Friday, February 26, 2010


...that's the movie we're watching right now.

And, as I'm laughing and enjoying it, I also remembered coming home when we saw it in the movie theatre. We discussed how it so wonderfully fit together, exactly what we talked about on Wednesday.

Some examples? The old guy was a balloon salesman and later, he used that to move his house. An even better one? When the old guy sent the explorer scout to look for snipes. Then, later when Russel's in doing business in the jungle, he hears the noise and decides it's the snipe.

Right now, it's the tennis ball and chasing it when the old man pulls it off his cane. Do you remember how that's used at the end of the movie?

This is a terrific movie, but it's also a wonderful example of facts and action having to help move the story along or they shouldn't be in there. Sending him off for the snipe, having the cane with tennis balls--all that detail helps to make the story fit so tightly together later on.

Rent it this weekend and find lots more examples.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snow! Wow!

Well, wow, except that I was looking forward to trying something new with you on Friday or Monday and now I'm not sure how that will work- ah well, I'm betting I'll still enjoy the day.

I did bring home the poems to grade. Maybe I'll even get them on today, although time has a way of getting by me when I'm home near a comfortable chair with puzzles and a book to read.

Speaking of reading, how many of you thought to bring yours home? The book report assignment goes out Monday. You already know the topic will be the trenches, right?

Play, read, shovel, think: enjoy the day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Am I Working

...harder than you? I shouldn't be!

This is the poster up in the room from last week's essay. There are a number of people who I think aren't using the comment sheet. Some of that, I suppose, if you really wanted to, could be blamed on me. I actually have been writing a few things each week for you to concentrate on to improve. Shame on me (I guess).

So, here's what I'm going to try to do:I'm going to try my darnedest to only write one comment, one concept that you need to improve on. I will start with Format and go down the list.

As soon as one shows up lacking in your paper, that'll be the comment I write. The next week, if you improve, the format grade will go to check plus, a 100. If you don't improve, it'll drop to a check minus, a 74, and it will stay there until you do it. When you have the format down, which many of you do, I'll move on to the comments under Content. One comment at a time to work on.

Now, keep in mind, I can still give you up to 100 on whichever I'm not commenting on, format or content, and I take one point off for each error.


It's your education; take charge of it. There is time before school, at lunch and on most days during class, but for sure, Thursdays. Please, learn to look at your papers when you get them back and vow to improve, and if something doesn't make sense, ask me. It's your responsibility.

With that in mind, here's the poem poster for the poems you wrote for 1C. Many did great. Some are still trying to use the last format. Please, don't. I am trying to give you a variety of ways to write, to think, to create. Push yourself to try them all.

Remember those neurons in your brain and making paths for them to travel, that fill-in-the-blank we did? With each new format and effort, you are stretching your brain and becoming smarter.

Welcome back. I know I'm happy to see you all again!

Friday, February 12, 2010


...poems, the first (and wonderful) effort: Take a topic, list what you know, organize it, add terms and have a title. Some of these did it all and some didn't, but they all followed my directions of listing. We can grow from there.

Pets and snow and trucks and sports: all topics they picked and made their own.

Listing and using margins and having terms involved and having titles: you're working on it all!

Learning to follow directions, using examples and then just trying will get you far in life.

Miriah, Kyle, Zeke and Shelby: so many of you did a great job. I love it!

Enjoy these efforts of your classmates trying a new format and making it their own.

Can I really ask for more?

I don't think so. They're great!

Students of the

...week. I think I blew one and you'll only see them hugging in pride:

Kyle and Keegan have worked to be students of the week, and I appreciate that. They want to do well and be students. And, they are. They're learning to focus and put learning first, right?


I also have my three 4th period girls who are working on focusing on learning. It's tough to do, and yet they're trying. I appreciate Maygin's efforts in sentences, and Danielle and Gabby coming alive and doing some work. Wow!

There's also Dylan and Donovan. (I really blew this video and I owe them one....and I can't seem to get rid of it, so wow, my bad!) Now, they won't want to admit it, but they wrote some good poems this week. I'm going to get them enjoying my class yet!

Students of the week isn't about being perfect; it's about trying and growing. It's about being students.

I'll end with Will and Tristian. They are great students, and I applaud them also!

Wherever you are as a student, one who is trying, one who is struggling, one who does well: I apreciate your efforts.

We can only try and that's what all of these students have in common this week. They try!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The important thing

...about "Thank You, M'am" for me is that more and more of you are using details. Good.

Now, what was the important idea for you?

I really like that the important idea comes out a bit differently for many people. That shows that literature is alive. WE bring ourselves to what we read (or listen to or watch), and so it can mean different things to different people.

But, the key is having detail to show how you got there. Then? Someone else might come around to your way of thinking also.

Remember: we do these after we've looked at the story both with short story terms and with reading strategies.

With the terms and the questions this week, I think you could see how Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones was developed as a character in the 4 ways: looks, actions, thoughts and opinions of others. She was a big and tough woman from her looks and actions, but I especially liked how one of the questions got us to seeing inside Mrs. J's head when she told Roger her name. We saw a confident person there. Roger's opinion of her changed through the story also, from crazy and mean to wonderful and caring.

I also really liked some of the wonderful questions and answers you did. Compassion, civilized, pity, seeing herself in Roger: all that came from you. WOW!!!

Finally, I loved that we ended with the question that, when I was in charge of discussing the story (and not you through your questions), we ended with. Now, that's some excellent reading strategies!! Thank you.

If the clock (everyday image) helps you to have detail, great. If the Kodak picture helps you to understand how to do sequencing, again, great. That's the goal, to become better readers, and, ultimately, better thinkers. It all starts with connecting and remembering the detail.

It's been a wonderful two weeks of short stories. Two more to come after the break. Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Essays are

...back! Number seven came in, and here are some of them. It seems to be a guy week, and that's okay. I did get essays from Paige and Brittany and Shelby that I thought were wonderful but too personal to put on here. I know there are lots of people doing good work. I can only highlight so much each week. And, to be fair, some make the point I want to make for the week.

This week? Brandon and Trent do a wonderful job putting me there.

I see their pets. That's what I want.

Too many are just telling me rather than showing me or putting me there with their detail. Good writers don't tell; they show and paint. Please do.

Others? Well, too many this week, I think, just went through the motions of writing an essay. It's been a while since I required one out of the classroom. I want neatness, effort, proofreading, and good detail. In short, I want work that looks like someone cared about what they were doing.

Matt, Reid and Kelly go the distance there.

(I think Mr. Devoe gave great support to Matt, Zach and Jeff this week, since much of their detail was the same...but, you know what? I think that's wonderful that they worked with an adult to work on their essays. Wow! They just have to be extra careful when going on-line to be sure they do only research and not take writing from there. That is tough to learn, but a must!)

Stepping in here on Wednesday: Mr. Devoe didn't help these guys!! I am so impressed with their knowledge. Wow!!!! Maybe it came from last year's class? Wonderful!

Kelly's takes a topic in the news today and puts it in the persuasive format. Wonderful!

And, please? To get the two check plusses, you are to follow the format and have good content that flows. Errors? Well, you can get away with some, but you are headed to high school. Being able to write well will be a must. I hope you go prepared for that. The last 5 essays are a good test. Do your best and endeavor to grow as a writer.

Poem format 3 is due tomorrow. All must do one. It's a listing poem. Enjoy the process.

Monday, February 8, 2010


...a reading skill, but from using history charts.

This is our third or fourth time with inference through history. I was impressed with how well it went, a Monday after the Superbowl.

We had five charts and I gave you 10 to 15 minutes to take notes. Then, in groups and with Mr. Maccou's white boards, you worked at answering my 2 or 3 questions. This was, by far, the best way to go about it. Thanks for having patience till I figured out how to do these.

Interesting to me? We've had two charts on importing v. exporting in the 1970's and 1990's. I'm thinking that means it's important (see how I use inference?!?!) for your history state test. Pay attention when Mr. Giroux and Mr. Filzen teach that!

Also interesting was the chart on the three branches of government. You all got 3, but many, most did not glibly answer, "No one branch is more important" and you should have. The phrase checks and balances should have come to mind with this chart. No one group was higher than the others so no one group could have been more important.

Use your inference, and then your knowledge, to show what you know. It's called thinking.

And, thinking is what happened today on a Monday. Thank you!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Part II

...Student of the Week, Mrs Morey. Yesterday morning, I, mistakenly, didn't allow Mrs. Morey to speak as to why she would be a student of the week.

Luckily, though, as life sometimes happens, I got a chance to rectify that mistake.

Brandon came into my 9th period class yesterday singing the praises of his math teacher. When I asked why, he explained that Mrs. Morey had been rapping in class.

Now, I work next to Mrs. Morey, and I have team with her, and we share coffee, but I don't think I've EVER heard her sing!

Mrs. Morey's willingness to do what it takes to have students learn is just one more wonderful way that teachers and staff help to make students successful.

And, so, here's to Mrs. Morey as student of the week!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Students of the week

...who aren't students this week!

There are soooooooooooooo many of you who have grown and are growing into wonderful students. You listen and you do and you try. I applaud your efforts, but I'm hoping you also realize that there are good adults around you who help and motivate and push and support you to do your best.

This week's students of the week are them: the teachers and staff who care.

Of course, I can't possible get all the staff on who do so much, so some are represented through others.

The 8th grade team are all teachers who spend time day in and day out trying to make our students realize all they can be; Mrs. Pomeroy

and Mrs. Filzen, well, they represent themselves and others: the people not necessarily in the classroom but who support you and guide you all the time, both in your personal lives and with your troubles and with your successes;

Mr. Whittaker, represents all the young and new people who come into a school, believing in and
trying to make a difference in every student;

Mr. Weeks is an encore teacher and coach who sees the whole student, sometimes connecting with students in ways that that the regular classroom teacher can't;

and, finally, Mrs. Farrell represents all the support teachers who work not only with their assigned students but who connect with and support all the students in the classroom.

Here at Groton we've got a pretty good bunch of students, and we've got a pretty good middle school. Wouldn't you agree?

Have a great weekend (and check out the timeline on Monday. The important ideas will be up and then we'll move into inference work with more charts.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The review report. It was all of nine sentences long.

You had three bullets to do and an example to work off of.

I told you to read the directions and to follow them and the example.

Wow! So many did do exactly that!

I graded it on each bullet and then on errors.

Most of my work in here is a lot like this.

I give directions and I give examples, like the poetry assignment I gave today.

IF you have the directions in front of you, and you follow them, I'm thinking you should do all right.

Now, if you didn't do the book report, you're starting this 10 weeks in the hole.

On the other hand, we have an essay a week due now for a while and poems due each week.

If you do all those writing assignments, you'll get yourself out of that hole lickety split.

In trying and doing, we learn.

Essay number seven due Monday. (Thanks to all the students who had their outline done--wow!!)

And, then Wednesday the new poem? No sentences. None.

Write a list and organize it into a poem. That's what I want.

Can't wait!