Genius Hour Kickoff Week: Day 1

The time has finally arrived for the students to explore Genius Hour!  After viewing a selection of sample Genius Hour projects, the students then began brainstorming for their own.  I then took a moment to model how I would brainstorm and use that to create not only my driving question that I would be researching but also my Genius Hour Proposal.

The students then had the rest of class to work on brainstorming their possible Genius Hour topics.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Finish brainstorming Genius Hour topic options.


Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

On Tuesday, the 10th Patriot Day, we continued our discussion of gerunds and thesis statements.  After practice changing verbs into gerunds, the students had the opportunity to see a Brain Pop video on main ideas.  This helped with understanding how to make a concise thesis statement.  In fact, we reviewed the concept of a thesis statement by repeating the first line to the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”  The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) starts the song by saying, “now this is the story all about how my life got flip-turned upside-down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the Prince of a town called Bel Air.”  He introduces the subject of the song and then informs the audience what it is he’ll be discussing.  Each verse thereafter supports this thesis.  My Advanced Content class had the opportunity to view a video based on the Chicago Teachers’ Strike from which they will construct a thesis tomorrow (as will the other classes if time allows).

After brainstorming, we worked together to dissect the writing prompt below using TAPP, Topic, Audience, Purpose, and Pattern (except for my 7th period class which first brainstormed and then used a graphic organizer to structure their thoughts). 

Writing Prompt-

 Each year many people lose their lives to the effects of smoking tobacco and it costs the families and our country billions of dollars in hospital expenses. 

What are the effects of tobacco smoke on a persons’ health.  Use details and examples to support your claim.

The students were provided with the following example thesis as a model:

Example thesis: Smoking’s effect on teenagers include cancer, bad breath, and yellow teeth.

HOMEWORK:  Today is “Make Your Dreams Come True Day.” What are your dreams? Write about the dreams you have for your future. Explain how you are going to make them come true in the form of a thesis.  You must include at least 1 gerund.

PowerPoint: 9-11-12 Gerunds, Theses, and Solid Arguments

**For added practice or extra help with thesis statements, you can visit the thesis generator at

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 Recap

On this dreary Thursday we decided to see ethos, pathos, and logos in action by discussing the concept of “the American Dream” (which is an abstract noun by the way).  First, a look at Langston Hughes‘ “A Dream Deferred”  helped set the stage for the comparison and contrast of two divergent points of view with a Venn Diagram.  We watched Ann Romney’s speech from the Republican National Convention last week and then Michelle Obama’s from the Democratic National Convention this week.  Both women’s speeches sought to paint their husbands as the perfect person to be (or continue being) President of the United States.  We then closed by having a mock election based on both women’s speeches alone to see who would win.

*My 7th period class covered indirect objects before embarking on the lesson above.

HOMEWORK: Watch the news and/or the Democratic National Convention.  Make a list of some of the political issues that are addressed.  Then choose one of those issues and write a BCR persuading me to agree with your opinion on that one issue.  Be sure to present a convincing argument!

PowerPoint: 9-6-12 Ethos, Pathos, & Logos in Action

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 Recap

After the wonderful, 3-day Labor Day weekend we did a review of the basic sentence parts: subjects and verbs/predicates.  We then took a 10-question quiz on complete subjects and predicates as well as abstract nouns.  Finally, the lesson wrapped up with notes, discussion, and practice identifying direct objects.

HOMEWORK: AC: Write a 5-sentence story using SVO (Subject/Verb/(Direct) Object).  Highlight the sentence parts (Subject/Verb/(Direct) Object) in different colors.  2nd, 6th, and 7th: Write 5 sentences that use  SVO (Subject/Verb/(Direct) Object).  Identify each sentence part (Subject/Verb/(Direct) Object).

PowerPoint: 9-4-12 Subjects, Verbs, & Direct Objects

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 Recap

After a brief review of ethos, pathos, logos, as well as concrete and abstract nouns, we charged on by watching a video on a game called “Karate Piñata”  from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Part 1 & Part 2).  It was absurd, funny, and very entertaining.  The students were given the task (in two classes) of creating an advertisement for “” making sure to include all of the elements in BIG FOX that were discussed on Monday.

HOMEWORK: All: On a sheet of paper, summarize a TV commercial.  Highlight the examples of ethos, pathos, and logos used in the commercial.  The commercial summary from Tuesday’s homework can be expanded for use in this assignment.

PowerPoint: Text Features Further 8.30.12

Monday, August 27th, 2012 in Brief

We’re still getting the hang of this new and wonderful school year as I am with using this blog.  Starting next week, I will aim to have a summary of each day’s lesson plus it’s powerpoint posted here as a post like this one. 

On Monday we learned about text features–you know those things we see in text books and articles that give us a general understanding of what the text is about?  Through a strategy called BIG FOX, we learned how to pull out some of the most important information from a text.

  • B   Bold – List any words or phrases that are in bold print.  
  • I   Italics – List any words or phrases that are in italics.  
  • G   Graphics – Describe any graphics. (photos, drawings, graphs, charts, maps, tables, etc.)  
  • F   Facts – List at least 5 facts found in the article.  (These include statistics and other numerical data)
  • O   Opinions – List any opinions found in the article.  
  • X   X marks the spot – or at least the main point. In 2-3 sentences, write the main point of the article. (Hint – read the topic sentence of each paragraph.)

We also talked about the difference between concrete nouns and abstract nouns

  • Concrete nouns are people, places, or things that you can actually touch or physically.
    • Examples: dog, cat, house, restaurant, mother, father, etc.
  • Abstract nouns are ideas, concepts, and states of emotion.  Remember, abstract cannot be physically touched.
    • Examples: happiness, sadness, pride, success, joy, peace, etc.

HOMEWORK: AC: Reader/Writer Interactive Workbook pgs 194-195, 2nd & 6th: Reader/Writer Interactive Workbook pgs 194-199, 7th: Reader’s Journey Workbook pgs 8-10

PowerPoint: BIG FOX and Nouns as Ideas (August 27th, 2012)