About Mrs. Kriese

I am a seventh grade teacher in Austin, Texas, and a teacher consultant with the Central Texas Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. I enjoy writing alongside my students, participating with them in the work we are doing as a community of readers and writers.

Week One

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As we approach the end of the first week of school, my students and I have much to be proud of.

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!

Back to School

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Students,

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 ;- )

Sincerely,
Mrs. Kriese

Who Am I?

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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

  • Beowulf, A New Telling
  • Freak the Mighty
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Lion King
  • Mulan
  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Les Miserables

Can you think of more stories you have read or watched that explore the question of identity?  Share your answer in the comments.

New Novels

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Edmodo for Book Thoughts

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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.