Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” –Henry Ford

As a method of getting ready, we had the first Writing Folio Mock Writing Assessment which mimics the 8th Grade Writing Assessment.  Completed within 100 minutes, every student remained in their homeroom in order to remain focused on doing their best on a topic of which they had no prior knowledge.  This mock assessment is hand-scored, just like the actual writing assessment, and is logged online so that the scores of each paper can be accessed from the internet.  Our plan as an English Language Arts department is to use this as a way to help each student know where to improve upon their writing and how.

For the remaining class periods, the students concluded the Sentence Auction started on Monday.  It was a BLAST!


HOMEWORK: Read “Out of Bounds” on pages 165-180 in the Reader/Writer InterActive Workbook.  Complete all of the questions in the margins.

PowerPoint: 10-9-12 Fun Times at the Sentence Auction Part 2

Monday, September 24th, 2012 Recap


After completing the quizzes on gerunds and prepositions (which took up a majority of the class period), we broke down the writing prompt given to first period on Friday.  We just opted to do T, A, and P:

  • Topic: Should kids do chores at home?
  • Audience: adults in one’s family
  • Purpose: to persuade


  • 1st Period: Begin work on the week’s homework.  Read for 30 minutes.
  • 2nd, 6th, and 7th: Finish in-class essays.
  • All classes: complete take-home quiz

PowerPoint: 9-24-12 Be Clause You’re Worth It!


In-Class Essay: (forthcoming)

Homework for the Week (September 24th-28th, 2012)

I decided to try something new.  For the time being (and perhaps permanently), I’ll provide the week’s homework assignments in advance.  The assignments can be turned in early, on time, but I will no longer accept late homework.  All assignments for this week will be due by Friday, September 28th, 2012.  This way each student can work at his or her own pace.

  • Monday’s homework:*Edited-All periods: complete the Take Home Quiz and the In-Class Essay. Look over the homework for the week.  Read for 30 minutes
  • Tuesday’s homework: *EditedConstruct 5 questions you still have about clauses (if you have none, write 5 things you know about clauses).  They must be in the form of simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex sentences.
  • Wednesday’s homework: *EditedChoose one of the BCRs you have written and create a body paragraph.  (Treat your BCR as the introduction paragraph.)
  • Thursday’s homework:  *EditedWrite a conclusion for the BCR you selected on Wednesday.
  • Friday’s homework: No homework (aside from reading for 30 minutes per day).  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 14th, 2012 Recap

Friday brought the completion of our discussion of thesis statements, hooks, and how to use them to build a strong introduction paragraph.  We then had a discussion centered around the topic below:

  • When is it okay for someone to step in and resolve an issue between two people?  What if they are countries?

In addition to discussion concerning fights in school the topic of Tuesday’s attack on the American Consulate in Libya came up in discussion.  Both instances provided  real-life situations from which the students could draw in order to write their BCRs.

Our usual Friday quiz has been tentatively pushed back to Monday the 17th and will address gerunds functioning as different sentence parts.

HOMEWORK: None today.

PowerPoint: 9-14-12 Finally Finishing Introductions + BCR Day

Thursday, September 13th, Reviewed

On Thursday we included more practice with getting an introductory paragraph started.  The students had the opportunity to use the 3-Sentence Introduction again as the foundation of their introductory paragraphs.

For the last few minutes of class, we went to the Media Center where everyone had the opportunity to check out a non-fiction library book as we will be working more with non-fiction texts next week.

HOMEWORK: None today.

PowerPoint: 9-13-12 Building Strong Introductions

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 Summarized

Wednesday was an energetic day in class.  After using 5 gerunds in a paragraph on any topic, we then had our first-ever Fist Pump Competition!  When a popular song was played, the students had to pump their fists exactly when the hook (chorus) came in.  If they fist pumped prematurely, their group was disqualified for that song.  The first group with 100% fist pumping at the hook of each song got a point.  The group with the most points was promised a super-special prize in the near future.  Until then, they have bragging rights.

We then picked up from where we left off in class yesterday by creating a 3-sentence introduction.  We worked together to identify the topic, audience, and purpose (pattern will be included later).  Then we selected a hook (attention-grabber).  We then generated a thesis based on our topic from yesterday which asked us to support our claim regarding the effects of smoking on one’s health.  Finally, we tied the hook and thesis statement together using a transitional sentence.  Please take a look at the example to the right (the link below opens the image in PowerPoint).

Sample 3-Sentence Introduction

The goal will be to use this 3-sentence introduction structure as a foundation for a larger, more extensive, yet still concise introduction.

HOMEWORK: Write a 3-sentence introduction with a question to open, a transitional sentence, and a thesis.

PowerPoint: 9-12-12 Thesis Statements in Action

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 http://corptrain.phoenix.edu/thesis_generator/thesis_generator.html

Monday September 10th, 2012

This Monday we learned about gerunds. They sound daunting but they really are just words that end in -ing.


We also talked about the importance of engaging hooks and thesis statements. To illustrate the effectiveness of a hook, we saw a clip from the movie “Independence Day” with a massive explosion. “Did you wonder what happened next?” I asked the students. Of course, they all said yes in unison. Next, to illustrate a thesis statement, we listened to the theme song from the 1990s show “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” where the first line is the Fresh Prince’s thesis. He was going tell the story of how he became “the prince of a town called Bel Air.”

HOMEWORK: Write a paragraph and identify the hook and thesis.

PowerPoint: 9-10-2012 Thesis Statements