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.


Quotes and Diction

English 8 students worked on diction and voice.

We examined some passages from Nightjohn in which the narrator, Sarny, “sounds like a slave,” as one student aptly described.

We looked at the author’s use of non-standard grammar and non-standard vocabulary to create the voice of a slave.

English I Honors students continued working on their narrator and voice paragraph before beginning their jigsaw review of the parts of speech.


English 8 students worked on their Friday inference work that we will be doing through at least the first semester.

English I Honors students worked on their newest Schaffer paragraph, which is on point of view in “The Interlopers.”


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 

English I Honors students worked on planning a Schaffer paragraph based of the topic sentence we came up with yesterday. Here are the ideas they came up with today:

  • Third period:
    • TS: You can’t change the point of view from first person because the credibility of the narrator would be compromised through getting C’s pov on the mirror
    • CD1: Clara the only one interacting with mirror “Hey Gus.”
    • CD2: Mom discovers it but doesn’t interact (beginning)
  • Fourth period:
    • TS: You can’t change the pov from first person because the story would lose the mystery caused by an unreliable narrator.
    • CD: became less and less certain which side [of the mirror] was life and which reflection
    • CD: sound from which side

English 8 students had a quick lesson in how habits of today can shape their lives much further into the future than they might necessarily imagine. This was precipitated by the fact that so few students completed the short homework assignment from yesterday. Hopefully the thoughts shared were of use to the students.


  • English 8 Studies: complete the article of the week as necessary. (You should have your summary almost complete when you walk into class tomorrow.)
  • English I Honors: 
    • work on the “Dangerous Game” assessments;
    • read “The Interlopers” for tomorrow.
New POV and a New View of Literacy

English I Honors students began working on their newest literary criticism effort, this time dealing with the effect of point of view on the narrative structure. We began by exploring the truism that what you see depends on where you stand — so we stood in a few different, unusual locations to experience it literally. We also read “In the Family” as our first analytic piece.

English 8 students began a new unit with an overarching EQ, “How does literacy change lives?” We completed the anticipatory lesson today getting everyone ready and excited for the first novel of the year.


English I Honors students were working on their “Dangerous Game” paragraphs today. English 8 students had their first taste of Friday inference work. And journalism students continued their first round of assessments.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
Socratic Seminar, First Paragraph, and Assessments

English 8 students had their first Socratic Seminar today. It was, given the fact that it’s the first time we did it, a splendid success.

English I Honors students began planning their first analytic Schaffer model paragraph. We’re writing about “The Most Dangerous Game” and will continue it tomorrow, putting off our parts of speech project for a couple of days.

Journalism students turned in their first article and began the assessment process for the first time.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: work on the Schaffer planning for tomorrow (it will be due at the end of class).
  • Journalism: none.

English I Honors students began planning their first analytic paragraph using the Schaffer model. We’ll be working on it further tomorrow. For now, the notes for anyone who needs them are below.

English 8 students finished up their first application of effective readers’ skills. Anyone who is not done should finish it up for homework.

Journalism students worked on their first inverted pyramid story based on fairy tales.


  • English 8 Studies: work on “Thank You, Ma’am” annotations as needed (due tomorrow).
  • English I Honors: read (or reread) “The Most Dangerous Game.”
  • Journalism: complete the first inverted pyramid story by tomorrow for turn-in.
Class Notes

Notes for the day's classes are available here.

Please note that this is a composite file including notes from all classes, though occasionally it might only be one or two classes. I don't differentiate in the file; that is up to you to do.

English 8 students worked on applying the effective readers’ skills in groups using “Thank You, Ma’am” as the example text. We’ll continue working on it tomorrow.

English I Honors students began the short story unit in which we will learn how to analyze literature using the Schaffer Model for organization.

Journalism students began learning the Inverted Pyramid model that we use for all our writing. We went over the basic organizational principles of it and then practiced by writing news stories about fairy tales. We did the original Little Mermaid as a class.

An unknown girl was found dead on the Royal Beach this morning. Prince Erik requested a police investigation with autopsy to determine the cause and time of death. It is not clear whether the victim committed suicide or was the victim of some attack. Police Chief X had no comment as it is an ongoing investigation.

We’ll be working on the Inverted Pyramid for the rest of the year.


Analysis and Effective Readers

English I Honors students began looking at the difference between summarizing and analyzing by looking at a poem by Li-Young Lee called “The Gift” and examining example summaries and analyses of the poem.

English 8 students began looking at effective reader skills and applying it to “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes.

We will continue the work in groups tomorrow as we scaffold the practice to individual mastery.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • continue working on the benchmark test on Moodle (see below);
    • re-examine the analysis (from class today) for Schaffer completeness.
Writing and More Writing

All classes were writing today. English I was working on their Romeo and Juliet projects while English 8 students worked on a short writing assignment designed to preview what they’ll be doing in their own writing class next week.writing photo


  • English 8 Strategies: continue working on the article of the week.
  • English 8 Studies: 
    • continue working on the article of the week;
    • read the final scene of Diary of Anne Frank (act 2 scene 5).
  • English I Honors: 
    • continue working on the article of the week;
    • continue working on R&J project.

English 8 Strategies students continued with yesterday’s work of quote integration. We came up with some good examples of effective quote integration when we did our individual practice today:

  • For example, there are “people who just stop and talk” because they think they’re good and popular.
  • For example, so many people are trying to get to class and “[y]ou can’t get through the hall.”
  • For example, “[p]eople are pushing or shoving” because they’re mad, probably about something childish.
  • For instance, during the class change, people “just stop and talk.”
  • For example, Ms. Wade doesn’t like it when “[p]eople are pushing and shoving.”

English I Honors students finished the presentations in preparation for their coming poetry project (more information available at the Moodle site) and then turned to my personal favorite poem, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.”

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

We’ll be finishing up the poem (and two others similar) tomorrow.


Trust and Argument

English 8 students began their new schedule today:

  • Monday will be for covering a specific writing genre (argument first period).
  • Tuesday will be for writing and conferencing.
  • Wednesday will be for craft, focusing first period on sentence variety.
  • Thursday will cover grammar.
  • Friday will be a second writing/conferencing day or a makeup day if scheduling conflicts arise.

Today we began looking at the elements of the argument.

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A PDF of the above document is available here.

After covering the first three elements, which should be review from last year, we looked at a picture mystery in order to determine claims, evidence, and reasons for what happened in the image:

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First period’s notes
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Fifth period’s notes

English I Honors students continued looking at how to analyze literature and apply the Schaffer model to real-life writing. We continued with “In the Family” and the question of the untrustworthy narrator. I concluded by pointing out that while it seems the narrator is mentally ill and therefore not entirely trustworthy, it’s also an example of magical realism, which blurs the lines between reality and “magic,” which exists in the genre without the quotes.

Students worked in groups to determine whether or not the narrator is mentally ill (i.e., they looked for textual proof).


  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • prepare for a discussion about why the point of view of “In the Family” must be in first person in order to work;
    • read “The Cask Amontillado” for tomorrow (download here).
  • Journalism: none.

English I Honors students began the third story and analytic topic, which is the question of the trustworthiness of narrators in stories. We read and briefly analyzed “In the Family.”

English 8 Strategies completed a formal assessment of their understanding of the Schaffer writing model.

Creative writing students continued writing and conferencing,.


  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • complete the second analytic Schaffer paragraph, which is the character analysis of either Roger or Mrs. Jones from “Thank You, Ma’am”;
    • reread “In the Family,” looking for evidence for the following questions: Who is the narrator? Can we trust the narrator?
  • Journalism: none.
Shaffer Planning and Analysis

English I Honors students worked today on planning their second major Schaffer paragraph, this time on “Thank You, Ma’am” and its use of indirect characterization.

English 8 Strategies students continued with the Schaffer model, examining in depth the example we pieced together yesterday.

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In creative writing, after some initial writing, I decided we needed to solve a problem that I didn’t realize existed: lack of knowledge about other students. If we’re going to be working together this year to help each other with our writing, we need at least to know whom we’re talking to, so we did an introduction exercise. Not in the lesson plans, but critical nonetheless.


  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • students who received a 100 on the paragraph about  “The Most Dangerous Game,” please post it at this forum for all to see; if you didn’t get a perfect score, please check this forum regularly for examples for your edification;
    • the second Schaffer paragraph, which is on “Thank You, Ma’am,” will be due Monday, so students should be working on it in the meantime.
  • Journalism: none.