Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Update

Today we had our first substitute in English class, and most students acted appropriately and respectfully for her. There will be a handful of detentions passed out in class tomorrow, however. :(

Due to the fact that there was a substitute, I did not assess the weekly "green sheets" that are always graded on Mondays. Students should be prepared to present them on Tuesday at the start of class.

Also, any old/late/longterm work was not collected, either, but can be handed in tomorrow.

No one should have any new homework for tonight unless they did not complete the activities (writing a constructed response for two classes and doing a grammar sheet for the third class) during the time allowed in class.

As a reminder, the Independent Reading Projects need to be completed and turned in by this Thursday. Other English homework will be extremely limited this week to give students more time to focus on the project. As of today, two students have completed their projects.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our first test

Well, Families, the students made it through their first Language Arts Word Whiz test. It took over half an hour for each class, and it will take me at least that long to grade! At first glance, however, most students appeared to be successful! Bravo!

There is no new homework tonight, however the last two letters for the Independent Reading project are due on Oct 2 at the latest. I suggested to students that it would be less stressful for them to turn one in this week and the last next week. I am hoping most of them will take me up on this strong suggestion. Students should also be prepared to present their Booktalk on the 2nd as well. Directions for the booktalk can be found on the rubric the students recieved with their first letters. Directions for the Independent Reading Project can be found on this blog under September 3.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Tonight, please study for the first test of the year. The test is on all of our Word Whiz notes:
"Fun and Useful Words," "Word Parts," and "Language Arts Words." The test is Thursday.

Fun and Useful Words: Commence, Simian, Tyro, Treasury, Notorious, Toil, Lionize, Vague, Jostle, Significant.

Word Parts: ambi, ess, in, im, spec, onym, man, mania, anti, ful, y, dynam

Language Arts Words: Journal, Setting, Audience, Action, Persuasion, Character, Characterization, Monologue, Dialogue, Transition, Description, Sensory Details, Tall Tale, Exaggeration, Understatement, Conflict, Constructed Response

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today's Class

We took a Word Whiz pre-quiz. In blocks 2 and 4, we started new constructed responses (they are homework if not finished in class), and in block 3, we started a new story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Homework from Friday and Homework for today

Though it was not posted on Friday, students by now should be aware that homework every weekend is to fill in their neon green reading accountability sheets.

Homework for today, Monday, is to complete the two-sided "Language Arts 2" worksheet, and to finish the constructed response begun in class today. All students should be nearly done the constructed response, since they had 20 minutes to work on it in class. Many students were able to finish it entirely and hand it in before leaving.

Continuing homework is to complete the Independent Reading Project by October 2. For more details, see blog dated 9/3.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Progress Reports / Block 3 homework 9/18

Moms and Dads, please look for progress reports. They went home in every major class today.

Block 3 only: please complete the constructed response begun in class today. To refresh your memory, it was on how the author uses monologue and dialogue to reveal information about the characters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday September 17 / Open House

Today was a bit disjointed due to the evacuation drill, so only one class was assigned homework. BLOCK 3 needs to complete the constructed response on suspense. The other classes do not need to do anything except continue working on their independent reading projects.

Oh, and don't forget to bring your parents to Open House tonight at 6:30.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Constructed Responses

Today in class we learned about summarizing fiction, short story structure, and how to write a constructed response. Constructed responses are what many of us grew up calling "short answer questions" -- questions that require a paragraph-length response. Constructed responses show up on the NECAP exams in math, English, and science. The basic way to answer the question is to write a paragraph that follows this structure:
First, restate the question in one sentence that gives "the gist" of your answer.
Next, using your own words and at least two quotations from the text, provide supporting details that explain your answer.
Finally, conclude your paragraph with a re-statement of your answer.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Tonight, please complete BOTH sides of the worksheet entitled, "Language Arts 1."

If you did not do it already, please complete the second section of the green accountability sheet and turn it in with a late pass tomorrow.

Remember to keep perking along on the independent reading project. The remaining parts are all due by October 2.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend Homework / Independent Reading Update

This weekend you are to read for an hour, unless you read a total of an hour at home during the week. Please fill out green accountability sheet to turn in on Monday.

Due date set for the remainder of the Independent Reading Project: October 2. This means that by that date, you should have finished your book and turned in two more letters/emails. You also should have prepared a Book Talk to deliver on October 2. See September 3's blog for more details.

Looking ahead to next week: We'll be working on "constructed responses" to "Lather and Nothing Else", and those responses will become part of a Response to Text on the story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Lather and Nothing Else" / Homework

We are all finished with the Gates and 2 out of 3 classes have finished reading "Lather and Nothing Else". Things should return to "normal" tomorrow.

Tonight's homework is to finish writing your 1st letter or email to me regarding your independent reading novel. See posting on September 3 for more details.

See you tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gates Assessment Finished (almost)

Today the Gates-MacGinitie assessment was completed by two classes. One class (Block two) has the reading portion remaining, due to the assembly on Tuesday. You all took the test seriously and did your best, and for that, I thank you. These tests are very important.

All classes today also visited the school library, where we learned about the changes and improvements being done to the space by our new librarian.

Tomorrow, Blocks three and four should be able to finish reading "Lather and Nothing Else" and begin working on the questions that go with it. Block two will need to finish the Gates.

Don't forget that the first email / letter for the independent reading project is DUE THIS FRIDAY!!!! See blog from Sept 3 for more details.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Things have been moving pretty quickly in class the past two days:
We began the Gates-MacGinity assessment, we've been continuing our work on vocabulary, we began Uninterrupted Silent Sustained Reading (USSR), we are trying to finish reading "Lather and Nothing Else", and many of you have turned in your first letter or email to me for the independent reading project (see blog post on September 3).

Homework due 9/12 (this Friday): turn in first letter or email if you have not already done so. This will count towards progress reports.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Lather and Nothing Else" / Homework for Weekend

What a great story we started today! "Lather and Nothing Else" had you students really interested. When class was over and it was time to go, I heard several groans about not being able to finish the story -- music to an English teachers ears! Now you have to wait a whole weekend to find out what the barber will do to the man, and who that man really is after all. I can hardly wait!

Homework for this weekend is to spend about an hour on reading your book for the Independent Reading Project (see blog entry from September 3) and filling out the top of the green "accountability sheet." Remember that the green sheet should last for four weeks, so just do the first section. The green sheet is worth 10 points and is due Monday.

Weekend homework????? Yes, but: As I explained in class, the weekend homework is always going to be to read your independent reading book for one hour and log your progress on the green sheet. If you prefer to not have to read on the weekend, starting next week you could choose to read your hour during the week instead. You could even break the hour into a few shorter chunks if you'd like. Many of you may have already read an hour during this past week, so you can just fill in the green sheet. If you are one of the ones who waited until the last minute to get your book, I'm afraid you'll have to read an hour this weekend. From now on, however, you could choose to get your hour in during the week instead, and still turn the green sheet in on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our first unit / Homework for tonight

Today we began our first unit. We'll be studying short stories. Our essential questions for the unit will be:
1. What makes a "good" short story?
2. How can I write a "good" short story?

Homework for tonight: Do the back side of the Reading Comprehension sheet we started in class today. Remember to try out the strategies I modeled for you in class. Also, if you have not yet gotten an independent reading book, please get one! This weekend you should read your book for an hour. If you have any questions about the independent reading project, check out the posting yesterday for details. Feel free to ask in class, too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading Purposes and Strategies / Independent Reading Project

Today in class we discussed some of the purposes of reading: pleasure, information, clarification, escape, education, and more. We also talked about different strategies that good readers use to help them understand their reading: questioning, clarifying, predicting, visualizing, consulting outside sources, connecting, and more. Keep these strategies (also called skills) and purposes in mind as we read this year.
Reminder to all students: You need to find an ADVENTURE FICTION book to read independently ASAP. You will have ten minutes a day in class to read and are expected to read for a total of one hour outside of class each week. You can choose to read your hour's worth in one or more sessions, over the weekend or on weeknights, or whatever fits your lifestyle. Once you have read one third of your book, send me a 250 word email or write me a 250 word letter (typed or handwritten). Your letter should include a brief summary of what has happened in the pages you have read, who the main characters are and what they are like, some of the strategies you have had to use while reading, what you expect will happen next and why, any connections you have made, and whether or not you are enjoying the book and why. This will be followed by an email/letter after another third of the book, and another email/letter when you finish the book. You'll also need to give a brief booktalk on your independent reading. This all needs to be completed before the end of this marking period.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Word Whiz

Today in class we completed our first Word Whiz activity (commence, journal, and the prefix ambi), wrote in our journals, learned how to access the blog, recorded our grades so far, and got a little preview of what we'll be doing tomorrow in class. Thank you to those who shared journal entries today. See you tomorrow!