Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I will get some essays on from this week. I still have to finish 9th period's essays, but it was a good week. I see a lot of students doing some great thinking, but I am seeing some good growth in writiing too, less errors. Wow! Remember: anything but a check plus can be corrected by the following Monday for 5 or 10 points. Takes just a few minutes but points and learning could happen. Go for it!

Also, good thinking and using of notes today on Emily Dickinson. I think there was some of the best thinking on the answers that I've seen in years. We teach not for the next quiz, but for forever. So many of you could tie what we did with Emerson last week to today. That's wonderful. That's being a good student!

Have fun tonight, but tomorrow is still learning day. Tonight enjoy and tomorrow come ready to eat a little candy, yes, but do a lot of learning. There is reading comp. due and it's a reading day. See you then!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Danielle's picture and wow! More great essays.

These are Danielle's notes on pictures from the poem. How wonderful and what a neat way to do it. This way you're concentrating on each line. And, when asked about this tough poem, Danielle knew it was about a person who felt like a nobody but was okay with that. That it's better to be a nobody and yourself than trying to be a somebody. wow!! Many of you did a fine job with this hard poem today. Thanks for a great day of work.

And, I was able to read more sets of essays. Wow! Basketball, dirtbikes, treehouses, and more. I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo pleased with the growth of so many of you. You're doing the format, being neater (which means you care about your work) and adding in detail. We've still got 3/4 of the year to go. What a great year it's going to be!

Do try Danielle's idea of notetaking on content; it might be just what you need. And, if you haven't looked at the conscientious board, do. So many still are; it's terrific!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wow! to Topics from 2nd....

...the only ones I've read so far. I am so impressed! Detailing of cars, paintball bunker, National Junior Honor Society application, Junior PGA tour, point guard for bball, preparing for bball, training of goats, horseback riding lessons and the making of a room for cats are just some of the topics that were written about. You took me soooooooooooo many places as I was reading them. Thank you. I can't wait to get to the next sets!

On that note, a special thank you to Scott D. for his comment today. I hope a good share of you decide that writing essays are good to do. Look at it as a place to share your thoughts. I sure enjoy reading them!

Continuing on with conscientiousness. I was pleased to see students reading who their classmates put up there. I was also pleased to see that students want to be seen as dedicated (Chad). It's not that I went into my grade book and did it that way; it's more, for me, the feeling that students come in ready to learn and try their best. As I said today, lots of you are and will grow into being conscientious students. It takes time and with work, effort and adults reminding you, most of you will go into high school ready to take charge of your own learning, which is exactly where you should be!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Conscientious: what I want!

I had a couple classes this week who weren't the most conscientious about my class. By today it got to me enough that I've decided to ask each student who is conscientious in the 8th grade. The best students certainly can be conscientious students, but, you know some students who struggle can be even more conscientious. A student who comes prepared, does his/her best and participates to the best that he/she can is conscientious.

Being aware of what is expected and doing it to the best of your ability, that's what I want.
Some of my best students 'coast' along sometimes, and that's not being a conscientious student.

7 kids in a class not doing their essays in one week
throwing pens when the teacher is out of the room
not having paper or pen for a quiz day
not studying for a quiz
talking and goofing past the bell...
when students could be getting ready (and still talking)
misbehaving with a substitute teacher

That's what I saw way too much of this week. Yes, I have some good students and I like this class, but, you know what? For some of you, it's time to take responsibility. Be students. Have fun, but be prepared and ready to learn. Remember the howler of a couple of weeks ago? I guess that's going to be the theme for awhile here. Be a student, a student who does the best that can be done.

As the saying goes, at some point 'good enough' isn't good enough!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Holy Cow to the Great Essays!

We had two great topics this week: Society happenings that make you angry or upset and good charcater. What a treat to read so many good ones!

Anyone who thinks kids today are uncaring or uninformed needs to read some of these essays. The topics range from Global Warming to the War to Violence to Technology and its overuse. Wow!! Read on and be impressed. (Again, remember: these are not perfect. Comma usage, sentence structures and spellings need work, but still, pretty impressive when you throw in the good thought. We are talking 8th graders just coming into their own.)

The other group is on character and what it is and who has it. For you to recognize the people in your lives who show good character, well, that tells me the athletes and Britney Spears of the world aren't ruining our youth; at least here in Groton, our students can tell good character.

A final note. I would have loved to put on even more, but too many errors just isn't fair to the writer. I don't want anyone picking out errors. Do remember we have the rest of the year. I can think of many whose writings have improved immensely already, and their work will be on here yet.

Keep trying, reading outloud to proofread and doing your best. Improvements will happen and are happening!!

George looking good on Picture day.

I've seen lots of good looking folks today dressed for pictures. George, though, is the only one I've seen with a tie. I thought that deserved a picture. Here he is. Doesn't he look great? Good job, George. You look great dressed up....but a little devious still?!?!?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pics of today's tower building.

A special thank you to my group who is so good about letting me go take pictures. Each time I came back, it was quiet, and you guys were working away....even Kyler and Keegan, who were doing a perfect imitation of kids not being involved!! Thanks again.

I was impressed with all the groups I saw!

On a funny note about teachers: We all got the same directions, and as my group knows, I said, "No way. We're all doing it together!" Well, we were supposed to have two groups. Another teacher allowed talking, and still another had one group who could talk and one who couldn't. It's interesting to see how we all do it!!

A big thank you goes to the teachers who developed this program this summer, and then still more thank yous to Mrs. Hume who has put a lot of effort into getting all this ready. Thank you!

More great topics.

I'm driving to work today and discussing the ipod...and I thought of Marie's essay. Dana's too. So many of you have done some good thinking this week in your essays. I will be getting some on here and some out at my door. Almost finished grading them. Thanks again for putting the good effort in.

We will continue to need to work on proofing, outloud, to hear the commas and periods. Some spelling errors hurt and some still are needing to follow the format a little better, but we've got the rest of the year. Keep trying and improving and that's all I can ask for.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday and Wow!

It was a good Monday. Thanks! So many of you know exactly how the classroom is run that you now are leading the way and making it easier for all to learn. Thank you for the essays today, for being able to read the Week in Review and for all your work, and yes, it can be tough, on the sp/vocab. You will be better learners the more you have vocab at your disposal.

I was able to read 3 sets of essays today. Some of the best were on what makes you worried or upset or angry in the world today. Global warming, terrorists, the war and elections were topics written about. Others wrote on good character and did a great job with examples from your lives. Moms, grandmothers, stepmoms, friends and motorcross people were some of the few mentioned. You put me there and that's wonderful. I will get some of the essays on tomorrow, I hope. I do have 2 more sets to go through. Off the top of my head, though, there was Kyle, Siera, Alex, Tyler, Jordan whose essays I remember. There are more. Can't wait to read the rest!

I do think the new grading sheet will help you see what went wrong, if anything did. PLEASE, remember: a check or a check minus can be raised by next Monday if you just make corrections. Talk to me and do it; why not? YOu've got nothing to lose! Also, if I write, 'come see me' or 'ask me', please do. I think it's something you can easily learn and do better on next time.

Have a great night. Take a walk and enjoy the weather!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Essay for Monday, per Keegan's request.

This is due Monday. The one is hard to read. It's about character. For those of you who applied to Honor Society last year, I've read those essays. You could do a new one, or you could pick one of the two others. Remember: new grading sheet and I will be grading harder on the listing concept. NO LISTING. Pick a topic for each body paragraph and then DEVELOP it. That is the key. Explain, give examples, build with detail. Make the reader see. A lot of you state but you don't make me see it. That's an integral part of writing. Detail connects the reader to your writing. Looking forward to seeing them on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

camouflage and book reports: the interest and the info.

I have pics from more of this week's spirit week. It's been fun to see what you guys come up with. I've enjoyed it. I am getting old enough to wish we had a dressup day, too, but, what can I say; I know it's not high on anyone else's list.

Before I put them on, though, I'd like to answer a question Mike asked me earlier this week.

Can you write the book report once you finish the book? The short answer is yes. The assignment is on page 88 (As I was saying in class today, isn't it great to have the textbook so easy at hand? A month ago it was foreign to all of us!), and it should be clear enough that you can do it.


You might do the outline first and then check with me to make sure you're on the right path. You also might want to wait and see if another book catches your fancy more.

I will go over the format again, although, with Kyle's on here in a past post, you've got that to refer to, and I did put the examples of the start of the intro, body paragraphs and conclusion up in the room- above the computer, so maybe you're okay. With the new grading sheet, I will be able to grade on format a lot better but a lot tougher, so learn it!

Now, the only other problem could be the second paragraph. In the first you tell what you learned about history: about slavery or the war. Relate the information to the book. Be sure and mention the characters and use events that happened in the book. This is a book report, meaning you are proving to me you read the book. Detail is sooooooooooooo definitely needed from the book.
In the second paragraph, like in the Outsiders, you are showing how the literature you read can make a difference in your life. How can what you read be carried into your life? Now, please don't say you never want slavery to happen. Of course we don't. But, you can say how you want to be like the slaves and how they persevered, or brave like the ones who helped to fight or save the slaves. You can want to be caring like a character was, or forgiving or willing to fight for what you believe in. Those types of traits are what I'm looking for. Show how a character showed you that and then show how it could fit into your life now or in the future. Make me see that a character from a book made or could make a difference in your thinking.

So, the short answer? Wow, yes, start or do the book report any time you want. Just be sure you know what you're doing or ask. Saying you did it early and then not doing it correctly isn't an excuse. It's your responsibility to get it right. Maybe just do the rough and then have it in class on the day I go over it.

I will be going over book reports less and less as the year goes on. I expect students to become more and more self-sufficient as the year goes on. You're headed to high school. Be a good student now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fables... and a Bassette "Howler"

All right. Today I graded all the fables. The positive side? Most of you understood the format for a fable and did all right with the story. Most of you got in your assignment, and most of you remembered that I said I wanted all to sign the final so you were all taking responsibility. Okay. I did some positives. And, I do have some to put on the blog, but....

I'm not real happy. This was a four week unit. It was a group effort with most groups having 3 heads and brains to work this rather than just one. I had 3 different examples of the comma rules. I really wanted this to be a fun way for you to use the comma rules. MANY OF YOU DID NOT.

Does it seem like I am yelling? Well, I am! A howler is just that. Four weeks, group effort, many signed ... but clearly many did not proofread or check what they were signing. Truthfully, how many of you made sure you were using the comma rule each and every time you were supposed to? Yuk!!!!

Now, here is where you could say, "This was hard!!" or "We couldn't do it!!" or "We tried but we didn't understand!!" I say, "Baloney!!" Tell me you used and checked the 3 pages of comma examples. Tell me you went over what you wrote....or did you just slam, bang and then you were done?

So, it was tough. I ended up knowing that. I realized this hadn't gone as well as I hoped...and by the end of the unit, I gave you all an out. I offered to have you write for the Apple for the Teacher Award, using only 3 comma rules. How many of you took me up on that? Two. One did a great job. The other didn't use commas, just like many of you who stuck with the fables.

You're in 8th grade. Take responsibility. So, something is difficult? Did you spend more time on it? Take time out of class to work on it? And, when you realized it was tough, did you opt for the other? Or not, because that would take you yourself writing 100 words? Did you just decide to take the easy way out? Well, now some of you have some digging out of a mental hole you've put yourself in. I want students who think, who do their best and who try. You knew the guidelines. Did you really sign and hand in thinking this was the best you could do on all five comma rules?

Okay. Howler over. I hope some of you are ashamed of the 70 you got. And, next time put more effort into a tough group assignment--especially one you so breezily sign. Sheez! I expect better from this great class!!!

So, I've put the best fables on here and one Award nominee (from Kaitlyn). Thanks to those people who did the best, whether it was on a fable or a nominee. Mean old Bassette is signing off, with pics from hair day going on tomorrow.

Tomorrow we start to work on notetaking and thinking using those notes and notes we took today. Come prepared to listen, think, and share. Tomorrow is always another day. Learn from today and do better tomorrow. That's always my goal.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fables to Come

I haven't started grading the fable, tomorrow, so the best will be coming on the blog soon. Looking forward to seeing how you did with comma rules and then the stories.

I missed it!

Now, I had the dates on my blog, but noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo; I still couldn't remember!! Which feet are a teacher's? Which is Mack's? And Danielle's? I love the shots of all of them together. Great spirit!!

On a more educational note: today, two of my classes stopped me from going over the directions again, and the students did it for the class. That is soooooooooooooooooo wonderful. It's better to learn to listen the first time, and it's good to get help not from the teacher but from your classmates. Great job on teaching us all that it only needs to be said once.

Now, we did do sp/vocab, so do use the sheets to study this week. This was the best 8th grade class I've ever had for the first spvocab quiz. Make it the best for the second one too! Also, page 54 of your textbook for your essay due Monday. Remember to do the outline; maybe even have it checked by me. A listing in the body will give you an 84 or 70. We've got to break that habit. Development of one idea is the key. You also have a reading comp. due Thursday. We'll be starting the poetry of Langston Hughes tomorrow with his life to follow before a reading day on Thursday.

So, let's have some fun with spirit week, but do remember that it is still very definitely a learning week too!

PS. I LOST, well, I thought I sent the photos of Friday to my computer but they're out in technology space, so no pics of all the first effort work you guys did on team building Friday. Sorry.