Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Character Gallery

Today our classroom turned into an gallery in order to post and view our Character Unit Projects. Be sure to ask your student all about his or her character project! Here are some pictures of the example I created for students.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

White Elephant Exchange

My "Last Day Before Holiday Vacation" tradition is to host a $3.00 maximum White Elephant Gift Exchange. I have many hilarious memories from past exchanges and look forward to seeing what this years group comes up with.

For those who have never played, here is some background on the game:

What is a White Elephant Gift Exchange?
All attendees of a white elephant party are expected to bring one wrapped gift. Traditionally, a white elephant present is something unusual, somewhat useless, or inconvenient. Trinkets, strange knick knacks, unidentifiable kitchen items, and the like are typical white elephants, and guests are asked to wrap them nicely and to leave no identifying markings on the presents. Part of the white elephant game is often a series of guesses as to who brought which present.
History of White Elephant Gift Exchange:
The term white elephant refers to a gift whose cost exceeds its usefulness, it's a gift that costs the recipient more than the giver. It comes from a practice of emperors giving sacred white elephants to aristocrats they did not like. You could not, kill, give away, or sell the sacred white elephant. But you had to feed and care for it. For many many years. After a rich man had a few of these, he was no longer rich.
emperor 1, lord 0
How to play:
Usually, attendees draw numbers or cards to indicate player order. Strategic white elephant players try to end up somewhere in the middle of the game. The white elephant gifts are piled in a central location, and game play begins when one person opens the first gift. The contents are displayed to the room, and the next player’s turn begins.
The second player may either open a new present from the stack or steal the first player’s gift. If the second player takes the first player's white elephant, the first player must open a new present. A gift may only be stolen once a turn. After the second player’s turn is complete, the third player proceeds with the same options, and so forth until the game is finished.
Some white elephant parties impose a rule that a gift may only be stolen three times, requiring careful strategizing in the case of large multiplayer games. Sometimes, players band together to create advantageous trades amongst each other, although some white elephant exchanges forbid collaboration. In some cases, traditional gifts make their way back to white elephant parties year after year, and players can trace the history of lavish fur coats, hideous
gravy boats, and other examples through the years.
White Elephant Gift Ideas: (Here are some of the crazy things I've seen over the years)
$2.00 bills
A dime in a ring box
Dog treats
Household items
Toilet Paper Dispenser
Crocheted Potholders
Package of Napkins
Little Girls Make-up kit
Little Dolls
Toy cars
Home-made puppets
Boxes of Soap
Dental Floss
McDonald's Play Toys
Framed pictures of your student, autographed
Anything from the $1.00 store
Happy Planning!

Chocolate Party Thursday

With the completion of our Character Novel, The Outsiders, we will be viewing the movie version on Thursday in class. To celebrate we will honor the tradition of the Curtis boys, "eating chocolate cake for breakfast," with a Walker Chocolate Party! Today your child will be bringing home a permission form to view the movie, previously rated PG but re-released 2 years ago with a PG-13 rating due to violence and mild language. My classes are SO excited to view the movie version of this timeless novel written by a 16 year-old girl in 1967.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Far too long...

So I'm afraid that I've fallen off a bit in terms of staying on top of this blog. Between basketball and major projects, the blog has not been updated in quite awhile. I apologize for that, and will be getting back into it this week! I just posted our Starfish winners for the past 2 months and will be posting student projects later this week, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New blog link

I've created a new blog link for my C squad basketball team. This link gives our game recaps and scoring titles for the boys. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sample of Character Letter

The following documents are for your child's next major response, a letter to the character in their novel. We will be working on several items in class so I'm the final draft of this reponse will be due on Friday, December 17th, but we will be working on the drafts beginning in 2 weeks. They will receive in class time and instruction to work on this response so all they need to be doing is READING and TAKING NOTES about a character-driven book. They will be choosing character-driven books in the library tomorrow, November 14.
Here is the writing assignment and a sample...

Letter to your Character
Your assignment now that you are halfway through your character novel is to write a letter to the main character. Your letter must include the following:

Section 1
Introduce yourself and explain to your character what you know about him or her so far. (This will be a brief summary of what your character has experienced)

Section 2
Ask 1 or 2 questions that you want to know in order to understand your character better. Ask your character the question and then explain why this would help you to know him or her better.

Section 3
Describe something your character did and then explain to your character if you thought this was a good choice or not. Also, explain how you would have handled the same situation.

Section 4
What do you like or admire about your character. Explain this to him or her and remind the character how you came to find out this quality about him or her.

Section 5
Conclude your letter by wishing your character well in whatever challenges he/she is facing. Also, you can make a prediction about how he or she will “end up” at the end of the novel if it seems appropriate. (See example)

Total ________/40

Sample Letter:
Dear Khyber,

I’m Natalie Guymon and I’m so excited to be able to write you a letter. I know that you are probably out playing in the park with David and Daniel or having a sandwich with X in the park. However, I thought you might also like to get some mail. Now that I have learned about you and your family I am so interested in learning about autism. It sounds like you are really good with your brothers; you must be so upset about them possibly going to a boarding school! I can’t believe that Tammy is doing that! It must be hard to concentrate on school with that going on. That is why I don’t blame you for hitting Tiffany. Actually, there is a girl at my school that makes fun of me like that. Sometimes I just wish that I could get back at her like you did, but I know that I’d get in lots of trouble for doing that too!

I just have some questions for you, Khyber, that are really bothering me. I want to know why you hate your dad so much. How old were you when he lived with you? Did you ever have a good relationship with him? What did he do? Was he abusive? Did he leave you, Tammy, David and Daniel? I wish that I knew this because I feel like I would know more about what struggles you have gone through. Also, this would help me to relate to you. I know people that have had bad relationships with their fathers and maybe this would help me understand how you are feeling about him. I know that it might be hard to talk about it, but if you feel comfortable, will you please tell me what happened?

Khyber, I just found out about the windows in Mrs. Melon’s classroom. I know that you were out looking for X when the windows were broken, but the Principal and Tammy don’t believe you. How could you let them think that you did that? I know that Tammy started to talk bad about X, but you should have stood up for yourself. I think that it would be really hard to face all those adults, but you are so strong and so right most of the time. You can’t give up that easily. Tammy has to believe you. I wish that you had given her a chance. I’m scared for you that you won’t be able to attend school now. I wish that your school had cameras around the outside so that they could have seen who was at the school. That would really make things easier for you!

Khyber I love learning about how strong and opinionated you are. It seems that no matter how badly people treat you or judge you, you always know that you are better then that. I remember when that social worker came to see your family and you said that she looked like “she couldn’t wait to wash her hands when she left,” that must have hurt your feelings so bad, but you never let it show. Instead, you just stood up to her and didn’t let her see that it bothered you. This also shows me that you are confident enough to know that what other people say and do isn’t necessarily right. It must be hard to not let other people’s judgments get you down, but somehow you really do seem to keep a good attitude. I admire you for that!

I hope that this letter finds you soon. I know that things are hard right now with you, Tammy, David and Daniel. I wish you the best with making amends with Tammy, and that she understands how hard it will be for you if David and Daniel really do leave and live in a boarding school. No matter what she decides to do, I think that she will make sure that you and she will always be close to David and Daniel. She loves them too much also to be too far away!


Natalie Guymon

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Me" week

Last week in class I gave students a writing prompt to choose their favorite holiday of the year and explain why it was their choice. In my example, I stated that my favorite holiday is a "Me" day because I can have them as many times as I want throughout the year, the focus is all about "Me," and I don't feel guilty for sleeping in, or shopping, (or apparently buying a puppy dog 3 states away from my home! After their intial questioning period, "Is that a real holiday?" "Can we have "me" day's too???" they decided that a "Me" day sounded like a pretty cool thing. Well, from Friday to early Wednesday morning I got to have a "Me" week. My husband and I went to Phoenix, Arizona for a wonderful desert getway! I promised students that I would chronicle everything, and "blog" it when I returned so the next few responses will be all about my big trip!
"Hi guys, hope your not missing me! I'm having a blast in Arizona, but still thinking about you back at school!" "Hmm... Did I leave the barn door open back at the farm?" "Do I have to go home??? Me week should last forever!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Phoenix International Raceway

My husband has raced stock cars locally for most of his life. Racing is a passion in my family that at one time I thought I didn't inherit, but have come to love! Scott surprised me with tickets to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in Phoenix, AZ. Our wonderful friend Becky got us garage passes which meant that we were able to mingle amongst the NASCAR elite, and I could see my favorite driver Carl Edwards up close and personal. Amazingly, when we went up to our grandstand seats we looked down a few rows and saw our Prosser neighbor, Jeff Hall with his good buddies. It's such a small world isn't it?
Standing on pit row during Nationwide Qualifying

This is the opening of the tunnel that goes underneath the racetrack and into the pits.
Phoenix International Raceway!
And... Carl Edwards won--the Nationwide race anyway! This was in the winner's circle after his famous backflip.
Thank you Becky, you are such an amazing friend!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rawhide Steakhouse

One place I was sure to visit on my vacation was the Rawhide Steakhouse. Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse at Wild Horse Pass features old West family fun with a variety of rides, attractions and games! Here are some pictures from our visit, and the web address if you'd like to learn more should you find yourself in Chandler, AZ in the near future!

Scott just couldn't understand why I wouldn't pull him around playground!
Little bit of target practice...
Apparently I need much more practice!

Food, glorious food...

Phoenix International Sausage Dog. Yum!!!

One of the things I realized on my vacation was how much it was centered around giant quantities of food! I began to take pictures of the mega-meals we encountered, looking at them makes me hungry all over again!
Ruby's diner, which was my FAVORITE place to eat when I lived in Southern California, is this great little 50's joint where the service is friendly and the food is great!
Another all-time favorite is IN-N-Out burger, this fast food restaurant prides itself on the freshness of their product. Boy had I missed their burgers!
Delicious ribs from the Rawhide Steakhouse. Rawhide was this awesome old western town setting. It was a really fun atmosphere with entertainment and great food!
Some of the best pizza I've ever eaten! This was what we ordered when we got back from the racetrack late at night! This pizza place was right in the middle of the ASU (Arizona State University) campus.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Phoenix Purchase

When visiting Phoenix Mills Mall, my husband made the mistake of visiting a pet store... Soon my cell phone rang and he said, "You have to come down here right now!" I think I now believe in love at first sight! This little puppy stole our hearts in an instant and we were in BIG TROUBLE! We walked away for a day, but immediately returned the next morning and bought this little guy. When we were playing with him Scott's sunglasses fell from his head, the puppy pounced and a name was born. So here are some pictures of our new puppy, Oakley!
Staying still is not his thing!!!
Checking out his new backyard...

10 weeks old, Golden Retriever, survived his first plane ride and 3 hour drive home from the airport and pretty much will play ALL DAY along if you'll let him!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sometimes, it doesn't take much...

So, this isn't really exciting classroom news for anyone other than me, but since I started teaching in Prosser I have wanted a flat screen monitor for my computer rather than the bulky one that practically hit my in the face from my computer stand. Well today, Dean Smith, our amazing technology coordinator surprised me by sending over the fabulous high school tech kids with my very own new LCD monitor. It may not sound that exciting to most people, but in a small district like ours, getting new technology is pretty incredible and most likely the result of an individual's effort to write these long tedious grants to secure funds for the district, not an easy feat. So I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Dean, Alan and the rest of our tech staff, you guys work well beyond the classroom hours, and deal with an insurmountable amount of chaos on a daily basis-I don't know how you do it-but I'm grateful that you do!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Partner-Letter Essays

On October 31, student's must have completed their independent book. On the following Monday they will be given class time to complete the first draft of their partner-letter essay using the attached format. They will need to complete their final draft as homework and have their Letter-Essay ready to be turned in to their partner on:
Wednesday, November 5.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Students get their say...

Today if you look around the blog you'll notice a few more comments here and there. Ula Ula didn't get the chance to comment yet, but the other class links will show various student answers to a classroom prompt. It's a great way for parents (and myself) to view student reflections about the work we've done so far this year. Additionally, editing tools are not provided on the comment section, so our student comments are an excellent editing opportunity. The National Project found that student learn best how to edit when viewing real writing work done by themselves and their peers. We will be using these comments as a way to say, "Look at how great the content of what you're saying is, but what do you think people might focus on and say when they view your comment?"

One more week in the first quarter, great job students for all the hard work you've completed!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Everything's more fun with food!

The lesson above is a "snapshot" of what was used for our classroom lesson last Thursday. (Ula Ula won't be forgetting this one any time soon-18 Principals, Vice Principals, and Building Coaches standing around watching your every move tends to linger in the mind of the young--and the old for that matter!)
I call this lesson the Oreo cookie lesson since the hook is completed for me, just by placing a bag of Oreo cookies on the corner of my desk... Each child is first given a napkin and a cookie in an agonizingly slow procession where they must watch each of their classmates receive their treat, but then hear the instruction that they may only look at their tasty morsel, and not savor any of it's chocolaty goodness. We then take time to write about the procedural aspects of what has occurred in class so far, and take notice that this writing is very impersonal, very procedural--and somewhat dull!
Now that students have written and responded with those around them, we clarify the difference between critical thinking and analytical thinking. Those differences will be charted in a mini-lesson I will post tomorrow, but for tonight, it's all about the cookie lesson. After making sure we understand the basic differences between these two types of responses for reading, it is finally time to relish that cookie that has sat motionless and defeated on it's napkin throughout. It's amazing how slowly teenagers will eat when they are only given one cookie and have had to wait nearly 40 minutes before being allowed to taste it... For our finale, we then write a descriptive "show" writing paragraph full of our individual opinions of the activity, ripe with self-expression for our love of Oreo cookies!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prosser students making headlines!

One of the difficult things about teaching is letting go when students move on to the next level. As teachers we are so fortunate to watch the kids of our community grow over the course of the year and if we are lucky, they stay in touch and let us know what happens after they leave our doors on that final day in June. One student who has made a major impact on my life both acadmically and through sports is Helen Petersen. Helen was in my 7th grade class my first year in Prosser. Her class was one of my all-time favorites, and coming off a few difficult years with another district, these kids renewed my faith in our future generation. Helen volunterered to help me coach the boy's soccer team and truly took on an Assistant Coach role where she was often much tougher on the boy's than I was! But amazingly, they respected her talent and wisdom and chose to learn from her, showing her strong leadership ability.

Helen is not only an amazing athlete, which I knew from the minute I watched her play soccer and basketball, but an awesome human being who has such an intense love and passion for her family that it rivals anyone I've ever known. Pretty amazing for a 15-year-old. Mr. and Mrs. Petersen, you've done an amazing job raising your kids and I'm so grateful that Helen and Charlie have a been a part of my teaching life! Today the Tri-City Herald posted this article about Helen and if you didn't get a chance to check it out please visit this link and do so!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homophones-words that sound the same but are spelled differently!

Today the three classes engaged in a bit of a healthy competition for who could create the most homophone pairs of words. Ula Ula came up with 44, and after much debate it was settled that Mele Mele had reached the same number, but not one more as they so had hoped to do.

One of the competition rules was that the words had to be common words and no slang could be used. Mele Mele attempted to display bought and bot (as in robot.) I of course vetoed this response so they asked Mr. Heitschmidt for help in proving me wrong and found it in the dictionary; "bot-the botfly’s larva" I explained that although creative, this would be the tiebreaker and it simply wasn’t common language but I wasn’t counting on their response that every science teacher uses it! So I said, ok if you can get 1 science teacher to say it today—without giving them any hints or saying the word in anyway—or looking it up in a dictionary I will count it. Though our dedicated scientists had many synonyms for larva, not one was able to produce the word the students desired to hear. Mrs. Flores' dictionary didn’t even have the word so Evan came to get mine to prove to her it was really even in there! It was a fun competition and a great way that we "accidentally" combined subject area knowledge and learned something new along the way!

Finally, Oma Oma, the smallest of the 3 classes, was able to create the largest list with 49 pairs of homophones. They did so with the help of one all-star named Gerry who had 3 pairs that no other child had thought of during the entire day! Way to go guys!

So tonight, be sure to ask your child to explain to you what a homophone is, and to give you some examples of common homophones in the English language!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekly Classroom Agenda now posted!

I am constantly looking for ideas how to make the classroom blog more useful for students and parents. I thought it might help if you were able to view the class agenda for the week at home. That way, if your child was absent, or if you notice they do not have their agenda filled out, you will have access to what should be written. On each class site I have posted their agenda for this week. I will do my best to post the new agenda each week to the classroom sites. Just click on the image and it will appear larger on your screen.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Awesome Job Parents!

This morning I had kids from all 3 groups coming into my classroom, so excited to turn in their Literature-Responses that they didn't want to wait until their actual class period! I was thrilled to see kids so proud of their work that they were comparing what they'd written with their classmates.

Some comments I heard were;
"This is the longest, best essay I've EVER written, I was so proud when I finished it last night!"
"Are you gonna put my paper on the blog if it's really good, I really tried to make it really good!"
"My mom printed out the checklist from your blog and she drilled me on it! But... I'm glad she did, I think I did a really good job!"
"My mom wanted to see my paper the minute I got home, but I told her, Mom I already finished it in study release, I didn't want to have homework!"
"It felt so good when I got done with my final draft, I couldn't believe I had written that paper, it's awesome!"

Parents, thank you for supporting your children in this assignment! It is a lofty, extended paper, but it is very important to me that my students are held to high expectations and realize their potential right from the start of the year. Now that we have completed these first two responses, our next response will be a bit different. This next response will be a letter to a classmate to share the world of their book with them. They need to begin preparing for this assignment by reading 20 minutes every night and preparing to have their book finished by OCTOBER 27 The point will be to "sell" their book to their classmate and I think something they'll enjoy will be that this will be a MUCH shorter assignment. Stay tuned for details on their next response which will be due on October 30!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Walker's Worskshop Vocabulary!

L.A.= Language Arts. Traditionally, this means writing class.
Lit.= Literature. This refers to Reading class.
Workshop day= This is a day where students have the class period to work on major assignments such as essays or projects. I am available to students to meet and discuss their work with.
Meeting Area= This is the area of our room where the couches are located. The point of the meeting area is to create a comfortable place where our class meets daily to read and discuss books.
R.A.= Read Aloud. This is when I read to the students in our meeting area.
Booktalk= This is where students will recommend a book to their classmates by giving a brief summary of the book and explaining why they enjoyed it. Students are required to complete one booktalk this quarter.
I.R.= Independent Student Reading.
Literature Book Response-Essay= Every 3 weeks students complete this assignment about their Independent Book. This is a thorough response generated after students complete their reading so that they can think critically and analytically about what they've read.
H.o.T= The Hierarchy of Talk. This is a discussion framework our class uses to assess our conversational level in class.
Elaboration=Tell me More! Every time I say this word in class students are to scream "Tell me more!" so that they will remember the #1 key to success in writing is to give the reader enough information.
Show writing or Show vs. Tell= Show writing is a style of descritive writing where the author uses emotion and imagery through use of the 5 senses. We are currently working on using show writing every day in out writer's workshop.
Author's Analysis= Learning to think critically about the writing of an author, discussing and writing why they wrote a book the way that they did.
Document camera= This is a projector where the teacher can place a paper under the lamp and project the image onto a screen for students to see. This is used in nearly every classroom at HMS.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2nd Reading Response Essay due Thursday!

The following is a checklist I provided to your child today in class. This is checklist to be used after the 1st draft of their Reading Response is written. This will ensure that they covered all of the area that I specifically target for our standards-based grading. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Reading Response Essay
(Check off what you have completed in your essay and in what paragraph it appears)

Story Elements
_____ Plot summary

_____ Character Analysis

_____ Discussion of setting

_____ Genre of the story

Author’s Analysis

_____ My opinions of the author

_____ Description of the author’s style

_____ Comparison of author’s

_____ Author’s detail, descriptions


_____ Questions for the author

_____ Explanation of why you have these ?’s

_____ ?’s about the plot

_____ Predictions of what would happen next

Essential Question

_____ Answer to “Making sense of the world?”

_____ What I learned

_____ Why the author wrote it

_____ Author’s message

_____ Did I share my personal opinions about my book?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Love My Job!

Today I returned to the classroom after two days of leadership meetings with HMS staff. Upon returning to one's classroom, there is much fear in the mind of what you may find. So many things can occur when a teacher is out of their room, and middle schoolers are notorious for testing boundaries. Looking over my susbstitute's notes, I was pleased to see that she noted a positive experience and only 4 "persons of interest" were recorded, a strong feat for two days and 78 students! Still, knowing it's crucial to support my subs, I knew I would need to address any issues that occurred in the time I was gone. From the time the beginning bell rang, until the last bell of the day, my students, your children, reminded me how lucky I am to be in a job that I love so very much. They welcomed me back and were excited to get back on the path of our learning. The 4 students previously mentioned graciously accepted responsibility for their actions and accepted their consequence of writing apology letters with no argument. People so often question why on earth I would CHOOSE to work with this age group, personally, I think I'm the lucky one. This group of children I am blessed to work with this year have such amazing hearts and minds and I feel so lucky that I get to help them shape their future's. Today I once again realized what a wonderful community we live in, and what an awesome job you all have done with your children. I am honored to be part of the village who continues to raise the children of Prosser.

How to Leave Comments...

I am hoping to get the individual class links up and running this week, so be looking for student samples of work to start appearing! In the meantime, I wanted to let you know one way that this blog can be interactive. I show the updates of the blog in class and kids often ask why no one comments on the posts. It made me realize that perhaps parents weren't aware that they could leave comments on the post. So in order to leave a comment under an individual entry here are the steps:
1. Click where it says the # of comments. (ex.) 0 comments
2. You will then be provided a link to leave your comment.
3. Under the orange link: “Choose an identity”, highlight Name/URL and you can leave your name, first, last, or whatever you are comfortable with. Or you can leave an anonymous comment without your name.
4. Choose preview to first see your comment.
5. Then choose publish for your comment.
6. The comment will be sent to me to approve and be added on to the blog!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Grading & Edline

I wanted to give you a heads up on the horrific errors that occurred with my grading program. I moved classrooms this summer and in the process of setting up my technology I accidentally deleted my grading system off my harddrive... For those who know me well, this was not a staggering development, and had literally somehow managed to delete this in such a way that it was extremely difficult to restore. Luckily, we have WONDERFUL technical support in our district and just yesterday I was able to get back online. After school today I will be focusing on getting these grades into the computer and on edline for all of you. I am terribly sorry I was not able to inform you of your child's progress before now!

Letter-Essay Format

Our first letter-essay is due tomorrow at the beginning of class! We finished drafting in class today so your child will DEFINITELY have homework tonight in order to either type or neatly hand write their final draft. The following is the format for what we decided will go in each paragraph of our letter essay. If you have any questions please feel free to email me!

Letter-Essay 1 Format

¶ 1 Introduce your book title and author. Explain your reasons for wanting to read this book.

¶ 2 Short summary of what the book is about. Focus on being concise and giving a general overview of the plot.

¶ 3-5 Analyze the author and the plot. Use the writing about reading openers to get you started thinking about the way the author wrote this story and your feelings about the plot. *These are the sections that should directly quote statements and passages from your book.

¶ 6 Begin your questioning section. What questions do you have about the elements of the book? Why the author wrote the book? About why the characters made the decisions they did or why they were written in a particular way. These questions should thoughtfully examine the areas of the book that you either disagreed with or felt strongly about.

¶ 7 Rate your book and discuss why you gave it that particular rating. Cite examples from the book; compare it to other book selections available.

¶ 8 Answer the Essential Question, “How did reading this book help you make sense of the world?” Remember that this is the MOST IMPORTANT paragraph. This shows me what you learned by reading this book, if this paragraph is not complete, it’s going to be difficult for me to assess your engagement level and learning from this book.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ways to get Started on a Letter Essay

Often times it is difficult to find ways to help your child complete their homework assignments. With their first letter essay due on Thursday, September 18th, I wanted to provide a way that you can help your child with the most difficult aspect of writing a letter essay; getting started! This handout (which was given to students in class) describes effective ways to begin paragraphs within a letter essay.

Writing about Reading: Some Openers

I was surprised when/angry/about/satisfied with/moved
by/incredulous at/…
I like the way the author
I noticed how the author
I don’t get why the author
If I were the author I would have
I’d compare this author with
This book reminded me of
The main character
The character development
The narrative voice
The structure of this book
The climax of the plot
The resolution of the main character’s problem
The genre of this book
I’d say a theme of this book is
I wish that
I didn’t agree with
I understood
I couldn’t understand
Why did
This is how I read this book:
I rated this one _____ because
And always: I was struck by/interested in/convinced by this
passage: “…”
It shows … about this author’s writing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Me on a Graphic Tee!

This assignment asked students to create a slogan on a graphic tee that represents their personality. Here are some of our great classroom examples:

Ula Ula & Oma Oma Classroom Read Aloud Novel

Ula Ula & Oma Oma will be reading, Behind the Bedroom Wall, by author Laura Williams.

Korinna, a thirteen-year-old girl in Nazi Germany, must question her involvement in her town's Nazi youth group when she discovers that her parents are sheltering a family of Jewish refugees. Filled with adventure, Behind the Bedroom Wall helps us to understand the madness that drove so many to turn on their neighbors and the courage that allowed some to resist.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1st Reading Assessment

Last week your child completed their first reading assessment with a very challenging classic story, The Gift of the Magi. The pre-test questions them on every skill they will be learning in the 1st quarter of 7th grade Literature. The test is given in order to gauge what students currently know, and to provide a tool that will show them in the end how far they've come. Today we spent most of the class period completing student progress charts based on their results from the test. Be sure to ask your child what they've learned so far about their progress!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dear Parents/Guardians:

My name is Kristin Walker, and I am so excited to welcome your child into my classroom this year! I am originally from Richland, attended college in Southern California, and then obtained my Masters in Education from Gonzaga University.

My goal for the course of this year is to foster a love of reading in every one of my students. I do not use the Accelerated Reader program (AR) in my classroom, nor I do I require daily notebook entries; however, it is essential that your child read at home on a daily basis as they will have a literature response essay due every three weeks. Please note the important due dates on the attached calendar.

I view the education of your child as a partnership and will do my best to keep you informed of your child’s progress throughout the school year. I am excited to introduce our classroom blog as a wonderful way to communicate the learning in class so please be sure to ask your child about:
I am looking forward to a wonderful year with you and your child.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at Housel Middle School, 786-1732 or by email at

Kristin Walker
7th/8th Grade Language Arts, Literature

That which I am thankful for...

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