Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bradbury Test Review

On Monday (12/10) and Tuesday (12/11) you will take the exam for your Bradbury book. Each exam will include multiple choice, true/false, and short and extended response questions.
The test will cover:

-General comprehension of your book
-Reading strategies (Passage Picker, Questioner, Visualizer, Connector)
-Literary techniques (sensory language, alliteration, simile, metaphor)
-General procedures for class and literature circles
-Bradbury Video

You will be able to use your graded sticky notes and lit circle book for the short and extended response portion because you will need to support your answers with quotes/examples from the text. If you plan to have your late notes graded before the test, bring them to us by Friday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bradbury Literature Circles

For the next couple weeks, we will continue literature circles. You will have opportunities to read and take notes in class and then discuss on the meeting days. Any reading/notetaking you don't finish in class will need to be completed at home. Don't forget to use the calendar (below) we gave each of you to keep track of your responsibilities.

For each set of sticky notes, you must turn in 3 notes for your role (Questioner, Visualizer, Passage Picker, or Connector) and 1 Wild Card Sticky note. The Wild Card notes change for each meeting.
Wild Cards:

wild card for Mtg #1: Find a passage that is confusing. Explain what confuses you & what you think it means.

wild card for Mtg #2: Find an example of sensory language. Copy the passage in which the example was found. Then, answer these questions: -How is the passage above an example of sensory language? -How does it enhance your understanding of what is happening it that part of the book?

wild card for Mtg#3: Find a word or phrase that is very "Bradbury." Copy the passage in which the word or phrase was found. Then, explain the meaning of the word or phrase in the context of your book. Why is this a very "Bradbury" word or phrase?

wild card for Mtg#4: Find an example of simile, metaphor, or alliteration. Copy the passage in which the example was found. Then, explain how the example is an effective use of this particular technique.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Editorials are due on 11/13 (A) 11/14 (B)

For the past month, we have been working on writing Editorials. Now that you've had several days of writer's workshop, your Editorials are due next week (Nov. 13 A day Nov. 14 B day). While revising your Editorial, you should think about the writing lessons we have already had: Leads for an Essay, SEEPS Elaboration, Conclusions, Organizing your Editorial, Citing Sources, and Formatting your Editorial. Don't forget to use your rubric as a guide. Once we collect your editorial and write feedback on it, you will get it back to revise for the final draft. Remember they must be typed (12 pt, Times New Roman font, double spaced). We can't wait to read your work! Below are the requirements for a top score (from the rubric). You can find the full rubric here.

Lead introduces subject, and immediately engages the reader’s interest, impelling continued reading by using one of these leads: anecdote, quotation, quicklist, shocking statistic, sensory details, or concession.

The thesis skillfully and clearly presents the writer's claim, and the reasons in the best order.

Details, reasons, examples, and anecdotes are skillfully intertwined to elaborate thoroughly on each point. Support is substantial, specific, concrete, relevant, and/or illustrative.

All sentences sound natural and are easy-on-the-ear when read aloud. Each sentence is clear and has an obvious emphasis. Word choice is precise, powerful, and appropriate.

Information is purposefully organized into a structure that is appropriate to the needs and interests of a specified audience. Effective transitions enhance the reader's understanding of your position. The other side's best argument is appropriately acknowledged and then refuted.

Ends with a clear, satisfying sense of closure (a quote, question, reflection, prediction, etc.) that strongly persuades the reader and reinforces the writer's position on the issue.

All information gathered (interviews, pictures, facts, quotes) is cited correctly in the text and with a correctly formatted MLA Works Cited Page. Sources of information are credible and relevant.

Text is free of errors in sentence structure, punctuation, usage, and spelling. Careful proofreading is evident.

Paper is formatted correctly and easy to read. Your name is typed in the upper right hand corner of the paper. Title, if any, is no larger than 14-size font at the top and center of the page. Title may be in bold. (No separate cover page allowed.) Typed, (not bold, not italicized) Times New Roman size 12, double-spaced (correctly). Margins are appropriate: size (1”).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

QAR--Questioning Reading Log--due 11/8 (A) and 11/9 (B)

In your next reading log, you will practice writing and answering questions about your reading. You must write and answer one of each type listed below.

RT—Answers found In the Text.
Right There-the reader can find the answer in one sentence or two sentences next to each other. This requires one passage or quote from the text. Then, explain the relevance. It’s like a basic fact question or a simple test question.

TAS—Answers found In the Text.
Think and Search-the reader must read several separate sentences, paragraphs or pages to find the answer. Requires three passages or quotes from the text. Then, explain the relevance. Example: What evidence do we have that….?

AAM—Answers found In My Head.
Author and Me-answer the question with ideas derived from the book, but must also use own knowledge and experience. This should have your opinion or a judgment plus one passage or quote as support.

OMO—Answers found In My Head.
On My Own—You should be able to answer the question without reading or rereading the text by giving an opinion. The question is on a topic related to the reading. The reading should inspire the question but the question is about a bigger issue in our world or society.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Visualizer RL#3 Due on October 29 (A) and October 30 (B)

The next reading log requires you to visualize a passage from your reading. With over a week to complete the log, you should read 1.5 hours (50-150 pages). To download the special visualizer form see the Language Arts Links section of the blog (it's the first link) on the bottom right of the page. Here are the directions for this log:

1. Choose a passage that indicates an important event or that exhibits good writing. Explain how the passage is important in order to the understanding of the book. In other words, how is it significant?
2. Create a visual representation that illustrates specific details of the quote. The visual representation may be a drawing, collage, or collection of symbols. It should fill the box (touching three sides). It should be obvious to this “viewer” how the picture relates to the quote. You may add words to the picture to help me understand it. It should have color and detail to represent specific elements of the scene you are visualizing. (Details from other sections of the book that you have read may be necessary to keep your representation accurate.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The end [of the quarter] is near....

Just a quick update. It's time for our sourcebook check and bookcard check. These would be the last items to include on this nine-weeks grade. There is no test or exam that counts as the final exam. Instead the sourcebook will be the most cumulative record of all our work--including drafts of the editorial. Expect checks on these at the end of the week.

Late work conferences are still being held this Monday, October 15th. If you did not turn in any reading log, a conference is required with Mrs. Izzo or Mrs. Jackson in order to grade the work and discuss any difficulties or misunderstandings you had. Then, we'll enter the new grade in the gradebook and let you know your overall average for the class. If you are scheduled for a conference, you must be picked up by 5 pm.

The last day of the quarter is Monday, October 22.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Are you a winner?

We have two important contests going on at LaVilla right now. The blog is a great place to share the information with you.

Reflections--sponsored by PTSA. The theme of this year's reflections contest is "I can make a difference by..." There are six categories to be judged at the natonal level: photography, visual arts, literature, musical composition, dance choreography, film/video production. This contest is perfect for LaVilla students because it gives you the chance to be recognized in your arts area--not just for writing! Deadline for submissions is November 12, 2007. Mrs. Soper is our contact for further information. You can ask any of your teachers for the entry form or more information. Prizes are awarded in all categories.

Red Ribbon Week is October 22-25. There is a writing contest to go along with all the other festivities. Of course, the theme is saying no to drugs and violence. Students can submit an essay, play, short story, one-act play, or poem to their PE or Health teacher by October 16, 2007. (There is also a submission box in the Main Office). The winner (of each category) will receive a 25.00 mall gift card.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Making Connections RL#2 Due 10/11 (B) and 10/12 (A)

In order to understand what we read, our brains naturally make connections. For this week's reading log, you will need to document three types of connections from your reading. You will make a text-to-text, text-to-world, and text-to-self connection.

Text to text: Compare this week's reading to another book or even another kind of text like a movie or TV show. A basic response to this connection is to explain how the book you are reading reminds you of another book you have read before.
Text to world: Compare this week's reading to something happening in the world. It can compare to a historical event, a current event, or an issue that affects society and the world community.
Text to self: Compare a character in the book to yourself or compare an event in the book to something that has happened to you or someone you know personally.

For each connection, you should label the connection (T-T, T-W, T-S) and copy the passage that you are connecting to. Then, explain the connection in detail. Show us how the connection is meaningful and helped you understand your reading.

The reading log form is available to download at home. Go to:

Remember you will be graded on the following requirements:

RUBRIC: How did you do? Did you…
____ ____read at least 1.5 hours per week from books or magazines that appropriately challenge your reading level; (approximately 50-150 pages per week depending on individual reading level)
____ ____clearly document the title, author, pages read, & time spent reading; (Or, is a bookmark attached?)
____ ____fill or exceed all the space provided on the reading log handout;
____ ____include a very brief summary of the major events/elements of the week’s reading using SWBS or Fortunately/Unfortunately;
____ ____focus on the appropriate element of the standard or reading strategy for the week;
____ ____support a judgment (or opinion) through multiple references to the text, references to other works, authors, and/or non-print media, and/or references to personal knowledge (In other words, did you use many specific, varied details and quotes from the book and add your own explanation?);
____ ____define one or more new or interesting words from the reading;
____ ____discuss your reading with a parent or guardian and get a signature? Parent Signature—I’ve seen my child reading this week & we’ve discussed the reading log: _________

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The First Dance

It looked like there was a great turn-out for the dance yesterday. Here are a couple of pictures of our eighth graders on their way into the big event.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Choosing Important Passages

Our next assignment spans two weeks: the passage picker reading log. It's due on September 26 for A day and September 27 for B day. This means you'll need to document three hours of reading (90 minutes per week). Here are the directions for this reading log:

Passage Picker
--You must choose three (3) passages from your book for this reading log.
-- Passages should be anywhere from 1-3 sentences in length. You must include page numbers. Then explain why you chose it. Your explanation and comments about a passage must be longer than the passage itself.
--Your explanation and your support for your explanation must be detailed and must refer to the passage.
3 Required Passages
1. You must choose a passage that reveals one of the conflicts. Then, explain what type of conflict it is using details from the passage. Ex: Human vs. Human; Human vs. Nature; Human vs. Society; or Human vs. Self.
2. You must choose a passage that reveals the true nature of a character in the book through a choice they make. What does the character’s choice tell you about their personality?
3. You must choose a passage that is an example of “good writing” or an example of your writer’s style. Identify what good writing is, or what your writer’s style is. Then explain how the passage demonstrates this.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Where I'm From Poem

The poem we are writing this week 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. We will continue writing the poems this week. Then, you will use the poem to decorate your writing/reading folders. If you are working on the poem at home, here is the rubric:

______ The poem is obviously inspired by the model poem. (Evidence: Uses the line “I am from…” and “From….” as the framework for the images.)
______ The poem uses vivid, specific, original images that help the reader understand more about the writer’s life. The poem has a voice that is unique and sounds like the writer.
______ The poem uses sensory language and/or other literary devices (alliteration, similes or metaphors).
______ The poem is about a page in length (about 20-30 lines).
______ The poem is divided into 4-6 stanzas (about the same length as the model poem) and has appropriate, meaningful line breaks. (It should not look like a paragraph).
______ The poem is formatted neatly (typed or handwritten), single-spaced with an extra space between stanzas.
______ The folder is neat. (You can decorate with images from the poem but it's not required.)

We shared our favorite lines of our poems in class but we'd love to hear your favorite lines as comments on this blog. Remember if you want your favorite line published here, include your first name and last initial only. This way, we'll create our own collaborative poem.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

On your (Book)mark, get set, go!

We've assigned the first reading log of the year. Actually it's just a bookmark. Students keep track of their reading from August 30 through the due date (September 10 for A day classes and September 11 for B day classes). On the back, students are required to choose one word and telll what they think it means, what it actually means (using a dictionary), and a reaction that explains how the definition confirms or rejects their hypothesized definition. In addition, students will summarize what they read during this time period using a "Somebody Wanted But So" summary or a "Fortunately/Unfortunately" summary. In class, we modeled (and practiced) what is expected on the bookmark while we read a short story in class. Here is a picture of our example bookmark (the back side only).

Students will be graded on a combination of factors:
  • Accurate Documentation of the title, author, and pages
  • Getting a Parent Signature
  • Reading at least 90 minutes (50-150 pages based on reading level and book difficulty)including calculating reading time accurately
  • Doing a correct and thorough Summary and Strategy on the back.

It's a pretty easy assignment meant to keep students in the habit of reading. Let's hope we get 100% of them turned in for this assignment!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Procedures Ballad

Here's a compilation of the ballad made up of some verses from each of this year's classes and a couple from last year's classes because they were so, well, classic. Use these to study for your procedures quiz on Thursday/Friday.

It’s time for eighth grade Language Arts.
I’m here to learn the rules.
They’ll help me be successful
To do my best in school!

When you’re entering the room,
So many things to do
Gum is not allowed in here
Get the sourcebooks, too.

And after you’ve completed that
Just look up on the board
To find the warm-ups written there
And have the rules explored.

Now what is that noise I hear,
Coming from above?
Please refrain from speaking now,
And show the speaker love.

Attention Signal
If the teacher’s hand goes up,
Quiet we should be,
Raise our hands attentively
And turn our heads to see.

Wait until she calls the table,
Then we will line up,
Push in our chairs, then we go to,
The blue wall where we stop.

In our “L” shape we will stand,
Quiet one and all
The leader has to stop on cue
While we’re in the hall.

The bell rings, it’s a fire drill,
We line up near the wall,
We walk out really quietly,
Then we go down the hall.

The teacher tells us where to stop,
We follow her command.
Out the door, left to the fence,
In a straight line we should stand.

-other’s property
If someone calls on the intercom
Listen silently

I know you love to scribble,
On the desks, but when
Your hand begins to get the itch
Just halt that anxious pen.

In this class we don’t insult
We do not criticize
We do not make rude gestures
Or roll around our eyes

Don’t say up-shut or be too loud,
You know it isn’t cool,
You will be sent into timeout,
Cause that’s Ms. Izzo’s/Ms. Jackson’s rule.

Stack the sourcebooks uprightly,
And put them in the bin,
And when the teacher lets you out,
Push your chair back in.

If you have your folders out
Put them all away
Trash is not acceptable
Please don’t let it stay

But when you hear the bell ring,
That does not mean stampede!
You’ve gotta wait, Ms. Izzo /Ms. Jackson says
You have not yet been freed.

If by chance you miss a day
There are five things you should do
Ask your group and copy notes
That should get you through

Check the class assignment board
School notes can help too
Always ask a classmate
Which handouts you should do

If you miss too many days
You should stay after school
But with all these helpful rules
It will still be cool!

If you miss a class handout
Find the hanging file
Turn in an assignment late
By the turtle tile

It’s time for eighth grade Language Arts.
I’m here to learn the rules.
They’ll help me be successful
To do my best in school!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First week assignments

We started off the week with some singing, clapping, and ballad writing. The procedures you wrote to explain the class procedures will help you do well on the procedure quiz next week. Soon, you will decorate book pockets, participate in a book pass and have your first reading day. While we continue these first week activities, don't forget you have the following assignments to think about:

-Purchase your supplies We'll use the composition books this week.

-Get your Bradbury permission form signed and turned in by August 30 (A) & August 31 (B)

-Finish your summer reading summaries by August 30 (A) & August 31 (B) (See May, 29 Post)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome, Mrs. Izzo!

It's time to welcome a new author, collaborator, and fellow teacher to the blog. Sometimes I will post updates and entries and sometimes she will do so. We plan our lessons together, grade papers together, and even teach one class a day together. We'll be sure to mention any exceptions or differences between classes and assignments here. Our supply list is exactly the same. If you're wondering who she is, you might know her by her maiden name: Turner. If your schedule says Turner, then congratulations, you actually have Mrs. Izzo. Anyway, welcome to the blog, Mrs. Izzo.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Back to School Supplies

If you've been in a store lately, you've probably noticed that all the "back to school" stuff is out there. In case you want to get an early start on your supply purchases for Language Arts, here's what you'll need to buy:

Lots of 3x3 sticky notes,

a composition book with lined paper (not spiral bound),

a folder for assignments to take home,

pens and pencils,

notebook paper (and paper for your printer at home),

a dictionary to keep at home.

And one STRONGLY SUGGESTED item: A thumb or “jump” drive. It holds the equivalent of over 100 floppy disks and is more reliable for saving papers and Powerpoints in progress. These can be purchased for as little as ten dollars and will be useful in all your academic classes at LaVilla.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Required Reading for Rising Eighth Graders

Are you a rising eighth grader? Check out your choices for the required summer reading requirement. You can find the full list and the directions for your response on my school webpage. If you have questions, you may ask them in the comments section. Please include your first name and last initial plus the name of your 7th grade Language Arts teacher. I'll answer you here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I see art people...

Miss Turner sent me pictures of the classes that were missing from my blog. I can't believe we never got one of all of us. It's nice to see your faces.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yearbooks Are Coming!

Tomorrow, you get yearbooks (and I ordered one as well). Be sure to take your book pockets down carefully and tape them into your yearbook, if you ordered one. This is the best place to keep it for future reflections and nostalgia. When you get older, you'll love looking at a list of what you read when you were in 8th grade. Then, I've got some tips on how to sign yearbooks so that people will actually remember you. The best tip I can give you is to be sincere. Don't forget to sign my yearbook, too. I'll ask Mrs. Chason to pass it around.

First, here's what NOT to do in a yearbook message:

•Do not write a generic boring message that could be to anyone from anyone.
•Do not write an inappropriate message or one that makes fun of others. Don’t scratch out anyone’s picture—even your own. You might regret this when it hurts someone else or when your own children read it. (or your mom)
•Do not say things that you don’t mean. Stick to common memories and experiences if you can’t think of what to say.

Here are some cool things TO DO in a yearbook to really be remembered--fondly:

•Help the person remember memories you both shared.
–Were you in 2nd period together? Say so and then list some of the sensory details that the person won’t remember when he/she is 50.
–Arts areas? Talk about particular performances or field trips that you both experienced.
–Nothing else? Lunch…reminisce about the experience and how you won’t have to experience that again.

Write a short poem:

•Haiku—5-7-5 syllables
Second period
Your notes made me laugh out loud
“Talk to you later.” (ttyl)
•Lune same as a Haiku but with number of words instead of syllables
Lunch—we shared a table
You spilled hot mashed potatoes-we laughed
Mrs. Jackson made us clean-up.

Make lists:

•Top Five Lame Excuses for Not Turning in Work
•Top Five Laughable Moments in 8th grade
•Top Five Lunches We Shared

Start with famous quotes: You could print a list of popular ones & bring it tomorrow.

–Charles Dickens said “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” He could’ve been an 8th grader at LaVilla. (Then, go on to list a few sad times and a few great times.)
•Another example: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~Pablo Picasso Then, write about how you see the person’s path as an artist.

Write your note or entry in a meaningful shape like a "concrete" poem:
–Print a template and write a note inside the cut-out.
–Write in a spiral or around the border of a picture.

P.S.--Enjoy the picture of the baby's feet. They are pretty cute, aren't they?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Early Arrival/Early Departure...

She's early! Yes, the baby came early which means I'm missing out on some special times with you guys. Exams are almost over and soon you'll have the eighth grade dance, yearbooks, and TWO last days of school (A and B) which could mean two days of crying for some of you. I'm thinking about you.

I'm still getting regular updates from Miss Turner, Mrs. Chason, and all your other teachers via e-mail. Did you still owe me an assignment? You better give it to one of them soon if you want it factored into your grade. Believe it or not, there's not much time to finish up--even though I'm not there. Even now, in the middle of the night, the baby finally fell asleep and so I'm updating my blog for you guys. (I hope you read it...) Remember that you have to share first name and class period if you want your comments published. It would also be nice if your comments were grammatically correct since it is a Language Arts class. :)

I'll try to post again soon. Since I can't post any new pictures of you, maybe you'd enjoy seeing the baby.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I promised you pictures...

I usually take whole class pictures a few times during the year. This year, I haven't gotten the chance to do that. I think it's just harder to remember to get pictures when I only see you every day. So, I've remembered to take whole class pictures of two classes so far. If I haven't taken one of your class yet, please remind me! I like to take the pictures before the last day when everyone is crying--and a few people are always absent. The great thing about these are that we're all present! Enjoy the pictures...

Two cute ones of 1A

Our biggest class: 4A....

One of the pictures is blurry but everyone was laughing and it made me laugh.

And here's 1B. They could have posed for hours.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Never Too Late for Poetry...

April was National Poetry Month and unfortunately, we didn't celebrate or commemorate it in any way. We're making up for it in May and I've been sharing some of my favorite poets and poems with you in class. I've enjoyed watching your faces light up and listening to you say insightful things about poetry. I think your arts really enhance your ability to appreciate and understand metaphors and other figurative language. It's also nice that we can count the poems we read toward our twenty-five book total. Twenty poems roughly equal a book so keep track of the ones you read (and be able to recall the poem and say something insightful about it.)
I'm writing this post in order to include links to some of the websites I use to find poems for teaching--and for enjoying on my own.

Enjoy the poems and be sure to tell me which ones you like!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sourcebook Checks

Sourcebook checks are coming. These are the tables of contents that we've been keeping since January. These will be helpful for seeing if your sourcebook is up to date and for making sure you have all the notes to review for our comprehensive final exam which is coming up as well. Expect us to still add a few more lessons to this including a couple on poetry.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Books We Love

In the midst of reviewing your amazing FCAT Writing Scores, grading feature articles, planning meaningful lessons for our last few weeks together, attending my own baby shower, and trying to rest, I've managed to keep up with my reading. I just finished Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, author of Stones in Water--for those of you who just read that in literature circles. It was a Cinderella story that takes place in China. I was reading it to decide if it was worth putting it on our Summer Reading list for incoming eighth graders. I haven't decided yet. But I need to keep thiking about the list. What books have you read that you think would be good to add to a list of choices for summer reading? (Students would be required to choose three books from a list of about 20-25 books.) What should eighth graders read before they start the year? Before they finish the year? Let me know and maybe they'll make it onto the list.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Have you read your 25 books?

So, here's the front side of my bookcard. Yours should look a little like this, with subtotals at the end of each quarter. It's time for me to turn in the names of students who have read 25, 50, 100 books or more to the district so they can send you a certificate.

If you're hoping to read 25 books by the end of the year, I'm not checking bookcards for a grade yet. Remember that to get full credit, you must include the date you finished it, the title and author, and the number of pages in the book. You should also be able to discuss the any books on your card and I should have seen you bringing it to class at some point. (Summer reading does count though.) This is just a small grade--just one of the eighth grade standards. So, be honest and fair on your card. However, I want you to get credit for everything you read so get them updated. Soon, we'll figure out how much we've read all together.

Just for the record, I've read 16 actual books so far but my book equivalent total is 30.5 books. To get your total, add all your page numbers and divide by 150. Our district counts every 150 pages of text as a book. How many have you read?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Final Drafts, Progress Reports, and Showcase

The rough draft conferences are finished. Almost every student had a one-on-one conference to review their first draft. They each got to keep one copy of my comments and I kept a carbon copy. (Only three did not complete a rough draft....) This was the first time I've tried staggered due dates and I think it worked well.
Now, for the next step: the final drafts are due. Students should make revisions to the draft based on our conferences. The three pieces of advice I gave most often in conference were:
  • Add more quotes from people you interview to give a balanced approach to the article.
  • "Show, Don't Tell"--Be careful not to list directions that you expect the reader to follow. Give examples, anecdotes, and the experiences of others and yourself. (Note importance of quotes...) to allow the reader to see what to do, rather than be told what to do.
  • Use the Blending Exposition lesson from the source-book to craft paragraphs that blend paraphrase, quotation, exposition, and narration.

Otherwise, students may need to "jazz up" their subheadings, titles, and subtitles as well as clean up the grammar, spelling, and typos. See the full rubric posted in the Files entry.

Progress reports fall on the same day as this due date. So, students who do not turn in a final draft will receive an unsatisfactory score on the progress report. They will, however, have a chance to save their grade. We've created a due date window to allow for emergencies. Students may turn in the final draft with no penalty until Wednesday, April 18th.

One last note: Showcase was truly amazing this year! Our students' performances were strong and the show was cohesive--never a dull moment. Every arts area was well-represented: from air guitar, to piano solos, t0 the Jungle Book, to dancers spelling out LaVilla, to Stabat Mater, and the list goes on and on. When I watch our students perform, I wonder how they do it all. But they do, and that's why they are so special. Thanks for a great show.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DA Writing Contest: Deadline Extended!

Have you heard about this writing contest from DA? Read the information below and see if you think you have what it takes to win. I know we have many good writers and this contest offers lots of opportunities for recognition. Here's the information:

During the months of February through April, the Creative Writing Department of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is sponsoring the annual writing contest for middle school students. It is rare when we have an opportunity to recognize anything other than technical writing for young students, and rarer still when we can convince them of the joy of writing. This is one way in which we hope to do just that.

Students in grades 6th through 8th may submit any kind of writing (poetry, fiction, essays, etc.) and should only submit a copy of their work and not the original, as we cannot return submissions. Each entry should be accompanied with an entry submission (ask your language arts teacher) with contact information.

Entries will be judged for creativity and originality. Finalists and one winner will be identified and honored in each grade level. We will invite these students, their parents, and their teachers to our last Coffee Reading at 7 p.m. on May 1st to present them with a certificate and/or award.

Submissions may be mailed through school mail to school #107 or e-mailed as an attachment to
jonesj5@educationcentral .org by April 15th.

Friday, March 30, 2007


With the help and encouragement of another teacher, I've learned how I can make files available to you here. For example, do you need a bookmark? Click on that word and it will take you to my file. (You'll need my favorite font, CAC Futura Casual, for it to print correctly.) You might also like directions for the sticky notes now that we are working on lit circles again. They are available as well. Click the link. Finally, do you need a copy of the Final Draft Feature Article Rubric (Excel file) that you also have in your sourcebook? It's available. Hopefully, I'll get even better about making information and forms easy for you to access and print from home. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rough Draft Conferences are due...

Each of you has signed up for your individual rough draft conference. At this meeting, you'll get credit for pulling together the basic parts of your article. You will also get the feedback needed to help you do well on the final draft, which has a much more thorough rubric. (You have a copy in your sourcebook.) Here, I'll post the basic requirements for your conference. You must be ready on your conference day to get the full credit.

Present a complete draft at scheduled conference time: ____/10
Article is typed with columns, callouts, graphics, etc. ________/10
Proofreading for typos and errors is obvious. ________/5
The byline is typed and placed appropriately ________/5
Article has three subheadings, title and subtitle ________/5
Article has at least 5 quotes from several sources ________/5
Student has attempted an engaging lead ________/5
Student has attempted a satisfying sense of closure ________/5

As soon as your conference is finished, use the feedback you receive to rewrite, revise, and craft your draft into a final, polished piece. I will collect that on progress report day. (April 17th and 18th.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Formatting Your Feature Article

This poster from our class will help you remember the step by step process for formatting your feature article. Don't try to format it without writing anything. Do the writing first! More on this later...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Feature Articles

Testing is over and so we begin our next big writing piece: the feature article. Students can get in the right mind frame for this assignment by reading lots of magazine--something that seems more natural during Spring Break. I'll be posting rubrics soon--perhaps on the Schoolnotes website if I can't figure out how to do it here. The due dates for this assignment are tricky. Each student will have a staggered due date because their first draft will be graded in a one-on-one conference with me during several class sessions. Students needing more assistance can also stay after for help on any Monday. Each feature article will require several interviews (to get research and quotes for the article) so students can start working on that now, if I've approved their topics.

Friday, March 2, 2007

A new way to update students and parents

Welcome to the first post on my LaVilla 8th grade Language Arts blog. I plan to use this page just like I've used Schoolnotes in the past. However, this will keep an archive of past entries so you can always go back to see what you've missed. I'd also like to post information about contests and opportunities for students outside of class. Perhaps I won't even use Schoolnotes by next year. We'll see.