Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We're getting ready to start lit circles. Order now!

We're starting lit circles soon. Literature circles are like book clubs in that thyey give the students "voice and choice" about their reading. The voice part happens when students meet in small groups to discuss the reading. The choice part happens when they choose the book.

This week students will rank their choices for the book they'd like to read for lit circles. We are usually able to give students their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice for this genre study. There are several factors that determine which book a student will get to read. One important factor is how many copies we own. We have enough copies available for in-school reading but many students will need to have their own copies in order to read at home. We don't have enough to check out a book to each student.

Once a student knows if they got the first, second, or third choice, he/she is "cleared" to make a purchase. The books are all popular young adult popular fiction or classics in the genre we're studying. These books are available at local bookstores, public libraries, and online sellers like or Many of them are also available through Scholastic which gives us credits to buy more copies for the classrooms. Scholastic often offers a better price (anywhere from 5 to 13 dollars) than the other booksellers and delivers the books straight to school.

To get started, go to the Web address below and enter the personalized user name and password for Mrs. Izzo's class or Mrs. Jackson's class in the sign-in fields on the right side of the page. Note: You do not need to create your own user name and password.

If you have Mrs. Izzo:User Name: lavillaizzo Password: marbles
If you have Mrs. Jackson:User Name: lavillajackson Password: marbles

Check out these catalogs to get some of the titles:

TRC Winter has Ender's Game and Uglies.
TAB April has Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird.
TAB May has Catching Fire.
TAB January has The Book Thief, Chains, Fever 1793.

Scholastic orders need to be placed by 9 pm on May 3, 2010.

Remember, each student will find out in class which book they are approved to buy. Not every class will read all of the same titles. Students may start reading the copies we have in class. We will offer several opportunities for in-class reading. Students will need to be about halfway through the book by May 10.
Mrs. Jackson's 5th and 6th period classes have different choices. Go to for more information.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Formatting our Feature Articles

On the 20th and 21st of April, we learned how to format our Feature Articles in the computer.

Each article needs to be typed in columns, single-spaced in Times New Roman Size 12. (Note: this is not the default in Word 2007 or newer. You'll have to set it to fix the default.

All articles will need graphics with captions, a sidebar, a call-out, and an MLA formatted Works-Cited.

Here are ten basic steps:

1. Finish writing and typing on the normal (default) settings. You’ll need at least a page of text for formatting to work. Save a copy.

2. Add your byline immediately under the title and subtitle.

3. “Select All” (Ctrl+A) and then make columns. Select all (Ctrl+A) again and choose single spacing (Ctrl+1)

4. Then, select just your title. Choose your color and font.

5. Select the first sub-heading. Choose the colors and font for that. (Be sure it coordinates with the title color/font.)

6. Use format painter (paintbrush icon) to make all subheadings match.

7. Next, Insert => Picture => Clip-art or from file. (or, paste from website and give credit in caption.) Make text wrap “tight” around graphics.

8. To make your sidebar, insert textbox. Right click on its border to format textbox.

9. To create your call-out, select and COPY an intriguing line from your article. Then, insert wordart. Paste the quote into the word-art and format it to look the way you’d like.

10. Create a Works Cited for all quotes, research, & images/graphics.
Do this on www.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reviewing Leads

4/16 (B) 4/19 (A)

Today, we wrote introduction paragraphs for our feature articles. Before the work period began we reviewed the types of leads: quick list, quotation, anecdote, concession, sensory details, and shocking fact or statistic. If you did not turn in your introduction at the end of class, we need it as soon as possible. Each small piece of your article we collect is a small grade. We're doing this to help keep you on track and to give you feedback. The final draft of the feature article is due on 4/30 (B) and 5/2 (A).

Organizing your feature article

We spent the past two classes organizing our feature articles. First, we brainstormed the questions that our reader might have about our topic and then we divided those questions into categories. These categories became our possible subheadings. Next, we wrote interview questions (see stems below). Some of you finished filling out the exit slip (see below) for this lesson in class, but if you didn't it is due the next time I see you (4/16 B and 4/19 A).

•Use these stems to write interview questions:
–Tell me about a time when….
–Why do you….?
–How have you….?
–What advice would you give to ….?
–Describe how you….
•Avoid yes or no questions:
–Is…? Do you…?



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feature Articles: Step-by-Step

We've started our feature article unit.  After each lesson, we'll be collecting a small exit slip or product based on the lesson to make sure students are staying on track during this lengthy unit.  So far, students have submitted three choices for topics.  This was due on April 12 for B day, and April 13 for A day.  We're approving topics and handing them back during the next class period.