Monday, September 30, 2013

Do you believe in yourself?

Being Part of the Conversation
Backchanneling Links: Make sure you always add your name before adding your comment.

C/D Class

E/F Class

If you believe in yourself, you can literally DO anything!
 Can you come up with your own daily 'affirmation?'

a) Today, we looked at rereading to spot details we might have skipped over on the first read. Anybody can be a 'plot junky' and zoom through text. Interpretative readers are fine tuned readers that know how to spot 'significant details' when they occur in text.
Reread for significant details by asking:

  • how certain characters think and feel about a particular event 
  • was there a fact that is more significant on a second reading?
  • is there more to a character's comment that the literal meaning? 
  • is a literary device such as allusion used to enhance meaning?

b) We also began to use the 'language of discussion.' Can you begin to use this language across other subjects or when you are at home?'


Make sure you are 'thoroughly' prepared to discuss the short story, "Inside Out" by Francisco Jimenez.
(This might be a story that you also read in class last year).  The story is linked here. It is also in your blue package.

You should be able to discuss:

  • The themes in the story (there are  multiple)
  • The character in relation to any reading skills we have covered so far as part of our character unit
  • Any unique thoughts that you may have
You are prepared for your discussion if you come to class with plenty of notes on the text, either in the margin or on stickies.

Warning: I will be adding the biweekly Learning Behaviors grade this Friday. You are always being assessed on:

  • Organization (How long does it take you to find your digital files?)
  • Class participation (Even if you are not called on, do you have your hand up?)
  • Lesson Focus (What does it mean to 'really' focus?)
  • Punctuality (Are you arriving to class exactly on time - or a minute early so you can  get your files out and be ready to start learning?)
  • Being prepared for class (How many trips to do you need to take back to your locker during class?)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coming this week

  • Monday - Class discussion of 'All Summer in a Day' - Make sure you bring the story to class with your thinking written in margins or on sticky notes
  • Tuesday - Writing 'Openings' for Memoirs 
  • Wednesday - More reading skills on character
  • Thursday - Preparing for Student Led Conferences (Strengths and Goals) 
  • Friday -  Assessed Book Club Discussion (Speaking and Listening Grade) - You will be told the story on Monday to read for this discussion
A comment on the importance of reading. Do you read to a younger brother or sister, ever?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Weekly Reflection

Parts of Speech Assessment

Use this link here to go to your test: Parts of Speech assessment. Once the entire class has finished the assessment, you will be automatically sent your scores in your email. Once you finish the online part, organize your purple cards into the 8 parts of speech. In order to receive an 'A' on this part of the assessment, you must turn x2 cards over in each section and add words of your own. If you choose not to do this, then the highest score for this section (if all correct) would be a 'B' - Ready to challenge yourself?

Writing Class

Today we discussed 'transitions'. Transitions are part of your 'structure' grade on assessments. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What to watch for in stories...

Recap of what we need to always be on the look out for when reading stories:
  • Good readers notice when author's use the setting to set the stage for events
  • Good readers notice how events set the mood or tone of a piece
  • Good readers look for objects or symbols reappear frequently
  • Good readers listen for when the author repeats details or focuses on something
  • Good readers pay attention to when the author makes an important statement that can hint a future action or be significant later in the book (turning point)
Be prepared for 'parts of speech' assessment for tomorrow.

For Monday: Make sure you have read the story in your blue package: "All Summer in a Day" - -linked. MAKE SURE you show your thinking about the story by making notes in the margins. We will discuss this story as a class on Monday. How effectively will you be involved in the discussion?

Your next reading response about a character will be set in two weeks!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Structure of Stories

For Thursday - DO NOT forget your sticky notes about your short story. You will need them for class

We learned a great deal today about the 'structure' of a piece of writing. From now on you will be able to classify writing by types of scenes and not by beginning, middle, and ends.

H/W (Due Fri)
Make a copy of the file below
a) Read the memoir  here and categorize  the following scenes based on the structure below:

1) Setting descriptions
2) Character descriptions
3) String of action shots
4) Inner thought shots
5) Dialogue

b) Add any other descriptors to the scenes where possible. e.g. flashback, change, learning, background etc.

You should come to class with the text color coded story. Additionally, this story is an excellent resource to show you want a final memoir paper reads like. It does not have to be printed.

Bring any questions you have about your memory paper to Friday's session. I have attached a list of 'cliched' themes here . If you are still searching for direction in your memoir piece, these might help.
Persevere. Often, you will find your theme in the process of writing your piece...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Growing Theories about Characters

Today, we discussed growing theories about characters. Remember the steps we followed in order to grow a theory:

We introduced our new set of  Greek and Latin roots - Which meanings do you remember?

Finish the story you were asked to read in class and write an  extended sticky note theory about the character.  You should bring a sticky note(s) to class that shows your thinking about your character. Your final piece should be a maximum of x2 sticky notes long.
(Due: Thur)

Reminder: Parts of Speech assessment is Friday. (Are you using your purple cards to learn?)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Parts of Speech: Review

Recap on our discussions on parts of speech: Which parts of speech of you most concerned about?
If you would like to learn about how to find theme again, here is the video from class

Blog post on your learning so far. (Due tomorrow). This is a short 1-2 paragraph reflection. Make sure you add the label: rla so I can see this post.

Keep up to date with your independent reading.

For Wed.
Come with the 'theme' for your memoir written as a sentence. You should have a rough idea of the anecdotes you plan to use. You do not have to write any of the anecdotes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome Back & What do Grades Mean?

"Get our learning on..." A new video from Kid President

I hope you all had a thoroughly enjoyable CWW experience. I certainly did!

Start the new week by being organized
1) Blog post on your learning: Due Tuesday (see sample below)

2) Parts of Speech practice exercises: Due Tuesday (see last blog post - You are expected to have a basic knowledge of the 8 parts of speech. We will review these in class on Tuesday)
3) Make sure you have made copies of these new files ready for class on Monday and Tuesday
Word Study Unit 2
Thinking Critically about Characters
Unit 2 Grammar Opening and Delayed Adjectives

Memoirs - single anecdote papers - Your grades are in powerschool. If you do not have a grade listed it is either because you did not put your name on your work or  because you have not turned in a PAPER copy to me.

Understanding Grades
Student X scored these grade in Reading Responses  D  D C  C  B A A
What grade do you think is on the report card?

Wrong - It is not  a B or a C. It is an A!
Why? - These grades show a growth in a student's understanding. Grades are NOT averaged.  Grades ONLY show how well you have done on a specific learning target at that time.  The purpose of school is for you to 'LEARN.' If after 5 practices, you can prove that you have 'learned,' then you would be given the grade at that time and not an average of all your previous grades. It is not where you start, or how you go; it is where you FINISH! Does this mean that all you have to do is work hard on the last paper of a unit? No! You need to 'consistently' show mastery of a learning target.

The good news is that teachers are stopping 'averaging' grades from the beginning of a unit when you are learning something new and are giving students more credit for their growth! THEREFORE - If you have scored lower grades so far - DO NOT get disheartened. These grades are only a 'snapshot' of how close you are to a specific learning target at that time. They do not say anything about you as a person. If you do more practice (more work), you will earn the grades where you finish! Ask me in class if you need further clarification.

This short video talks a little about assessments.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Weekly Reflection

H/W - Due Tuesday September 24th.
Blog post  - You must write a short, but very specific blog post that discusses your learning over this first stage of the year. What content have we covered (taught)? What do you really feel good about (learned)? What still confuses you? What do you want to work on the most on your return from CWW?
Add an image & an effective title to your blog post.

Congratulations on finishing your first set of RLA Units. We still have our final memoir paper to write; otherwise, we will be starting new units after CWW.

6th Grade Grammar Review
Thursday 26th Sept, we will do a very quick 'parts of speech' review. Before this date - make sure you have tested yourself on your knowledge on parts of speech using these links. An understanding of 'parts of speech' is vital if you are going to be successful with the new content that we will introducing in grammar.
Parts of Speech Review
A little harder

If you are unsure on any of the parts of speech and their usage, bring these questions to class on Tuesday 24th.

New RLA Units for after CWW
  • Reading - Thinking Deeply about Characters
  • Book Clubs - Short Stories and Full Novel
  • Word Study - Unit 2 Roots
  • Grammar - Opening and Delayed Adjectives and Adverbs
  • Writing - Finish memoir and on to Research Based Persuasive Arguments 
Keep your independent reading habits up to date and your reading log. (not on CWW of course)

Subjects and Predicates Scores posted
Learning is the focus. If you would like to improve your grade by taking another assessment. See me after CWW. 

CWW is a great time for collecting memorable moments that might help you with your final memoir paper. Will you experience changes or have an epiphany?

Next blog post will be Monday Sept 23rd. Have a great CWW experience. I plan to!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tone and Mood

Memoir Writing
DONE is better than PERFECT...always remember that!

H/W - Compulsory
Homebase - Make sure you bring in your CWW packed travel gear for tomorrow.

 Watch this video to help you practice tone and mood.

Optional: Test your parents - Ask them to item the 'tone' of this piece then ask them to discuss the

As you read, you will notice the tone and mood shift from chapter to chapter or character to character.  Great readers track how they feel as they read noting times when their emotions change or the tone of the text changes.


Hand in a printed copy of your first memoir tomorrow
Subjects and Predicates Test: Turn in your completed booklet for a grammar grade

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Great effort today on your memoir drafts. Final draft for this piece is due Friday. Please bring a PRINTED copy.

Subjects and Predicates Test is Friday. Look on earlier blog posts for links to practice exercises.

Have you checked out enough books to cover next week? Remember there is no school on Thursday or Friday.

Have a nice evening!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Character Unit: Push yourself with your literature choices

Drafts of your first memoir piece is due tomorrow. It does not need to be finished, but you should be have a clear direction of where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Subjects and predicates package: Due Fri.
Subjects and Predicate assessment: Fri.

Make sure you have visited the library and have two books to cover the week of CWW and Teacher PD Days.

After CWW - Character Book Clubs

Monday, September 9, 2013

Teaching - Learning - Change

Today was tough for many of you. Another way to look at today's lesson is simply to answer these three questions.

Have you taught the reader something about the topic (teaching) - This is the anecdote
Have you showed that you learned something about yourself (learning) - Reflection
Have you showed the reader that you have changed in some way (Change) - Further reflection

If you are confused - write your story. After you have finished, see if you  have included the above aspects in your paper.

Show RESILIENCE - Try hard..then a little harder...

Characteristics to include in your piece

  • Use everything that you know about small moment narratives
  • Include 'times shifts' - (would +verb or had+participle)
  • Reflect on others feeling not just your own
  • Teach the reader something about you; show that the story taught you something; show that you are somehow different or changed because of the story

Write your 3 headlines: It should be 1-2mins long and contain advanced subjects and predicates

subjects and predicates from Russell Buxton on Vimeo.

Characteristics of Memoir

Characteristics of Memoir

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reading Responses

Read Teagan's excellent reading response here. She really shows that she is thinking deeply about her character.  Grades up on powerschool by end of day today.

Subjects and Predicates: Test is Friday

Use these resources to practice for the test on Friday.  Spend between 5-10mins reviewing each link over the next 5 days. Make notes of any questions you don't understand or ones you can't get correct.
You do not have to do all of them - Just choose some to practice.


Use arrow keys and space bar to catch fish


Subjects and Predicates Online questions and games
Print out this test and complete it (optional)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Effective Reading Responses

Moving from avid readers to interpretive readers...

Discussing the naive (naif) narrative in Scout's Honor by Avi

Courage, honor, and boyish camaraderie are interesting themes woven into the coming of age tale, Scout’s Honor by Avi. Set in post World War II America, this heart warming short story chronicles the adventures of a trio of friends who set out from their inner city neighborhood, Brooklyn, on an overnight hike, ‘in the country.’
Avi, the narrator and main character in the story, acts and behaves in a fashion typical of the time period and age range.  Blind faith in one’s own ability and an unwillingness to admit a mistake are common characteristics of most boys,  “the way they agreed (to the trip) made me nervous. Now I really was going to have to be tough” (p.2). To proud to admit his own fears and insecurities, Avi continues on his adventure out of city even though at heart, all he seems to desire is to admit defeat and head home.  With a probable stock of role models such as comic book heroes, western cowboys, and returning soldiers, it is easy to appreciate why Avi feels that the only way to show true bravery is to keep going.
Clearly, Avi showed  his age and immaturity by failing to plan the trip in a little more  details before setting out. By anticipating the expected travel time, Avi could have at least calculated that his group might arrive at their destination while it was still daylight. However, all of this behavior is understandable knowing that at the time Avi was only nine years old.
Both a flaw and strength is the narrator’s misinterpretation of what it means to be tough. Keeping face in front of one’s peers must have certainly been a neighborhood ritual in his world full of “slate payments, streets of asphalts, and skies full of tall building” (p.1). Living in such a densely populated community probably meant that reputation was everything.  Backing down at any point probably had much deeper and longer lasting repercussions in the streets where the boys lived.
Boyish wisdom is an admirable characteristic that Avi demonstrates throughout the story. Instantly, he devises a plan to meet back up with Horse when he gets stuck on the subway train (p.4). A pile of spent matches are what he creatively chooses to use to build a fire when all the other kindling is wet from the rain.
Avi and his childhood comrades constantly felt the need to prove their toughness to themselves and to each other. Their adventures in Scout’s Honor if anything, certainly proved one thing very clearly, their beautiful friendship.

1) Reading Ladders: Personal Reflection - PRINTED COPY Due next Tuesday. Don't just get a parent's signature, discuss your reading habits so far with them and tell then your next steps to moving 'up your ladder' Suggest that you begin to read the same book and then book talk it once or twice weekly.

More sophisticated readers select books:

  • across genres
  • across time periods
  • that contain multiple plot lines
  • that contain multiple perspectives
  • from a variety of authors
  • contains less dialogue and more description or narrative
  • that takes the reader out of their background knowledge/interests/age bracket comfort zone (when appropriate)
  • follow parents/Goodreads/Amazon/teacher's/friends recommendations
  • seek out award winning books
  • seek out books with more complex plot structures, themes, vocabulary
Showing sophisticated reading habits is ASSESSED. How will you proof that you are moving up your ladder?

2) Read all the comments on this post about the Reading Response.  Type in which  student(s) gave the best comment

Which student gave the most thoughtful comment?... at

Friday Message - Worth Watching - Notice her age!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

From Anecdote to Memoir

Today, we began our journey from anecdote into memoir through trying to attach learning to our memories. As we delve deeper into memoir, we will start to answer the questions related to how we have changed because of  the experiences we have had.

Where did your song take you? - Was there a moment of learning?

Reminder: PLEASE BRING A PRINTED COPY OF YOUR READING RESPONSE! (Let's see who actually reads the blog!)

Look at yesterday's post for reminders  for tomorrow's class.

HomeBase - Work on your part of the skit. Ask your parents for ideas on how to be funny!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reading Ladders


Subjects and Predicates Booklets - Due Thur
1st Reading Response - Due Friday

For Friday's class, we will be constructing a 'reading ladder' of the books we have read so far. If you are able to bring in a copy of the books you have read so far this year, please do so. If you do not have access to the books that you have read so far, bring a a piece of paper that is representative of  each books that you have read. The piece of paper should look like  the image. One paper for every different book you have read. Most of you will have read between 3-5 books so far. You can get the number of pages from goodreads (see 2nd image - below description)

It is better to have the books. You will be evaluating your progress in reading so far. You NEED the materials to be able to participate in the class. DO NOT FORGET!

Reading Response: Feedback
How well did YOU prepare for today's reading response formative assessment?

Look how these students prepared! Success = Preparation. Preparation = Success

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creating Characters that Readers Care About

For Thursday - Find 'THE SONG' - you know, the song that you hear and you think..."That's my song"  -I originally stated longer than  two years - ultimately, you just need to make sure that  you and the song have a relationship spanning over a decent time period.

Recap - Today we looked at crafting characters that readers care about. Remember the tips below on how to build solid characters.

  • 1) Identity the person’s name and relationship to others in the story.
  • For example: Uncle John is your father’s eldest brother and 
  • is married to your mother’s second cousin
  • 2) Describe, as if to a blind person, how the person looks
  • 3) Describe character’s values, attitudes, interests  
  • 4) Describe their habits, quirks, moans
  • 5) Put your character into a vignette (short situation)
  • then: Mix and Match and play with the order of your sentences 

When I walked into the cinnamon-scented kitchen, Mother looked up, a smile spreading across her thin face and a twinkle in her cornflower-blue eyes. She wiped the flour from her arthritic hands on the well-worn, yellow apron before hurrying over to hug me. I was shocked to notice that with age, she had begun to shrink and now stood on her toes in order to embrace me. I’d been away too long.

  • Wednesday - Naive Narrative - In class Reading Response (make sure you have read the story BEFORE class and identified any red flag moments). You will have 30minutes to write about the NARRATORLink to Story
  • Thursday -Subjects and Predicates practice worksheets 1+2 
Craft out your ideas for our 'Super CWW skit' - We start writing the skit tomorrow!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...