effective readers’ skills

English I Honors students worked on Billy Collins’s poem “The Lanyard” as we finish up looking at tone, tonal shift, and the lyric moment.

English 8 students worked on completing Nightjohn and applying effective readers’ skills on their own.


  • English 8 Studies: complete chapter 7 and the epilogue “Words” as well as the effective readers’ skills “It Says/I Say” graphic organizer (as needed).
  • English I Honors: 
    • review for the parts of speech test next week;
    • determine the part of speech for the nonsensical words in bold italics and be prepared to explain your reasoning:
      • The big green flibbhie went down the road in a huff.
      • I don’t know what kind of kjbile student you think you are!

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 I Honors students finished up their third paragraph in the Schaffer analytic/short story unit. We began working on the fourth and final single paragraph, which is on irony and symbolism.

English 8 students finished up chapter three in Nightjohn.


English I Honors students completed the parts of speech presentations. They’ve now covered all eight parts of speech:

  • nouns
  • pronouns
  • adjectives
  • verbs
  • adverbs
  • prepositions
  • conjunctions
  • interjections

We’ll begin practicing and quizzing on it next week.

They also began planning their third analytic Schaffer model paragraph, this time on “Thank You, Ma’am.”

English 8 students worked through chapter three of Nightjohn. We’re working toward mastery of effective reader’s skills by implementing a modified “It Says/I Say” strategy.


  • English 8 Studies: complete today’s work on chapter three.
  • English I Honors: 
    • determine a TS and quotes for a CD from today’s Schaffer planning work;
    • determine the part of speech for each of these sentences:
      • All people should ask themselves if they are doing the best they can with the talents they have.
      • All gave some; some gave all.
      • It seems unlikely that anyone could hold their breath for such a very long time, but the world record is over twenty-four minutes.
Socratic Seminar and Background Knowledge

English 8 students began their new unit on Nightjohn. We began building background knowledge today so that we can make better sense of the book as we begin.

English I Honors students had their first Socratic Seminar today. We’ll be doing this throughout the year, and today’s was just an introductory exercise. After the session, students had a few minutes to work with their groups for the parts of speech project.


  • English 8 Studies: complete the text begun in class.
  • English I Honors: 
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 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.

English I Honors students looked at their first formal poetic form, the villanelle. We came up with a few rules for villanelles after looking at three of them, including a poem we’d already explored.

English 8 students read chapter 6 of Nightjohn and began reviewing for the coming test this week on effective readers’ skills, the novel, and our stems.


  • English 8 Studies: complete the work begun in class.
  • English I Honors: continue working on the short story project, due Wednesday.
Tonal Shift and Chapter Five

English 8 students continued working with Nightjohn, working through chapter five, the final long chapter.

English I Honors students began looking at Billy Collins’s “The Lanyard,” going over the homework and discovering a few new things.


Afterward, they got turned loose on their own with a new poem for complete analysis, Billy Collins’s “Forgetfulness.”


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the analysis of “Forgetfulness” by answering the following questions:
    • Where is the tonal shift?
    • What is the tone above the shift?
    • What is the tone below the shift?
    • What constitutes the epiphany of the lyric moment?

English 8 students began working on chapter four from Nightjohn. We’re having a final practice of effective readers’ skills before next week’s test.

English I Honors students began looking at the question of tone in a poem. We’ll move to tonal shift tomorrow as we begin looking for the lyric moment.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the work with “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” from class.
Poetry and Finishing Chapter 3

English 8 students finished working on effective readers’ skills and chapter three from Nightjohn. We’ll be moving on to the next chapter tomorrow after we debrief today’s work.


English I Honors students began our new unit, which focuses on poetry. We started with “Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry.”

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

We’ll be looking at other poems through out the next weeks, applying the same process to increasingly difficult work.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the paragraph on irony or symbolism analyzing “The Necklace” or “The Gift of the Magi.”
Socratic Planning and Effective Readers' Skills

English 8 students continued with their effective readers’ skills work for chapter three of Nightjohn.


English I Honors students had a Socratic Seminar to discuss the two stories students have to choose from for their final writing in the short story unit.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: write the final paragraph about irony or symbolism in either “The Necklace” or “The Gift of the Magi.”
Character and Effective Readers

ernest hemingway photo
Photo by The U.S. National Archives

English I Honors continued with their short stories unit by looking at the next story, “The Old Man on the Bridge” by Hemingway. English 8 students worked with effective readers’ skills.


  • English 8 Studies: complete today’s in-class work on slave codes and effective readers’ skills.
  • English I Honors: find three pieces of evidence in the text (download here) that the old man has lost his family and is caring for the animals because they’re all that’s left him.