First and seventh periods presented their persuasive presentations to see who would win the bit of free time at the end of their class on Monday. We also watched a clip of Derren Brown, the absolute master of persuasion.

Second period went over persuasive techniques.

Fourth period began researching the Scottsboro boy’s trial in preparation for a comparison/contrast essay on the trial and To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: continue working on poetry portfolio (due Monday); tomorrow will be a pr0gress check.
  • Fourth period: none (research optional).

First and seventh periods prepared persuasive presentations as part of a two-day anticipatory set for our very short persuasive writing unit. They prepared persuasive arguments in an effort to win a bit of free time at the end of class next week. Second period is one day ahead, having completed the contest today.

Fourth period worked on their Maycomb County News articles.


First and seventh periods finished up the poetry units with a look at imagery and a final poem.

Second period began a short unit on persuasive writing. First and seventh periods will start tomorrow.

Fourth period began a short writing project to wrap up To Kill a Mockingbird. We’ll begin researching materials for the comparison/contrast essay we’ll be writing for the book.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: work on poetry project (due Monday 14 December). (This includes the newly-assigned month poem.)
  • Second period: complete the “Persuasion is All Around You” handout.
  • Fourth period: use the Usage Glossary at the back of the textbook to determine the difference between “affect” and “effect.

Everyone was thankful it’s Friday — including me.

  • First and seventh periods: complete ballad.
  • Second period period:
    • complete ballad;
    • complete month poem.
  • Fourth period:
    • finish To Kill a Mockingbird;
    • evaluate poetry project according to the rubric.

First, second, and seventh periods are still working on ballads. They’re finding it more challenging than they initially assumed: the rigors of structured poetry, with a set meter and rhyme scheme, can be daunting at first.

Fourth period went over the missionary circle chapter in To Kill a Mockingbird. We ended with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

Mrs. Merriweather nodded wisely. Her voice soared over the clink of coffee cups and the soft bovine sounds of the ladies munching their dainties. “Gertrude,” she said, “I tell you there are some good but misguided people in this town. Good but misguided. Folks in this town who think they’re doing right, I mean. Now far be it from me to say who , but some of ’em in this town thought they were doing the right thing a while back, but all they did was stir ’em up. That’s all they did. Might’ve looked like the right thing to do at the time, I’m sure I don’t know, I’m not read in that field, but sulky…dissatisfied. I tell you if my Sophy’d kept it up another day I’d have let her go. It’s never entered that wool of hers that the only reason I keep her is because the depression’s on and she needs her dollar every week she can get”

“His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?”

It’s a tricky phrase, that “His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?”. We spent a little time at the end of class teasing out possible literal meanings so that we could, for homework, figure out what Miss Maudie means.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: continue working on the ballad.
  • Fourth period:
    • determine the meaning of “His food doesn’t stick in your throat, does it?”;
    • read To Kill a Mockingbird chapters 24-28;
    • look at and participate in the wiki on the courses site.

First, second, and fourth periods began class by looking at the poetry project rubric. Afterward, we spent the period working on their ballads. With its strict structural demands, the ballad more of a challenge than they thought.

Additionally, second period is working to make sure their ballads have a proper metrical pattern. While we’re not using this terminology, it means their stanzas are alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.

Fourth period looked

  • First, second, and seventh periods: none.
  • Fourth period:
    • reread Atticus’s closing statement (chapter 20) and be able to summarize his main points;
    • reread chapter 22 about the jury deliberation and come up with two or three reasons why the jury took so long to deliver the inevitable verdict;
    • begin self-evaluation of poetry project. (We’ll go over this tomorrow.)

First, second, and seventh periods finished up the question of what a ballad is. We looked at a second ballad — “The Ballad of Birmingham” — and used with “Boots of Spanish Leather” to create a master list of ballad attributes. The fifth required poem in our poetry unit is a ballad. We began working on that today. We will finish them in class tomorrow.

Fourth period discussed the morality ranking from yesterday, then began reading/acting out Tom Robinson’s testimony.

  • First period:
    • complete the plot/story summary;
    • create the character list for the ballad.
  • Second period:
    • complete the plot/story summary for the ballad;
    • create the character list for the ballad;
    • create dialog summary for the ballad;
    • complete the first two stanzas of the ballad.
  • Fourth period: read chapters 19-23 of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Seventh period:

First, second, and seventh began by adding a poem to the portfolio we’re creating. It was an effort to help the students understand a simple process of creating poems that involves brainstorming, organizing, and modifying to create sentences that can be shaped into a poem.

Afterward, the classes returned to the Bob Dylan ballad “Boots of Spanish Leather” to discern patterns and elements of language in an inductive reasoning exercise to determine the general elements of a ballad from specific ballads.

Fourth period began discussing the trial and the morality of various characters. In class, we began a writing assignment (that will morph into a discussion tomorrow).

  • Mr. Dolphus Raymond
  • Miss Maudie
  • Aunt Alexandra
  • Reverend Sykes
  • Judge Taylor
  • Bob Ewell
  • Mayella Ewell
  • Heck Tate
  1. Rank these characters order from the most moral to the least moral.
  2. For the two extremes, write a paragraph explanation of why you placed him/her in the two extreme positions.

Upon seeing some confusion about what “moral” and “morality” means, I decided to have students look at three normative ethics theories for homework.

  • First and second periods:
    • complete Thanksgiving poem;
    • complete ballad inductive reasoning graphic organizer.
  • Seventh period: complete Thanksgiving poem.
  • Fourth period:

It was a fairly easy day today. With the faculty/student volleyball game taking up sixth and seventh periods, and first period being a little behind, it was a day of catch-up (not to be confused with a day of ketchup).

Fourth period completed the presentations they worked on yesterday.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: complete all three poems:
    • animal poem;
    • poem based on “Your World” summary;
    • list poem.
  • Fourth period: read chapters 16-18 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

First, second, and seventh periods began exploring ballads. We used Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” as a model ballad. Tomorrow, we’ll be finishing up with the attributes of a ballad.

Fourth period spent some time with an extended starter/bell-ringer that dealt with the use of quotation marks. We determined that more practice is definitely in order, and I assigned more as homework (see below).

We looked at three questions about the passage we read for homework (copied from the district lesson plan for To Kill a Mockingbird):

  • What is Calpurnia’s purpose in the novel? Her role there is traditional – she is a servant. But what else is Calpurnia?
  • Aunt Alexandra represents another segment of Southern society in the 1930s. Read the interview with three women who “grew up white in the South” during the ‘30s. Fill in the “Southern Behavior – Interview” concept map with things they were taught to do as a young girl; compare the list with what Aunty is trying to teach Scout and Jem (complete the Southern Genteel Behavior concept map). Is there an overlap?
  • Did Atticus make a poor decision to represent Tom in such an emotionally charged trial? Was it the right decision?

Students spent a little time in groups discussing the issues. Tomorrow, they will finish preparations and discussions and make quick oral presentations on their findings.

  • First, second, and seventh periods: second chance for the list poem.
  • Fourth period:

First, second, and seventh periods worked on list poems. We used Shel Silverstein’s “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout” and “Sick” as our model list poems.

Fourth period discussed bravery in the three chapters we read for today, as well as Atticus’ assertion that the use of racist language is “common” (as in “base”).


First, second, and fourth periods all worked on figurative language: similes, metaphors, and personification. We looked at three poems that use figurative language: “Concrete Mixers,” “The City is So Big,” and “Harlem Night Song.”

Fourth period finished up yesterday’s posters on the varying points of view and opinions about Boo Radley. Then we read, in class, the first portion of chapter nine of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is the episode in which Cecil Jacobs insults Scout’s father by suggesting Atticus is morally inferior because he is defending Tom Robinson. It is where the pejorative term for African Americans first appears in the book, so we spent the last half of the class discussing the impact of that word and how words can take on emotional hues.

  • First and second periods: complete illustrations of similes and metaphors from the three poems.
  • Fourth period:
    • read chapters 9-11 in To Kill a Mockingbird;
    • complete the
  • Seventh period: none.

First, second, and seventh periods looked at Georgia Douglas Johnson’s poem “Your World” as a model for the second poem in our poetry portfolio project.

Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side.

But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.

I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!

To begin with, we used context clues to determine the meaning of “immensity.” Then we came up with a one-sentence summary of the poem. That summary served as the theme for our next poetry portfolio poem.

Fourth period looked at Scout’s age, place in history, social culture, and other factors that might introduce an element of bias or otherwise affect her perspective as she narrates the story.

Poetry, Context, and a Question of Trust

First and seventh periods worked on using context clues to determine unfamiliar words’ meanings.

Second period went over their animal poems (that must exhibit clear meter as well as onomatopoeia).

Fourth period took some time to correct their parts of speech test from Friday (for half credit) and then we went over the first chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • First period:
    • use context clues to determine the meaning of “immensity” in “Your World”;
    • add this information as an example for the context notes.
  • Second period:
    • scan the first four lines of “Silver”;
    • complete draft of animal poem (which includes discernible meter and onomatopoeia); and
    • read “Your World” (605).
  • Fourth period:
    • copy your journal entry from today’s class into the forum (make sure you reply to my initial post)forum
    • reply to at least one student’s journal entry (make sure all students have one response each).