Fourth period worked on three elements of an author’s (and individual selection’s) style:

  • diction
  • tone, and
  • mood.

We looked at an example selection to see how the author manipulated words and phrases to create a specific mood and tone.

First, second, and seventh periods  began a couple of days of lessons dealing with the Holocaust in preparation for reading the Diary of Anne Frank.

All periods turned in the final draft of one or another projects.

Homework

Fourth period: read “Cub Pilot on the Mississippi”

First and seventh periods had a final day of work on the memoir final draft. It is due tomorrow, along with several other documents:

  1. First draft
  2. Peer editing form
  3. Second draft
  4. Final draft
  5. Rubric

Fourth period worked on the nonfiction form and will continue tomorrow. We’ve begun a short unit on the memoir and we will be focusing on the relationship tone, mood, and diction have with author’s purpose and audience.

Second period began Diary of Anne Frank by looking at the Holocaust and setting the stage for the Frank’s dramatic hideout in Amsterdam.

Homework
  • First and seventh periods: finish final draft of memoir.
  • Second period: three questions students might have about the information presented today.
  • Fourth period:
    • complete the final draft of the Antigone essay (rubric available here);
    • read page 435 (on tone, mood, and diction).

We had a day of testing, but the upside is that the Explore test — a two-and-a-half hour, four-subject marathon test — is over. As a result, we didn’t have first or second period.

Fourth period worked on revising their Antigone analysis papers. We looked at run-on sentences, and had a bit of practice.

Homework

Fourth period:

  • complete run-on sentence practice;
  • edit Antigone draft for run-on sentences.

We completed the final day of group work for the memoir today. We’ll be spending two more days polishing it up, and then turn it in Monday.

English I began verbs today. We’ll finish up tomorrow, testing willing.

The testing in question is the Explore test. We’ll be taking that test Thursday and Friday.

Homework
  • First and seventh periods: none.
  • Second period: complete second draft.
  • Fourth period: none (if second draft of Antigone analysis is complete).

This is my second draft for my memoir.

It was in the days of smoke-filled teachers’ lounges, and he hurried to class reeking of cigarette smoke. Rick Watson was a short, wiry, balding, mustachioed English teacher who moved and talked quickly. He seemed to know a little something about everything, and he was so eager to teach that he did it as if his existence depended upon it.

As we worked, Mr. Watson would circle around the room, not so much walking as pivoting on his famously unevenly worn shoes. When he bent over to assist a student, his swinging tie would interrupt the conversation, and his coffee-cigarette breath would make it difficult to concentrate, but earnest desire to help somehow made those quirks bearable.

One day we were working in groups, and as he walked away from my side of the classroom, the group to the left asked question. He spun around, answered the question, and then continued to his original destination. As he spun around, though, everything seemed to slow down; I had what could only be called an epiphany: he loved what he was doing, and it seemed like something that might be fun.

It is from that moment that I date my own desire to be an English teacher. As it was, I brushed aside the idea immediately. I was, after all, only a junior in high school. Thinking about being a high school teacher while in high school seemed somehow unseemly. It was as if, by thinking about being a teacher, I was suggesting I was somehow intellectually superior to my peers. But I knew what he did helped people—daily—and the thought of helping people every single day appealed to me.

Available for help at all times, Mr. Watson taught everywhere and anywhere, and constantly. The world was his classroom, and he never drew a line between his “teacher” self and his “personal” self. He had no down time; he was always a teacher, always willing to show, to help, to discuss. One evening, my friend and I bumped into him at the public library. We were doing research for a presentation in his class, and he ended up helping us for well over half an hour that evening, on his personal time.

Mr. Watson was the first male teacher to really instill in me a sense of passion about one’s work. He was the first male teacher who seemed to have an absolute love affair with his job. He showed me that being in love with language and with teaching was not masculine or feminine—it was simply human passion. A calling. In short, I might never have even considered teaching if I’d never been in Rick Watson’s classroom.

First and seventh periods had a great: Ms. Woods, our District Instructional Facilitator (DIF) and a former English teacher herself, came into the classroom today to model with me what peer conferencing looks like. We’ve been trying to do it for the past couple of days, but I realized that it’s something that really needs to be shown. Her observations about my own first draft were spot-on. Afterward, the students returned to their partners and tried to emulate what Ms. Woods and I did.

Second period worked on stems and completed the first round of peer conferencing.

Fourth period discussed the Antigone project, drafting a rubric and getting started with peer conferencing. We looked at the following points.

  • Did you explain the examples well?
  • Did you put the correct number of examples?
  • Did you explain in depth?
  • Are there any examples that are merely summarized and are not analyzed?
  • Do my paragraphs show unity?
  • Are my topic sentences clear?
  • Are the sentences fluent and make sense?
  • Do I leave any content gaps? (Are there any spots where the readers are asking questions?)
Homework

Second and fourth periods: second draft of memoir/Antigone analysis (respectively) due tomorrow.

First and seventh period: none (study for Friday’s stem’s quiz).


This is my first draft for my memoir. It represents an attempt to write without self-editing, a habit that I try to discourage in students but indulge in myself. As such, it is not something I would normally publish. However,I felt it was more important to show how even experienced writers create inadequate first drafts.

He spun on his unevenly worn heel and answered the question. I don’t remember who asked Mr. Watson the question, and I don’t even remember what the question was about. As he spun around, though, everything seemed to slow down and I had what could only be called an epiphany: he loved what he was doing, and it seemed like something that might be fun.

It is from that moment that I date my own desire to be an English teacher. As it was, I brushed aside the idea immediately. I was, after all, only a junior in high school. Thinking about being a high school teacher while in high school seemed somehow unseemly. But I knew what he did helped people—daily—and the thought of helping people every single day appealed to me.

Other teachers fostered my interest in reading and writing, but it was Mr. Watson who gave me the first idea that I might actually be good at it. At the time, I fancied myself a poet, and Mr. Watson read page after page of my adolescent pathos and made detailed comments about what I was doing well.

Mr. Watson was the first male teacher to really instill in me a sense of passion about one’s work. He was available for help at all times. The world was his classroom, and he never drew a line between his “teacher” self and his “personal” self. One evening, my friend and I bumped into him at the public library. We were doing research for a presentation in his class, and he ended up helping us for well over half an hour that evening, on his personal time.

The biggest regret in my life is that I never had the opportunity to tell him, “I am a teacher because of you.”

All classes are now working on composition in one form or another.

First, second, and seventh periods are working on peer revision for their first draft of their memoir. We will be finishing that up tomorrow and completing the second draft shortly. The memoir will be due the following Monday (October 5).

These periods also got the new stems list. We will have a quiz on them this Friday (October 2) and a test the following Friday (October 9).

English I began working on the formal analysis of Antigone. Using the four basic principles of sociology we applied to Lord of the Flies, students will be looking at the social aspects of the play. We spent today going over the requirements, deciding as a group just how the project would look.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods: complete the definitions of the stem vocabulary. (Use only the information provided by the stem to make a reasonable guess as to what the word means.)
  • Fourth period: complete the first draft of the essay.

First, second, and seventh periods all worked in pairs on revising their memoirs, using the Memoir Assessment tool.

Tomorrow, first, second, and seventh periods have the test on stems list 21.

Fourth period is almost done with Antigone. We’ll finish up tomorrow. The day closed for English I students with a quick review of prepositions. The easiest part of speech, prepositions also play an important part in our Comprehension Tips page, and we added the seventh step today.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods:
    • finish memoir rough draft (if not completed already);
    • study for stems test.
  • Fourth period:
Library Day

After completing the starter, first, fourth, and seventh periods went to the library to learn about the new Junior Book Award nominees for the year.

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Seventh Period Working on the Starter

In order to qualify to vote, students must read three of the twenty books nominated. For those who complete these books, extra credit will be available.

Seventh Period Working on the Starter
Seventh Period Working on the Starter

Fourth period continued with Antigone. I introduced the concept of hubris as we examined the scene with Creon and Tiresias.

We’re now officially behind with the book. I anticipate finishing this Friday, though, leaving us only two days behind.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods: assuming a student has completed the first draft of the memoir, these classes have no homework.
  • Fourth period: read the Antigone project. (The example is, of course, based on Lord of the Flies.)

First, second, and seventh periods began working on memoir revision. We used the memoir peer revision graphic organizer to begin working with a partner to improve our writing.

Fourth period continued with Antigone.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods: none.
  • Fourth period: outline two examples of how Antigone illustrates the four basic premises of sociology that we looked at while reading Lord of the Flies.
Specific Verbs and Antigone

First, second, and fourth periods added one more element to on-going memoir assignment: specific verbs.

Specific verbs (also called “action verbs”) add vitality to writing.  They not only tell what’s going on but also give indications of how.

“Walk” is a boring verb. It could be used to describe any number of movements. “Shuffled” is a specific action verb. Someone who shuffles is someone who is tired, perhaps bored.

We define two elements in class. Specific verbs:

  • show a specific (not general) action;
  • include information about how the action is completed.

Source: Class Notes: Specific Verbs

To look at the differences between “boring” verbs and specific action verbs, one thing we did was show each other how “walk” can describe radically different actions. The students who did the strutting generally had the most fun:

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Strutting Out

 

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Strutting In

Fourth period continued with Antigone. We’ve come to the conclusion that Creon feels leaders should be obeyed without hesitation or question; we’ve discovered that Haemon has some views about the relationship between rulers and the ruled that might have been somewhat unorthodox during that time.

Homework
  • First and seventh periods: ten synonyms for “talk” and/or “say.
  • Second period: none.
  • Fourth period: correct and evaluate tests.
Quizzes, Drafts, and a Test

First, second, and seventh periods had their first stems quiz. We will have a test on the full list (list 21) next Friday.

Afterward, we began writing our formal first draft.

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After hours (Photo by G. Scott)

Fourth period had a test on the first half of our parts of speech review. It seemed very difficult for many, and there were concerns about the grades. I reminded them that an assessment is just that: a device to assess students’ understanding. “The test might be on a level higher than I really think your knowledge and proficiency should be,” I told them.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods: complete first draft of memoir.
  • Fourth period: none (!!)

First, second, and seventh periods all began their outlines for their memoirs.

Fourth period continued preparing Antigone. We also had a quick review for tomorrow’s test on nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.

Homework
  • First, second, and seventh periods: complete outline.
  • Fourth period: study for parts of speech