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.