Since I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not stressing writing enough, I’m in the process of re-planning some lessons. As such, first, fourth, and sixth periods worked revision strategies today, using the history of Anne Frank as a thematic base. We looked at three ways of revising:

  • For clarity of meaning
  • For descriptive details
  • For sentence variety.

We used a graphic organizer to aid our revision.

Second period began working on their poetry projects. Details available here.

  • First and fourth periods: finish revision handout.
  • Second period:
    • comparison/contrast essay due Monday;
    • work on Mockingbird newspaper project (online); and,
    • develop poetry project presentation and materials.
  • Sixth period:
    • finish revision handout;
    • complete first diary entry (that’s the link you want, gentlemen from sixth period).

First period continued with Anne Frank, completing the first scene of the second act. Things are heating up for the Franks, the Van Daans, and Dussel. We’ll be finishing up the play early next week and then working on a compare/contrast essay.

Second period continued researching for their own compare/contrast essay. Today was the last day we’ll be spending class time preparing for it. The essay itself will be due next week.

Fourth and sixth periods are working to catch up with first period.

  • First period: diary entry number seven.
  • Second period: compare/contrast essay.
  • Fourth and sixth periods:

First period began a small project on the effect of point of view. Working in pairs, students took an episode from The Diary of Anne Frankthat affects all characters and looked at it from a different point of view. We did this in two ways: first, students wrote diary entries from another character’s point of view; second, students created a dialogue between one of the characters and one of his/her pre-war friends. (Of course, to accomplish this, we had to engage in the suspension of disbelief, as only Otto Frank survived.)

Second period continued working on their To Kill a Mockingbird projects (the newspaper and the compare/contrast essay).

Fourth and sixth periods were not as productive as they should be. Too many students are not doing their homework, and since homework is often reading, we cannot continue with the unit until the reading gets done. To that end, we read silently in class today with the understanding that it will be the last time it will happen. We will have quizzes over material to encourage more reading at home.

Fourth and sixth periods also discussed the effect their homework apathy is having on their grades.

  • First period: diary entry six.
  • Second period: continue research for the compare/contrast essay.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: quiz tomorrow on Anne Frank through page 798.
Slow Day

He was a kind young man who, with the help of his parents, had his own general store at the age of twenty-five. He spoke slowly and laughed easily. I often leaned against the counter in his store, sipping a Coke and chatting about nothing in particular.

Shop Keeper, Lipnica Wielka, Poland


Obviously, no updates today. I leave you with a picture from my seven years in Poland:

Lipnica Wielka, Poland, October 31, 2001Lipnica Wielka, Poland, October 31, 2001

We did a little housekeeping in all classes. It being the end of the quarter, it was time to do another self-evaluation for participation, using this rubric. Additionally, students evaluated their starters, this time using this rubric.

  • First period:
    • 3 diary entries
    • questions on page 832
    • cause/effect graphic organizer for question on page 830
  • Second period: participation self-evaluation (online)
  • Fourth period:
    • second journal entry;
    • read to page 798.
  • Sixth period:
    • first two journal entries;
    • read to page 798.
Anne Frank and the PSAT

Most students from second period were taking the PSAT.

First period read/performed Act 1 Scene 4.

Fourth period finished the play through Act 1 Scene 2. We also began working on the cause and effect graphic organizer.

You can download the organizer here:

Sixth period took a little longer with the graphic organizer, so we’re going to be completing Scene 2 for homework.

  • First period: finish second diary entry.
  • Second period: none.
  • Fourth period: first diary entry.
  • Sixth period:
    • read through pages 791;
    • complete graphic organizer for the question on page 791.

Second period continued working on the To Kill a Mockingbird newsletter. After students completed that work, we began researching the Scottsboro Boys trial, supposedly the inspiration for Harper Lee as she wrote Mockingbird.

First, fourth, and sixth periods continued working on The Diary of Anne Frank. First period completed act 1 scene 3; fourth and sixth periods made it through the second scene. After completing the third scene, first period worked on their initial diary project entries.

  • First period: complete entry.
  • Second period: continue researching Scottsboro Boys trial.
  • Fourth and sixth periods:read through page 788.

Second period began one of two culminating To Kill a Mockingbird projects. We began creating a newspaper for Maycomb County that deals with the significant events in the book. Students are working on advertisements, obituaries, editorials, news articles — you name it.

First period continued with Anne Frank. We made it through a great deal of it today.

Fourth and sixth periods began working on Anne Frank. We discussed elements of drama (dialogue, blocking, stage directions) and began reading the play.

  • First period:
    • Read through page 808;
    • Answer cause/effect questions on pages 798 and 802 (top);
    • Study for quiz over reading.
  • Second period:
    • complete the parts of speech test online;
    • complete online forum for class newsletter brainstorming.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: study for vocabulary quiz tomorrow.

All classes went to the book fair today. We did a little administrative work in the twenty or so minutes we had before leaving for the book fair. Fourth and sixth periods began working on vocabulary for The Diary of Anne Frank.

  • First period:
    • skim act 1 scene 3;
    • prepare for vocab quiz Monday.
  • Second period:
    • continue look at grammar review online;
    • take the parts of speech test.
Genocide Background and Presentations

First period began the project we’ll be working on while reading Anne Frank. Students will create a 10-12 entry diary modeled on Anne Frank’s diary. Today, they chose one of the following locations/historical events as their setting:

  • Rwanda (Jean Kambanda, 1994)
  • Cambodia (Pol Pot, 1975-79)
  • Uganda (Idi Amin, 1969-1979)
  • Yugoslavia (Slobodan Milosevic, 1992-96)
  • Chile (Augusto Pinochet)
  • China (Mao Ze-Dong 1958-61 and 1966-69)
  • Turkey (Ismail Enver, 1915-20)
  • Afghanistan (Mullah Omar and the Taliban, 1986-2001)
  • Darfur, Sudan (present day)

Fourth, and sixth periods are finished up the anticipatory lesson today, drawing on students’ prior knowledge of the Holocaust and making it personal through a series of reflective writing exercises. We finished the slide show I created about the Holocaust.



Gas Chamber Ruins

Second period continued working on To Kill a Mockingbird. We should be finishing up Monday.

  • First period: none (except for research on project).
  • Second period: chapters 24-28.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: complete the reflection exercise we began in class.
Tom's Character and the Holocaust

First, fourth, and sixth periods are starting a unit on The Diary of Anne Frank. As such, we had an anticipatory lesson today, drawing on students’ prior knowledge of the Holocaust and making it personal through a series of reflective writing exercises. To do this, we looked at a slide show I created about the Holocaust, starting from the rise of the Nazis and ending with some photos I took in 2005 during my own visit to Auschwitz.

Walling up the Ghetto


Leaving the Ghetto

Electrified Barbed Wire

Second period discussed Tom’s testimony in To Kill a Mockingbird. We also looked specifically at his character and how he is drawn: direct versus indirect characterization. Other students examined the character Dolphus Raymond and what we learn about him directly and indirectly.

  • First, fourth, and sixth periods: complete the reflection exercise we began in class.
  • Second period: complete the types of characters handout.

First period worked on proofreading, including an eight-step checklist. Final drafts due Monday.

Second period did group work on a few questions:

Miss Mayella’s motivation

An important part of understanding any character is understanding motivation. Re-read chapter 18. Take notes on what you learn about Mayella. They may be things you are told directly (direct characterization – for instance, her age) or they may be things you can infer by analyzing what she says, how she acts, or what others say about her. As you take notes about your observations, think about what motivates Mayella. It is clear that Atticus is trying to get her to admit that she lied about the attack. If she did lie, what would motivate her to do that? As the last entry in your notes, offer an explanation for what would motivate her to tell such a horrible lie.

Children in the courtroom

Jem, Scout, and Dill were obviously not supposed to be in the courtroom that day. Even today we do not encourage children to be in the courtroom during sensational trials. Why, then, does the author allow them inside? What is Lee’s purpose in seating them in the balcony? Why does Dill break down and cry? What do the children symbolize in this society? Think about these four questions before you submit your response to the drop-box. I expect more than a couple of sentences. THINK – what is her purpose in letting the children in to hear the testimony and observe the crowd?

Small Towns – Small Minds

Small towns thrive on gossip. A sensational trial like Tom Robinson’s will only add to the talk. Several of the older women in the novel categorize other citizens by social standing, heritage, etiquette and manners, yet they rarely mention true moral or ethical values as a criterion for judging someone’s character. As a way to evaluate your own feelings about these characters, place them in rank order from the most moral to the least moral. Then write a paragraph explanation of why you placed him/her in the two extreme positions.

  • Mr. Dolphus Raymond
  • Miss Maudie
  • Aunt Alexandra
  • Reverend Sykes
  • Judge Taylor
  • Bob Ewell
  • Mayella Ewell
  • Heck Tate

Create a class consensus ranking the morality of characters in the novel.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on crafting leads for their memoirs.

  • First period: choose a lead and create a final draft.
  • Second period: grammar work (online).
  • Fourth period: create two leads for your memoir.
  • Sixth period: complete the lead handout.

First period worked on leads. We looked at six examples:

  • The Dramatic Lead: I wouldn’t make it through the night without it.
  • Starting In the Middle Of a Scene: I was sure we’d find the blanket ripped and dirty.
  • Leisurely Lead: When I looked into my Grandma’s linen closet, I was amazed by the patchwork of color. Never had I seen so many different blankets. There were soft, fluffy chenille ones and old worn brown ones. Tucked in the middle, barely visible, with just a faded yellow corner sticking out, was the one I wanted.
  • Beginning At the Ending: I joyfully pulled the tattered corners around me and sighed as I settled into the corner of the chair.
  • Introducing the Narrator: I used to think I was different from everyone else – that I had a secret friend that no one else had. But I’ve come to realize that lots of people had special relationships with inanimate objects. Yes, I admit it. I had a “blankie.”
  • Dialogue Lead: “Only insecure, immature babies need to drag their blankets around with them!”

Students then worked in pairs to create similar leads for the memoirs.

Second period finished preparing for their oral presentations and gave the actual presentations. How many of them figured out that the point of the activity was the preparation and not the presentation itself? I’m not sure.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on diction, particularly improving diction by using specific nouns and action verbs.

  • First period: two full-paragraph leads for the memoir using two different lead types.
  • Second period:
    • read chapters 16-18;
    • finish online forum discussions;
    • prepare for part of speech test (next week);
    • work on grammar topics at
  • Fourth and sixth periods: third draft.