Friday Kindness, Dreams, Reflections, and Heroes

Many more students completed their constructed responses and essays yesterday than I had originally anticipated which was quite exciting!  Thus, today’s plan went as follows:

  • For those who hadn’t finished their “Your American Dream” constructed response essays yet, they had to complete this task and its accompanying R.A.C.E. graphic organizer.
    • Directions for these can be found here.
  • For those who did finish their “American Dream” constructed response essays, they could do either:


  • Read for 60 minutes
  • Complete any outstanding work from class.
    • Extension Work and “Honoring Our Heroes” essay will each serve as extra credit and must be submitted by the beginning of class on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015.


Constructing Strong Responses: R.A.C.E. and the "American Dream"

Unlike previous posts, this one will be in the present tense and will cover the lessons from both Thursday, January 15th and Friday, January 16th, 2015.


Students, what is the “American Dream”?  What is your “American Dream?”

Task: Choose any two of the resources linked below and then complete the Essay Scorer assignment entitled “Your American Dream.”

Step 1 (of 3): Resources

Directions: Read any two of the resources below.  Then proceed on to Step 2.

Step 2 (of 3): R.A.C.E.

Directions: Now that you have read two of the resources above, create a R.A.C.E. graphic organizer using the form below.  Afterward, proceed to step 3 (do not click “submit”until you finish inputting your Essay Scorer response).

Writing Prompt: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. famously stated that he wished to see a future where different races were integrated in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Now that this has become a reality, what is your dream of the future in the United States? Write an essay clearly painting a picture of your vision of the American Dream.

Step 3 (of 3): Essay Scorer

Directions: You are at the last step.  Log in to Essay Scorer using the directions below and complete the assignment entitled “Your American Dream” using what you wrote in your R.A.C.E. graphic organizer above.  You will have to write at least 3 separate paragraphs.  That said, you may rewrite your essay up to 12 times.  When you finish, click “submit for grading.”

Essay Scorer Student Link:

Login: First Name

Password: Last Name (unless otherwise specified by teacher)


Did you finish early?  Follow the instructions below.

Directions: Go to this page and follow the instructions for extension work.  Any extension work assignments completed must be submitted as specified or else extra credit will not be awarded.



  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Any work not finished in class will be completed the next day.
  • Please Note: Extension work will need to be completed in order to count for extra credit.


  • No PowerPoint presentation for Thursday, January 15th nor Friday, January 16, 2015


#EssayScorer Final Draft and Vocabulary Review Day

To complete the process of creating an in-class essay, the students worked on the school laptops to input their final drafts into Essay Scorer.  This online essay assessment site provides the students with instantaneous feedback scored on a rubric and it also relays that to a central online portal for me to see how all of the students did.  It allows each student to submit multiple versions of their essays so that they can get the best possible grade.  Furthermore, I can see how many misspelled words each student had, how many submissions they made, etc.  It truly is a very beneficial tool for writing instruction.

For the classes where time allowed, we had an in-class vocabulary review game.  Regardless of whether or not we were able to get to the game, each student was provided with a study guide of all of the Unit #2 words in addition to the study packet they received before Thanksgiving break.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Study for tomorrow’s Unit #2 vocabulary test.
  • Genius Hour/BYOD tomorrow
  • Genius Hour projects are due NEXT FRIDAY, December 12th, 2014 (NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED).


Rough Drafts, Edits, and Revisions

Today was a continuation in the writing process started yesterday.  The students took the outlines and Double Bubble Thinking Maps they created yesterday about the stories we all read on Monday.  With “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and “The Storyteller” by Saki as their source material, the students set about creating a rough draft of an essay comparing and contrasting the themes within the two stories.  Furthermore, they were asked to show how the authors of both stories conveyed these themes.  After a brief re-cap of yesterday’s writing tips and a Q & A session, the students had the rest of class to write their rough drafts, share them with a peer for editing, and make the necessary revisions.  Tomorrow, the students will type up their final drafts in the Essay Scorer program for instant grading.


  • Finish any work not completed in class.
  • Continue work on Genius Hour project (DUE DECEMBER 12th, 2014).
  • Study for Friday’s Unit #2 Quiz.


Information-based Writing

With today’s shortened class periods due to our weekly advisement, today’s lesson focused mainly upon looking over yesterday’s Essay Scorer data and in the understanding and creation of infographics.

Overall, the students did well for their first foray into using Essay Scorer this year.  The class scores were 3.1 out of 4 for 3rd period (9 scorable essays), 3.1 out of 4 for 4th period (12 scorable essays), 3.1 out of 4 for 5th period (10 scorable essays), and 3.4 out of 4 for 6th period (5 scorable essays).  I showed the students the teacher summary page so that they could see their overall results and we discussed the breakdown of which domains were strongest and which were weakest.  Overall, all four classes were strong in conventions (grammar and punctuation) and word choice.

I then talked to the students about infographics and we discussed how they can be another way to share valuable information in an quick and easily-read manner.  The students then created their own infographics based on either the in-class student dictionaries or the 8th grade literature books.  Below is an example of an infographic I made through the website on the student dictionary.

Here is a sample infographic I made to show the students.
Here is a sample infographic I made to show the students.



  • Read for 30 minutes.


Revisions and Workshops: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Today was one of the most self-differentiated of days.  In essence, everyone was supposed to workshop and revise their essays through a process called a “Charette.”  This miniature version we did in class was limited to pairs of students reading each other’s work, answering any questions that the author had about his or her work, and then finally offering any observations or suggestions for improvement.  I felt that providing a more intimate version of this protocol would help the students become more comfortable with sharing their work as we will work our way up to small group and full-class writing workshops.

Once the students finished with this process, they were directed to revise and edit their papers according to their own observations and that of their classmates.  With all necessary changes made, the students were directed to start entering their papers into their online portfolios.  I provided all classes with the example below:

Argumentative Essay Sample



  • Finish the Final Draft of the Argumentative Essay (essays typed at home must either be brought on a Flash Drive or typed directly into KidBlog).
  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Study Lesson 5 Vocabulary words
  • Access KidBlog and choose a template.


Introduction to Argumentative Writing: Monday, September 29th, 2014

Though we had taken a few moments during last week’s lessons to briefly discuss argumentative writing and the characteristics of quality writing, today we delved headlong into it. First, the students had the opportunity to share what they remembered of the characteristics of quality writing from last week. Then, I shared with them the six general writing traits we tend to focus upon when writing:

  1. Ideas
  2. Organization
  3. Word Choice
  4. Sentence Fluency
  5. Voice
  6. Conventions

The students were then shown a couple more examples of argumentative writing in action.  The students listened to the first two minutes of the most recent podcast from the Freakonomics blog entitled “Fitness Apartheid.”  Should residents of an apartment building who pay a discounted rate be able to partake in more luxurious amenities?  We took a moment to have a brief discussion on both sides of the issue presented within “FItness Apartheid.”  Next, the students read a written example of argumentative writing at work (text can be found in the PowerPoint below).

We ended class today with the students choosing 3-5 of the topics they found the most interesting.  They then narrowed those down to two with which they will create a Circle Map to brainstorm.  These will become the foundation of the argumentative essays they will be writing in class this week.

Here are two more links to even more argumentative writing topics:


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Complete the Circle Map of two topics (except 3rd period)
  • Study for Wednesday’s lesson 4 vocabulary quiz

PowerPoint: 9.29.14 Characteristics of Quality Writing and Intro to Argumentative Part 2

WELCOME BACK! Tuesday-Friday, January 8th-11th, 2013

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Winter Break!


On this first day back for the students, we did a writing strategy recap.  As a whole group, we looked at a sample expository writing prompt and broke it down using TAPP-F.  This strategy helps the students look at the key points in a writing prompt to determine what it is that they need to do in order to be successful.

  • T=Topic
    • This is where the students take a topic in its entirety and summarize it in one to two sentences.
  • A=Audience
    • According to the writing prompt (topic), who is going to read the essay/letter/speech?
  • P=Purpose
    • Why is this essay/letter/speech being written?  Is it to persuade or to inform/explain?
  • P=(Organizational) Pattern
    • How should you organize your writing? Should it be organized in:
      • chronological order (in order of time)?
      • logical order (in order of what makes the most sense to you)?
      • cause and effect order (where the cause of something is discussed first and then its effects)?
      • problem and solution order (where the problem is presented and then you discuss a possible solution)?
      • comparison and contrast (where two or more things are discussed for how they are similar and dissimilar)?
  • F=Format
    • In what form are you writing?  Is it supposed to be:
      • a letter?
      • an essay?
      • a speech?

The students had to dissect and brainstorm using TAPP-F on the topic below:

Lunch GMWA writing topic

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and write an introduction paragraph based on the topic presented in class.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Writing Strategy Recap 1.8.13



In class, each student continued formulating and organizing their ideas using a graphic organizer to map out their body paragraphs.  I provided some assistance by guiding them through the process using the ELMO document camera.

HOMEWORK: Complete the body paragraph sections in the graphic organizer provided in class. Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Body Paragraphs 1.9.13



Having mapped out the body paragraphs both in class and for homework the previous night, the students began work on sculpting a strong conclusion.  With the time remaining in class, each student then took what they wrote in the graphic organizer the night before and translated it into a rough draft.  Those who did not finish in class had to complete it for homework, due at the beginning of their class period on Friday the 11th.

HOMEWORK: Complete the rough draft of the letter to the principal.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Conclusions 1.10.13



The week wrapped up with practical application of all of the skills practiced this week in the form of a timed writing.  As a reminder, the students used the acronym of T-BOW ( (c) 2013 Me) to guide them through the writing process.  T-BOW represents:

  • T=TAPP-F (see above under “Tuesday”)
  • B=Brainstorm
  • O=Organize (see above under “Tuesday” as well)
  • W=Write

All of the drafting homework from the previous days this week were due at the beginning of each class with no late work being accepted (except in rare circumstances).

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes.  Remember, this upcoming Tuesday is our next Library Day!  Find your library books and have a wonderful weekend!

PowerPoint:  Timed Writing Day 1.11.13


Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Today, after turning in their “Create-A-Quiz” assignments (worth a quiz grade), the students finished writing their in-class essays.  However before that, we all participated in an “Editing Round Robin” where each student edited a paragraph and then passed it to their right.  The group that finished first won a prize!  Thereafter, to review the writing process we had a “Rap-A-Long” to the song “Essay Swag” which can be found here.  In some classes, the bravest students had the opportunity to rap the verses while we all chimed in on the choruses.  Finally, the students completed their essays with as much assistance from me as they needed.  Those who struggled with organizing their essays were allowed to use the computers which were already on the site ReadWriteThink’s Essay Map Generator.

Editing Round Robin Handout: Edit a sample 4 paragraph Essay

PowerPoint: Nov. 8. 2012 Write it Out! Part Deux

HOMEWORK: Complete the Unit One Study Guide in preparation for tomorrow’s exam!


Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The students were certainly charged up with energy after last night’s election results.  Thus, I took the opportunity to capitalize on that excitement with the essay topic they started in class today.  Before we tackled that, the students had 10 minutes to work on their “Create-A-Quiz” assignment in their groups.  We then moved into a review of the writing process‘ five parts: pre-writing, drafting (rough draft), revising, editing, and publishing (the final product).  Finally, the students began brainstorming on the topic below.  They will complete the in-class 5-paragraph essay tomorrow for a test grade.


Each of you possess some of the qualities for a successful President of the United States.  Regardless of whether or not you were born here, write an essay persuading the adults of the United States to vote for you for President.  Be sure to explain at least three qualities you possess that would make you strong at the job.

PowerPoint: Nov. 7. 2012 Write it out!

HOMEWORK: Complete the “Create-A-Quiz” assignment.  This is due tomorrow and NO late work will be accepted.