Vocabulary in Context

Today’s class was relatively sparse in comparison to my typical lessons because the students in two of my four classes were selected to go into the Media Center in order to complete a survey on my effectiveness as an educator.  This survey data, which will become a part of my TKES (Teacher Keys Effectiveness System) evaluation for the year, sought to identify my instructional strengths and weaknesses.

As a result of this impact to two of my classes, I opted to push today’s scheduled quiz to tomorrow.  The quiz will cover chapters 1-11 in To Kill a Mockingbird and chapters 1-5 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

As a review and in preparation for the quiz, the students worked on vocabulary activities corresponding to their book of choice.  Those assignments can be found here.


  • Read for 30 minutes and log it into the reading log.
    • TKAM-Chapter 13-14
    • ROTHMC-Finish Chapter 6


Vocabulary Quiz and Poetry Test Day

Today we decided to “kill two birds with one stone” as the saying goes.  The students first started with their vocabulary quiz over the lesson 12 words from this week.  Once finished, each student then began to work on their poetry tests.


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Secure a copy of either To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred B. Taylor in time for Monday’s class.


2.13.14 Poetry and Vocabulary Assessment Day

Lesson 12 Vocabulary Quiz


Now that you have finished your vocabulary quiz, you may now begin on your poetry test below.

Poetry Unit Test


Once you have completed both assessments, you may either:

No matter what you choose, YOU MUST REMAIN SILENT until all students have finished both assessments.

Poetry and Vocabulary Review Day

As happens periodically, today was an iPad Mini day.  Thus, below the horizontal line are the instructions that were provided to students during class.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Study for tomorrow’s vocabulary quiz.
  • Study for tomorrow’s poetry test.
  • Remember: All poems need to be posted toPadlet (andKidBlog) by tomorrow to make sure it can be included in the poetry magazine.
    • (Parents: Please note that I am compiling the poetry the the students have submitted so that it can be included in a poetry magazine that will be available in digital form.  Those final details are forthcoming.)



Today you will be moving through modified tech-based throughout today’s class.

Activity 1: Vocabulary (10 minutes) and Web Quest Review (10 minutes)

Activity 2: Poetry Kahoot!

  • When directed to do so, log on to http://kahoot.it.
  • Enter in the game pin being displayed on the board and quietly await further instructions.
  • Good Luck!
    • The winning player will receive REP bucks.
    • The person with the highest score of all four classes will receive 5 bonus points on his or her poetry test.

Activity 3: Poetry Jeopardy

  • At this point, you should have put your iPad Mini back into its spot in the cart.
  • Next, you will be divided up into color-coded teams.
  • Good luck!
    • Whichever team receives the highest number of points in class will win REP bucks.
    • The team with the highest score out of all four classes will receive 5 bonus points on their poetry test.


What is poetry?

According to Google it is:Poetry Google Definition


Today, the students pooled their collective knowledge to write definitions of a variety of poem types.  After we shared thoughts as a group, I showed the students a selection of video examples of some of the poems we discussed.

As an example of a free verse poem, we watched Malcolm London perform “High School Training Ground” at TED.


We then watched “The Limerick Song.”

Thereafter, we watched a video performance by David Tennant (of “Dr. Who” and “Gracepoint” fame) of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet #18.

I then told the students about their upcoming “Bar-A-Day” assignment where they each have to produce a stanza of a poem each day during this two-week lesson.  Some time during the Warm Up will be provided, but by Friday of each week, each student should have a completed poem.




Vocabulary Quiz and an Intro to (Slam) Poetry

As we tend to do most Fridays, we started class with a vocabulary quiz.


After completing the quiz, the students were to finish typing their “Dear Dr. King” Letters into their KidBlogs.  Thereafter, the were to respond to at least 2 of their classmates’ letters.  Finally, each student was to type their “If I Were President” speeches into KidBlog as well.  (The students will have to write responses to these too for homework.)

We then wrapped up the class period with an introduction to slam poetry featuring the videos below:

Nova: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1985191193

Adam Gottleib: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXIjF0ERvYY

Lamont Carey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lByDfPOG0LA


As our closing, and ongoing poetry experiment, the students shared their thoughts on poetry thus far on this Padlet.




  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Respond to at least 2 of your classmates’ “If I Were President” speeches onKidBlog.
    • Due by next Wednesday.
  • Finish any outstanding (KidBlog) work.


"Yes We Can" "Tear Down this Wall"

Today we looked at the power of words as shown by a couple of our most notable presidents: President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan.  Prior to looking at President Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign speech, the students shared what they already knew about him and were informed of more of his background.

We discussed the ways in which President Obama’s speaking style emulates that of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. and how it differs from it.  Thereafter, we talked about President Ronald Reagan, his notable moments as president, and some background information with regard to his “Tear Down this Wall” speech at the Berlin Wall toward the end of the Cold War.


The students were then challenged to write a speech as if they were running for President of the United States.  Most students were to start on this for homework.

“If I Were President”

TASK: Write a first draft of a speech in which you will state the issues you would tackle as president, why you think they are important issues, and what solutions you have to resolve these issues.  Your goal is to be persuasive and to use facts and examples to support your points.



Dr. King's Dream

So much has changed in the landscape of America, and much of it has been propelled by the efforts of our youth.

Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.’s tireless work to end segregation along with that of many other notable Civil Rights Leaders, many of whom lived and still live in Atlanta, has changed the way in which our children are able to learn.  Not only are they able to be immersed in more diverse situations and environments, but a precedent was set to uphold the rights bestowed upon all of us as residents and citizens of the United States of America.

Today’s lesson was based upon Dr. King’s dream.  After watching the video below, which literally brought his words to life, the students discussed the significance of his words, his work, and of how it has an effect upon each of them.


After an in-depth discussion of the impact of this speech, we looked at key passages within it to discuss the sheer mastery of Dr. King’s writing.  He used examples of metaphor such as, “this momentous decree [The Emancipation Proclamation] came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”  Furthermore, he made specific references and allusions to The Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and iconic songs such as “Free at Last” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee(meaning here).

The lesson was summarized with a quick sharing of the points discussed in class that were thought to be the most poignant.


  • “Dr. King’s Dream”
    • Write a letter to Dr. King (as if he were still alive) telling him how his “I Have a Dream” speech has had an impact on your life.  Cite specific evidence from the speech itself.
  • Study the Lesson 9 vocabulary words from “Vocabulary from Classical Roots”


The Final #GeniusHour Work Day

Today marked the last Genius Hour day (for this Fall Semester at the very least).  After completing their Vocabulary from Classical Roots Unit #2 Test, the students worked on wrapping up their Genius Hour assignments.  Since it took some time for all of the students to finish, I waited until everyone was done with the test to discuss a few points about their upcoming Genius Hour Project submissions next week.  The highlights are below:

GH Last Work Day

The students then shared their final reflections via Padlet.


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Finish up Genius Hour Project (Due Friday, December 12th, 2014. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED.)


#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).


Self-Directed Study Day

In today’s classes, the students embarked on a self-directed study in the Media Center to reinforce the key points of expository writing and to help them study for their approaching vocabulary unit test.  Directly from my lesson plans, the students’ exact instructions are below:

  • Option #1: The students will be permitted to use class time to work on their Vocabulary from Classical Roots Unit 2 Quiz (lessons 5-8).  This activity will be required for students who have score below a 70% on any of the quizzes for this unit.  Those students will be permitted to use the computers to complete practice quizzes.  They will then be permitted to do either Option #2 or Option #3.
  • Option #2: The students will be permitted to browse the selection of books in the Media Center for checkout.  Upon selecting a book, the students may either read that book silently, or work on either Option#1 or Option #3.
  • Option #3: The students will conduct research for the purpose of their Genius Hour projects.  They must produce a KidBlog post or an update to their annotated bibliographies by the end of class. 


  • Tomorrow is anotherBYOD/Genius Hour work day.
    • It is the responsibility of the student bringing any electronic device to safeguard that electronic device.
  • The Vocabulary from Classical Roots Unit #2 Test will be on Friday, December 5th, 2014.
  • Genius Hour Projects will be due by Friday, December 12th, 2014.
    • Early work will be accepted starting on Monday, December the 8th, 2014.


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Finish whatever tasks were not finished in class today.
  • Continue working on Genius Hour Projects.