Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Essay 11

...and more great detail. Kelly's is the first one this week.

She puts us in the challenge of making that move on the balance beam. She takes us through step by step how she made it so she could do this challenging move.

Paige. Do you notice her title? Paige is one of just a few who have taken my teachings of the title and used it with all of her writing. I love it!

Look at her example for the quote: Martin Luther King. She told us how he fit the quote. I wish she had talked a bit more concretely about what he did, but I think she thinks we all know what he did. NEVER assume that. Tell us; show us with specifics.

Michaela has done a wonderful essay on Mr. Toyama and the influence he has had on her. Look at the specific detail she gives.

We are able to see exactly how he helped her to improve. Wow! (and yes, Michaela, has work on errors still, but I can send her to high school knowing she will fine tune that skill. Her ability to write with organization and detail are what count!)

Many of you wrote about teachers who have made a difference. They were a treat to write. Thank you for making my week!

Finally, we have Peyton's. If Paige wrote about the quote with the wonderful example of Martin Luther King, Peyton's does a wonderful job of step by step making us understand the quote.

Look at her first body paragraph and note how she adds a little bit more to her explanation each sentence.

There you have the four for this week. Detail, a title and specific example, with more terrific detail, to finally the step by step explanation: they have it all. Wonderful!

Friday, March 26, 2010


...what a difference a day makes! Today we discussed chapters 9-12 of Old Yeller.

You guys did a great job discussing and then writing a detailed paragraph.

There were lots I could have chosen to use here, but I only picked 6. Each of these paragraphs have a topic sentence, introducing their choice of the three topics they could have written on.

Each pulls specific detail from the four chapters to make their topic come clear to the reader.

And, very importantly, each has a concluding sentence to come back around to their topic. You must leave the reader with the topic that you developed. It makes all your detail all that more focused.

When you write, whether it's a paragrah or an essay, you introduce, develop with specific detail and examples, and you then leave the reader back on the topic; you conclude.

It is that organization and detail for development that makes a person a good writer.

Thank you for many of you being that good writer today!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


...Madness, the Ms. Bassette way!

March is a tough month for teachers. The kids we haven't reached drive us nuts, and the kids who are taking that end-of-winter snooze from learning collide in our heads and then we get cranky.

I end up lecturing-- like I did today -- and then I fall back on going crazy until I find humor. I try to stay sane with humor.

Today's humor was Kyle's peace sign with his daily sentence.

I also did a visual for myself today in 3 of my classes. Maybe it's something I should do every week. I had you guys stand up and stay standing if you did, in this case, all three assignments for the week. In one, it was about half. In one, it was more than half, and in my last class? Far, far too many were sitting down.

Okay. I need to concentrate in March on the ones who are doing their work. The others? I'll keep trying, but frankly, I've soul-searched. I'm doing what I should be doing.

The real question is, Are you?

Are you standing up for your education or not? In the end, the answer is yours.

For period 4

...and any others who want to learn about writing essays with detail.

Three of your classmates this week wrote essays to use as examples of good, organized writing.
The post is titled Essay 10. Read that post and then answer one set of questions about one essay in the google doc.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A note from a cranky


Success. Being successful. In my class, it's paying attention; trying the assignment; using my comments to get better; and continuing to do it.

It's not about saying 'I don't get it' or doing whatever you feel like. I am trying to push you and your mind to try and do new concepts. With all that practice and pushing, high school will be easier.

What's getting to me lately, is the number of students who are not writing at all. Yes, I give 55 for breathing, but if you didn't do your book report, you got a 0 for that....and 55s can add up to failing.

On the flip side, if you follow my directions and do it, you might get out of the next week's assignment.

I really think I'm doing my part. Are you?

Poems, the second week of the

...4th format.

Tammy wrote a wonderful story of her puppy and his meandering out of the yard.

She used one of the lines I gave and then did it on her own topic, her puppy, which is exactly what I wanted for this format: to use a line of poetry to start the lines and then have wrapping to make some lines continue on. That would then make it easier to see how each line shouldn't be capitalized.

I love it! As I said, I do wish she wouldn't capitalize all lines. See the ones I suggest she keep as lower case? They're the lines that are wrapped from the last line. And, maybe she could edit the last line or use a colon after Behold. But, it's a great story of a mischievous puppy!

Look at Kara's title in the next poem. Little Things, what a great title. We want to read the poem to find what the little things are and what she thinks about them. Titles do get capitalized, though.

I might have capitalized the last line, and I would have added in a comma between her repeating (repetition!) of little things. Speaking of terms, there's personification with the heart being full and being true--wonderful.

Jacob wrote about memories, which wasn't what the line was about. Good. The line is to give you different wording ideas, not the topic of the poem.

He also needs to not have capitals on every line. When wrapping, that line wouldn't be capped. See how the my heart goes together? So, no capital. Add in a title and he'd be all set. I just appreciate that he used a line of my poetry choices and wrapped some lines and wrote on his own topic.

Ashley's is another.

There's a couple of spelling errors and I'd add in a colon and an exclamation point, but look at the use of personification and repetition. Wow! I also love the topic, being successful. Yes!

A lot of students didn't have to write this week because they did it right last week. Some wrote this week and won't have to next week because they figured it out this week. Good.

Many of you have blown off both weeks. I say baloney to you! Don't tell me this is too difficult; it isn't. It just takes reading the directions and then a little thought. And don't tell me you didn't understand; I'm around to help....if you ask.

Okay. Enough. Success is spelled reading the directions and doing your work!

Essay 10

...with some good detail and organization.

Darian did a persuasive on banning library books. She has a format, a little more sophisticated than I've suggested, but it works because she has an opinion and reasons. Sometimes students just want to show both sides, and that's good if you can, but in the end? You've got to have an opinion. A persuasive essay is all about trying to convince others to believe as you do.

Darian is opposed to banning books. In the first body paragraph, Darian shows the other side and does so with a good example, but she ends saying this still isn't right. We know she will now show, even better than she did in the first paragraph, why she is opposed.

In the second body paragraph she develops her reasoning. What is it? She wants parents to be involved and not just take the easiest route, which is banning books for all. Wow!!

In the conclusion Darian states her opinion again and ends with her strong belief so we know exactly where she stands. Wonderful! The musts of persuasive? Having an opinion and reasons to back it up. In this case it was one reason but looked at two different ways to show which side was stronger.

Marianne did the essay with the message as its topic. She, too, had terrific, specific detail to let the reader in on exactly what she was saying. Right now (once we've got people remembering to be neat and have pride in their work), organization for detail is our biggest problem. Students are taking a topic and just willy-nilly writing whatever. A lot of students are ending up repeating.

Read Marianne's and you'll find no repeating. Detail by detail, Marianne develops a picture of why her message is so important. I know I've said this before- about 100 times!- but it's true: paint what you're trying to say with detail. Do the sequencing we talk about in reading. One detail at a time built on another, will show us what you're trying to say.

Another way of talking about development is explaining and then giving examples. Sam has a message which she immediately compares to an everyday image--something I've been trying to teach (It's like....).

Sam's paper is a little confusing in that she talks about the world ending, but Sam does bring it back around to her topic and tie it in with the second paragraph's first sentence. Whatever is happening in the world-whatever any of us believe, we need to take care of the world. She had a topic for the first paragraph (whatever we believe, we still need the world), and then she developed how important it is in the second.

She's got three examples to build her idea. Examples always make it easy to see what the writer is talking about. Then, in her conclusion, she, again, reiterates what she is saying, using that last shot to make sure the reader got it--and she used personification!

So, there you have three examples of what we're going for in English 8.

Organization and detail: they're the keys.
  • Know what you want to say
  • organize it so you're not repeating
  • then add in detail so the reader can see.

Monday, March 22, 2010


...I am so impressed!! I went on to check if maybe anyone had commented on the google docs, and a bunch had. I liked all that people wrote. Thank you for being my guinea pigs for next year. I promise to make it worth your while. I like to have things figured out to start the new year. I think it makes for a smoother beginning.

Also, thanks for all my classes really getting into the vocab and the thesaurus work today. Having a good feel for using the thesaurus on line will be a skill for high school.

I did show the Free Rice to a couple of classes. Did anyone try that at home? Mrs. Hume and I tried the art work part. We got as many right as we did wrong. Remind me and when we have time, we can do some pick-up tries (like pick up games) at the end of classes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thank you

...to Cali for responding already. Remember you guys are guinea pigs for me. I am already thinking I need to do more short answer and less paragraphing writing in this blog assignment. Let me know.

For now? Try it, get credit and then enjoy the day--the sun is shining again!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Check it out

...Free Rice. It's on my link list. You can donate rice and see how much you know. Let me know how you do!

I know I'll be trying it this weekend.

Extra Credit or Asssignment

...and to help me for next year!

I want students reading and learning from this blog. So.........

Each week I will give one class the assignment to go on and read one post from my blog.

Once you've read the post, you'll come back to the google doc and answer the question.

I will read your responses and grade them on content, not errors (although, please do write as well as you can!). You will have till Wednesday nights to do your answer.

I will have a new google doc up by Friday evening for the next week, again due by Wednesday night....make sense?

If you want to comment and it's not your class's week to write, do it anyway for bonus points. Up to 10 points will be yours to add to ANY grade, yes, even book report zeroes, if you go on and comment when it's not your week.

Let's see how this works. Second period needs to go on by Wednesday night!

Thanks for being my guinea pigs for next year!

Write around, session 2

...4th period. More examples of what I wrote about with period 2 below.

Again, like in second, good notes give you something to pull a good topic from.

Paige does that with her comment on his style of wording.

Zack's group has a conversation that meanders, and that's okay.

They start one place and go to another and end at yet another. Conversations have a way of doing that. Could one topic be found to write a good essay off of? Probably, but it might be harder than a conversation that worked at going deeper into one idea.

Now, Chelsea's group has a terrific example

of how one thread runs through the thoughts of three: people who we look up to and why.

Kara's group's was on feelings in general, and that's good.

It's a topic that one you could pull detail from the book if you had to, but it also could be a good general essay topic on feelings and how we should deal with them.

Shelby's starts with wanting to know about the passage. I forget that you haven't read this far and you might not know all of the details.

Her question will be answered in the pages previous to this, but if you read Kaitlyn's, you'll see she can answer it too.

Brandon's starts with a question on why anyone would be upset with what's happening, a good question.

Tyler tries to answer it and so does the next person. Maybe giving examples of what 'chills your blood' means would be good-- going over that figurative language could help with the question.

Sarah, with Gabbie's starter, goes back into the passage and explains to her what is happening. That's excellent.

In life we sometimes have to redirect the conversation and get it started again in a meaningful way.

The bottom line is that this write around will only really work to get you somewhere with thoughts if you first start with some thoughts.

The key is connecting to your reading. Do that, intelligently, and you'll be a good thinker and student.

Write around, session 2

...and taking it to a new level--conversation on our literature.

First, the notetaking. Look at the quote, "Nothing to fear but fear itself" from FDR.

Jason was reminded of that quote when reading this passage. It was then what he decided to do his conversation on. Wonderful!

Zeke commented on being afraid, saying it wasn't a bad thing.

He then used it to start his conversation. Again, with a great topic, the conversation has a way of really rolling along.

The rest are the conversations themselves. Click on them and read how the conversations went.

From training your mind,

to being reminded of the saying about teaching old dogs new tricks,

to comparing the hogs' anger to the hallway looks,

to the pigs themselves,

till finally we end up with fear again and a new quote, from Will's dad,

"Don't be afraid; fear grows older as you do."

I hope you're learning that with good notetaking, or thinking, and then a good topic, good work can come of it.

Unfortunately, the other can happen too. With no good notes, no good topic, and then less than stellar work, can come something that really noone can use.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New format:

...taking a line of poetry, from a list I gave and using one by writing it down the page, one word at a time, and then writing a poem. The poem should have been on your own topics still (say, not on beaches or sailors or nobodies), and you were supposed to be working at wrapping your lines so each line of poetry didn't just stand alone.

Of course, you should still be working on capitals for new ideas, using terms, and having a title that is more than just the topic noun. As with anything you hand it, pride of ownership in neatness and errors should be evident.

And, why did these make it on here?

Erin's line, 'child all small' caught my fancy, and Peyton's 'miles and miles' portrays the whole poem.

Keegan's 'go go go' gets us going, and look how Ashlee uses the wrapping in the first two lines.

Jason uses a simile and the writing of his words to make his poem.

Paige has alliteration, metaphor and personification--wow!

Tyler's is a perfect example of taking a line but then writing about exactly what he has been writing about-racing! Alissa's? She makes me want to be a child again, or at least enjoy the wonder of being around children.

Okay, so Will's fullfility isn't a word, but I love it, and I love his efforts. He is a poet.

Amanda's courage? Something we should all strive to have.

Finally, whether we are sailors coming home from vacations or traveling in our minds, Dan and Kelly take us there in their poems.

The key is using a line from my list, writing on your own topic and working at wrapping the thoughts into another line.

Have fun and go for it!

Old Yeller

...paragraphs on chapters 5-8.

I really enjoyed our discussion/ notetaking correcting yesterday. It seems like people are doing a great job remembering their reading. Characters and details are there. Good.

Now, we have to continue to work on being able to take all those notes and ideas and use them to make something new--a focused, organized and detailed paragraph, which would be an accurate synthesis of what we've talked about in class.

Granted, you only have 10 minutes or so, but, frankly, in life, that will be much on what you are judged. Can you take in data, think and then use it to your benefit? I hope so.

Yesterday, you had three choices to work with: the resolution of the minor conflict and the then building of the team with Travis and Old Yeller; the continuation of Travis's growth as a man; or how chapters 5-8 are good examples of a structure of a novel. And, you had to do that using detail from 3 out of the 4 chapters, in order of how the details happened in the story.

That's quite a bit, but I've got 13 people who did a pretty good job of it. Some are longer and some are shorter. A good paragraph can be seven sentences or it can be longer when it is one standing by itself. The length isn't important; the content is.

Most of these should have a topic sentence, detail from 3 out of the 4 paragraphs (IN ORDER), and then they should be ending where they started--as in, on the same topic.

Read some of these. Do they fit that criteria?

For some who didn't make it on here, they only had detail from 2 out of the 4 chapters, or they started with one topic and ended with another. Some tried doing their own thing, which I commend....except that this wasn't the place for it. Others gave such little detail from the book that they really showed nothing.

We have two more discussion days; one more practice paragraph, and then an overview for the book that will count as a grade. Keep trying and improving. That's all we can ask for.