Friday, February 10, 2017

Where are we?

We've been using lots of other platforms to share information like the grade portal and Nearpod.  If you are looking for one of those lessons, please check the portal or email your teacher!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

We're beginning Fahrenheit 451--and homework too!.

For the first reading assignment (due Monday, November 7th and Tuesday, November 8th for Jackson's and Schoof's classes), please make notes on the first nine pages or until you read the words: "He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back" (bottom of page 9 in the book we are reading; middle of page 5 in the pdf version.).

You will need your own copy of the book so you can take notes at home.  We have copies to use in class if you forget it.  
If you lose your copy but desperately need to read for your assigned pages at home, click here:  The page numbers won't match the ones in class but you can still get the work done.  (There are also typos; buy the book!)

For assignment #1 (1-9), stop at the words "...there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back."

For assignment #2 (due 11/9 & 11/10), stop at the words " laughs, very softly" (page 25 in our copy). 

For assignment #3 (due 11/14 & 11/15), stop at page  38 at the words "You've gone right by the corner where we turn for the firehouse."

You can purchase the e-book or paperback on If you buy the Kindle version, you can even choose to add the audio to it for a few more dollars. The public library will also have copies of the audio and print versions of the book.  If you are struggling to do the reading on your own, we recommend the audio version to go with your print version.  Some people are finding this audio helpful--and better than the other free versions:

ALL six signposts are found in the first nine (9) pages so please find at least one example of each.  There are also MANY literary techniques so track a few of those as well.  These notes will be the basis of discussions but also be helpful on quizzes and assessments.

No more Windowpanes….
You must take notes to prepare for your discussion and to do well on quizzes. You should track signposts and answer the anchor questions. You will be asked to summarize your reading in class. You must bring your book and notes every day.
3 options:
•Annotate in the margins
•Use sticky notes

•Use your comp book (2-column notes, mind map, etc.) 
Note that you do more than identify the signposts but also answer the anchor questions.  Here's the bookmark to remind you:

Our reading routine:
Cold read in class (some students may need to finish this at home)
Close read at home and take notes on the signposts like we have been doing in class.  
Short quiz at the start of class (basic
comprehension check)
Small group discussion
Whole group check-in

Short quizzes to check comprehension (Notes checked as needed for grade recovery to to verify reading.)
Group evaluations

Section Assessment (there are three sections) – quiz, writing, recorded conversation, etc.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Kaleidoscope with Memory Moments and Tough Questions

Here's a link to the story we read today in class: Kaleidoscope. Absent?  You do need to read it before you return.  Click this link--Kaleidoscope audio--if you want to hear the audio version.  (Be sure to read along though....)
Here were the two new signposts:

We used a new format for taking notes.  After you have a chance to re-read and add to your notes, there will be a short quiz.

Monday, September 19, 2016

First Batch of Word Roots: QUIZ October 4th and 5th

Knowing the meaning of a root, prefix, or suffix can help you figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word. So, we've been exploring roots and new words. Now that we have 19 roots/prefixes/suffixes added to our four column notes, it's time to study them.

Don't forget to add FOLI meaning leaf or sheet and all the words from our lesson on FOLI.

To fill in your chart, copy the roots and their definitions.  Then, brainstorm as many words as possible (at least 4 per root) that fit that meaning.  For example, if the root is CRED.  Here's how you fill that in. 

You do this process for each word.  The sheet is designed to be folded so that you can hide the definitions and examples while you quiz yourself.  We'll have a roots quiz on 10/4 for A day and 10/5 for B day.

If you are missing any of the roots, see the picture above to add what you are missing. Extra copies of the form are available in the handout bin (in class) or on the portal.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Your life six words.

In class, we took on the Smith magazine challenge of writing our life story in six words.  You were asked to come up with your six words and then write a paragraph explaining how these six words explained your life story.   If you didn't finish during class, the  memoir and paragraph are due next period.

More examples and tips:
1.Describe your personality.  
--Tiny person, big voice, big heart. 
--Playful, loving, always smiling, learning everyday.     
--I can’t keep my own secrets.
2.  Write a first-person past-tense sentence about what you always do.  Omit the “I” in the sentence, if needed. 
--I always get bored in museums.       
--Eight years old, combed hair twice.
--I was never alone after all.
--Planned life.  Told God.  He laughed.  -Mrs. Ottley-Fisher
3.  I used to be _______, but now _____________.  Then, condense it to six words.
--Once Wild, Beautiful Child, Now Mild.  -Ms. Heather Amerson
4. Symbols, objects, and metaphors that represent you.
  --Major, minor, dissonance?  Back to root.  -Mr. Gianneschi
5You can mix & match the types….

--Gray roots…raised three teenage girls! –Mrs. Jennings

On your own paper, write your final version of your Six Word Memoir.  Add a paragraph to explain how it fits your life. 
Here’s the format to organize your paragraph: 
Point--How does this memoir fit your life? What does it mean?
Explain a stylistic choice you made—word choice, structure, tone, repetition, etc.  How does this choice fit the content of your life story?
Evidence—Tell about a specific life experience or habit to show how your memoir reflects who you are.  You may need more than one example for a complete paragraph that helps us get to know you. 

Link—How might this life story make sense for your future? Will this always be your life story or will it change?   

Your explanation will be graded.  Your explanation should be clear, specific, and thorough.  We should get to know you better through your memoir and through your paragraph.  Spelling and mechanics count so proofread carefully. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's been a pleasure, 8th graders!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Where I'm From Poems

These are the purple flowers mentioned in Mrs. Jackson's poem.
We've been reading and discussing the poetry of Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Carol Ann Duffy, Langston Hughes, and Elinor Wylie. Now, we're taking our turn at writing poetry as well. The poem we are writing this week and next helps us each answer the question, "where am I from?" What we have discovered is that our childhood memories and experiences are what shape who we are today. Therefore, we are from much more than just the place where we live or were born. Our poems are inspired by the original poem by George Ella Lyon. The poems are due on June 2nd and 3rd--after two periods to work on them in class.  Here's an all-in-one sheet with the model poem, rubric, and the tips.  Print it as a reference.

If you are working on the poem at home, here is the rubric:
The poem touches readers’ emotions, and stirs fresh insights, makes us see what is unique about you.
The poem shows creativity in the use of language including the use of metaphor and simile.  The poem creates sharp new images (imagery).
The poem is inspired by the model poem. (Evidence: Uses the line “I am from…” and “From….” as the framework for the images.) It has a shift that clearly reveals an important image.  Changes to the format after the shift are purposeful and effective.   It follows the guidelines for poem length (20-40), number of stanzas (4-7), and appropriate line breaks.  (It should not look like a paragraph).
The poem is formatted neatly, (if typed use black Times New Roman size 12), single-spaced with an extra space between stanzas.    Careful proofreading for spelling, typos, and other errors is evident. 

In class, we offered students several tips based on having read hundreds of versions of Where I'm From poems.  Be sure to take these to heart as you write.

  • Avoid  the “from-____to“ pattern
                    It’s “where I'm from”  , not
                    Ex: I'm from the figs in the yard to the kumquats on the bush.
                      This makes it sound like you have reached your destination, and makes the poem                         sound done too soon.  
  • Avoid the  "I AM" pattern.
            I'm from the lavender striped flowers NOT I am the lavender striped flowers. 
  • Avoid being too literal.
              I am from Jacksonville or I am from a family who loves me .
  • Avoid the words “that” and “which” These make your details sound over-explained.  Try taking it out and making the line make sense without it.
  • Plan for a shift.  How will you change up your last stanza to reveal your meaning? 
The samples written by your teachers:

Where I’m From
by Christianne Blumberg

I am from the neighborhood of my dad’s own childhood,
From the duck pond, cracked sidewalks, and a snake-filled creek.
I’m from towering oak trees,
swaying giants providing shade from the brutal sun.

I’m from imagination,
a loud, disorganized friend that I’ve always known.
From bagel bites, lemonade sales, and The Tiger Club.
Red roller racers, my little ponies, skip bo, and boom boxes.
I’m from made-up music videos, forts under the dining room table,
and annual live nativity scenes.
I am from Perkin’s lot,
home to slimy earthworms, a decrepit dock,
a make-believe baseball diamond, and a gritty rock wall.

I’m from Momma’s chocolate pies, boiled peanuts, and fried okra.
From Daddy’s cheeseball on Christmas Day.
I’m from Aunt Teeny’s gumdrops, Sissy’s Coca-Cola,
Johnny’s doughburgers, and Osteen’s shrimp.
From a birthday party filled with salty popcorn and pickles.

I am from the strong smell of Chlorine,
the crack of a bat,
the flash of a camera,
and the squishy tumbling mat.

I’m from “Sleeping Booty” and holding books upside down.
From Wee Sing and Raffi,
during long car rides over the bridge.
From library cards glued into the back every book in the house,
an intricate check-out system,
charging a dime per hour for overdue fines.

I am from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Dylan.
From “watch me” dancing in the den
(my fist as the microphone, a milk crate as my stage, my parents as my audience).
From tenor saxophones, piano keys, oboes, and boys who played drums.
I am from “play louder” and being happy with second chair.

I am still from the neighborhood of my dad’s childhood,
The neighborhood of my past, present, and future.
Sidewalks that still have stories to tell,
Oak trees that still have protection to provide,

Memories that still have yet to be made by those who follow.

Where I'm From by Morgan Jackson

I’m from Far-Mor and Far-Far, Clyde, and Manuel
From opening all the presents
From Swedish meatballs and Swedish fish.
From go carts, trampolines, metal mailboxes,
and a Georgia accent that’s too heavy to carry home.

I’m from Mallory, Donald, Cherry, Willowbranch,
and Oak, where I put down my roots.
I’m from trapped tadpoles and freed frogs.

I’m from magenta azaleas, and sulfur water sprinklers.
From figs in the yard,
the outside sueded and brown,  the inside pink and slimy,
(I never ate them).
I’m from the tart, fuzzy violet-striped flowers in my yard
(I ate them all the time).
I’m from “You’ll spoil your dinner” and “go play outside.”

I’m from curls and ponytail-poppers
From hair rolled into buns like princess Leia
From grape bubble gum and Flintstones vitamins
I’m from Annie, Francesca, and
Henrietta, the Wild Woman of Borneo.

I’m from my front steps, bricked and mossy
From the city bus and the rusted floor of the VW
From waiting

But  I awoke each morning under a pink dotted canopy,
A ballerina music box spinning on my nightstand.
I can still hear my mother’s voice:
“Morgan, wake up.  It’s the seven o’clock whistle.”
I’m from that sound,
A low, sweet sound like a train pulling the day behind it;
A sound I thought she created 

  just    for      me.

Where I'm From by Natalie Schoof

I am from antique furniture and shells,
spiny, shiny treasures from the shore
 finding a home
in our house.

I am from forts in the woods, marshy, dense, mysterious.
 From spring azaleas of pink, purple and white,
the giant magnolia tree with blooms
opening slowly, like phases of the moon.

I’m from Selmer saxophones and #3 ½ Vandoren reeds. 
From Sounds good! and Mark time hut! And jazzy lead-ins of a one,
and a two,
and a three
and a four

I’m from our family’s collection of cats,
orange stripes and spotted calico softness,
wiry whiskers,
love and loss.

I am from early morning fishing trips on the lazy green Gulf,
 and day trips to springs,
waving eel grasses of the Ichetucknee
framing mermaid moves.

I’m from our family’s porch,
a stage that hosted this Solid Gold dancer,
this Phantom and Les Mis singer
this Charlie Parker wannabe.

I’m from Stevie and Carl:
a platform from which I was encouraged to dive headlong
into any stream –

 any dream I wished

Monday, May 23, 2016

Poem Brainstorm

Today, we started brainstorming for the poem each student will write in ELA.  If you were absent due to showcase, or just want to do more brainstorming, here are the slides that we used to generate our content for the poem.  More about the poem in a later post!

We’ll start by trying to remember….

     Do all writing in your composition book.  Title this: Brainstorm poetry.

     For each slide, choose one of the topics presented.  Write as much as you can with as much detail as possible for each memory.

     No talking!  (We will share between slides and memories.)

     The more details you capture here, the easier it will be to write your poem.

     Don’t stop writing.  If this memory leads you to another, more vivid memory, then GO with that.

1.  Describe the items on your nightstand or dresser.


Describe the foods you ate on special occasions.

 Let’s keep going:

2.  Describe your backyard or Plants in your house or other nature experiences.


Describe your favorite hiding place  or a place you put important keepsakes. the one that inspires 

3.  Describe things people always said to you.

(Can be specific like something your mom always said or nicknames you had)


Describe what your family looks like when they go out together.

4.  Describe

TV shows, movies, music, and books from your childhood.


Describe pets you owned.

5.  Try as many of these memories as possible:memories that come to mind.

     A special picture you remember

     Your favorite toy

     Your Holiday traditions

     What you remember about a classroom or a place of worship

     Ordinary items around your house

     Big events that you vividly remember—weddings, birthdays…

     Early experiences with your arts area

     Your childhood lunches

     Your typical summer day

     An “Aha moment” you had as a kid

Next class, we'll take all the memories and distill them into a format that creates a beautiful poem.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Upcoming Tests and Quizzes: Poetry and Roots!

Students have just finished becoming "experts" on certain poems and then teaching poems to their "home" groups.  The full copies of the poem can be found here: POEMS ON TEST.  After each expert has taught, groups will review together and the teacher will schedule the test.
Make sure you also know how to do a TPCASTT annotation on your own.
TPCASTT:  Poem Annotation
title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude, shift(s), title revisited, and theme
Title--What do you think this poem will be about?
Paraphrase--What is happening in the poem, literally?  Put it in your own words.     Also, list any words that you don’t know.   
Connotation—Words can have meaning beyond the literal.   Look for the literary devices and explain what they mean.
*figurative language
*word choice and syntax (arrangement of words & phrases)
*sound devices
Attitude— Who is the speaker? What is the speaker’s attitude toward the subject?  How do you know? 
Shift—A shift indicates a change in the poem, and often reveals what’s most important.  Where is the shift in the poem?  What does it reveal? Look for key words (but, yet, however, although), change in structure of stanzas, time change, punctuation, or format.
Title revisited--Now look at the title again.  Does the title have any new significance now?  Explain.
Theme--What is the lesson or message of the poem?  (One sentence)  What does this poem teach you about life?


We have also started working on our last batch of roots.  The ROOTS quiz will be on May 26th and 27th.  Students can get the roots by clicking here--ROOTS BATCH 4--or accessing the assignment in the portal.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Douglas Anderson Writing Contest for Middle Schoolers

Douglas Anderson's 
Middle School Writing Contest 

Submit to our Middle School Writing Contest!

·       Any middle school student in grades 6 – 8 may submit

·       The following genres are accepted—fiction and poetry

·       Submitted works will be eligible to win a $50 first-place prize

·       Submissions will be accepted through April 21st

·       The contest winner will be honored at Douglas Anderson’s Spring Reading on Wednesday, April 27th

Submissions can be sent via email to  

We look forward to reading your pieces!