Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Holidays

...from KGB and her Great Aunt.

Here's hoping the Grinch has been enjoying his dinner in Whoville while all of you and yours have been doing the same.

Eat, laugh and enjoy, knowing we'll be reaching toward more learning in another week or so.

At our Bassette get together on Wednesday, the day before our vacation, KGB was the center of attention, standing at attention in the middle of the room and reaching for all she could.

May 2011 bring lots of reaching, getting and growing for all of us.

From KGB, Merry, Merry!

And, from her Great Aunt? Have a wonderful vacation, reading if you want, relaxing for sure, and enjoying whatever you do!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Using refrain

...for important idea.

Start with your important idea and end with it. It works in poetry. A refrain brings home the important idea from the book. Take Allyson's "be confident".

It works like bookends to keep your summary of the book focused on what you're really doing, which is developing the important idea.

And, like Sam's, which was, "Don't be afraid of doing what you love," you can give what you're developing first in essays too. Put your answer in the introduction.

Then the reader knows what to get out of your detail. It helps the reader to see what the detail is there for.

When we come back, we do two more essays of the two-article variety. Giving the answer first in the introduction (which is just another way of saying, the important idea), lets the reader connect your detail to why it's in the essay, to build your point you gave them in the intro.

Try it. You'll like it.

December's book report


Done in 40 minutes

from start to finish.

We read

to connect.

We connect

and then we learn.

We learn

and we carry it on.

We carry it

on and pass it on.


if we pass it on right, we connect to another.

Did these people connect?

Did they have an important idea?

A title?

Lines like a poem?

Some terms?

Content from the book?

Few errors?

And, if they did,

they did it in 40 minutes.


Not bad three days before vacation. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reading comp

...number 4. This one was probably a bit more difficult, and yes, we did it on a Monday and five days before vacation, BUT, in life, there will be so many "more difficult", Mondays, and vacations. At some point, your job is to learn to focus and do well even with all the distractions of life. Many students dropped a bit, but I have confidence that after vacation you will come back strong on the 4 remaining reading comps. Actually, a break can be very good for letting your brain gel.

It seemed many students struggled with the passage on the ASPCA. But, the questions are another good example of being able to read questions.

Take #9, on the 'spirit' of the law.

If you stopped and thought about spirit, you'd have it. The sentence is about the law, but C is out because letter of the law means following the rules. Anger and power? Do they really have to do with spirit--in any way that you know spirit? No, so it's A.

Spirit of the law is what it's supposed to be about, without any loopholes--something, by the way, that kids use against their parents all the time, as in, "You didn't SAY that!" and then the parents say, "You know what I wanted, meant....". That's spirit of the law.

Number 10 has the key words, 'mostly likely means', which means it's implied, not given.

F and J are the 'slash the trash' ones--everything is founded by individuals and it was stated that it's old. So, now we have G and H. Humane, what does that mean? Well, the word human is in the word--what does being human mean? H. Kindhearted--isn't that a goal of humans, to care for what's around us?

Number 11. What would most amaze the man? C and D are too specific. He founded the mission so that wouldn't be it, but the growth?

Yup, I think it's B.

If you can learn to read the questions, you can do anything.

It all begins with understanding what you're supposed to do.
That's true of most of life!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reading Comp

...#3. Soooooooooooooooooo many people are improving! I love it! And, there are lots who are in the 3 or less, which is where I'd like people. Wonderful!

From Friday's I've picked only one question to look at. Again, it's an example of truly using the question to get your answer. The question is about values. Even if you haven't read the passage, if you look at the answers, which one deals with a value--something we value?

A? No, traveling and the desert aren't values. B, cranky camels? If they were valued, they wouldn't be cranky. C, patient with the little one? Hmm, sounds like a value. D, it seems more like an action. So, from just the question, value, and the answers, which is it? C. And, if you'd read the story, you'd even have the background to know that's the answer.

Can't stress enough: taking the time to know the question, allows for a much easier and better chance of getting the answers correct.

Friday, December 17, 2010


...1C, the last ones of the first format.

Poetry isn't a state-tested concept; it isn't a skill that will get you in college or into a job; it isn't structured, mandated or required by the school.

It's just something we do.

We do it for the beauty of it and for the ability to think differently and to see differently, to get to the essence of an idea in a unique way so we can, perhaps, connect to others and make someone else see what we see.

Think of it as an exercise for thinking, as communication, or as an art.

In life, writing in full sentences is the goal, but sometimes, knowing how to drop the sentence part allows us to understand sentences better.

We do poetry so that people who think in visions or images can have the enjoyment of doing that without worrying about the structure of essays.

We do poetry to connect to our ideas and emotions in a way that transcends the norm.

We do poetry because we can.

And, in doing what we can, we expand what we are capable of.

All that in one little assignment a week. I like it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Part 2, Essays

...from yesterday, the rest of 7th and then 9th.

Will and Ryan's are good examples for people who don't want to write a whole lot. As long as you do the job with the correct and good detail, it doesn't have to be long. Focus and detail are the keys.
Not everyone comes to eighth grade with all the skills they need in writing, but Will is a wonderful example of a student getting those skills. I am so proud of him!

Ryan also writes with few words, but every word counts.

He just needs to continue to drill home the focus, paraphrasing his wording, of course, so he doesn't repeat.

Helena's is another wonderful example of using the conclusion to restate the answer, making sure the reader understands she's done the assignment, and then she, too, wows us with her push forward sentence.


As many of you know, Mrs. Farrell used so many of your papers to show to others what they need to do. I'm sorry I can't put them all on, but, trust me, many of your writings will help your classmates today (if they're paying attention!).

Allyson's intro and conclusions are on here, showing the use of focus. Her second sentence tells the reader exactly what the similarity is, so then all she has to do is develop it in the bodies.

Her conclusion restates it--using different words, but the meaning is still the same,

and then she wows us with her last sentence, pushing it out to all of us.

Sam and Mackenzie finish out this set of essays. They start with telling us and then they develop their focus with detail. They've got it all.

I am so pleased with the work that this whole class has been doing. We will come back after vacation and have two more sets of outlines and essays to do. Let the last two weeks' efforts set in your brain and come back ready to learn and grow even more.

As usual, can't wait!