English I Honors students went over the project for Romeo and Juliet. We will be working on transition paragraphs soon, and the project itself will be starting up shortly.

English 8 students reviewed the “Aha” moment in The Diary of Anne Frank (see notes below). We also started the newest reading signpost, the “Memory Moment,” which is also included in the notes below.

  • English 8 Strategies: 
    • complete today’s text about the Memory Moment, marking the final section of the handout for existing Memory Moments.
    • continue working on the article of the week.
  • English 8 Studies: 
    • complete today’s text about the Memory Moment, marking the final section of the handout for existing Memory Moments.
    • continue working on the article of the week.
  • English I Honors: 
    • make sure you can locate an electronic copy of your “Tell-Tale Heart” project from the first quarter;
    • make sure you’re caught up on the reading (you should have finished the play now);
    • continue working on the article of the week.
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 Strategies and Studies students worked to complete yesterday’s online discussion work. Students who were done with that had the rest of the period to work on any missing/make-up work.

English I Honors students worked on their social media projects and their “Decoration Day” writing projects.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • finish up the social media project by tomorrow;
    • work on “Decoration Day” as needed.

English I Honors students are approaching the end of the poetry unit by looking at villanelles today. They used inductive reasoning (specifics to general) to determine what a villanelle is. To get a headstart on the second quarter, students can finish the poem they began in class for a few points of extra credit on a major assignment in the second quarter.

English Strategies (fourth period) finished up the final project of the quarter, and English Studies (fifth period) conducted their debate — the first of the year, but not the last.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: optional (for extra credit): complete the villanelle you began in class.

English I Honors finished up with Collins’s “The Lanyard” and moved toward the end of our work on tonal shift and the lyric moment by looking at Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” my personal favorite. We will finish with “One Art” tomorrow before moving on to a very special type of poem at the end of the lesson (and probably a little Monday).

English 8 Studies (fifth period) and English 8 Strategies (fourth period) both worked on culminating projects for Nightjohn.


English Studies completed the argument review in preparation for this week’s debate about the two presentations of Sarny we’ve now covered.

English Strategies continued viewing selected scenes from the film version of Nightjohn. We’ll be finishing the work up with a short project at the end of the week.

Connotation Completion, Project Completion, and a Facebook Page

English Strategies students (fourth period) worked on some culminating work for Nightjohn by creating Facebook pages for various characters in the novel. It was a fun activity that made sure all students had a firm grasp on the plot, characters, and setting of the story.

English Studies students (fifth period) had a final day to work on projects.

English I Honors students finished up “Those Winter Sundays1-Fullscreen capture 10142015 33516 PM

We’ll be turning to sound devices and tone next week.

English Studies (fifth period) began looking at the film version of Nightjohn to compare it to the book. We’ll be working on this all week.

English Strategies (fourth period) completed chapter five, with a few comprehension questions and some more theme work.

English I Honors began looking at the role connotation plays in poetry by looking at Lorna Dee Cervantes’ poem “Starfish.”

They were lovely in the quartz and jasper sand
As if they had created terrariums with their bodies
On purpose; adding sprigs of seaweed, seashells,
white feathers, eel bones, miniature
mussels, a fish jaw. Hundreds; no-
thousands of baby stars. We touched them,
surprised to find them soft, pliant, almost
living in their attitudes. We would dry them, arrange them,
Form seascapes, geodesics…We gathered what we could
In the approaching darkness. then we left hundreds of
thousands of flawless five-fingered specimens sprawled
Along he beach as far as we could see, all massed
Together: little martyrs, soldiers, artless suicides
In lifelong liberation from the sea. So many
Splayed hands, the tide shoveled in.

We focused on the words “martyrs” and “shoveled” (bold in the poem above).

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: complete the themes project by Wednesday.
  • English I Honors: complete the poetry forum question for “Starfish” and then respond to three others’ replies.

It’s Friday — homework only today.

  • English 8 Strategies: begin reading your student-choice book from today.
  • English 8 Studies: do the recording for the Nightjohn project if you haven’t already.
  • English I Honors: turn in your “Tell-Tale Heart” project by midnight on the Moodle site (most of you have already turned it in).
Introduction, Project, and Summaries

English I Honors dug into Billy Collins’s “Introduction to Poetry.” We used some of the basic skills of poetic interpretation and came up with some really messily annotated papers.

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English Strategies (fourth period) students continued with Nightjohn and really got summarizing down, I believe. We’ll be having some more work on it throughout the end of this quarter, but it appears to be a skill that most of the students are close to mastering.

English Studies (fifth period) continued working on their Nightjohn theme projects.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: record slide narration for project on your phone as needed.
  • English I Honors: continue working on the short stories project, which is due Friday.

English 8 Strategies (fourth period) did some work on summarizing as well as using specific effective readers’ skills. We’ll finish chapter five tomorrow.

English 8 Studies (fifth period) worked on their final project for Nightjohn.

English I Honors (sixth and seventh periods) tried their hand at interpreting a poem by Billy Collins:

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

We’ll finish up tomorrow.

English Studies (fifth period) worked on their Nightjohn project. We’ll have a couple of more days to work on this.

English I Honors continued with the introductory lesson on the poetry unit. We worked on an intuited list of things to keep in mind and to do to understand a poem.

Sixth period’s list:

  1. Read it multiple times.
  2. Determine the meaning of ALL unknown words.
  3. Connect related ideas visually.
    1. Pronouns and antecedents
    2. How words are connected to the title and other parts of the poem.
    3. Look for parallels (same number, same anything)
  4. Underline key words
  5. Ask questions
  6. Know what is happening in the poem
    Realize the difference between literal (word-for-word actual reality) and figurative (metaphor)

Seventh period’s list:

  1. Read poem MULTIPLE times, always including the title.
  2. Identify words you don’t know.
  3. Figure out what’s physically, actually happening.
  4. Connect visually related parts of poem
    1. Pronouns and antecedents
    2. Different parts of poem
    3. Patterns (like numbers of items)
    4. Determine key words
  5. Keep in mind literal (what is happening in reality) and figurative (metaphor)

We also looked at a poem by Denise Levertov:

Denise Levertov

After I had cut off my hands
and grown new ones

something my former hands had longed for
came and asked to be rocked.

After my plucked out eyes
had withered, and new ones grown

something my former eyes had wept for
came asking to be pitied.

English Strategies (fourth period) continued with Nightjohn. We worked again on applying effective readers’ skills.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • be prepared to explain something about the poem “Intrusion” during your starter;
    • continue working on the “Tell-Tale Heart” final project.
  • Journalism: none.

I’m in the midst of grading English I Honors students’ second major writing assignment, and I’m very pleased with the improvement I’m seeing. I’m so impressed, in fact, that I think the assignment might have become too easy for them, so the good news, English I students, is that we’ll make the next assignment just a bit more difficult.

English Strategies had divided work today with some students beginning a group project that will continue through Nightjohn and others working on individual work.

English Studies (fifth period) spent some time working on the Nightjohn themes project and then having a Socratic Seminar about what Sarny is risking in Nightjohn as she begins to learn to read.

English I Honors students began the third section of the short story analysis unit, reading the bizarre story “In the Family” by Maria Elena Llano.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the character writing for “Thank You, M’am,” which is due tomorrow at midnight (a little over 32 hours from now).

English Strategies (fourth period) began working in earnest on the reader’s journal mini-project that goes along with the Nightjohn unit.

English Studies (fifth period) began an additional enrichment project that will look at three motifs/themes in the novel: power, money, and freedom.

English I Honors began the second writing assignment in the short stories unit with a modeled paragraph to show one last time the way to use the Schaffer model in planning and writing a paragraph. Sixth period’s paragraph:

The old man is motivated to take care of the animals because of his emotional attachment to them, which probably arose from his loneliness. To begin, when asked if about his family, the old man explains that “only the animals” have any real significance for him. It’s possible that he didn’t have family or perhaps that he had no real close friends. Clearly, though, the animals are of great significance to him. Therefore, he stayed behind “taking care of the animals” and was in fact “the last one to leave San Carlos.” This was a great risk to his very life, and it shows just how important the animals were to him. He would have rather died with the animals than leave them to fend for themselves.

Seventh period’s paragraph:

The old man’s loneliness motivates him to take care of the animals because they had likely become the only family he had. For example, when the narrator asks about the old man’s family, the man explains that he has “only the animals” he’d mentioned earlier. Perhaps he had no family or friends and that was what originally motivated him to take care of the animals. As he did this, he grew closer and closer to the animals and they became something like a family to him. Therefore, the old man was “the last to leave the town of San Carlos” because he was still “taking care of the animals.” In doing so, the old man was literally risking his life. When we consider, however, how important the animals were to him, it’s only logical because everyone will risk their life for family.

We will begin applying these skills to the story “Thank You, M’am” tomorrow.

Journalism students went over the photo work from earlier this week and began their newly assigned jobs as we transform the classroom into a newsroom.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • reread “Thank You, M’am” for class tomorrow;
    • evaluate (as necessary) the first writing assignment on the Moodle site.
  • Journalism: none.
Full Return

With English I Honors students having their End of Course Exam behind them now (what a relief for them, I know), we returned to business as usual. Fourth period students finished a round-up of all the work they completed while I was out.

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Class notes

We had two writing assignments students finished during my absence, so there was a good amount of catching up and debriefing to do.

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Class notes

We also set some due dates for the end of the year:

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Due dates

It looks like a horrible amount of work for the end of the year, but I have a reputation to worry about.

Sixth period English I Honors students looked at how Harper Lee increased tension in the trial scene of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s about the sixth possible topic for the end-of-the-unit project, which we will be completing in record time. (See the above note about reputation.)

English 8 Strategies students continued working on their final project.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: fourth period students: read chapters 11 and 12 by tomorrow. (And complete all the work in the image above!) sixth period students: read chapter twenty-four by tomorrow — twice.
  • Journalism: none.