Friday Work and Connotation

English I students finished up their work on connotations in “Those Winter Sundays.” We also did a little work on parts of speech in preparation for next week’s test. The kids will be having an essay question on their test, so we went over what exactly that might loo like.

The students in English 8 had their normal Friday inference work.

English I Honors students looked at a lovely poem by Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays.”

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

We looked at a different version of the poem that removes some of the connotations that make the poem so pregnant with meaning. We’ll be finishing up tomorrow.

English 8 students finished up chapter 5 from Nightjohn, which is a moving and somewhat disturbing chapter. We practiced again effective readers’ skills and looked for the various motifs we have discovered, which will help us determine the theme of the work.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • work on final project (short stories);
    • determine the parts of speech for all words in the first stanza of today’s poem;
    • work on extra credit (as needed).
Poetry and Chapter Four Complete

English 8 students finished chapter 4 in Nightjohn. We began a quiz that we’ll finish up tomorrow.

English I Honors students finished up “Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry” as our introduction to poetry.

Students should now have some idea of how we’ll be looking at these poems through the rest of the unit.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • finish determining the part of speech of each word of the rest of the poem;
    • finish your assessments by tomorrow;
    • continue working on the final short story project;
    • continue working on the extra credit opportunity as necessary.

English I Honors students have an opportunity for extra credit for this first quarter. Students can write additional analytic paragraphs about the five stories we examined. These paragraphs will be worth up to five points each applied to individual past assignments. The due date is Wednesday 18 October.

Poetry and Motifs

English 8 students worked on their motif work for Nightjohn. We’ll be finishing up the novel shortly and using all the motif work to determine themes of the novel.

English I students worked on the new unit, which is an introduction to poetry. Many students had some misgivings. When completing a Pear Deck session on initial thoughts about poetry, students finished the sentence “When I think about reading and studying poetry, I…” with things like:

  • start to break down and cry as I realize that my grade is about to go the direction of the Titanic and hit the ground harder than a 747 that experienced an engine failure at 30,000 feet.
  • scream illiterately into a pillow while crying tears of poems, while Elmo’s World plays full-blast on my television.
  • want to die.
  • I want to slam my head against the wall.
  • get the need to shut my brain down.

Clearly, the students were apprehensive about starting.

We began by looking at some basic steps on how to understand a poem. We’ll be finishing it up tomorrow.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • write a summary of the poem on the back on the sheet, remembering that we’re just looking at what is happening in the poem, not what it means;
    • continue working on the short story final project;
    • begin working on the extra credit assignment (as needed).

Homework only today. It’s Friday; we’re tired.


English I had a final day with the fourth paragraph — it was a day longer than I’d anticipated, perhaps more, but quality is important.

English 8 students finished up chapter four of Nightjohn.


English 8 students worked on their lit group readings of chapter four of Nightjohn. We’ll be finishing up the chapter tomorrow.

English I Honors students worked on their final paragraph for their final assignment before the major project.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the symbolism/irony paragraph for turn in tomorrow (5 October) in class.

English I Honors students worked on the topic sentence for their most challenging assignment so far: the paragraph on symbolism. Students worked in pairs to flesh out and improve their topic sentences and do some preliminary writing on the topic.

English 8 students embarked on a mini-project of sorts, working to complete Nightjohn chapter four and all the accompanied work with relatively little guidance from the teacher — a scaffolded approach to group work.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: prepare your two quotes for your CDs in the paragraph.
Motifs and Symbols

English I Honors debriefed the latest writing assignment and began thinking about the final one before the big project — three paragraphs, completely on their own. It’s a daunting challenge but they’ll do fine.

English 8 students finally returned to chapter three to finish up motif work as groups after beginning this week’s article of the week.