Our Edublogs Pro account is now an Eanes ISD Edublogs Campus account. We are excited about the new opportunities that Campus features and connections bring to our blogging.
Please visit us here at http://edublogs.eanesisd.net/tkriese
Our Edublogs Pro account is now an Eanes ISD Edublogs Campus account. We are excited about the new opportunities that Campus features and connections bring to our blogging.
Please visit us here at http://edublogs.eanesisd.net/tkriese
We’ve done good work together: writing our thoughts, writing our hearts, writing our selves. We’ve shared our ideas with each other, even though it might have felt a little intimidating at first. We’ve taken those first important steps toward building a community, practicing the work of respectful talking and listening. We’re realizing just how powerful a tool the writer’s notebook can be.
Next week, we introduce more powerful tools into our community of readers and writers. With the iPad will come the collaboration features of Google Drive and the discussion opportunities of Edmodo. The week after that will bring the introduction of blogging, and then wow! Watch us go!
What a great beginning.
Wildcats write, indeed!
One week from today, you’ll be here! We teachers are getting ready for you, unpacking boxes, hooking up computers, and setting up our classrooms. In the picture above are cartons of new science and math textbooks. Bet you can hardly wait!
I look forward to meeting all 110 of you on the 25th. Meanwhile, enjoy that last week of summer before the real fun begins ;- )
Scroll through the Tackk board below. You can share your comments at the end by typing text, uploading a photo, or even sharing a GIF! Express yourself 🙂
The Giver comes out on August 15th. Will you be seeing the movie?
I look forward to watching the film as both its own story AND as an adaptation of a much-loved book. Will I be pleased with this interpretation of Lois Lowry’s work, or will I be disappointed?
Let’s meet back here after we see it and compare notes!
When Peter Parker walks in late to his English class, he interrupts a lesson on plot in fiction. His teacher is explaining that a mentor of hers used to say that there are ten basic plots in all of fiction, but that she disagrees…she thinks there is only one: the question of who am I?
Certainly the exploration of that question is key to many stories. It is key to the story of Spider Man as Peter Parker must figure out the origin of his identity and who he wants to be going forward. The question of identity is one we each must answer as we grow up, and it makes sense that if literature is the exploration of human experience that its stories strive to answer that question, too. Who are we, as individuals and as part of larger communities?
“Who am I?” is a question that is key to understanding the theme and plot of many stories we have discussed this year, among them
Can you think of more stories you have read or watched that explore the question of identity? Share your answer in the comments.
Intrigued by the history and enticed by the opening pages, pre-AP classes are off to a great start with Animal Farm this week. Many students left class on Friday saying they were looking forward to reading more, and might even finish the book this weekend!
Those who do finish Orwell’s novel before May 5 may want to explore further resources:
This Brain Pickings article highlights the incredible Animal Farm illustrations of Ralph Steadman as well as key quotes from author George Orwell.
The History Channel website has short, interesting biographies of Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin with several related video links. A YouTube search will yield many videos about Nicholas II or any other figure of Russian history you’d like to learn more about.
Students in second and third period enjoyed the first chapters of Freak the Mighty so much they didn’t want to stop reading on Friday. The popularity of the book is due in part to the wonderful voice of Max, our teenage narrator. We’ll follow the story of Max and Kevin’s improbable friendship this week and talk about the important lessons these two boys learn from each other.
Students interested in more Kevin and Max might be interested to know there was a movie made of the book. Author Rodman Philbrick talks about that and other aspects of his popular novel on his official website. If you love Freak the Mighty, consider reading its sequel, Max the Mighty.
Descriptive-narrative sketches, personal narrative essays, narrative poems–we’ve been talking a lot about narrative writing lately.
Most of us are reading books that tell stories. We’re enjoying the unfolding of a plot and the development of characters. We’re sticking with our novels because we want to find out what’s going to happen, and because we’re entertained while we wait: the author’s style is just right for us.
Whatever genre we are reading, we all have something to share about our books. We are thinking, wondering, noticing, feeling as we read, and many of us would like a place in which to share our book thoughts.
One virtual space that my classes have used in the past is Edmodo. We’ll use this secure, safe education tool to create an invitation-only, password-protected Kriese 7th ELA “room” where we can talk about our books (and other stories). Parents will be invited, too :- )
Students are likely familiar with Edmodo via science classes in earlier grade levels. I’m excited to use this tool again in English class.
Let’s get the conversations started!
Image credit: Elements of Literature. Digital image. The-teachers-lounge.com. McDonald Publishing, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
At the beginning of class last Tuesday, students were asked to summarize what was currently happening in the books that they were reading. They typed their answers into a Google form, with reminders to incorporate the sentence variety and conventions we’ve been working on in class. I’m especially happy to see the use of appositives in the responses!
Most importantly, I’m happy with the level of engagement I’m seeing with most students and their books. Spending time in the library and in silent reading has given me insight into students’ reading lives. I’m learning who is familiar with which authors, who reads reluctantly and who reads willingly, and who throws up big roadblocks to reading…and perhaps why. Several students and I are now working on finding books that will get them interested again after many, many months of not reading any book at all (true confessions have been one of the benefits of this return to library visits and reading time).
Some of the many intriguing plot summaries from last week:
Ben on Perfect Season by Tim Green:
“A new kid, Chuku, has just moved in and is a potential star wide receiver. He met Troy, the main character one day at the Jets facility and Troy was impressed. Since Troy has to attend a poor school because his dad ran away with all of his money, he tried to “recruit” Chuku to attend and he did. So now, with a hall of fame player, Seth Halloway, as their coach, they are looking forward to a perfect season.”
Jane on Size 21 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot:
“Heather Wells, a college dorm monitor, has been hearing strange screams going down the elevator shaft and she has been finding people dead at the bottom. She knows these types of people wouldn’t elevator surf (jump from elevator cars to the next) so she calls the police, and of course they don’t believe her and no one else does either. She starts to investigate and finds the president of the colleges son as a suspect.”
Joseph on Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins:
“Gregor is getting ready to go on a hunt to find the Bane — the biggest baddest rat in the Underland — and kill it. Gregor knows that he has to do this even though the prophecy calls for his death. Him and Ripred, a rat that is on the humans side, are going to do whatever they can to kill the Bane and let Gregor keep his life, but it will be very hard.”
Francesca on The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler:
“The main character, Penny, just arrived at a new school in Hog’s Hollow. She and her mother baked cupcakes for a party and they have just arrived to set up the party room. An embarrassing accident happens and the birthday girl, Charity, now hates Penny. She then ‘welcomes’ Penny to her new school with a locker full of pennies.”
Kevin on The Fourth Stall, Part II by Chris Rylander:
“Earlier in the book, the protagonist Mac and his best friend Vince, along with a few other assistants, conducted a mass cheating operation for the SMARTS test, the book world’s equivalent of STAAR, where they corrected every answer. Unfortunately, everyone failed the test, despite the corrections. As the punishment for a failure on this scale results in the school being closed down, Mac and Vince must find out who is trying to take the school down. If they can’t–it’s the end of the world.”
Dahlia on The Chase by Janet Evanovich:
“FBI agent Kate O’Hare was captured by Carter Grove’s elite private security agency called Black Rhino. Nicholas Fox, her partner and international con-man and thief, is caught, and even though her bosses know what she’s doing, she’s on her own. Kate successfully talks her way out of the tricky situation, finds Nick Fox, and heads back to the states, finds Carter Grove in possession of stolen paintings, and arrests him, with help of a rag-tag crew and her dad, ex-Navy Seal, Jake O’Hare.”
Sam W. on Hothead by Cal Ripken, Jr:
“The main character, Connor, has a big baseball game coming up against his biggest rival, Billy Burrell and the Red Sox. Connor runs into Billy at school, where Billy starts to threaten Connor about ‘accidentally’ hitting him during the game. Connor then watches as he walks off and walks right into a locker door, sneding Connor home laughing. Connor then finds the tires on his bike slashed with some jagged glass, which only could have been done by the one and only….. Billy Burrell!”
What are you reading now? What’s happening in your book?
For the Edublogs Student Challenge Week Three, we adapted the sixth activity to write about our favorite apps. You’ll find some great ideas here for your iPhone or iPad, whether you are looking for entertainment, productivity, or education.
When I turn on my iPad, I have a bajillion things I could do, and all of these things come from apps. There are apps for texting, gaming, school, typing, recording, movie-making, emoji 😜, and more! Apps make life easier, entertaining, and better. I love all of my apps, but here are just a few that I use on a daily basis…
We’re going to talk about apps, but not just any apps, we’re going to talk about the apps that I use on a daily basis.
These are a few of my most favorite apps! They are not in any kind of order, just listed how I saw them on my phone. If you also use – or try – any of these apps please let me know in the comments, and also tell me how you use them!
In the modern world, apps (applications) are very important. Apps are self-contained software that can complete certain tasks. Safari on iPad allows you to search the internet. Flappy Bird on iPhone allows you to play an addicting flapping game. The AP Mobile app allows you to stay in touch with the latest AP news. All these apps can modify your phone or tablet to make it what you want.
We all have apps we can’t live without. It doesn’t matter whether they’re on your smartphone or your desktop, they are there and you use them every day. I have a few of those. Music, Calculator, Skype, etc., and if I am on my phone, there are 5 apps that I am almost guaranteed to be using.
What if there were no apps, or even no electronics? I’m no genius, but I’m pretty sure our world will crumble as we know it. Well, at least all teenagers…. Ever since electronics have been invented, they’ve been the most needed item on planet earth. Now, there are some of my favorite apps in the App Store.
The App Store is full of kinds of weird and original games. You have the free to play games and tilt games and tower defense games and all sorts of other genres. Here my top 5 favorites.
What is your favorite or most useful app on your phone or iPad?
In this Edublogs student challenge for Week 3, one of the activities was to tell a visitor to our area about a must-see place or attraction. Enjoy the following compositions from students in Periods 4, 6, and 7 about the highlights of Austin, Texas!
Gabriel recommends the Alamo Drafthouse for movie night.
Izzy loves visiting South Austin’s SoCo for shopping and fun.
Hannah describes the enjoyment of a day spent downtown.
Izadora captures the fun of ACL Music Festival.
Ryan B. explains his love of Lake Austin.
George reminds us that no trip to the capital is complete without a trip to the capitol.
Tarun chooses Torchy’s Tacos for food and sports.
Dahlia enjoys dining at Tony C’s for the best in Italian food.
Dylan reviews Tres Amigos, a Westlake favorite for Mexican food.
Saira has an alternative recommendation for those with vegan tastes.
Olympia shares the best place for a game of laser tag after dinner!
Visitors, where are you from? Leave us a recommendation about where we should eat, shop, or play if we ever tour your town!
Students in Periods 2 and 3 have responded to the blog challenge of posting about a favorite place. The following writers not only have great ideas to share, but they do so in blog posts that are well-organized, with introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions. Well done!
Where do you like to shop in Austin? Bryce has a favorite sports store.
Summers in Austin are hot! Where to go to beat the heat? Clara recommends Barton Springs, famous for its natural beauty and cold, cold water.
And then are the places we just love because they are our personal havens: Jered and Madiha write about their own backyards, Eric about time spent in virtual reality, Lauren about her favorite golf course.
Barton Springs Pool. Digital image. City of Austin, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
Students in periods 2 and 3 are entered in the Global Blogging Challenge, and for the Week 1 challenge we’ve been asked to introduce ourselves and share information about where we are from and what we love about our home. This Haiku Deck is one that some visitors from the fall may have seen before, but for those new to our blog, here are some photos we collected to showcase our city:
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app
And here is a list of what we agree are some of the things we love most about Austin. Click on the links to see more.
What do we enjoy about living here?
Visitors, have you ever stayed in our city? What did you enjoy about your time here? If we were to come to your home town, what would be your top recommendation of things to do while we were there?
We’re excited to have new blogging partners in Mr. Webb’s Room 1 in Auroa, New Zealand. After introducing ourselves, Room 1 wrote a post about what they knew about Texas, so we thought we’d put together a list of what we know about New Zealand. Like Mr. Webb’s class, we realize we have some research to do in order to complete (or correct?) our knowledge and impressions.
From period 2 and 3, here’s a compilation of what we think we know:
We look forward to learning more about New Zealand and Mr. Webb’s class in the weeks ahead!
In Phantom of the Opera, Christine’s compassion for the Phantom leads to transformation: the Phantom’s heart softens and he lets Raoul and Christine go free, he himself is set free from his bitterness and hatred, and he escapes the mob after physically transforming himself to elude capture.
Think about other stories you have read or seen in which a character shows compassion for another. How did that compassionate act change a character or move the story in a new direction? Name the story or character and share your observations.
Another way to think about the question is to turn it around: can you think about a story in which the withholding of compassion has turned a character or a story in a different direction from what it might have otherwise gone?
Can these questions apply to nonfiction as well as to fiction? You may answer with a nonfiction example if you prefer.
Write a comment in order to respond to the question, or respond by elaborating on another student’s comment.
Image credit: Phantom of the Opera. Digital image. The Phantom of the Opera Official Website. Cameron Mackintosh, Ltd., 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
The message of the above graphic is one we already know: reading is important, and reading every day fosters academic strength. Chances are that the more you read, the better student you will be…the better thinker you will be.
At the seventh grade level, we ask that you strive to read 800-900 pages in a nine-week time period, that you log the titles of the books you read, and that you obtain a parent signature next to each title as corroboration of your reading. Reading that many pages means reading regularly, even though you may not keep to a 20-minutes-a-day schedule you had when you were younger. We all have more time to read some days than we do on others.
Recently, we teachers have lifted the requirement that you read at least one book of a specified genre per nine weeks. The most important thing isn’t what you read, but that you read. I appreciate these words by educator and reading expert Donalyn Miller: “Reading belongs to readers, not to teachers. If we want children to see reading as anything more than a school job, we must give them the chance to choose their own books and develop personal connections to reading, or they never will.”
We’ve made that small change, but I’m thinking there need to be more changes. I’d like to open a conversation about how we do reading at school, and I’m asking for your input. Parents, feel free to add your thoughts, too.
Parents and students, I look forward to hearing your answers to these questions (and any other thoughts you may have about reading) in the comments section of this post.
It’s wonderful to really hear students’ voices come through their writing. We’ve talked about the progress they’ve made as writers, and the kids observed that they are writing with more expression and with better organization. They’d love to have your feedback on their compositions!
Cierra had a great time at summer camp. Read about why she loved it so much.
You’ll enjoy Ethan’s humorous explanation as to why kids should not have to do the dishes.
Grant’s description of his favorite food will make you hungry!
Nina is a poet. Read this poem, then visit her blog for more.
Tired of the cold? Not Regina. She explains why she loves winter!
Ryan’s narrative about his recent fishing trip puts you right on the water with him.
Overdue library books? You can empathize with Valerie as you read about the pain of late fines.
Our expository writing has been so enjoyable to read! Check out the following links (and others to be found in the student blog roll) for compositions that are alive with voice and filled with thought.
Don’t be a corner-camper! Steven explains how NOT to play video games.
Soham informs us of the disadvantages of using electronics.
A student who DISLIKES snow days? That’s Matthew. He explains why.
Ryan sees long car rides as great opportunities for fun.
Izzy shows why Telluride is a great place to visit.
“Bow ties are cool!” declare the Doctor and Gabriel.
Amulya explains why she enjoys pep rallies.
Ava explores the many meanings of the color red.
Short expository essays, fiction, poems, and personal narratives have been posted by third period students. Enjoy this sampling of their work!
“The fun is in the risk.” Eli explains why he loves riding his mini-bike.
Irma calls shotgun! Read about why the front seat is the best seat.
“The sun falls back underneath the earth.” Clara’s sunset will leave you in awe.
Sam has written a clever how-to guide for those who want to irritate a brother or sister…
“Too bad it’s not turkey season, I thought.” Clay narrates a hunting adventure.
“The Merchants’ Village” is a chapter story written by Jane.
Bryce explains the different ways in which people can wear masks.
You’ll be counting the days until summertime after you read this post by Lauren.
Our writing from the week of February 10 has been entertaining and informative. Enjoy this small sampling of student work, and visit the links in the blog roll at the left to read more of what our Wildcats have to say. Comments welcome!
Dahlia shares her D’Var Torah.
Emma paints with the color blue.
Alena expresses her thoughts on the Olympic sport of curling.
George explores the qualities of effective leadership.
Grant shares the pressures of being a baseball pitcher.
Lucca explains his love of lacrosse.
Joseph shows why football is awesome.
Emma Bernice evaluates her iPad ownership.
We are about to begin an exploration of another story, this one told through music. Even though Phantom of the Opera is mostly delivered through song, all of the elements of plot that we find in fiction books are there:
Enjoy this video as a review of those elements.
Need an idea for your next expository writing assignment?
Let’s think about this together. We know that expository writing can explain: it can explain why you think something or how something is done. Perhaps you’ve been reading some articles this week about the Olympics, explaining the history of how certain sports have developed over time or explaining an opinion as to why Russia should or should not have been awarded the games.
You can think about aspects of your own life and explain the how or why of topics you know well:
Once you’ve found your topic, remember to organize your thoughts into paragraphs: an introduction to establish your controlling idea (don’t give your reasons or make your points yet); body paragraph(s) to develop that idea with your reasons, supporting them with specific support/elaboration/commentary; and a conclusion to echo the controlling idea and leave your reader with something more to think about.
After reading several Newsweek “Favorite Mistake” columns, we wrote about some favorite mistakes of our own:
“There was nothing positive about this. My head lowered. My stomach sank. What had I done?“ Julius recalls an incident involving the family pet and auto repair.
“As if things can’t get any worse…they do.” Read Vayda’s account of signing up for P.E.
“My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding so hard that I could hear it.” Rachel shares a story of anxiety.
“There I was lying flat on the ground— eyes widened as if the world had just flashed before them—and for me, it had.” Learn why Vivian was so upset.
“The whole thing seemed like it was in slow motion.” Caitlyn narrowly avoids disaster.
Note that the Newsweek columns are based on interviews, written in first person but by a third party who had talked with the man or woman who had actually had the experience.
In class, we discussed how our favorite mistakes would be different: ours would be personal narratives, written in first person by the student who had had the experience. For this assignment, our goal would be to show the event in more detail than the news magazine columns had, in a way that the reader could feel what the writer had felt.
Leave us your comments and let us know how we did!
In our study of mentor texts (most recently, the prologue to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, the thirty-fourth chapter of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and James Ramsey Ullman’s “A Boy and a Man” from our Prentice-Hall literature textbook), we’ve paid attention to how the authors have used punctuation to bring out the emotion of what is happening on the page. Hyphenated adjectives can add voice, dashes can add a sense of immediacy and urgency, colons can add dramatic emphasis, and ellipses can show hesitation or doubt. Of course, these aren’t the only uses for these punctuation marks. We’ve been playing with them in our writing over the past few weeks to see what more they can do for us.
Here are examples from student work that I collected in my classroom about six or seven years ago. These sentences were all taken from personal narratives written in response to the prompt “write about a moment you’ll always remember.”
We weren’t just scared. We were scared-out-of-our-wits scared. —Shelby
We didn’t call our full-court, man-to-man, get-the-ball defense “Duracell” for nothing. In our last game alone, we had created fifteen turnovers. —Ryan
I was having the time of my life. Something was bound to happen—something bad. –Jesse
Confused, I glanced at the clock. It was only—wait—that couldn’t be! Nine o’clock?!! –Annie
There were no birds singing, no plants swaying, no clouds moving—another breathless day. –Carly
Every minute—every second—was precious to me, because every instant we weren’t there was a moment he might die. I don’t remember whether or not I cried. It wasn’t important. What was important was how much I needed him—how much I would miss him—how much I loved him. –Hetty
I was trapped. The towering oak which had once captured my imagination now held me prisoner in my own treehouse. I yelled for my mom, for my dog—for anyone! –Jaci
It was World War III: older brother vs. younger sister. There were pillows, books, even food being thrown. Soon we were throwing ourselves at each other! — Myles
I knew something then: this dog needed me, and I needed him too. –Emmi
It was only later that I realized what I had accomplished: not only had I broken my own record, but I had broken the all-time record! — Katy
Victory was mine: I had decimated his army and captured his king in the most strategic and graceful game of chess I’d ever played. — Clifton
I felt strange…not good, not bad. Only one thing was certain: I had to make the best out of a sad situation—new house, new room, new things. –Mary
“Ummm…sure…I’ll do it,” I finally answered. Oh my God, I thought…What did I just do? — Jessie
“Hi, I…I’m Je…Jessica.” My lips were paralyzed and my heart was pounding furiously. Three hundred pairs of eyes were staring up at me, watching my every move. –Jessica
Students, use the comments to post examples of punctuation craft from your recent essays or blog posts.
Show, don’t tell.
Use vivid verbs.
Paragraph for effect.
Create images that the reader can see, hear, and feel.
Open your writer’s toolbox: dialog, metaphor, simile, personification, ellipsis, dash, colon, sentence variety, repetition, inner thoughts, leads…
All good advice, but none of it as effective as it could be without models–mentor texts–to serve as guides for imitation and inspiration.
So in recent weeks, we’ve been reading Michael Crichton, James Herriott, J. K. Rowling, and more published authors to enjoy their work and the way their words made us feel, and to ask how they did it. What choices did those writers make that were particularly effective, and could we do apply the same “brushstrokes” (thank you, Harry Noden) to our writing to achieve the effect we wanted? Students were also encouraged to pay attention to the crafting in the books, articles, and posts they read outside of school and to ask the same questions: What do I like about this? How did the author do it?
I’m excited to see our attention to author’s craft showing up in student blog posts. Read the following Flipboard magazines spotlighting our student writers…what craft lessons can you recognize in their work?
Some students have asked about how to add some special text effects to their blogs. Enjoy playing with the possibilities below! You can search the web for more options. If you find more cool bling for blogs, leave your recommendations in the comments!
Get this text and many more glowing fonts here . After you create your message, choose “get web code” and paste it into your post. Remember to use the “text” option when pasting in codes.
Do you like Minecraft? Check out this site for generating text. When you finish designing your message or header, there is no html code to copy. Just download your text for use in your blog, or use a tool like the snipping tool to cut out and save the image for upload as you would any photo. That’s what I did for “Purple Power.”
We have enjoyed getting to know our iEARN project partners this fall and exchanging our writing with them. Our poetry and expository compositions have now been published: we created Weebly websites for our poetry projects, Ms. Gorelova’s class created a blog for their friendship project, and Ms. Mitrofanova’s class created a newspaper for their teen life project. Click on the links below to read our work!
Friendship by Ms. Gorelova’s Class
The Footprints of a Generation by Ms. Mitrofanova’s Class
Mrs. Kriese’s 4th Period Poetry Project
Mrs. Kriese’s 6th Period Poetry Project
Mrs. Kriese’s 7th Period Poetry Project
Mrs. Schoch’s 5th Period Poetry Project
Mrs. Schoch’s 2nd Period Poetry Project
We’ve been using Subtext in our 7th grade classroom for our reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol rather than paper copies of the book. Feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive. Here is a sampling of what they had to say about this new way of studying a novel:
Take a look at Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol:
Scroll through Dickens’ handwritten manuscript page by page by clicking HERE.
Turn the pages by using the buttons in the upper left corner. Zoom in to more clearly see Dickens’ revisions by using the controls at the bottom of each page.
Notice that even the most talented writers (especially the most talented?) revise their work!
For more background information on Dickens and A Christmas Carol, see the link in the “Explore More” section of this blog’s sidebar.
Reading, writing, thinking…and thinking some more after more reading and writing. What have we been up to? Here’s a summary of the past few weeks:
What’s ahead? More Christmas Carol reading, more Writer’s Notebook explorations, and of course, more blogging :- )
These poems were inspired by a reading of George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” and by our own explorations and excavations of childhood, home, and family in our Writer’s Notebooks.
Enjoy these ten. More student poetry will be posted over the next couple of days.
“Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.” — Denis Waitley
Making mistakes can be frustrating, but we can grow from them.
Newsweek magazine has a regular column called “My Favorite Mistake” in which people of note are invited to tell about mistakes they are glad they have made because the mistakes taught them valuable lessons or gave them insight they wouldn’t otherwise have. In class, we’ve read about the favorite mistakes of violinist Joshua Bell and Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
Now it’s our turn to write personal narratives about our favorite mistakes and what we learned from the experiences. Perhaps some of those essays will appear in our blogs.
Do you have a favorite mistake? What did it teach you?
Read Nina’s poem about Daylight Savings Time.
Visit the beach with Madilyn.
Experience a thunderstorm through Anisha’s vivid description.
Savor a just-right cheeseburger with Kelly.
Enjoy Valerie’s post in recognition of our nation’s veterans.
Ava writes about a favorite place in her home.
Have you ever heard of a smartwatch? Matthew can tell you all about it!
Julius gives us insight into our reading of Robert Nye’s Beowulf: A New Telling.
Ryan shares a story of a childhood treehouse and has a question for us to answer about our own experiences.
Myles shows us what Science Day is like for the middle school students who present lessons to the elementary school kids.
Today in class, we watched scenes from Star Wars, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In those clips, Luke, Frodo, and Harry each receives a call to adventure: a summons to leave the world he has known and to embark on a journey. We talked about Jonas from The Giver and his call to adventure.
Students watched and then came up with a longer list of people who have received such a call, highlighted here:
Here in Dan Priest’s video are more scenes from more stories that develop around a character called to adventure. Can you think of your own list of examples from fiction? How about from reality? People called to their life’s accomplishment by circumstance or inner voice? In what way have YOU been called to adventure?
By now people were pouring out of the gates while the rain picked up into a downpour, turning dirt into mud, puddles into ponds and everyone else into an irritated, soggy mob.
—Grant A, in his post about having to leave ACL
For the past couple of weeks, students have been writing about topics of their choosing, and the results have been wonderful to read. Some students incorporate imagery into short pieces of fiction or personal narrative. Others write expository pieces (though we haven’t introduced that term yet) about topics that interest them.
One aspect of writing we’ll be focusing on more and more is the importance of paragraphing: how it helps the reader follow and understand a piece of writing, and how choices in paragraphing can enhance the mood the writer wants to achieve.
Here is a sampling of this week’s student work:
Amulya and her love of a favorite pair of shoes
Hansika and the anxiety of waiting
Rachel and the experience of adopting her puppy (check out the link to the Humane Society)
Dylan and his scary Halloween night
Emma Bernice and the thrill of a rainstorm
Joseph and the challenge of the P. Scary
Shampurna and the nerves before a piano recital
Ariana and the quiet joy of a moonlit walk on the beach
Hannah and her confrontation with a zombie
Neha and her love of jellybeans (don’t miss the hyperlink to a Pinterest page of incredibly designed desserts!)
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This was the day of the reaping.
–Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
The writer of an article, essay, story or book begins with a lead to draw the reader in–to make the reader want to read more. Suzanne Collins opened her book with a lead that gave us information about the setting: it was the day of the reaping, apparently a day that poor families had cause to dread.
In the comment section of this post, share an interesting lead to an article, essay, story or book you’ve read recently. Be sure to include the author’s name and the title of the work. See the first few comments for examples. Try not to repeat a lead that has already been given.
Before posting, make sure you are logged in and that your profile is set to display your name with your three digit number. I need to be able to tell who is in what class period so I can give you credit for your posts and comments this nine weeks! Your name display setting is found under DASHBOARD–USERS–PROFILE–DISPLAY NAME PUBLICLY AS…
Image Credit: The Hunger Games, Scholastic Press, 2008
Check out the introduction message and slide show that students in Mrs. Schoch’s and Mrs. Kriese’s Pre-AP classes made for their iEARN project partners in Russia, Romania, Belarus, Pakistan, Indonesia, Colorado, and Tennessee. The kids did a fantastic job!
Students in second and third period classes prepared for writing their first drafts of a personal narrative by zooming in on a scene, capturing details for the reader. Imagery creates the experience through sight, sound, and sensation, evoking a mood so that the reader feels what the writer felt.
Here are some examples of student bloggers playing with language to create powerful images:
New posts are up for the week, and I’ve enjoyed reading what students have to say! A variety of topics are covered in a variety of formats and styles. Here are just some of the highlights:
Great job, bloggers. Visitors, we all welcome your comments! Student blogs are listed in the blogroll in the sidebar on the right.
We are excited to welcome our Pre-AP students to iEarn (the International Education and Resource Network ) in a collaborative writing project with eight other teachers and their students from around the country and the world!
Over the next fifteen weeks, we will be learning more about each other and ourselves as we plan a writing project together and exchange our composition work with each other. Eventually, all ten of our classes will produce a literary magazine highlighting the best of our writing. The theme and format of that final product has yet to be determined by the students, but that’s part of the fun: deciding together what it is that we will accomplish.
First things first, though. We’ve got to open the lines of communication and get to know more about each other. We teachers have made our first posts to the teachers’ forum, and over the next couple of weeks, students will be creating, taking, and then sharing a survey of who they are as a group of young WRMS Wildcats, Austinites, and Texans. We’ll gather items for “welcome packets” (eight of them!) that we can send to our fellow iEarn classes. As we await welcome packets in exchange, we’ll be proactive in learning more about the home states and countries of the schools we are collaborating with.
We’ll officially get started on the project next week, but in the meantime, meet our iEarn partners:
Ms. Hockert from Hixson, Tennessee, United States
Ms. Gorelova from Sarov, Nizhny, Russia
Ms. Graham from Dolores, Colorado, United States
Ms. Popa from Botosani, Romania
Ms. Shabbir from Karachi, Pakistan
Ms. Suaib from Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia
Ms. Zubair from Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
Ms. Mitrofanova from Belarus
Students, do some exploring of these places on your own between now and Monday. Perhaps you can use Google Earth to take a quick journey across the country or across the oceans to see where our soon-to-be new friends live!
After a lesson on prepositional phrases, students used their lists of prepositions to write poems with the words. It was a fun activity to help learn prepositions and to practice crafting with prepositional phrases, adding details of when, where, how, what kind, and which one to their writing!
George transports us into a basketball arena, Kevin takes us camping beside a still lake underneath a starry sky, and Ethan has us see the world from the viewpoint of his kitten as it’s confined in its carrier.
Can you name all six of the games that Isaac takes you through?
Inspired by this lesson from Read, Write, Think, we are writing poems to help us learn prepositional phrases. Here are two that my daughter Karen and I wrote together last night:
Between the lines of a diary’s pages,
Within the ring on a blackened hand,
From the locket beyond a lake of monsters,
In a cup among glittering jewels,
In a diadem among abandoned treasures,
Inside a snake under a cloak of scales,
Behind the lightning scar of the boy who lived,
The Dark Lord survives
Out of the cupboard
On to Hogwarts
At age eleven
Beside loyal friends
Across the years
After so much pain
Into the forest
Among those he loved
With new understanding
Beyond fear of death
Write a poem of your own using prepositional phrases. Students, perhaps you could revisit your Writer’s Notebook entry about your favorite shoes and where they have taken you and turn it into a poem. Other ideas include writing a poem about a favorite hobby, sport, book, movie, vacation, game–anything goes!
Students, I’ve been so pleased to see the enthusiasm for reading that you have shown in these first weeks of school! Already you are bringing your public library books, paperbacks, Kindles, and Nooks to class. You’re browsing the classroom library and checking out titles from best-selling young adult authors. Extra minutes in class have been spent productively, with you choosing to read once your binders are organized and your letters are written. This is exciting! We are building a community of writers and readers in our seventh grade classroom.
We can all foster this enthusiasm for reading and support the growth of our class library by ordering books from Scholastic. You can browse each month’s book flyer and order online here or from the link on my website (it’s under the “resources” tab). Our class ordering code is GNM2B.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to read for my reading log this nine weeks. I’ve almost finished my audiobook How the Light Gets In, the recent Louise Penny mystery I mentioned in my letter to you, so I think I’ll get started on my required biography/autobiography. I’ve checked out a book about the Bronte children: Charlotte, Emily, Anne. I know a few of you are familiar with Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, and both are on my list of favorite books. I’ve listened to my Jane Eyre audiobook three or four times over the years, and I know I will listen to it again. I am really looking forward to learning more about the lives of Charlotte, Emily, and their lesser-known sister. All were writers, and all are interesting to me.
What person have you chosen to learn more about in your reading this nine weeks? What makes you interested in the life of that person?
Visitors, have you read an interesting biography or autobiography recently? Leave us a comment here.
We are a class of seventh graders in central Texas. Most of us are blogging for the first time, and we are excited about all that we will learn through our participation in the Edublogs Class Blog Challenge. We look forward to learning about the other classes taking part!
Visitors, where are you from? We’d love to hear from you!
Now that we are done with our five days in the computer lab, it’s back to the classroom. Some students noticed that the desks, which had been arranged in groups the first week of school, had been placed in rows for Back-to-School Night to accommodate all the parents who rotating in and out of the small space for their eight-minute class periods.
We quickly moved the desks back into groups for our purposes, but I have to say, there’s a real place in my heart for rows. I wrote a poem about school seating when I was monitoring Saturday School a few years ago. You can read it here, and then I’d love to hear what you have to say about the subject of desks and seating charts at school. What works for you, students? Adult visitors, what are your memories of your preferred seating options at school? Any particularly good or bad experiences associated with where you had to sit in a class? Comments welcome!
Poem for My Eighth Grade Self
I like a sturdy desk,
One that doesn’t rock.
I want to be able to move in it, use it, solid and sure.
And I want it to be in a row.
Not at the front, where I might be seen.
Not at the back, where I might also be seen.
Put me in the middle, just left or right of center,
And NO GROUPS.
Desks in rows anchor me–
Keep me in a defined place–
Approachable, yet not.
My desk is my space,
Perfect for doing my perfect schoolwork,
Then perfect for reading after my
Perfect math quiz or my perfect history test,
An island for my personal thoughts and daydreams.
Is that why I hated science?
Maybe it wasn’t the safety goggles and the frog guts–
Maybe it was the tables,
The sharing of space with other kids.
Yes, science had tables that facilitated
All things I did not want.
Spanish had desks in rows, but it also had
role plays and fake names…
Give me my math desk instead,
With two pages of silent, independent work–
A math desk to offer
A math desk where I could sit
With homework complete, ten minutes left til the bell, and then
a leaning back
a slouching down
a private escape
into Anne of Green Gables
What a difference a week in the computer lab makes.
All two hundred and fifty WRMS seventh graders now have blogs, and wow, are they looking good! We borrowed inspiration from Mr. Miller’s Blogging Boot Camp (thank you for posting this, Mr. Miller) and brought everyone into the computer lab for five consecutive days to get our blogs up and ready here at the start of the school year. Lessons on proper use of images and video will come later; for now, we’re ready to write!
The timing of our abbreviated boot camp was just right to coincide with iPad roll out and this week’s library/lab orientation. Soon students will download the Edublogs app and connect their new blogs to their tablets (and to their smartphones if they have them). We are grateful to be a 1:1 iPad campus and plan to make good use of our technology in English class this year.
Eventually, students in my class will be authorized to post here to the class blog, using it as a sort of literary magazine. In the meantime, check out some first posts on the individual blogs of period 4 and 2 students: Dillon discusses character arcs in a post about book endings, Ellie extols the deliciousness of cheesecake, James describes the fun of fishing, Olivia explores the “Writer’s I” and the joys of PB&J, and Steven writes about a mysterious adventure in his neighborhood. Keegan has a love for animals, Nick loves to read, Nina enjoys Friday night football games, Ryan is excited about his second year playing French horn in the band, and Sam compares and contrasts soccer with other sports.
Tomorrow is our last day in the lab. Students who still have their first posts in draft status will publish, and everyone will create an “About Me” page by the mid-week. Our class is participating in the Edublogs Class Blog Challenge, so we’ll come up with a class “About Me” page for this year, too!
verb: 1. The act of placing something onto a list of favorite items.
2. The act of placing a website onto the “favorites” list on a computer.
I love the website pinterest.com so much that I am going to favorite it.
Today we were talking about vivid verbs, and one group of students brainstormed a list of verbs that are relevant to the Facebook/Instagram/YouTube lives of today’s kids. Here they are in an Image Chef word mosaic:
What verbs did we miss?
And we’re off!
My students and I began a wonderful new year of learning together with a discussion of a few welcome-to-school letters, including this one sent to us by John Green:
John makes some interesting points about the importance of public education, a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit lately. We’re fortunate to have a great school here at West Ridge, and I’m excited about the year ahead as we begin this seventh grade journey together.
What are your thoughts about John Green’s message? Does he say something in particular that resonates with you?