English I Honors students continued working through the opening pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, determining how Harper Lee creates such a convincing Southern voice.

English 8 students worked on their final text segment from the Frederick Douglass text.


Mood and Shakespeare

English 8 students began a second story in which we look at irony, tone, and mood: Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” We began by looking at all the items that establish the setting (circled in red) and the mood (underlined in blue).

English I Honors began Romeo and Juliet, focusing on the prologue.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: students who have not yet turned in their poetry test need to do so by tomorrow morning.
Tone Review and a Test

English 8 students worked tone a bit more after going over another term from our article of the week.

English I Honors students worked on their poetry unit test. We were not quite able to finish it, so we’ll have a few more minutes tomorrow to work on it.

Mood and the End of the Unit

English 8 students began reviewing some of the thinking behind the vocabulary in the Article of the Week.

Afterward, we finished up tone in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and worked on mood.

English I students finished up the last sonnet (130), determining what the couplet brought to the poem.

Finally, English I students had a practice session for tomorrow’s essay test on poetry.

We’ll be having our culminating test tomorrow, though students today received the questions:

  1. Identify tone and tonal shift of each poem. Make sure you quote specific passages of each poem in order to provide evidence.
  2. What is the lyric moment of each poem? What epiphany does the speaker have in each poem?
  3. Compare and contrast the two poems. How are the topics, tones, and lyric moments similar? How are they different?
  4. The author of these poems was an early writer of what’s called “confessional poetry,” in which the “I” in the poem is very often the poet himself/herself. It involves writing not about what’s going on in the world but what’s going on in the heart and mind of the poet. What can you infer about the author if we assume that the “I” in each poem is the poet himself?

Students will receive the two poems tomorrow and have the period to answer those four questions.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: to prepare for the test (if you want extra practice), go to and choose two poems with the same theme (look for the “Theme” menu on the right) and work to answer the questions above for those two poems. (Bear in mind that it might not always work: the poems I’ve chosen for the test work perfectly for these questions, but not all poems about the same theme will work.)
Sonnets and Tone

English 8 students looked at the question of tone (the author’s/narrator’s opinion of the subject at hand) in “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Definition and framing question

English I Honors students finished up their second sonnet, number twenty-nine.

Afterward, we began the final sonnet, number 130.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: do research necessary to complete the analysis of today’s sonnet.
Theme and Tone

English I Honors students finished up “The Lanyard” and our examination of tone in that poem. We discovered that the humor comes from the tone.

English 8 students looked at theme in Nightjohn.

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 Honors continued with tone, looking at “My Papa’s Waltz” after finishing “Do Not Go Gently.”

English 8 students continued with Nightjohn — sprinting to the finish.


  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • determine tone of “My Papa’s Waltz”;
    • begin working on final project for short story unit.

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.

All classes were engaged today in lit circles in one form or another. The only exception was English Studies, which went over briefly how to determine tone in a poem:

  1. Look for repetitions.
  2. Determine the positive or negative nature of the repetitions.
  3. Look for more examples of the positive or negative images or words.
  4. Determine a descriptive category to fit all the words or image into.



  • English 8 Strategies: 
    • read the portion of the class novel decided upon by your literature circle;
    • continue working on the article of the week.
  • English 8 Studies: 
    • read the portion of the class novel decided upon by your literature circle;
    • continue working on the article of the week.
  • English I Honors: 
    • continue with the Mockingbird allusions work (on Moodle);
    • read chapters 5-8 of Mockingbird;
    • continue working on the article of the week.

Today in class we read “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”.We went over the tone of the poem and discussed what the poem was about.We learned that this poem was a Tonal Shift poem which is a poem that shifts its tone at a certain time in a poem.And also that is was a Lyric Moment which we will find out tomorrow in class

Here are today’s notes:

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Socratic Seminars and Lyric Moments

English 8 Strategies students had a discussion in the form of a Socratic seminar about topics related to our final project for the quarter, analytic paragraphs about the selections they are reading in literature class.

For Flowers for Algernon, discussion questions were:

  1. Our relationships with other people are more important than our achievements.
  2. It is better to accept your fate than to try to change it. (“Fate” means destiny.)
  3. It is important to have empathy for others. (“Empathy” means more than sympathy: it means not just feeling sorry for someone but feeling the same thing with someone.)
  4. Sometimes, it’s better to remain ignorant about certain things. (“Ignorant” doesn’t mean stupid; it just means you don’t know something.)

For The Outsiders, discussion questions were:

  1. We can often misunderstand people for a very long time, and when we find out the truth, it can be too late.
  2. Sometimes, people’s lives aren’t what they seem. People who seem happy and liked are in fact miserable.
  3. Some people are so bad that they cannot be saved. There are people who are “past the point of return” and can not be turned into good people.
  4. Sometimes when people are abused, they come to see it as normal. For them, it’s almost not abuse any more but it’s simply “how things are.”
Fifth period conducting their Socratic seminar
Fifth period conducting their Socratic seminar

English I Honors students finished up tone by looking at the lyric moment of a poem and how it relates to the tonal shift. We noticed three things:

  1. It’s the “ah-ha!” moment of the poem, when we see what it’s truly about.
  2. It often accompanies the tonal shift.
  3. It appears toward the end of the poem.

We also went over the final project for the poetry unit, which is a recitation and analysis oral project. Details, examples, and a rubric is available at the Moodle site.

Creative writing students, after a mini-lesson on how we will be editing each others’ work in Google Drive, continued with existing projects.


Verb Phrases and Tone

English I Honors began a couple of days working with tone in writing, specifically in poetry. We began by saying the same sentence in various tones of voice in order to see what “tone” means in terms of voice.

We returned to “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” for a first attempt at determining tone.

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Our second attempt dealt with last night’s homework, “My Papa’s Waltz.” It was less successful, but only because the poem has historically been so very misunderstood.

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Students also received a list of tone words to begin using in discussing tone.

English 8 Strategies returned to grammar today as it is Thursday. We returned to verb phrases as we move slowly toward our ultimate goal of active and passive voice and sentence variety.

Creative writing students continued with existing projects after a short mini-lesson on how to interview people.


  • English 8 Strategies: numbers 6-11 from the Sentence Type 8 practice are due next Wednesday, October 8.
  • English I Honors: reread the poem “The Lanyard” and mark for words with heavy connotation
  • Journalism: none.
Tone Continued and Comparing Media

Today in first and fourth periods we looked at tone again and evaluated some more of Billy Collins’ poems. We mostly looked at “The Lanyard” because of the tone change.

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

We also watched Collins read a revised version of the play.

Second and seventh period, focusing on standard RL5: “Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.”

We compared the text in Anne’s originally published diary with what appears in the play:

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  • English 8 Strategies: Complete the comparison/contrast work from class as needed.
  • English I Honors: Look at the poems we’ve already read and try to find lyric moment (usually the place where the tone changes) on at least four of them.

Today in first and fourth periods we evaluated “My Papa’s Waltz” and started on “Forgetfulness”. We also talked about and learned to identify tone and mood in a poem.

Second and fourth periods began reading the dramatization of Anne Frank’s diary, looking at the specific textual elements of drama.


  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • Look at “Forgetfulness” and identify what is forgotten, the connection between them, and fill out the poem’s section on the chart.
    • Start on Quarter 2 Project with stems.
    • Start on “tone vocabulary.”