Friday, January 30, 2009

Doing drugs, being idiotic

...or being a baby? Those were my choices for some of you today. Certainly, it's not because I think you're really doing drugs. If I thought that, I would never make a joke about it. Now, the being idiotic? Being a baby? Yes.

Of course, most of this is directed at 5th, but I have a few in 4th, 8th and 9th too. (ummmm...2nd might be the only ones exempt. Wow!)

For a class that I consistently say is one of my favorites to teach in years, some of you can sure drive me nuts!! But, try to look at it from my point of view, a term we went over this week.

Put yourself in my seat up front. Go ahead. Look at yourselves through my eyes. Do it.

What do you think you look like to me?

One is bouncing, bouncing, bouncing on the ball.
Others are falling off.
Another tells a joke and the rest crack up.
Then there's the directions given and two say, "I can't do it."
The rest of the class can and they can't....or won't try?
(Surprisingly, when they start to miss lunch, they can.)
Then there are the fits.
Or, there's the lack of trying.
There are some who won't finish.
Some who get involved any time any say anything.

And, this happens every day right now. Ugh!!!!

You tell me. From my point of view, is it being a baby about learning or is it just being idiotic? Or, should I just say you're immature...but you've been told that and told that, and somehow you think that makes it not your fault.

But, your behavior is your fault. It's who you are.

So, laugh and think it's funny, but someday you'll realize how ridiculous you were and you'll be embarrassed. Someday you won't want to look idiotic or babyish or like you're nuts on drugs (because you're not).

But, do you really want to now? Really? That's what I'm trying to get across to some of you. You are what you look like. And right now? You're not looking too good.

See you on Monday.


Considering you haven't studied WWI yet, you've got some detail to pin your real info to. That's what this is all about: retaining info so you have something to connect with.
When you learn about WWI in history, listen as to why this war started: maybe it wasn't about freedom.
When you hear about the trenches, you'll have some idea from your novels what your teacher is talking about.
If you hear Mr. Giroux or Mr. Filzen talking about no man's land, you might remember the smell and the bodies and how awful it was.

And, when they talk about where and when it took place, you'll be able to put it in one spot--all that blood and mud and war and death and trenches and no man's land.

Next time we do this you will truly be reviewing a chapter from math or history that you have already studied. We will follow the same procedure:

List facts about the topic, maybe using my key words on the back to help you to focus.

Group those facts into topics to organize them.

Label what you've taken from this unit.

Then, using the above information, write about it, using "The important thing about...."

The idea is to cement what you've got in your brain, but have some actual content to your 'cement', some actual gravel to it to make your memory strong, like real cement is.

The only part of "The important thing about ..." that shouldn't be factual should be the simile part: that should be unique and come from your head, a visual to help the cement hold. (It's like and It isn't)

Learning to do this isn't about 8th grade or English. It's about becoming a better student. Being a student doens't have to be difficult; it takes concentration, thought, and effort, but many times with the first two? The last, effort, isn't all that difficult.

And that? If I can teach? Wow! Success!!


...thoughts on poetry. I do have examples today, but really this is going to be about general comments.We're now through two sets of poetry writing. Some are doing wonderfully and some are still making mistakes that shouldn't be at this point.
The ones who are doing wonderfully are probably writing their thoughts out, editing out needless words (because poetry is about images and ideas, not necessarily whole sentences), adding in terms and more, and checking for errors. They are also using my comments to learn and not make the same mistakes.
The ones who aren't doing as well are probably, well, they are probably not putting that much effort in or using my comments.For the record, some comments:

If you do a poster, it better be a poster with no extra white space, with a visual, and the visual shouldn't be covered up by the poem. The font and size matters and placement on the paper does also. And, do not change a white piece of paper to a dark color. Ugh to waste of resources!!

I do expect two terms. I will not be giving over an 80 if you do not have terms used. Two terms are a must!
Capitals are to be used for new ideas, not every line. Think where your new ideas occur. Again, I won't go over an 80 if you haven't figured out caps yet.

Punctuation, commas, are also beginning to get to me. A comma should only be used to tell the reader to pause for a very specific reason. Commas are not used in lists, not in poetry. Take commas off the end of lines. 80 if they're there.

Finally, from now if you don't hand in your pink sheets with your poem, I will not give above an 80. The pink sheets have my comments. They have the teaching you should be working on. Hand them in!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I haven't

...forgotten. I will have some poems to put on tomorrow. I just have to get through them. I bet I have some more "The important thing about..." also after tomorrow since we're doing that again with WWI, while adding one List, Group, Label. Can't wait.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The important thing

...about doing one's work is to put your best into it. Shawna wrote more about that than poetry, but it still is pretty good, and you know, I have had kids who learned they could write poetry and then they started doing all their work.

Today your work was on summarizing poetry through the "The important thing about..." worksheet.I appreciate your efforts and I now know better what to teach you so you can do a better job of really having content.

Dr. Dove gave us the above worksheet that you have seen in science and maybe other places. I liked it so much, I went and got the book. Margaret Wise Brown wrote Goodnight Moon. Do you know that story? How about The Pokey Puppy? Ok, enough on her great literature!
When we were given the handout, Dr. Dove read us the page on the spoon. It's down below. See all the facts about a spoon there? That's what I want from you guys. Today we started by having you write more than the fill in the blank. Good.
Today, I had Larry write with a focus on feelings.Jake connected Haiku and Dr. Seuss to what we have studied. I like it! He knows it doesn't ahve to rhyme but that it is much like songs.
Hannah wrote it in more of the format that I showed you today: sentences but in poem form. She also connected it to feelings, and you can tell that she does write poetry and that it is personal; her voice comes through.
Jeremy had a wonderful start and Alan had an increible ending.

Dana and Samstarted by organizing into as many as I did on mine. I like that in that they knew they wanted to write more than the front gave us. And, because they did, they gave us more detail than most.
But, look at Cheyenne's. She did it in essay form and was able to get very concrete examples in. Look at her example of Robert Frost's poem. Excellent!
Now, look at Jake's, one that would be very easy to add to. Can you see my comments could easily bring in our poets with examples from their poetry? That's the kind of specific detail I want us to have.
This exercise is about cementing the most important detail in your head about any given unit. Our unit on poetry was about four poets, their poems with terms used and then our actual writing of it.

Look at Adonica's. She, too, followed my format and she added in specifics. It's terrific and it's what we're going to be working for: the more specific content the better.

All in all, a great Monday. More on this on Friday.

Friday, January 23, 2009


...and final post for the day.
Today we worked on "What Do You Know?" Or, it could be called, "Your Brain".

Thanks for working alone and diligently to be sure you have some good, basic facts in your brain. We will work on these in class again on February 13. Of course, please feel free to work on them in your free time too. The colored folders are right inside my door.


...week two of the two-sentence format.

From 2nd we have Amy and Zach. Amy paints a picture of a girl wondering about God. Zach compares spring to spring cleaning.
Damian, Jeff and Sara are from 4th. I like Jeff's 'ever endless/never ending' lines. Sara's metaphors are terrific and Damian does wonders with the chairs.

Zach's line of "Sooner, then later, I'm finished" caught my eye. I love Elizabeths' first stanza, and Joey takes hockey and makes me feel why he likes it so much.

Also from 5th we have Chris, using a book he has read, and Jenna paints the cold winter. Wow!

Larry took a quote from the Call of the Wild book and used that. Neat!

Sergey and Shawna are from 8th. What a picture Sergey paints of the crash, and look at how Shawna divides the lines: between midnight and sky. Wonderful!

Loren's on the owl and Bethany's two are from 9th. History and a room cleaning-- what a range of topics!

Allison, Sam, and Steven from 9th are next. Nature and state tests make for great topics.

Dana, Billie and Adonica finish out 9th. Billie writes of school and using the phone, while Dana and Adonica both use personification to write of nature. Wow, how wonderful!

I finish the post with Justin's work on bears and Brenna's work on paper. I loved how she compares two types of paper and how one restricts her and the other doesn't. I love it!

Remember: use my comments to improve. If you do, I can stay high with the grade. If you don't, I will drop it dramatically. The whole idea is to improve one step at a time.

Look what

...8th did in less than 10 minutes.

I was showing 8th what 4th, 5th and 9th were doing with the computers so that if they wanted to start doing their poetry that way, they could too.

In no time, we picked a picture from the Bassette share folder, copied it onto a word document, wrote our two sentences, divided them to lines, edited out needless words, added in more images and terms, and then worked the page to have a poster.

So cool.

They even looked for the most important line and pulled the best from it for their title.

Billie in 9th asked if she could get her memory flash so she could work on it at home. Wow! Then, Philip said, "This is so much better than just writing two sentences on a paper, and I've worked on it for a while!" He has a study hall so he can do this every week. How great it is to hear this kind of talk!

Yes. Learning can be fun. (poem due Wednesday)

Thanks again

...goes out to Ashley and her family for donating books to the classroom.

I haven't read this series, but when I showed them to my 4th period class, both Joel and Brenna have read them and really liked them.

Thanks to Ashley, you can come sign them out in my room!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How sweet is!

I graded the multiple choice part today and I want to share some of the great parts of it.

First, students who did the same as their top grade in the reading comprehension unit before the test or who even improved on their top grade. Wow!!!!

28, I said 28, people did as well as they have been or even did better. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, the grading for this unit was best and last. Here are all the people who ended up with an average of 85 or above for the eight reading comps that we did. (By the way, we're not finished with reading comps. We'll be doing them like we were with sp/vocab. The test is the test, but it's not my focus or my year.)

Dana Sam Allison Kaylean Kylene Philip Steven Bethany Mitchell Sam Adonica
Jake Cheyenne Sheldon Sergey Sam Nick
Kayla Greg Larry John Jarika Chris
Chris Nate Alan Jeff Emilie Daphne Damian Sara Steffanie Chris Hannah Joel Justin
37 people scored an 85 or above on their 8 reading comps with a criteria of best and last.

Now, everyone realizes that this is only one part of a three part test? We'll be grading the two other parts in a week or so and by the state's guidelines.

Then, the state will take all the results and do their usual voodoo with them, weighing some questions as being worth more and some as less....who knows what the state does!

All I know is that, for the most part, you guys worked hard, stayed focused (well, for middle schoolers!) and you have done your best. That's all I can ask for.

I'm proud of you. Thank you for learning and trying.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maybe went better than I saw by the end of the day.

Some of you were done by 17 minutes into the listening part. Arggggggggggggggg.

But, some of you underlined, circled and outlined. Wowowowowowowowowowowow!

And, many of you seemed to think you did all you had to do. Greg came up and walked me through his after the test; sounded good. Kylene said she did five paragraphs-all right!

As for the multiple choice, Xavoir took his time and then discussed a question when we were waiting to go to 5th.

Life is good when you look at the specifics, right?

Then, the poems? What a treat to watch so many of you take off with no complaints.
Taking an assignment and turning it into fun and wonderful is truly a joy to watch.

I graded today's poems and will get them back by Friday so you can use the comments to improve on your last one of this format. I will also be closing out the reading comprehension unit tomorrow, so you should have those grades by Friday also.
New set up in the room too.
All in all, a finishing, a continuing and a starting up. A good day!