without an exact quote. The planner gives you two sides and 8 rows of boxes. Fill at least 5 or 6 rows so you can go back and select the STRONGEST evidence to support you main points.

Step 5. Highlight the strongest evidence to use in your body paragraphs; cross out ideas that are "just OK". Then NUMBER the evidence to show the order you think will build the most logical and persuasive argument.

Step 6. Reread the planners and think about whether you have enough good ideas and examples to "sell" your opinion. Do you have ideas to include that will appeal to the head-(will it seem logical to Mrs. Abrams?); the heart (WIll you make her FEEL what a seventh grader feels about a story?), and make you sound like an expert ( have you linked your argument to the fact that YOU know specifics about middle school kids) ? Add something if you feel your essay will be missing an angle.

Step 7: Write a draft opening paragraph that presents the BIG ideas you will prove about the story (taken from Planner A). USE THE JOHN COLLINS FORMATTING I REVIEWED and show you in my sample essay. SKIP LINES or you will have to copy the WHOLE thing over on Wednesday and do a separate final. THe plan is for you to revise RIGHT on the draft and be done with it.
Read the ENTIRE sample I wrote to get an idea of how to take the planner info and turn it into sentences with a hook at the beginning, logical arguments in clear paragraphs, transitions, and everything else we have learned this year.

Step 8: DO NOT write the body paragraphs. I will be looking at planners tomorrow to be sure you are on track. You MUST finish during class tomorrow for the Wednesday lesson to work--so you HAVE to come prepared with the planners and first paragraph. You will NOT be allowed to finish for HW tomorrow.

Files to use with writing assignment

Left over blogging issues. If you could not get into blog site, but can read this, the file below contains the blog prompt. Just respond in writing and put it in the homework bin tomorrow for credit.

April 27

Blog log on issues repaired--I hope! 11pm Friday update

Students in BB class: I reentered all IDs and passwords. Your IDs will be full first name (Matthew not Matt etc.) PLUS capitalized first initial of last name PLUS year of birth. No spaces in between.
Ex: CourtneyS1999.
Christian, for some reason you have to log on as ChrisM1998, not Christian.

EMAIL if you are still having trouble. I will check in periodically Sat and Sunday

April 27

HW is to blog as explained in last night's homework entry. This applies to ALL classes. RR class in particular, be SURE to read below for grading criteria. Some entries are not referring to text enough. I reviewed this with ALL other classes today. Sorry I was pulled for meeting from last class. I'm seeing some great observations.

April 26 2012
HW: PER OO: do April 25 homework assignment on pages 1-25 listed in yesterday's homework entry. You will have to read through p 59 and do the blog entry outlined for other classes below by Sunday night at 8 pm.
HW for all but OO class:
1. Finish journals assigned April 23 and 24 if not done in class. These journals are posted on the journals page of this website. If you were out Monday when we discussed the allegory of the Cave, I have a link to a short movie on the Allegory of the Cave on the Links to websites and more page of this site. Scroll down that page to the Out of the Dust section for the link. (Per OO still needs to review the Allegory of the Cave in class.)

If you missed Mrs. Mascia's talk about the Dust Bowl, I will have you substitue a journal about the movie we are going to see in class over the next day or so.

2. ADD explanations to the "10 quotations" assignment if you lost points today in the classes I checked because you quoted evidence but did not explain what how the evidence connects to agree or disagree with the theme statement you connected it to. Put NAME on redone work and put in Late/Makeup work bin tomorrow for full credit.

3. Read pages 26-29 of the novel OOTD. By SUNDAY NIGHT at 8 pm, show that you read and understood by blogging in response to one of the prompts I have posted as Out of the Dust blog #1. A link and instructions on how to log on and comment are on a new web page on this WIKI titled "blogging log in instructions".
A few of the comments posted already this afternoon are not following directions. Although I said these comments can be a little looser than the responses I usually expect from you (you can be a little less precise about double-checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation) you STILL have to show you read the BOOK!!! Show me you thought about the text seriously and respond to your peers' comments in a clear and respectful way.

GRADING Criteria for Blogs: The main purpose of the BLOG is to show you can sustain an intelligent conversation about a book with peers. Using a blog instead of doing this in class allows shy students time to develop thoughts and not worry about being cut off by more outgoing peers.

I hate to have to grade these, but the blog is ALSO how I will assess whether you DID the reading. I think it is fairer than pop quizzes. Points are awarded based on the quality of all of your comments. If you respond 3 times to different classmates, that improves the QUALITY of your response, but you don't get 3 x15 points. You may, however get a full 15 if either a single comment meets the criteria listed below for a check plus, or if the 2 or 3 responses together add up to meet the check plus criteria.

"Check Plus" (15 out of 15 points):
  • Comment relates to one of the options in the prompt. You have Turned the Question (prompt) around so it is clear to me WHICH item you are responding to.
  • Comment refers to something specific from the text from the ASSIGNED SECTION of the book you had to read.
  • Response uses character names and the title of the poem the event occurs in.
  • Comment builds on or reponds to something a classmate has posted (unless yours is the first post in the class.) Comment does NOT just REPEAT a thought or examples from another student's comment.
  • Comment is thought-provoking and helps peers think about book more deeply.
  • Comment is clearly stated (grammar and spelling need not be perfect, but do NOT use text abbreviations a 52 year old will not understand.) btw, U R not safer if you try to hide a mean comment in text speak. I have kids who can translate for me! LOL

"Check" (10 out of 15 points)
  • Comment meets at least 2 of the criteria listed for a check plus.
  • Comment is basically clear, but not detailed.

"Check minus" (5 out of 15 points)
  • Comment meets only one of the criteria for a check plus or merely restates what others have said.
0 points awarded if you NEVER blog. If you cannot get on-line, WRITE a response and put it in my Late/ Make-up work basket. Call a friend for the prompt if you did not check it out in school by logging on in homeroom, during 20 minutes, or by staying after. I will always post that a blog will be due in a day or two on the front board as well on my website so you know when to check. As of today, only 2 students have told me of lack of access to a computer.
We will use the blog as a HW once or twice a week, depending upon how this goes. You are the pilot classes for grade 7.

Class notes:

Reviewed work needed to be passed in or made up from this week.
  • April 23 Journal
  • April 24 Journal
  • 10 quotes and explanations from "Two Kinds" and "Lemon Brown" (Students who did NOT provide explanations of how the chosen quotes relate to the themes you connected each quotes to receive only 7 out of 10 homework points. Students can ADD explanations and resubmit in the late/makeup work bin to earn back the other three points.)

Finished Socratic Seminars in most classes. This oral grade is a quiz grade on the stories we read. Students who were not adequately prepared for this oral quiz will have the opportunity to improve their grade by taking a written test on both stories next Wednesday after school.

April 25, 2012
HW: ALL EXCEPT Period 1 (OO) class
1. Read the first 25 pages of Out of the Dust (OOTD)
2. Title your hw page OOTD pp 1-25
  • Fill in details of the Exposition
    • Characters: Protagonist, her family, and main friends. Note how characters relate to main character. (i.e. Arly: Billie Jo's piano teacher
    • Setting: (time and place--its a DIARY!!! no excuse for not having precise TIME)
    • Inciting conflicts: first problems--this is a NOVEL so there are a few conflicts that come to a climax before the end of the novel. List more than one issue that Billie Jo and her family face.
    • List 3 things that make or would make Billie Jo happy.

3. ALL classes: If you did not finish journal about Mrs. Mascia's presentation, please do so for homework the entry is

Journal Entry: April 24, 2012---Mrs Mascia’s talk

Using complete sentences, do ALL of the following. Number each section.

  1. Describe two things you learned about current conditions in the Dust Bowl states?
  2. In a second paragraph, describe two things you learned about life in the past for her relatives and friends who recalled living through the Dust Bowl years in the 1930’s.
  3. Write a sentence or two about what surprised you the most in what she had to tell you.
  4. Write a sentence or two about any connection you have to the topics she discussed ( a family story about the Depression; a challenge brought on by extended drought; worries about the environment,,,,

Per 1: OO class should also be sure they completed 10 quotations to support participation in socacratic seminar tomorrow.
Per 1 had Mrs.. Mascia's talk..
Other periods received novels. Keep name in the book on stickies in 2 places. YOU MUST keep track of your book--points deducted if you do not have it in class each day to participate in discussions. You will have reading homework nearly every night after this weekend. I have already had 6 students (coincidentally all boys) who left the book behind in my room. I will not chase you around with it. If I find a book I will put it on my front table--if your name is in it you can take it. Forgetting a book is NO excuse for not doing reading. Have a plan B if you are forgetful--get a copy out of the library if necessary. I do not have nay extra copies.

Classes began Socratic seminar discussions showing they can generate intelligent conversation using examples from literature to discuss the themes of the short stories. Students are showing critical thinking skills by building on what classmates say and offering their own opinions about whether they agree with the author's observations about how people act and how we SHOULD interact. We will continue tomorrow.

April 24, 2012
ADD at least 5 more quotations to add to LAST night’s homework. Anyone who was absent yesterday can have a fellow student explain. Students should select DIFFERENT statements of theme from the list of 7 on the instruction sheet than they used for Monday night’s homework. Between last night’s work and tonight’s, be sure you have found quotations that show the author agreed or disagreed with no fewer than 4 of the seven statements. The choice of statements is listed in the file attached to the April 9 entry on this page. attached to this sheet to project using the document camera if necessary.
Class notes:
Mrs. R was out at a conference. Students in all but period 1 had presentation by Mrs. Mascia on her family's experiences in the Dust Bowl states during the Depression and today. Students then journaled about some key points they learned and what the talk made them think about. Students in some classes also had some time to start homework.

April 23, 2012
Students who missed the group work before vacation are to complete a complete paraphrase of the entire story their group did to show me they understand the basics we reviewed in class. I spoke to most students today and told them whether they were all set or had more work to do.

HW: Review the story your group was assigned (either "Two Kinds" or "Lemon Brown") to prepare for Socratic Seminar--which is a sustained oral discussion for a grade.

  • You have 7 statements under the heading "Part II Theme" at the end of the instruction sheet you were using for the stories from before vacation. (Scroll down to the April 9th entry on this page and click on the file for a reprint if you lost the original). Review the statements and think of examples from the story your group paraphrased that would be evidence of whether the author would agree or disagree with the statement.
  • Find AND COPY EXACTLY at least 5 different quotations from the text that you could use as evidence to support your opinion that the author agrees or disagrees with the statement, based on what the author shows through the characters and events. INCLUDE PAGE NUMBERS!! You should also jot down notes to explain what you think the quote shows about what the author thinks, why you choose it as a great example; and whether YOU agree with what the author seems to be saying.
You can choose ANY questions to connect your quotes to--you may have 2 related to statement 1 and 1 connected to statement 3 and 1 connected to some other statement of theme on the sheet. This is open-ended to let you think. I know some of you would like less choice, but that is not the point.
Remember that a quotation is ANYTHING the author writes--even description. You are quoting the AUTHOR, not just a character.
EXAMPLE done in class (which you may NOT count as yours for homework.)
  • Statement 1: Adults forget what it was like to be a kid.
  • Quotation that shows author's point of view: In "Lemon Brown" p. 532, Myers writes, that Greg's dad says, "And you want toplay BASKETBALL? His father's brows knitted over deep brown eyes. "That must be some kind of a joke. Now you just get into your room and hit those books."
  • Explanation of what quote shows: This seems to show that Myers agrees that parents forget because the dad's tone is angry and sarcastic which does not show empathy for how Greg feels. He calls Greg's feelings "a joke"--which is pretty harsh.
OR you might use a different quote to make the opposite point:
  • Statement: Same as above
  • Quotation: on page 532 Greg's dad says, ""I had to leave school when I was thirteen, his father hd said, "That's a year younger than you are now. If I'd hd half the chances that you have, I'd..."
  • Explanation: This quote shows that Greg's dad actually does try to remember what it was like to be Greg's age, by thinking back on his own life. I think the author is trying to say that adults DO remember and want to spare kids pain that they went through at the age.

You may want to find MORE than 5 examples and pick more than just the most obvious examples. You will be graded on how you contribute to the group discussion. If other's have used a point before you, you cannot earn points for using the SAME point. Everyone will have to speak at least once. Then more points are earned for speaking more often. Speaking only once will earn no more than a C.

Seminar discussions will take place on WEDNESDAY. TOmorrow night's homework will be to find 5 MORE examples, so don't put this off.

Class NOtes: We covered the following topics:
What is a Socratic Seminar? -- a discussion, not a debate, to answer essential life questions using evidence and independent analysis. The evidence should spark more questions and more discussion to fully explore a story and the ideas about life the author presents through the characters and the plot.

Who was Socrates? Who was Plato, Aristotle? These are key figures in Greek philosphy. SOcrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle and they each discovered "truths" about life by taking their teacher's ideas and building from them. That is your job in class. Philosophy is thinking about how we think and developing a system from our own thinking to guide us to a "better" life. The ancient Greeks looked at the same questions that AUTHORS try to answer through their stories.

Why use Socratic method to discuss? When we, like Socrates, answer a question with a related question, we dig deeper and find their are no EASY answers. We do, however, understand things more the more we question.

Why Think? In many, not all classes we discussed Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." We used images on the board to imagine ourselves as people cared for but locked in a cave--seeing nothing except shadows on a wall from a fire behind us. Plato told a story of what would happen if a prisoner left the cave and discovered life beyond--that fire was actually full of color--not grey like the shadows in the cave, that it hurt as well as warmed, that the sun could blind you, but was beautiful and seemed connected to warmth on the ground....that you could feel hunger when no one fed you, but you could feel excited at fending for yourself... The traveler returns to tell the prisoners--but they think he is a fool because they never saw or felt these things. They seek his death--the same way that Socrates was put to death for thinkig differently and challenging what common perceptions had always been.
They think, as we often do, that how we PERCEIVE reality actually is reality. We noted that if people never challenged themselves to think, and just accepted what is told or shown, we might never have tried to fly, nor could we accept gravity as REAL...we might beleive slavery is good because it is what we always knew....

Essential Questions: We compiled lists of questions that make us think of other questions on the way to figuring out clues to a better life. "What is necessary for happiness? If wealth is necessary, can you be hapy without wealth? If free time is necessary, why do we often feel best when proud of a job well done? If you have no goals, can you be happy? Do you need something to work for? Can you know happiness if you never know sadness?

We explored the phrase, "The unexamined life is not worth living" and most agreed with the Greeks that not "examining" or questioning and thinking might be like living as a rock--comfortable and problem free but not rewarding or rich. We also briefly noted some differences in Western thinking vs. eastern thinking to show how the ancients still influence our modern approach to life in the west (US, Europe vs. Asia) While we value individuality and competition, many EASTERN philosophies says the highest form of happiness is losing a sense of self and trying to be equal and one with the world, not stand out.

Some classes recorded a journal of 5 things that made them happy and unhapppy last week and today. All classes will finish this later this week. Comparing these lists will be the first step in our developing our OWN philosophy of what it takes to be happy in general. We will keep these ideas in mind as we explore TRAGEDIES in the two novels we read and see what the stories can tell us about true happiness.

Class Notes:

April 12, 2012

HW: Study for surprise pop quiz on the complete and correct definition of Exposition. We have drawn exposition, found it in songs, marked it in paraphrases of stories, and referred to it as a term you MUST learn this year--however I still get half answers and blank stares from too many students. The quiz will be worth at least 30 points. Should you need to study (and you SHOULD NOT if you have paid attention to the fact that I have reviewed it so often that it MUST be important) look at the reference sheet on Plot maps that you ALL have in your binders in the Lit Notes section. It was the second or third handout of the year. If, for some unfathomable reason you do not have the sheet where you were INSTRUCTED to keep it when I handed it out and AGAIN when we did binder checks, you can find it on the Reprints page of this website. I am not linking you to it--do a little work to find it and it may help you remember it better.

You will have about 90 seconds to write the short definition I gave you. You will know it or you won't.

No other homework

Class Notes:
We got through sharing paraphrases of at least one of the two stories students have been working on in each class. We will finish tomorrow so be prepared. I am grading participation and preparation.

April 11, 2012
HW: Each student will complete his or her portion of Step 6 on the directions sheet (reprintable from file in April 9 entry). During class students at each table chose a single story to concentrate on and assigned sections for each group member to paraphrase. I expect about 2 paraphrases (simple sentences or bullet points) per column of text. If the text fills less than a full column, you may have less. If the section is full of important events, you'll have more.
  • EACH paraphrase MUST include a noun and a verb--Character name + what they are doing or thinking or saying that adds to the conflicts in the story. Put the notes for your paraphrase in the literature Notes section of Binder. AS ALWAYS--put name, date and title (the page and column numbers you are doing) at top of work in case you have to pass it in.
Students who did NOT do last night's assignment are not allowed to work in groups tomorrow and will paraphrase the ENTIRE story by themselves. Any student not prepared 3 times will end up working alone for the remainder of our literature circle work this term.
We will go back and do step 5 in class after hearing the paraphrases to clarify our understanding of the events in each story.
Class Notes:
Great start to group work collaboration. Nearly everyone had completed reading and journals so group discussions can start.
In class many classes shared some reasons they liked one story better than the other. I was VERY impressed by the specific reasons given--which show good understanding of the elements of good literature. Students gave examples related to
  • mood
  • characterization
  • use of dialogue
  • action in plot
  • pace of the action
  • ability to connect with troubles character has
  • events and character reactions that made reader ANGRY or just made the reader think
  • style of writing--use of humor, unusual speaking styles of Jing-Mei's Mom and of Lemon
  • Introduction to new and different cultural settings
  • connections to familiar situations that are easy to directly relate to
We will finish these discussions in classes that did not get that far during tomorrow's classes.

April 10, 2012

I was absent. Students finished reading second story in class and began 1 paragraph journal comparing the two stories.
Journals finished for homework.

April 9 2012

HW: Finish work begun in class--(steps 1 and 2 on the handout)

Then read EITHER of the assigned stories. You will read the second story in class tomorrow. Full instructions are in the file below that has the copy of the handout you received in class today.

April 4, 2012

HW: Complete drawing pictures to paraphrase the poem "Sam McGee. " Most students were more than half way through in class and some finished completely.

You must produce an absolute minimum of 6 separate panels (no more than 2 to a page so the details are big and clear). Label the panels to show which section of the plot each panel shows images from: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution.

Include the Stanza numbers each picture is showing.

Use LOTS of labels with your pictures (EX: Label one guy "Sam" Label the "midnight sun". Use captions as often as necessary for me to be absolutely certain of what you meant to draw.

  • You should have at least one picture (more may be necessary) depicting images from the exposition;

  • at least 3 showing different images and problems during the Rising Action;

  • at least 1 showing the climax

  • and at least 1 for Falling Action/Resolution.

Use at least SOME color to show how the author creates mood --for example: the bleak endless white against the eerie green of the northern lights,
You may use stick figures or cut out and paste on clip art. I'm not looking for perfection. I am looking to see if you closely read and noticed all the visual images in the stanzas and understood that events of the plot.

April 3: no HW. Looked at video of narrative song about the gold rush to see how video shows visual details and images from a text. Looked at images of Northern lights.

Worked on drawings that paraphrase "Sam McGee."

April 2 2012

HW: No homework unless you are doing the extra credit described in the entries from last week. If you were seek today, read "The Cremation of Sam McGee" beginning on page 737 in text to be caught up for tomorrow's class work.

We reviewed definitions having to do with rhyme and narrative poetry.

We read aloud to note how rhyme and meter (the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables) create patterns that are fun to listen to. Much of the joy of poetry is enjoying the sound--poets not only have to communicate meaning, like prose writers, but they often do it through these almost mathematical patterns of rhythm and rhyme. You may not love it, but you should at least appreciate how incredibly difficult it is to do well.
Below are the brief notes students should have copied from the board that build from the last few day's discussions.

We read all 15 stanzas of "Cremation of Sam McGee" out loud to enjoy the rythym and rhyme and stopped to paraphrase to be sure students could visualize the events and understand the story being told. Anyone who was absent should read the entire poem to themselves and come in with any questions.
We also exmamined and discussed the tone of much of the word choice and how the poet created a clash between macabre topics (cremation; desolation; suffering; loyatly); some artsy poetic phrases ("strand things done in the midnight sun" "stars danced heel to toe" "loathed the thing" "hearkened" ) and through use of slang and informal word choice. ("sizzled" "cash in" "chum" ). The end result is certainly quirky--even if you don't like it, it is memorable.
We noted lines in which the poet took "POETIC LICENSE"- a phrase which is a metaphor for
  • when poets trim words ("'Taint" instead of "It ain't", "o'erhead" instead of "overhead" ;
  • create words ("marge", instead of "margin"; "trice" instead of "quickly" or "in a couple of minutes"
  • or invert or change natural word order ("When our eyes we'd close" instead of "when we'd close our eyes".)

Mar 29: No new hw--All benchmark long comp rewrites due tomorrow. Many are already in . be sure to include the COWS grading sheet I filled in.

Bring colored pencils to class tomorrow if you have them.

I collected ALL packets today. If you were out or did not have a packet with you today, TURN IT IN TOMORROW!!! Reduced credit for late work--not for folks who were absent.

Class Notes: We began discussion of Narrative poetry--poetry that tells a story. I invite students to find a popular song that is a narrative poem to share with the class. I will need these by NEXT TUES. This is for extra credit only.

The song MUST tell a complete story--so we could map the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. It is not narrative poetry JUST becase it has characters or creates a setting. It must have events in a sequence that have a clear beginning, middle and end. "Rudolph the Red-nopsed Reindeer" is a narrative poem but "Twinkle, Twinkle" or "The Hokey-Pokey" are not. Lots of country songs tells stories.
No songs with questionable lyrics. YOU MUST mark up the song, showing where you think the exposition ends; where the rising action ends; the lines that are the climax; and the section you identify as falling action and resolution. Also print an unmarked copy of the lyrics and if I choose your song to share with the class, I will copy it and your peers will try to find the sections of the plot the way you did.
You can bring the audio of the song if you have it and we will share that later next week.

Mar 28:

1. Read yesterday's entry for recap of what you will pass in tomorrow for a 130 point quiz grade. Paraphrasing will count for as many points as the ORQ. In most classes today and yesterday, we reviewed how to paraphrase (for the 42nd time this year).

2. Long comp revisions due Friday if you have not already turned them in.

Class Review: Students had time to work on packets after brief review of paraphrasing. Some students checked in to see if they are on-track.

When you paraphrase:
  • After reading anything through once from start to finish, you go back and read it in chunks.
  • Read a few paragraphs and then stop. Think about what you just read.
  • What's the topic (a noun--generally a character name in fiction)
  • What's happening--follow the noun with a VERB--the action
  • Then finish the thought with the most significant specifics. Use your OWN words-not the writer's.
  • If you have paraphrased correctly, you should be able to read your notes in the margin to someone who never read the story-and that person should understand what the story or article was about. If you have to slow down and retell something to someone else in your own words, you HAVE to think about it and understand it. That is why you paraphrase.
THree Wishes Example

Think about when we paraphrased the "3 wishes" story and I kept throwing the test back at you to RE-revise until you finally remembered to write a character's name and what he did. The following simple bullet points-each beginning with a specific noun and verb, retell the story. I have bolded the topic nouns and underlined and italicized all the verbs. Using nouns and verbs forces you to say WHO or WHat does WHAT--which basically tells the story. The bullet points below would have been your paraphrases in the margins of the 2-page story you read.

  • "Peters saves swan.
  • Swan is magical-grants 3 wishes.
  • Swan warns Peters about wasting wishes like people always do.
  • Peters asks for wife. P. wakes up to beautiful woman, Leita and they marry.
  • Wife visits river because she is not happy.
  • P finds out she used to be a swan and misses it. P. uses wish to return her to being a swan.
  • P never uses last wish. P dies happy. "

I will post a page of the "Treasure Island" text with paraphrasing we did in class in a file below by about 4. Note that the nouns that tell you WHO or WHAT is doing or being something in the paragraph are highlighted in yellow. The verbs, or ACTION being done is highlighted in pink. Notes on the left-hand margin summarize the multiple choice questions tht refer to specific sections of this page. Yes--you cn copy this exactly if you must for this part of the homework--just be sure to ALSO paraphrase the other two pages of the "Treasure Island" excerpt if that is one you did. Treasure_Island_final_paraphrase.JPG

Mar 27: Happy continued MCAS--Try not to run out of gas. Everyone has been commenting that the entire school seems to taking longer than past years--which means you are giving it your best effort. Keep it up.
I will be here afterschool Wednesday for anyone with questions or problems with long comp revisions or the packets due this week.

HW: DUE Thursday: Revised ORQ comprehension packets. See extensive instructions posted yesterday. I met with OO, GG, and YY classes today and discussed how to improve on the very weak paraphrasing I have been seeing. I will repeat with BB and RR tomorrow. BRING PACKETS TO CLASS--I will give some working time.

A completed set of packets will include
PAcket 1
  • Yoga and You: required highlighting and paraphrasing; Multiple choice; and ORQ--revised after peer grading
  • Many Stones: required highlighting and paraphrasing;mulitple choice; and ORQ
Packet 2
  • "Ernest Mann" done in class. Paraphrase and do multiple choice if you were absent or did not complete in class
  • 2 other stories (leaving one selection undone) required highlighting and paraphrasing;mulitple choice; and ORQ
  • TAG only for the single story you did not have to read or answer questions for

Due Friday:Revised long comps for quiz grade.

Revise to show that you have addressed the areas I noted were weaknesses at the bottom and FCAs in COWS rubric check-off sheet. You do not need to rewrite the whole thing if your issues were limited to a few paragraphs. For example, if I said your "hook" was weak, rewrite it and TAPE the new version over the old. If you needed to give more sensory details, rewrite 2 body paragraphs using more sensory language and cut out the new paragraph and tape over the old. If you needed to add clear topic sentences or explanations, write them and tape them in over the old paragraph for me to compare. Put an asterisk on the original to show where I should insert the change when I reread.

If you picked a weak topic and are drastically changing from the original, rewrite or retype the entire thing. You must include COWS grading sheet I marked up with your revision.

Mar 26: Remember what we have been practicing when you take the MCAS tomorrow and Wednesday. SLOW DOWN: review questions before reading to find what you should focus on; paraphrase AS you read to make yourself stop and put it in your own words--which helps you understand more deeply; and follow the format for writing a COMPLETE ORQ. Remember to plan your answer and revise it before moving to the next selection. Double check that you have THREE specific details to support each answer. EXPLAIN what the details you refer to or quote mean. Include specific paragraph numbers and a quote or 2 to PROOVE you went back into the text to give the STRONGEST evidence. You HAVE ALL DAY!!!. The prize for finishing first is usually a low score.

HW DUE THURSDAY: Finish the selection your group started from Packet 2 in class today--this includes all paraphrasing; multiple choice, AND ORQ response. You will leave ONE of the four selections in Packet 2 (the RICO packet) undone.

You must REVISE ALL of the selections you did in both packets if you did NOT follow the directions I gave when we started this review and repeated each day during the review. If you did the homework completely and correctly the first time, you will have very little work to do. If you approached the packets that same way you would have LAST year (for example highlighting EVERYTHI NG and not paraphrasing in the margins--or even worse, highlighting NOTHING and not paraphrasing) THen you have a LOT of work to do. Even though MCAS will be over, your ELA work must continue to show you can paraphrase and write using several specific details to support clear points.

Bring to any ELA classes that meet over next 2 days--I will give some class time for you to work on this.

I will grade both Packet 1 (Yoga/Many Stones) AND packet 2 to see that you followed ALL required steps to prove that you read VERY closely and understood the material. This will be your final quiz grade of the term. POINTS will be deducted unless you have

1. Highlight or circle each paragraph, or set of lines, that a multiple choice question directs you to refer to.
2. Paraphrase the QUESTION you will focus on next to the highlighted or circled passages
3. PROVE that you read and understood EVERY WORD of each selection. You must
  • underline or highlight specific phrases that might be used as evidence (a detail) to answer the multiple choice and/or the ORQ
  • PARAPHRASE (bullet point in your own words) at LEAST 2 important pieces of information for each COLUMN of text. REMEMBER that a paraphrase is NOT just a reaction, (such as WOW! or This is hard) A paraphrase is a key point or main idea stated in a section. Put what you underlined into your own words. When you string all the paraphrases in the margins together, you should get a retelling of the important information in the whole piece.
4. Answer all of the multiple choice. I have inserted a key below for you to check your answers. If you got one wrong, go back into the text and try to figure out how you COULD have gotten the correct answer.
5. Answer the ORQ!! You must include TAG+key + 3 d + 3E +key for about 3/4 of a page. Remember 3d means include 3 specific and relevant pieces of information that you would HAVE to have read the text to include. A quotation of a line or a few words and including the specific line or paragraph shows you found the BEST way to prove you went back into the text to support your answer. Some students find that including the phrase "For example, in paragraph -- the author writes..." is a great way to be sure you include specifics. Do this THREE times. Then paraphrase each quote and EXPLAIN why you included it.
6. As we saw in class--if you haven't filled almost a page, you probably don't have 3 separate specific details, AND an explanation of what each detail shows. You should try to take details from different parts of the excerpt--this shows you read EVERYTHING and that you didn't just find any 3 specifics and then stop reading further.
7. I will deduct if you do not include a TAG, and at least one quotation with paragraph or line number as support. You don't need Three exact quotes--you may run out of room if you try to include 3. You also do not need more than a phrase or a line for your quote--you do not need the entire sentence. Show you have zeroed in on the few words that MOST conclusively prove your point.


Mar 23: HW

All tables assigned themselves one reading from packet 2.

  • Read that SINGLE selection; mark up with highlighting and bullet points of most significant points that will help answer mulitple choice and ORQs(as directed for LAST packet);

  • Answer multiple choice

  • Write ORQ. YOU WILL GET A 0 is you do not include a TAG in your opening sentence and at least one DIRECT quotation with paragraph number as part of your evidence.

  • Then write the TAG + key words from prompt sentence for the OTHER 2 ORQs--you do not have to read the ORQ--just write an opening. For the Treasure Island piece you would not have to read a word to write, "In the excerrpt from "Treasure Island", Timothy Mason shows the kind of relationship that Jim and Bones had. " Notes on this are in file in yesterdayy's homework listing.

  • Finish multiple choice questions after the poem if you did not finish in class.

If you never finished or revised the ORQs from last packet DO SO!!! They will count for a grade after MCAS.

CLass Notes: We reviewed how to approach reading a poem to FIRST look at the literal pictures and action the poet wants you to imagine, and on the SECOND reading look for what symbolism or meaning the poet wanted you to see to understand the deeper messages and themes. We used the poem in the packet

March 22

HW: all classes: REVISE ORQs to get 40 points!!! Use what we discussed today. If you were one of the people who had until Friday to finish both ORQs, use the grading sheet I handed out in class today to be sure your final includes EVERYTHING you need to get a 4 from me!

ALL STUDENTS MUST add the TAG (Title Author Genre info) to the beginning and adding references to the paragraphs numbers that contain the specific details or quotes you used to answer the question. Models of how to do this are at the bottom of today's handout.

March 21, 2012

I want to thank the many students who were respectful and very thoughtful today. Quite a few kind words came my way today and you have no idea what a difference it made. Thank you for reminding me that the reason I do this is that you are all the future and you are well worth the investment of time --and "blood, toil, tears, and sweat"... (5 extra credit points to anyone who writes down who originally said "blood, toil, tears, and sweat, " Also write down what he was referring to. Deposit in class work bin tomorrow.)

Due to overwhelming time required to finish grading the extensive writing you have done this term to get to MCAS, I am going to list little more than homework on this site for the next week or two. This means you have to pay more attention to directions given in class, and take notes more independently. I hope to resume the more complete website entries next term.

HW: Same as posted yesterday and day before. You are doing BOTH stories in the packet.

Some students, whose work so far showed they were following directions and put in the 20 minutes I expected for last night, have been given an extension to Friday for completion. These students have "FRI" written by me on the packet. All of the BB class has the extension because nearly every student had followed directions in that class. Studentshad full class to work on packets today.

Some students picked up packets that were missing "Many Stones," the second story and ORQ in the packet. I will try to post a copy of that withn the hour .



Mar 20: HW: Work 20-30 minutes on MCAS practice packet 1, due Thursday. See full instructions in yesterday's entry.

Looked like a lot of careful thinking and writing happened today. One down, 2 to go for ELA.

Mar 19: Students are preparing for MCAS long comp tomorrow by getting to bed on time and eating "smart" tonight and for breakfast tomorrow. Bring a water bottle and healthy snack--no nut products. You may bring your own highlighters or pen to do prewriting. We provide pencils.

I finished returning the remaining practice long-comp comments to all students. Read the comments to note what to think about for tomorrow. All students have to revise and resubmit the essay AND the cover grading sheet by Thursday March 29. I have suggested that most student should try to get it out of the way over the weekend and turn it in Mar 26 if they want freedom from homework during MCAS days next week.

MCAS PACKET HW: To stay sharp and keep the brain in gear, you may want to spend 15-20 starting the MCAS comprehension packet handed out today (to some on Friday). You are to ACTIVELY read as instructed in class.
  • Read all multiple choice questions BEFORE reading excerpt. Mark the paragraphs and the topics of the questions you are referred to. Summarize the question related to each marked paragraph in the margin. for example, for the first question from "Yoga and You" you would write ""how is Yoga convenient?" near paragrpah 2 (as we did in class today) .
  • Once you've marked all the paragraphs related to multiple choice questions, read the ORQ and the italicized introduction. Mark up both to show the key words or ideas you will look for as you read the ENTIRE piece
  • READ everything. As you read highlight lines you could use to answer any of the multiple choice questions or the ORQ. You might want to use different colors for items that will only help with ORQ,
  • In the margin, paraphrase what you highlight into very short bullet points in your own words.
  • answer the multiple choice.
  • Go back and star the best peices of evidence to use in the ORQ--find 3 or 4 if possible. Use at least one EXACT quote from what you highlighted in the ORQ response. You must also use at least 2 other strong details (not necessarily quotes) in your ORQ response. You should note which paragraph you got info from in your responses. Ex: In paragraph 3, Luby notes that Yoga could benefit teens by helpong them uild "strength, flexibility, and endurance."

We will spend class time and homework time working on these. Plan to spend 20-30 minutes a night Tuesday and Wednesday to do a good job. You might want to start MONDAY to ease the workload later this week. A copy of Yoga and YOU, minus the photos, is viewable by opening the file below. I apologize to may last period class for the fact that students earlier in the day took multiple packets, leaving too few copies at the end of the day.

Mar 16: All classes took unit test. If you were out, plan to stay after next WEDNESDAY to make it up.


Mar 15: HW: 1. Study and get quotes and notes in a packet you can pull out IMMEDIATELY upon entering the room for the test. YOU may not spend precious writing time flipping through your binder and folders looking for your quotations.
SEE LAST NIGHT's ENTRY!!! notes on what to study and how to prepare for tomorrow's test---and extra credit opportunity at end.

2. IF you left the room with your journal writing of a great lead paragraph or two about vacation--you MUST turn it in tomorrow. You need only to find 2 ways to improve on the first draft and the two revisions should be in a different color or highlighted, so I know you used the class time you had for revision wisely. This is not a finished, edited piece.
Class Notes: We shared an example of a student who went from a solid opening to an amazingly gripping opening--to show the difference a good lead can make. Photos of the two leads are saved on the Gallery of Student Work page. Then students took out the draft they began yesterday and a peer read and noted what the writer did WELL to show excellent Word Choice strategy and Sentence Flow. Students looked at the specific techniques for improving Word Choice and Sentence Flow that I list under each of these headings on the COWS grading sheet (in their notebooks Writing Tips section and on this site in Reprints.) . After circling evidence of good writing strategies, students returned papers to the authors. Studens then added at least TWO more revisions to improve the openings.
We discussed that if you try nothing else, remember ZAPS--zoom in, add personification, use an active verb and add sound.
If you have mastered ZAPS....you can fine-tune writing by looking for a line or two to add alliteration to--replace some words with words that have the same initial sounds for better effect.
  • For example, instead of "The kids ran"---change to "Students sprinted...."
A second area even the best grade 7 writers don't often think about is varying the length of sentences. We discovered when we read POE that if you have a few more complex, descriptive sentences, followed by a short direct sentence, the short sentence will have more punch. That is a way to emphasize a point.

  • Before: All is calm. All is quiet. It is peaceful. Nothing moves. Time elapses. (This is "listy"-- too much of the same sentence pattern.)
  • After: Only sunbeams painting morning on my wall break the still, quiet moment. Time elapses, but does not push me to interrput the tranquility. Notihng moves.
In the second version, the contrast between the longer sentences and the brief "nothing moves," gives the short sentence more impact.

Students were to turn in revisions at the end of the period. I conferenced with some students. While I am tryign to conference with as many students as possible, I will not get to everyone before MCAS.. If you are especially interested in verbal feedback on your long comp, see me during the 20 minutes after lunch tomorrow and MOnday. I will also be here after school Monday and for a while on Friday if you can get a ride from a parent since there are no late busses.

MAr 14: FINISH the practice journal paragraphs you began in class to show you could use sensory language, active verbs, ect. to write a lead that would introduce a long comp if the topic were to describe and expalin what's great about vacation. You are only writing a lead -- not a whole essay. You are following the model we shared in class.
Use tonight and tomorrow to prepare for Friday Unit Test.
To prepare for comprehension section: Reread Act II if you did not focus closely on comprehension during homework assignments. You should read the questions at the end of the play and see if you can answer them -- the multiple choice portion of Friday's test will include similar topics, since I am using a publisher's test for the comprehension portion of the exam. I am not assigning written homework for this. The comprehension portion of the exam will be worth about 40 points.
ORQ preparation: Check your completed homeworks going back to early February to be sure you have EXACT quotations from the text to support an answer to an ORQ that will ask you to explain how the author shows Scrooge changing from the beginning, to the middle, to the end of the play. You will need quotations from the following sections of the play (you have had homework asking you to do ALL of this before--so you should have
  • 3 examples from Act I, Scenes 1 and 2 that show that Scrooge was a miser and misanthrope
  • 3 examples from Act I, scenes with the Ghost of the Past that show he MAY begin to have feelings and change
  • 3 examples from Act II scenes 3 and 4 showing that he has begun to change. At least one of the quotations should come from scene 3 and one from scene 4. The third can be with the Ghost of Present OR Future.
  • 3 examples from Act II scene 5 proving Scrooge becomes FAR different from the misanthrope and miser he was in the beginnning.
Once you have found all these examples from your homework, decide which is the BEST from each section to help you SHOW that you understand how the author shows Scrooge changes. You will attach your old homeworks or notes with quotations to the test to show you tried to find a variety of quotes before selecting the best 4 to put into the ORQ. I want to see that you can evaluate to find the BEST evidence you find, and do not just stop reading after finding ANY kind of proof.
The ORQ will be worth up to 160 points!!! prepare your quotations carefully. It is March and this test shows not only whether you have understood the play, but also whether you can now apply ALL that you have been taught about supporting a response with specific EVIDENCE from a text and EXPLAINING how your details and examples (quotes) are STRONG proof for the points you make. You should use new vocabulary in your answer and use transitions. You may want to review old Teacherwebs for notes on the play and on how to write a clear, complete ORQ response.
You've done the reading and the homework; already know the question; and know you have to narrow you answer to run no more than about a page; so there will be NO excuse for a poor answer or for not finishing during the test period!
Class notes:
We discussed issues with SOME of the proof students used to show Scrooge changed in Act II scene 3 and 4. I checked student homework for scene 5 and briefly noted individual issues with the quality of the explanations some students used. Quotations overall were solid choices for most students.
EDITING ISSUES: CAPITALIZE proper nouns on test or LOSE a full grade. Students continue NOT to capitalize names for some unknown reason. I had to correct lower-case Tiny Tims in TOO many homework papers. You may have come to believe that spelling doesn't count, but that stops NOW. You will never learn to be more careful until there is some horrible future cost--so I am being the ELA Ghost of the Future and am using harsh grading results to get you to be more careful. Not capitalizing proper nouns on a future college or job application will make it look like you do not know a first grade skill. I am holding responsible for grade 1 standards!!! Also be aware the Ghost of the Future is a name--so the Ghosts names are to be capitalized...as is the word Christmas.
Long comp LEAD practice:
We looked at an excellent student sample essay that opening with paragraphs that actually hook the reader using nearly ALL the elements of Great WORD CHOICE and SENTENCE FLUENCY listed on the COWS grading guide under the W and the S. Students then wrote opening paragraph(s) using the same techniques as though they were writing an MCAS long comp on the topic of "What is great about vacation." Students were to find a vacation moment and zoom in to SHOW not tell how the moment was great.
I met with a few more students to conference on LONG COMP benchmarks.
Extra credit for test: Tomorrow is the IDES of MARCH. Find an online source that explains the origin of the phrase "Beware the Ides of MARCH". Summarize what the source tells you in a paragraph and use MLA citation format to cite the source of your information.

Mar 13:
HW: Read the FINAL scene (Act II scene 5) and copy 3 quotations that PROVE Scrooge has changed. 1 must be dialogue, 1 must quote action (stage directions) and the third can be whatever you choose. You must note page and column number. Beneath each quote, write your explanation, in complete sentence(s), of HOW the quote proves Scrooge has changed.
FINAL TEST ON ACT II will be an ORQ this FRIDAY !!!!
This homework and ALL the other homework we have had to do since the first scene we read in February, will be your notes for the final test on the play. You will write an ORQ to respond to a question about how Scrooge has changed from the beginning to middle to end of the play and you will have to include 4 quotes from different sections of the play to prove your point. You will NOT be allowed to use the book. If you skipped homework, did it incorrectly, or lost it---you will NEED TO REDO missing assignments that required collecting quotes. You will have to attach ALL of the quotation homework to the final ORQ test to show me that you found LOTS of evidence and then selected the BEST evidence to support your final answer. The test will likely be Friday of this week.

MAR 12, 2012:
No new homework unless you did not finish the journal in class. If you were at Districts or absent on Friday, please see yesterday's entry for the homework you should have done over the weekend and get it to me tomorrow.

The journal prompt was for a Quick write only --no need to skip lines--we will not revise these.
Title: What is a HERO--Writing to show clear focus on topic only. No need for sensory language--just write a clear simple paragraph to show you can stay SHARPLY focused on the topic.
"What is a hero? (Write a sentence or two that brings together the 4 parts of the definition we got from the dictionary). Define "hero". Then select a traditional hero from literature, history or the movies. (Do not use a personal hero such as Mom or a coach as you may have for the long comp benchmark.) Explain WHY the person you chose fits the definition of a hero using SPECIFIC evidence.

Class notes:
Collected: weekend homework
Today's exercise was to help students correct a MAJOR issue with many of the benchmark long comps. Students did not stick to the topic and choose a HERO--which by definition (as noted in the sentences preceeding the prompt on the benchmark) is some who is "special" and overcomes "challenges" with "courage and strength. " When we looked up HERO students expanded on the definition to note the following characteristics. A hero:
  • perseveres, keeps trying repeatedly even after "knockdowns"
  • is noted for a SPECIAL feat in their field --not ordinary
  • is legendary; celebrated for bold exploits (brave adventures)
  • shows courage AND nobility of purpose (works for others or for a greater good--not just for personal achievement)

On the long comps, I had students write in general terms about heroes "going above and beyond" but the writer often gave no specific examples to PROVE this. Even more troubling were the large number of students who described someone they admire, or someone who does "nice" things; but not a person who has shown EXCEPTIONAL courage or sacrifice in meeting challenges. Your moms and dads are wonderful people who do a lot for you, but unless you wrote about how they SACRIFICE in a way that is out of the ordinary, or show courage in the face of difficult challenges--you have not proven they are heroic. (Getting you to clean your room or do your homework is NOT to be considered an exceptional feat unless you also characterized yourself as a particularly difficult child.) Some student samples shared in class included students whose friends were supportive (It is great to support a friend--but not heroic unless there has been unusual sacrifice to show that support. Listening to a buddy's troubles is not heroic all by iteself. Listening to an ENEMY's trouble's might be more heroic.
A mom seeing your game is not heroic unless you note what she sacrificed that is different than other moms to make the time to see you. I applaud your appreciation of your friends and parents, but you had to dig a little deeper to prove they are heroes.

SYMBOLISM NOTES: Homework also shows continued issues for some with identifying symbolism. You are to look for a concrete thing (an visual image the writer creates, an action described, a sound described) that STANDS for more than that single image.

For example,
the BLACK CLOAK of the Ghost of the FUTURE is a particular, specifc, concrete image.
Dickens put that ghost in dark clothes with no face or sound coming out to SYMBOLIZE the bigger idea that the FUTURE IS DARK and unknown. In the novel Scrooge sees the frightening Ghost as a symbol that the future for SELFISH people in general (people like Scrooge) will be particularly bleak, dark and offer NO comfort.

Symbolism and catching clouds....
We noted that symbolism is shifting—like trying to capture a cloud and put it in your pocket…Or, symbolism may be like algebra to you—when suddenly numbers you always understood are replaced by letters. Now 5 isn’t just 5—it might be “A” in the equation A + A = 10. Or A might be -2 in the equation 12 + A= 10. It shifts depending on the situation. If you are struggling with the concept of symbolism --it is normal.
Symbolism And CINDERELLA's Slipper: If you see a book with a glass slipper picture on the cover --you KNOW its "Cinderella" THe picture is a symbol that just snaps that connection into place. But why is the symbol so memorable? We discussed in class that part of the power is that it is unusual--the author picked THIS shoe for some reason beyond needing to think of a costume for the character. We then looked at REAL shoes from a box I have--a baseball cleat, red pump, ballet slipper, fuzzy pink pig slipper--and realized each of these would be symbolic of a different kind of heroine.
  • If she wore the cleat--we'd think athletic, boyish, powerful and independent.
  • The red pump would be for a showy, confident lady, not a young girl;
  • the fuzzy slipper would suggest a person who is comfortable and not about appearances....
  • but the GLASS SLIPPER is clear, and fragile, and unique, and delicate---just as the heroine is fragile under the control of evil stepsisters and stepmother and a society that says you need to be wealthy to marry the man of your dreams. She is transparent--maybe not a deep thinker--but beautiful and innocent.

    The SYMBOL says a lot--the author does not have to directly tell you all this. We do not always stop and think about ALL the meanings in each symbol. The beauty of symbolism is that we have AUTOMATIC connections, almost subconscious understandings, of certain items, colors, etc.. These work to deepen our understanding of a character or situation without us having to think twice. When we DO slow down to ANALYZE the symbols, however, we see the brilliance of EACH choice a writer makes in creating a story.

The file below contains a chart we did in class on Thursday identifying symbolism in the sign I keep outside my door. Try to apply the same pattern to find symbolism in literature.

MAR 9 2012:
HW: Find three passages from the text in scenes 3 and 4 that show Scrooge is willing to change for the better. Note page and column number and copy exact quote from text. Then explain why you choose each quotation. Use complete sentences for explanation.

March 8, 2012


‍1. Quick review of vocab for tomorrow's quiz. You were supposed to have done the serious studying last night when there was no other ELA homework.

‍2. Complete a chart showing author's use of symbolism in Act II scenes 3 and 4 ONLY. DO THE CORRECT SCENES!!! Chart should be structured like the one done for March 6, scene 1 and 2 homework. Sample in file under Mar 6 entry. Include the page # and column # of the example, an example of a "concrete" detail such as an image, prop, costume or scenery detail, special effect.... and list in column 2. Then explain (in bullet points) what the image means beyond itself (the abstract meaning) in column 3. I will try to post a sample later this afternoon.

Find as many symbols as you can in 15-20 minutes of focused effort. (shoot for a minimum of 2 per page.)
Get symbols from BOTH scenes.

3. Weekend homework will be to find three passages from the text in scenes 3 and 4 that show Scrooge is willing to change for the better. Note page and column number and copy exact quote from text. Then explain why you choose each quotation. Use complete sentences for explanation.

‍You may want to do this tonight while you are closely reading the scenes for symbolism and have a free weekend.