Friday, January 29, 2010


...format 2 finished with some good poems!

Keegan wrote a wonderful ... commercial; can't you just see it?

Matt has me waiting for spring.

Tamara is pretty smart, wouldn't you say?

I only wish, Jason, that I was sweltering in the heat right now!

I really like how Tristen used the parentheses to get his simile in.

Hallie's is fun because not only does she not know what to write about and still writes a poem, she also ends up telling a story.

Look at how Zeke's is on the paper. I love it!

What a writer Josh is--doesn't he put us there?

Whew! I hope every girl has as much confidence as Amanda does in her poem.

Jeff is continuing to grow in English, and I love that he has not one, but two similes here.

While some are waiting for spring and remembering summer, Ashley is enjoying now; good for her!

Marianne's poem, probably one of the best I've read this year, has some wonderful play on words. Wow!
Michaela's is another with a good twist.

And, finally, I can just see the dog that Trent writes about in his poem...maybe Benny?

And so another format is put to rest. Next week I show you listing. I know some of you will really take off with that. I will expect people to be leaving the sentence format behind. Be ready to explore new horizons!



As poet, you must end your poem.

The reader has to feel that.

If the reader ends up feeling, "Isn't there more?", there's a problem.

These are all such wonderful poems, but I was left with wanting a little more.

When you write, read your finished product and listen for a voice, a huh?

If it's there, you need a bit more.


That's your job as the poet.

Students of the

...week. We have many and myriad students this week. We finished two units, one on The Important Idea and one on our second poetry format. It's wonderful to have so many students shining forth in my mind (and, there are more, too, but I have to leave some for next week!)
Ryan learns at his own pace. He doesn't space out and then go off into outer space; he learns.

Alissa and Paige? Just steady, good learners.

Trent? Coming into his own and learning and helping others to learn. He'll mature yet into a student!

Ben is a wonderful example of someone who needed a good, quick kick in the britches, metaphorically, of course.

He is coming alive and really doing some good learning in my class--I love it!

The mysterious person under the blue hood?

Tamara, who on any given day, I wonder if she's there, but she is AND she's learning. Yes! She is one swimming girl!

And, Kara? What a worker! Kara does her best, learns and grows.

She's are all of them, and you!

Here's to the last half of the year.

Let's make it a good, fun, and learning half.

The important idea the finished unit.

We read "Seven Blind Mice".

I was sooooooooooo pleased by the number of people who really got it all.

I graded your work on the important idea, book content used and explanations of that content.

Now, you can use this in any subject in any way you want.

Whenever you want, ask yourself, 'What's the important idea?' Or, when you want to be clear, throw in a 'it's like'. Lost in how to start a paragraph? Use one of the starters.

We will be doing this for the rest of the year. Enjoy the process and know that you are getting skills you can pull out and use any time that you want.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making connections the real world, part 2.

Making connections is an important part of learning. When we read, when we listen, when we watch, we need to connect what's there to our own lives. By connecting and thinking, we learn and grow.

Mrs. Farrell connected what I'd talked about in class about rudeness and doing one's work and gaining knowledge to what she read in Time magazine. I wrote about it a couple of posts down.

Today, Mrs. Farrell came in with another clipping, about video games.

I had been telling her about a part in Talk to the Hand

where various disabilities have been connected to video games.

When I'd read that, I'd connected it to some of my students, the ones who shut down on me in my classroom but in free time, can have animated and deep conversations about their games.

Video games might be giving us some valuable skills, but I strongly believe that they are also part of our problems in education and the world today. These techie games are not teaching social skills or how to deal with others or even how to get moving and do what you need to do.

"All things in moderation." Who said that? Whoever did sure knew what he was talking about. Yes, play video games, do what you like, but also, do what you're supposed to and try and do not shut down. It's the shutting down that gets to me.

If video games taught diligence and perseverance, I'd be all for them. Unfortunately, they don't, or, if they do, they teach them only in their context.

The rudeness, or the 'talking to the hand' of kids who shut down and don't try? I'm tired of it. Like a game, you'd be surprised how much better you'd do if you only tried, practiced and kept at it.

I'm lucky to have Mrs. Farrell to connect with. I'm hoping some of you feel the same way about English 8 and crabby old Ms. B. Being tough and asking you to try and doing what I ask isn't about being mean; it's about learning.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Last chance

...for examples for The Most Important Idea.

Note that the three papers with paragraph one in them all have slightly different important ideas. That's okay. They all work. An important idea has to be able to be defended with detail. These all can be.

I like the comparison to a football game. We can relate to that everyday image. Good.

Below, the good deed works too. You just want a simple, common, everyday image to work for your important idea.

Look above and see that in the third paragraph there is development in the paragraph. Give examples from the book, explain what you mean, even develop that explanation with more detail from the book or even, now, from your head.

In the fourth paragraph below, the boy in the book is mentioned, as is the race being fair, a phrase from the book, and then the examples are explained. Good.

In the one below, in the 5th paragraph, the writer used his own examples, which you can do....after you've used examples from the book.

And, finally, below, note that there are two sentences. One is for summarizing your important idea, and one is for pushing it forward to the future, because isn't that what learning is all about? Making life better?

Yes, it is.

Learn and pass it on.

Rudeness the big world.

Mrs. Farrell and I teach 4th period. (Actually, I don't give up my classroom much, but she is my mentor.) As you all know, she is a wonderful teacher who really knows how to help people to their full potential. If you have had her as a reading teacher, you know how much you grew as a student!

Mrs. Farrell is the one who gave me Talk to the Hand, and today she gave me this from Time magazine, about youth in the workforce.

Look at the comments. What I say in class? About being polite, trying and then actually doing what you're told to do? About getting an education so you're prepared for the world? It's all true.

Enjoy the process we call learning. I think it's really called growing up and becoming a person who does what (s)he should. I know I'm still working on it.

Monday, January 25, 2010


... using models and self evaluating.

After you write your Most Important idea today, you'll compare it to mine. I won't collect them. I will again collect tomorrow's before you do the last one on Wednesday for the grade. You should be able to self-evaluate when given a model. It's an important skill to have.

Please work at using your resources, something high school, college and bosses will expect you to be able to do. Today you had the green and pink posters, the gold sheet with directions and an example and you had Ashlee's from Friday. Cross referencing these should make it possible for you to know what you have to do.

Along with that, I'm giving out the book report assignment for this month.

I have step-by-step directions for the paragraph assignment, and on the back, I give an example.

Follow both and do your book report. I will take questions on Thursday. This book report is the choice book you picked way back at before Christmas vacation.

Become responsible for your learning.

The important idea 9th period.

It seems our biggest task now is to not just have examples but to connect them to your important idea by explaining.

It's best to write like you're writing to an idiot. You want to be sure that anything you use you explain and connect.

Don't think that the reader is in your head, understanding what you're trying to say. You have to connect all the dots and show everything. Human beings can be kind of thick and they need help getting what you're saying.

We'll work on that today and tomorrow. Then, Wednesday I'll grade one and we'll go on to the short story unit.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The important idea

...and the best of the day!
9th to go, so who knows, maybe there will be more!