Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The first


Let's look at some of them.

What a wonderful job this one is! Typed, effort, detail, focus in each body paragraph so there isn't just listing. Wow! The con needs a little work to really say something and leave us thinking, "Yeah!" but that'll get there. Conclusions are tough to do justice to. Alissa did a persuasive. Brandon did also in 9th. How wonderful to try your skills with a persuasive rather than a personal. I hope more do also.

Alissa did a good job; she just needs to be careful of her indent and trying not to use you, but for a first essay, this is terrific!

Nicole in 8th did a wonderful job of staying focused on one idea for each the good and the bad. She had few errors too. Wow!

Her only area of work? Saying something real in the conclusion rather than just reiterating what she'd already said--just like the first essay. Remember: it's the conclusion that can make the lightbulb go on in the reader's head. Use it to bring home your most important point.

Darian did a fine job of staying focused and on topic in each paragraph. She does a good job of making it come alive for me. She'll work on fine tuning her proofing skills and will do a wonderful job with writing this year. As it is, she doesn't have to write next week. Darian's skills will grow and right now? She knows how to focus and use the correct format. I'm good with that.

Here's another good essay. Read it. Pretty good, yes? It is good, with good effort and good detail. I like it! But, everyone must hear me on this: No Tell, In this essay or I'm going to write about your intros. Just do it.

And, the last example? This is an example of a good but basic essay.

This essay gave the person an out for next week, but, it also made me think this student isn't trying as hard as he can. I'd rather have excellent effort and errors than a throw-together essay with few errors. Remember what I wrote about yesterday in that essay you corrected? It's not always the end, but how much effort you took to get to the end. Much effort here? Not sure there was.

Luckily, I had so many that really took the time to write and make me see where they were coming from. Wonderful! Yes, if they didn't focus on one like and one dislike, they lost major points, but in my mind? Those are the students I will love working with, the ones who put lots of effort into their work.

Also, please, don't talk to the reader. No you's in your writing and never talk to the reader in your con. This student did that, but again, cons are difficult. For now I don't fault anyone for doing that.

Use my comments to get better each week. That's what I want: improvement and learning.

Don't worry; it will take a while for all this to sink in, but it will, it will. I know it will, and that's the joy of learning: the moment when you realize it has!

Next set of essays? Next Monday. Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


...essay number 4 was today. It was about the quote "By the work one knows the worker." It's one of my favorite quotes because it really says it all. I hope you took in my message in the essay besides making the corrections.

I do think more students are using rhetorical questions than usual, and I do think more students used the right than/then in their first essays. Good. Maybe that's because of your proofing work. (Maybe it's because of good teaching before me too!!)

I did have a couple students today mention that they have improved in their proofing skills in the four essays. Good. Kyle was one of them. He readily admitted he didn't write much for Mr. Lott last year, so his improvement now is all the better. I can't wait to watch him improve as he continues to write for me (yes, he did last week's essay!).

And, speaking of Mr. Lott, a number of students mentioned him as a teacher who they really appreciated last year. How wonderful! I sure know that you guys learned from him--I think it was Jason who remembered what an appositive is today. Wow!

I also appreciated my 8th period class today when they stood up and were counted as to how much time I have had to spend on just a few students. With the bigger classes, it will be so much more important for students to stand up for themselves.

If a student, or students, are taking up too much of a teacher's time, let Mrs. Pomeroy or Mrs. Filzen know. We teachers try to do our best. With students, like Nick and the others who were willing to say the truth today, working with us, teaching you can only get better. (And, one of the ones I have had to deal with too much was actually able to say that. I applaud him too.)

I'm off to bed. Another day of learning tomorrow. I finish the grading of the essays, and then I will get a list of things to be aware of for the next one next week. You'll get them back on Thursday.

I'm really enjoying this class. Keep up the good and honest work!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


...number 2.

Outlines can be tough. Except for the thinking, they are the toughest part to writing. But, with good thinking first and effort on the outline, the actual writing of an essay is easy. Really.

You can read and you're willing to try to do what is asked. Good. That's most of the battle. Now, though, like Brandon's below, you have to learn to go beyond the basics.

Brandon read the piece and saw that they both liked animals. Yes, but in 8th grade we expect more. Their similarities weren't with animals, but how they connected to their art. That's the deeper part. Look at my paper from last year. Like rocks, questions can be simple, what we see on the outside, or complex, what is in the 'inside'.

The two men were artists of animals--the simple, but they had the same attitude on finding their art--the inside.

Beyond that, I want to really bring home the idea of focusing on the key words given in the assignment. You know that if there are two articles, the best organization is a paragraph for each article. But, besides that, there will usually be two key words to focus on. The key words are what bring the article together. If you use the key words in the body paragraphs, your detail is apt to stay focused so you're not writing a summary of each article. A summary is not okay in 8th grade. More is expected.

All your detail in the body paragraphs should go toward developing those key words. In this case, the key words were attitude and similar. The attitudes of the artists were similar: they both sensed their work before they did their art.

Using the key words in the beginning or conclusion of your body paragraphs, keeps you focused.

Using the key words in the conclusion of the essay shows the reader what you did. It's your last chance to bring home your point.

So, two articles, two paragraphs in the body of your paper. But, there are also two ideas usually being developed in the assignment. Those two ideas are what make the articles go together. Keep focused on the key words and you should be fine.

Synthesis. That's what this is: putting it all together to make something new. The booklet gave you two articles; you connected them with the key words and made something new. Synthesis.

Welcome to the world of higher thinking and reasoning. Welcome to 8th grade. It's a great place to be!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 8th

...grade morning hall and its people:

students and teachers,

smiles and looks,

headphones, caps and talk,




and friends.

We have it all!


Hello all!
For those of you who have not formally met me or do not remember my name, I'm Miss Leopoldo. Currently, I am an Adolescent English Education student at SUNY Cortland. This will be my third year studying at Cortland. I was placed here for my first observation experience in the classroom, and I am truly excited to work with you guys!

Just to tell you a little bit about myself...
I live in Rockland County, roughly thirty minutes north of New York City. Although I live so close to the city, I rarely go! Too hectic for me! I graduated from High School in 2007. Unlike Groton School District, my High School and Middle School classes were located in separate buildings. English has always been my favorite subject! Since I was very young, I have always loved to write stories and read books! I would have to say that Harry Potter and Twilight are two of my favorite books.

At home, I live with my parents and younger brother, Chris. My brother will be graduating High School this June. I also have two cats, Lump and Chole. Lump, my cat, is pretty much my best friend! In Cortland, I live with a couple of my close friends. I love living in Cortland, but sometimes I miss my family and pets.

When I think back to my experiences, I have a lot of great memories from school. I remember doing multiple projects and reading some of my favorite books in English. I participated in numerous clubs, including the Italin Club and SOJOURN (the school newspaper). I also made some great friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.

So, if you have any questions or just want to chat, please feel free to say hello!
Miss L.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finally, some!

One thing I like about this class so far is that when I give them something to do, they do it.

Yesterday they had to do Before, During and After. Here are two from my 9th period class working away at it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The first

...Monday of the rest of the year.

Today I assigned an essay due next Monday. It's on page 39 of your textbook. The outline for it is due Thursday. Believe it or not, some already have it in! Wow!!

I also handed out our reading comp books for home. Your first lesson is due Thursday. Not having it or not doing it will give you a 52. Why not do it and go for a better grade? The answer sheet for them is on page 11 of your textbook.

We also began our spelling/vocab units. We do some MC work with vocab and then do a reading comp, doing Before, During, After, to connect to the reading. Good readers DO hear voices in their heads--themselves talking about the reading as they go along. That's why I have you write it down so you can begin to focus on hearing those 'voices'.

I showed you page 7, where we put all weekly grades until we have the quiz next Friday. That's why it should say, 10/2.

Finally, I did get a Week in Review up so you can tell any time during the week what we'll be doing in class.

Whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much in 40 minutes, but most hung in there! Thanks!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I know seems like I am gushing, and I am.

This has been the BEST start ever of my classes. Thank you!

Today was our second day of reading. Every class was quiet and into their reading. Over 10 have finished The Outsiders and have taken another book.

One student did the work she missed yesterday and she did it without even asking me.

Really, can I ask for anything else in a class?!?!?

I think not.

Oh, well, now that you mention it, I can.

Please, please, please behave for my sub.

Have a good Friday and see you Monday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


... and today we have finally gotten into content.

I am pleased at how well many are hanging in there. Yes, it gets hot in the afternoon, and, yes, you don't want to be here; you want summer. But, thanks for focusing.

This unit is important because I am teaching outlining, proofreading and trouble areas in proofing and I'm trying to show you what I mean by a good essay. That's a lot, but we're doing it over 4 weeks and we'll do everything 4 times so that hopefully it will sink in. Do please try to pay attention.

Remember, also, that it is a best and last for grading, and that will be true for both assignment- the outlines and the proofreading-for-errors one.

Enjoy the night and come back with your books for a reading day tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009


...classroom and how it's run.

I know you're all tired of this, but I just want to be thorough. We all need to be clear for later on. Only 4 or 5 people still have to get their parents' signatures in yet. On Wednesday I pass those people, the people who haven't brought in their letter, to Mrs. Filzen.

And, remember, get your parents to come on and leave a note and you've got a freebie 100. Bring them to open house, whenever it is, and there'll be another!

Three people have finished The Outsiders. Looking forward to more getting there. You'll have another 3 weeks or so.

Reading day is Thursday.

Bring your copy in!

Ray-of-Sunshine Diagram

...for wikipedia. Cameron is trying hard to get this on wikipedia. Here's hoping he makes us famous!
When writing your essays, you want to do your ray or rays before you outline. The ray-of-sunshine diagram is great for organizing your thoughts right on the outline page. Outlining is a lost art that we are bringing back. It is especially needed if you are only doing a Final Draft Quality essay: an essay that does not have a rough and final.

Next week you will be assigned your first essay. We've talked about all 3 choices. You'll fill in the main topics and subtopics for all three before deciding which one you want to do.

Once you've decided, you'll fill in your outline, doing your ray-of-sunshine diagrams where they will be most helpful: on the subtopics for personal essays, to find your best specific topic so you're not just listing; on the main topic line for persuasives, to find which side is best to write on and which two reasons are best for that side; and finally, if writing on a quote, on the example subtopic line, to find the best example which exemplifies best what you've said in your explanation paragraph.

Can't wait to see how the first essays look!

Friday, September 11, 2009

What a

...great week it has been.

It has been the best opening week ever for me. Give you guys responsibility and you will go with it. I have given you the textbooks, the pages that need reading and now it's up to you. The textbook will always be there as a reference. What you haven't taken in yet, you can when you're ready. I am so happy not to be harping, harping, harping.

We have gone over main ideas, subtopics, Bassette's Ray of Sunshine Diagrams, and how to outline with an umbrella. Next week we start trying it. We will also start practicing our proofreading skills. Thursday will be a reading day. No essay due next week. Do keep moving ahead in The Outsiders book. Stay positive, try, put effort in and be respectful and pleasant, and I won't ask for anything more.

Have a great weekend. I sure hope to!

Ps. Parents, I have sent home a yellow copy of my letter for your files. How to get ahold of me and what I expect are there, so I thought you might want a copy to keep. I know you sent your copy back in to me. thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


...303 is almost up to speed.

I must say, with all the confusion of the school year, you guys have done a terrific job of taking it all in stride. Thank you!

I promise to get back to pictures and more detail next week. Between getting the room ready and getting us all on the same page, I'm a little short on time.

A big thank you to the parents who have already maneuvered through getting a comment on the blog. A freebie 100 goes to all students whose parents have done so.

Mrs. Carr commented that she kept 'losing' hers. I have to approve all comments so you won't see your comment immediately. Just be sure, parents, to write, sign it and then you can hit publish as anon. When I read it, it will show up.

Thanks again to all who are helping me to survive this first week!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A new


It was a little shaky this morning when I walked in and my floors were messy and my tables needed wiping, but I know how hard everyone has worked this summer, and so I got the broom and the wipes and went to work.

By the time you guys got here, I realized all that mattered was you, the students. You were great today! Thanks! You listened, did and read. Wonderful!!

Tomorrow we go over the letter sent to your parents, my textbook and the posters in my room (They are the last page of the textbook if you want to go over them tonight.)

If you've read the letter and looked over the textbook and posters, tomorrow will go smoothly and you will have extra time. Be a leader; be prepared tomorrow.

Thanks for a good day. Really, school is about you; not me being totally organized!

Ps. Remember: so far you have two chances for a freebie 100, the letter back by Friday and page 5 filled out by Monday. Then, have your parents come onto the blog and leave a comment before Open House and bring your parents to Open House, and you'll have a chance at 4 Freebie 1oos to start the year!

See you tomorrow!