In the meantime…

Please pardon the delay with the updating of the blog.  For some reason, accessing from school was no longer possible, but I have finally found a solution.  With less than a month to go until the CRCT, I certainly want to keep you all updated on what is going on in class.

This week we are trudging through the second  Benchmark exam, which is a county-created and mandated exam.  The students have up to 3 days to complete this within ELA and those who finish early will participate in “Zapping Zeroes.”  Those who have any zeroes within their overall grade will be given the opportunity to re-do and complete this work for partial credit as the quarter ends this Friday, the 15th.  Furthermore, on Thursday and Friday the students are going to have time to work on the areas in which they each need extra practice in the form of a Web Quest.

I will include links to some of the more important PowerPoint presentations from the past couple of weeks below.  Please feel free to use these for review.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!  Have a wonderful first day of Daylight Savings Time!

Wednesday and Thursday, February 20th and 21st, 2013

Wednesday saw a continuation of Tuesday’s lesson where the students had the opportunity to view more videos, discuss the possible themes in groups, and finally share them with the whole class.  The students really enjoyed the integration of music into the ELA lesson.

PowerPoint: Putting Things in Order 2.20.13

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes.

Today’s class periods featured discussion about the “Article of the Week” and why we must make sure that sentences and paragraphs are in proper order so that the reader can understand what has been written.  In conjunction with our current extended text Divergent by Veronica Roth, the students took a “Faction Quiz” where they answered questions to see where they will be placed within the classroom next week.  The students will be interacting with the story because the characters within the world of Divergent are separated into different factions, or family-style groups, based on an aptitude test (which uses their personality inclinations) to identify in which group they would best fit.

PowerPoint: Synthesis (Sentence Order and Theme) 2.21.13

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes.  Complete the “Article of the Week” which is due Friday.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Hopefully you had a wonderfully refreshing 4-day Presidents’ Day weekend!

This week we will be focusing on theme and sentence order in class.  To jumpstart the week’s focuses, we first addressed theme.  First, five television theme songs were played and the students had to identify the show to which it belonged.  If they could not, they had to identify what pictures came to mind as they heard the theme song.  The students heard the theme songs below:

Thereafter, we worked whole group to brainstorm on the themes presented in the music videos below.  Since visual images are easier to pull from than text, this served to provide the students with practice in identifying themes.

I chose to pull from a selection of songs from which the students would not be immediately familiar so that they were able to focus on the visuals and less on jamming out to their favorite song.

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes, pull themes from the “Article of the Week”-“Teenage Gamers Better at Simulated Surgery than Medical Residents”

PowerPoint: Theme 2.19.13

Graphic Organizer: Theme Graphic Organizer


Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The warm 3-day weekend wrapped up with the historic inauguration of our President on the same day as we celebrate the achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  In fact, I found out that President Obama is one of only 17 presidents to give an inaugural address to jump start his second term.  Did you know that his second inauguration is not the first Presidential Inauguration to coincide with MLK Day?  Interestingly enough, President Bill Clinton‘s second inauguration was also on MLK Day.  How fascinating!

On our first day back (and the day before the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment) we played an ELA version of Family Feud for the activator (the 10 minutes prior to the main lesson) and played Writing Assessment Review Jeopardy.  The students seemed to have a wonderful time.

This afternoon was the last of the Pre-Writing Assessment after-school tutoring sessions.  I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school or came during connections for additional help.  That level of initiative is what will surely be the foundation of success.  I am so proud to teach such students!

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Get a good night of sleep!  Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review which is due in 1 week (on Tuesday, January, 29th, 2013).

The Week of January 14-18th in Review

In preparation for tomorrow’s Writing Assesement, last week was devoted to review of all of the writing strategies that had been addressed in class.  I held two tutoring sessions during and after school to assist those who felt they needed to practice some skills, ask additional questions, or receive extra teaching.  It was an absolute blast!  As a result, I will be holding weekly after-school tutoring sessions starting within the next couple of weeks.  Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with a timed writing to simulate part of what the students will encounter tomorrow.

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review (Due Tuesday, January 29th, 2013)

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


Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

It has been said that preparation is the key ingredient to success.  With the Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment, the students had the opportunity to mimic the conditions of the actual 8th grade Writing Assessment that will be administered on January 23rd, 2013.  Much like the actual exam, the Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment is hand-scored on a rubric similar to the one used by the State of Georgia for the GMWA (Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment).  We should receive the results of these writings within the month where they will be posted online for viewing. 

After 100 solid minutes of writing in the morning, my 6th and 7th period classes took part in an ELA review game which can be found here.  They were paired up based on mixed ability and interests to create a dynamic collaborative learning environment.


HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments (DUE FRIDAY) and read for at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Just like Monday’s class, Tuesday was a day filled with work at centers.  The students had to work in the centers they had not addressed on Monday and complete the tasks given.


HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments (DUE FRIDAY) and read for 30 minutes.

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Monday was the first of two days where the students were in centers to practice their writing skills.  There were a total of six stations to which the students had the opportunity to visit.  These stations included focuses on:

Center #1: Organization

1.     Read the articles on the pay of female tennis players.

2.     Next, compare and contrast the two articles.

3.     Then, identify the problem in the article and suggest a solution.

o   Write at least 2 sentences explaining why that would be a good solution.

4.     Guess what might be the cause for the inequality in pay.

o   Then, write what the effect has been in at least one sentence.

Center #2: Ideas

1.     Think of 5 topics and write them down on your own sheet of paper.

2.     Then pass your topics to the person on your right. 

3.     Brainstorm at least 5 points for each topic. (Use a bubble map or a bullet point list)

4.     Turn to your elbow partner and share the two topic brainstorming bubble maps (or bullet pointed lists).  KEEP YOUR VOLUME LOW.

Center #3: Style

1.     Read the article “Text Talk” on Reality Central page 49. 

2.     Find the paragraph you think is the strongest.  Write down:

o   What page it is on,

o   What number paragraph it is from the top of the page,

o   And explain why you think it is the strongest.

3.     Next, Choose one of the paragraphs to rewrite with more style.

4.     Make the vocabulary stronger, add DRAPES, and overall make it more interesting to read.


PowerPoint: Writing Centers Dec. 3, 2012

HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments (due Friday) and read for 30 minutes.


Wednesday-Friday, November 28th-30th, 2012

I decided to take a moment roll all of the remaining day’s updates into one post.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

On Wednesday, the students were provided with the scores from their first Mock Writing Assessment.  In looking at their scores, they were able to see exactly what their scores meant by looking at the rubric that was used to grade their essays.  The students in my 1st and 2nd period classes were provided with their individual login information, however due to some technical difficulties with logging in, they were not all able to view these scores online.

The second Mock Writing Assessment will be administered this upcoming Wednesday, December 5th during homeroom.  Once those essays are graded and available online, we will take yet another look to see how each student will have grown by that time.

PowerPoint: Nov. 28. 2012 A Look at Writing Folio

HOMEAWORK: Complete any missing assignments and read for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Henry, our classroom pet, was introduced on Thursday.  As the legend goes, Henry springs to life as a real turkey (instead of a statue) once all the lights are off and no one is around.  Each student then had to imagine Henry’s back story before he arrived in our classroom.  Where did he come from?  What is his mission in life?  Who were his parents?  No two students came up with the same answers and they were all extremely entertaining.

PowerPoint:  Nov. 29. 2012 Portfolio and Personal To Dos

HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments and read for 30 minutes.

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Friday played host to our first Writing Relay.  The students first observed a demonstration of water being poured from a 2 quart water bottle into a larger container and back.  This served to illustrate how we “fill” pages with our ideas.  The students then worked together as a class to come up with a list of random topics which ended up ranging from unicorns to basketball.  The writing task was then assigned.  Each student had 5 minutes to create a story using 3 of the random topics.  Each student’s goal was to create a story with the highest word count within that time frame.  The winner then got to read his or her story to the class.

PowerPoint: Nov. 30. 2012 Writing Relay Day

HOMEWORK: Complete any missing assignments and read for 30 minutes.