Students are now acquainted with many of the routines of 8th grade, and they are carrying out many of the staples of English class. By now students have written their first piece (a letter to me regarding their summer vacation), completed a vocabulary lesson, participated in a group presentation over their summer reading book, and started writing in their reading response journals.
What I find particularly impressive about the Class of 2013 is their level of academic preparedness. Right from the start they have impressed me as a cooperative bunch who are well prepared to learn. Kudos to this group of students, their parents, and their previous teachers. Thanks for coming in ready to learn!
Though it is early August as of this post, I am excited to meet the class of 2012 and would like to extend a warm welcome to you! I hope that you have had a restful summer break, and I look forward to meeting you for our first half-day of school on Wednesday, August 24th. We will kick off the school year with a review of your summer reading books, so be sure to tote these books to the beach with you if you haven’t finished them already.
Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Students have worked very hard on their “Word Museum” projects for the vocabulary in To Kill A Mockingbird, and their projects are now displayed in our room. By now we have had class discussions to introduce students to the book’s time period and major themes, such as discrimination, prejudice, equality, and education. Today we began reading and annotating the novel together. Because of the complex nature of the vocabulary and concepts in this novel, I anticipate reading the first two chapters as a read aloud and giving guidance for annotating the text.
Testing . . . testing . . . testing . . .
During the week of March 7 through March 11, eighth graders will be taking the Illinois Standards Achievement Test in math and reading. Good luck, students!
Students in eighth grade English are currently reading Warriors Don’t Cry, a memoir by Melba Pattillo Beals. Pattillo-Beals was one of nine African American students chosen to desegregate Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School during the 1957 – 1958 school year. The book recounts the frightening and appalling experiences that the author experienced at CHS that year. Though the book examines the terror and fear Pattillo and the other Little Rock Nine faced, it also highlights the courage and determination they showed during this momentous struggle for civil rights. Once students are finished reading and discussing the book, they will be asked to select one important theme to write an essay about. The focus of the essay will be on creating a specifically worded theme statement which states the author’s message about life or human relationships.
A central question we will explore when we read is: What can we do alone and with others to confront racism? How can we as individuals and as citizens make a positive difference in our school, community, and nation. We will also be looking at this book as an example of a written piece that blends informational text with narrative style.
Happy New Year! To kick off 2011, we will move away from our focus on fiction and dive into informational texts. We will begin by refreshing our memories about the strategic importance of using text features–boldface, italics, headings, and illustrations–to call attention to important information prior to reading. Next, we will review concepts such as proposition and support, as well as main idea and summary. After reviewing these terms, we will examine the difference between objective and biased treatment within a piece of text, and we will also continue working on reading skills, such as inference and unsupported inference.
In order to sharpen our skills when reading informational text, we will be working with consumable text–text that we can annotate and mark up! Our reading selections come from the Holt workbook, and include non-fiction articles from magazines such as Archaeology’s Dig, NOVA Online, and Zillions. Topics range from the history of music, to the Loch Ness Monster, and recycling.
Students in eighth grade English are currently reading and annotating John Steinbeck’s gripping novel Of Mice and Men. Throughout the school year, our class has focused on elements of literature that are important to interpreting works of fiction, such as setting, character, conflict, climax, and resolution. These are the items students are annotating while they read. Each student has been given his or her own personal copy to annotate–or take notes in–as he or she reads, and so far the result is that students are showing ownership of their work. Class discussions have been rich in ideas, textual support, analysis, and inferential thinking. In all, students are continuing to develop their skills as active readers.
This week saw the end of our literature circle unit, which covered the general topic of wilderness survival. At the beginning of the unit, students chose one of four books to read: Into Thin Air, Far North, Touching Spirit Bear, or Hide and Seek. Now that we are at the end of the unit, students are working with their groups to create a book jacket for their novels. They will design a cover for their book, write a summary, create a character resume, complete two vocabulary activities, write a diamante poem, and write a character analysis paragraph. Students will have class time on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to work on this project, and book jackets will then be on display in our classroom next week.
Now that we have done a few shared readings (Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” and Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”), students have had some practice identifying and discussing common elements in literature. Students have also been introduced to techniques and strategies for identifying theme. In order to practice these concepts further, students are now divided into small groups– literature circles–and will complete the study of a novel in a setting that more closely resembles a book club.
Earlier this month, students were presented with a book talk over three texts: Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer), Far North (Will Hobbs), and Touching Spirit Bear (Ben Mikaelsen). They were able to rank their choices, and self-select the title that most appealed to them. Students began reading and annotating their books last week: They have been identifying challenging vocabulary words, taking down details that establish setting, discovering actions of the protagonist, and talking about the types of conflict that emerge. For the next three weeks, students will be reading between 15 – 30 pages per night, annotating their texts, and then coming to class and meeting in their literature circles to discuss their books.
Welcome back, 8th graders! It’s been a terrific start to the school year, and I’m glad to report that we are ‘in the swing of things’ already. I am so impressed with this class of students. They are friendly and welcoming, especially to me and the six new students who came to Marie Murphy this year, and they are ready to get down to the business of school. By the end of our first full week of classes, 8th grade students have completed their first writing assignment–a letter of introduction from them to me–discussed their summer reading books, and taken on their first vocabulary assignment. Now that’s impressive!
Now that we are in the third full week of school, students have moved on to reading short stories and showing how literary elements work to enhance a story’s meaning. Soon students will become authors themselves! They will be asked to write an original piece using clues to foreshadow events that will happen later in the story. Stay tuned!