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.
- Independent, Sustained Silent Reading is something we used to do daily in seventh grade when ELA classes were 84 minutes long. I’d like to find time for ISSR again at school. Some schools with only one period of ELA have their ISSR time one period each week or once every seven school days. Others use the first ten minutes of every period. What are your thoughts about how often and how long we should have independent reading in the classroom?
- Reading Logs don’t have to be lists of titles with signatures. If we are reading at school again on a regular basis, there could be time for reading conferences with the teacher. With our iPads, we could record small group conversations about what’s happening in our books and turn in those conversations. What would be your preferred way of receiving credit for your reading?
- Regular library visits are important to supporting an ISSR program. Should we start going to the library every two weeks? Some students have said they have trouble finding a book to check out, so perhaps we should arrange for Mrs. Martinez to spotlight some titles for us each time we visit. How do you think we could make the most of regular trips to the school library?
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:
- rising action
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:
- Think about family vacations.
Explain why _______ is a great place to visit.
Explain why your family will never again vacation at ______.
Explain how to make the best of a rainy day stuck in _______.
Explain why air travel is _______.
Explain how to survive a long flight (or a long airport delay).
Explain why family road trips are _______.
Explain how to irritate your siblings on a family road trip.
Explain why Disney World never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve been before.
Explain why _______ is the best ride at _______.
- Think about your school life.
Explain why _______ is your favorite subject.
Explain how to make ________ grades in class.
Explain why school dances are _______.
Explain how the school day could be better organized.
Explain why the school’s technology policy is ________.
Explain why grades are ________.
Explain your ideas for improving the appearance of your campus.
Explain why homework is _________.
- Think about your social and extracurricular life.
Explain why being the new kid (or a cheerleader, or a “nerd”) is ________.
Explain how to crash a friendship in three easy steps.
Explain why participation in sports is ________.
Explain what participation in ___________ has taught you.
Explain how __(insert social media)__ can ________relationships.
Explain how your parents’ rules for you should change.
Explain how you are different now than you were in sixth grade.
Explain why students need more down time during the week.
- Think about your hobbies and passions.
Explain why ________ is a favorite activity.
Explain how to play a better game of ________.
Explain why you love ________.
Explain how your love of _________ enriches your life.
Explain why the haters are wrong about your passion/fandom/celebrity crush.
Explain what your most important possession is and why.
- Think about the people in your life (those whom you know or have read about).
Explain why you admire _________.
Explain why ___________ is an example for others to follow.
Explain how ___________ achieved success or overcame adversity.
Explain how ___________ has taught you ___________.
Explain why you are grateful to __________.
- Think about what you have learned recently.
If you like history, explain how a key event happened or why it is significant.
If you like science, explain why an experiment was successful or how a process happens. Explain how discoveries in __________ will change the future.
If you like health and PE, explain how __________ affects the body or why people should stop/start ______________.
If you like math, explain how you solve a type of problem.
If you like English, explain how a certain character ________ or why a certain character ________. Explain why you ________ reading or why a favorite book has been important to you.
If you like your independent studies, explain how ________ is done or why _________ is something you want to learn more about.
- Think about the wider world around you and life’s bigger questions.
Explain why it is important to help others.
Explain how one person can make a difference in the world.
Explain why it is important to speak up for what is right.
Explain how technology is making life more _______.
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.
“I can’t remember what happened next, only my father coming in with a bowl of water, him yelling, and the unbearable stench of smoke.” Microwave mishaps befall Mara and Yasmine.
“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!