Mr. Scott

First, second, and seventh periods began looking at specific ways to elevate their writing. Our first step was to ensure paragraph unity: all sentences in a paragraph need to point back to the paragraph’s topic.

We looked at various examples of paragraphs that lack unity.

  • First and second period:
    • Complete the Paragraph Unity handout;
    • Select a topic from writer’s notebook and create a draft of a new topic.
  • Seventh period: “A Dangerous Cook” paragraph from Paragraph Unity handout.

Essential Question:

Overview: Today we went over all types of nouns, and the 4 basic principles.

Materials Distrubuted: Nothing

Homework: Read Chapters 5 and 6 LOTF. Take Vocab. quiz before Tuesday. Go over class discussion questions. Write 300 to 500 word proposal about class talking.

Often, we have to write about topics that, quite frankly, bore us. It’s not just in school, either. Seemingly boring topics are trying because we don’t know what to write — nothing comes to mind at first.

Enter: today’s lesson with English Strategies and English Studies (first, second, and seventh periods). As part of our on-going lesson about finding topics for an assigned paper, we explored today the mysterious Myth of the Boring Paper.

We looked at a single dollar bill; as a class and in groups, we looked closely at it and tried to notice as many little, odd details as possible. (For example, have you ever noticed that there is an owl or an eagle in the upper-right corner of the dollar bill?) Once we shared our details and converted them into questions, it became obvious that a seemingly boring topic like a dollar bill can be full of possibilities.

Afterward, students in groups created questions for an assortment of “boring” topics: a stapler, a pack of Post-It notes, and a dry-erase marker were among the items.

In the end, everyone wrote an affirmation in their writing notebook: “I can write about anything if I look at it carefully enough.”


None (we’ll begin having homework next week).

First, second, and seventh periods (English Strategies and English Studies classes) continued working on writing. We made a short list of pet peeves as a basis for our writing. Afterward, we compared our lists to expand them — “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that! That drives me crazy, too!” — and did some writing on the topics we’d just come up with.

Next week we’ll begin working on revising, focusing on organization to begin with.



We went over homework, then with our groups worked on the organizer sheet. After, we broke up and went to different people and shared our ideas.

Materials Distributed: Hobbes and Rousseau Organizer Sheet

  • 2nd Draft of Essay,
  • Read Chapter 3 in Lord of the Flies,
  • Go over Vocabulary and take quiz before Friday midnight.

First, second, and seventh periods all worked on creating Expert Inventories. These are lists of topics students can readily write about owing to their “expertise.” The activity usually produces a list similar to this:

  • football
  • family
  • shopping
  • video games

The next step was to narrow some of those topics down, possibly finding two or three sub-topics from them:

  • “football” produces “playing wide receiver”;
  • “family” becomes “dealing with my annoying little sister”;
  • “shopping” becomes “finding the perfect shoes”; and,
  • “video games” becomes “how to win at The Sims 3.”

We shared our inventories with others, prompting new additions.

Finally, we did a four-minute free-write on one of the topics from the newly-created Expert Inventory.


First, second, and fourth periods: add ten items to the expert inventory.

All periods are now caught up on procedures, and we’ll be starting the heavy lifting on Monday.

Second period continued working on allegories after going over the diagnostic test and introductory essays.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: purchase 200-page spiral notebook and number the pages through page 70.
  • Fourth period:
    • create sentence/topic table for introductory essay;
    • create and outline allegory (group work).
Behavior Levels

First period completed the behavior levels as well as the team-wide discipline system.

Second and seventh periods only completed the levels. We will do the team-wide discipline system tomorrow.

Fourth period looked at the EQ, “What is an allegory.” We used Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to delineate the allegory model, watching a claymation version to double-check comprehension at the end.

  • First period: none.
  • Second period: write a one-page introduction of yourself.
  • Fourth period: complete the passage from Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”
  • Seventh period: goals for the year in ELA (on index card).

Summer is over and it’s time to start eighth grade! You’re finally the top dogs at Hughes, and it’s time to step into the leadership roles that you’ve known you could fulfill.

This year, you’ll have the privilege of having the finest male English teacher on the eighth grade hall. It’ll be an adventure, but there are a few things I can promise you right from the beginning.

  1. I will always be respectful to you. As human beings, we all deserve each others’ mutual respect. It’s not something you “earn.” It is something you can lose, however.
  2. I will try to be fair with all students all the time. There will be times that I make a decision that I know, at that very moment, is unfair. I will keep those situations to a minimum.
  3. I will do my best to make things interesting, even the grammar. As one of my colleges professors said, I will take responsibility for exactly fifty percent of the boredom in the room at any given moment. The other fifty percent is your responsibility: be engaged; do your best; don’t be afraid to try (and even fail) — do these things and we’ll have a great class.
  4. I will give you as much choice in your learning as possible. Students who have options are students who are engaged. There are many topics that the state of South Carolina requires me to teach you, but even in that, there’s a lot of room for choice.
  5. I will make mistakes. I am human, and I’ll mess up. You’ll do the same. If we’re calm, we’ll get through those mistakes just fine. In fact, they’ll be learning experiences, for me and you.
  6. I will try to make you laugh during every class. I love joking around. I love being silly. And I love hearing my students laugh. It’s a sign of a good classroom atmosphere.
  7. I will not interrupt you when you’re talking, or talk to others while you’re talking. There is an exception: if you’re taking learning time from other students, I’ll interrupt.

What about the class, though? I promised “interesting” and “choice” and “fair,” but what will we be learning. A look at the syllabus will give you a detailed overview of what we’ll be working on; a glance at the calendar will give you an idea of when we’ll be working on what. The topics include:

  • the memoir form;
  • poetry;
  • grammar (with a special parts of speech review);
  • Walter Dean Myers’ Monster;
  • Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing for eighth grade; Romeo and Juliet for English I);
  • persuasive writing; and,
  • many, many, many pages of reading and writing.

This year, I will also be experimenting.

  1. We will be doing a great deal of self-assessment. This means that not only will you decide how well you did on certain aspects of a given project but also you’ll be the one who framed and planned the project! In other words, you’ll be creating rubrics as well as evaluating your work using rubrics.
  2. We will be working to improve our organizational skills through a system of collaborative indexing, we might call it.
  3. We will be integrating our reading and writing so that what we’re reading serves as a model for what we happen to be writing at the time.

I’m excited about this year, and I’m looking forward to 180 days of joyful learning.


Today was the final Friday of the 2008/9 school year. Everyone is certainly relieved, students and teachers alike.

Exams start Monday: sixth period has its exam.

Best of Web

To my surprise, this little WordPress site was selected as one of Greenville County Schools’ “Best of the Web” for 2008/9. I get a snazzy image to display on the site:

2008/9 Best of the Web
2008/9 Best of the Web

I’m honored at the recognition, and embarrassed that, at this point, I haven’t been keeping up as regularly as I should have.


Fourth and sixth periods worked on a cloze activity dealing with one of the attorney’s closing statements in Monster. It was a lot of fun, especially in sixth period: I assisted students by giving them riddles that contained the answers to the particular blanks that were stumping them. Epiphanies galore.