Monday, November 9, 2009

Round Table Writing

Round Table Writing
By Trevor and Sammy

On October 7, 2009, Mrs. Walker separated our class into groups of four. We pushed our desks together to make a square. Mrs. Walker gave each of us a starting sentence and for 8-10 minute intervals, we took turns adding on to our groups’ stories. Some were insanely hilarious, while others were just plain weird!

Brinnley says, “It was, um, well, let’s just say some people can really mess up a good story. (Trevor).” Six out of seven surveyed students liked the Round Table Writing.

An example of the writing we created is: “There is a plastic bag full of papers in front of my dresser, pink and sparkly of course. I walk towards it and then, all of a sudden, my sister jumped out in front of me. ‘Let me through!’ I demanded. My sister just stood there. I took a step forward, but immediately stopped. My sister had a lighter! She took a tank of propane and threw it at me. She snuck into her hidden stash of weapons and pulled out a flamethrower and some gasoline. As I lay on the floor trying to get the propane off, she is covering the room with gasoline. She points the flamethrower directly at me and just in time, before she fires, I jump out the 2-story window. When I look back there is a huge explosion, and my bedroom is on fire.”

Apparently, this Round Table Writing assignment was enjoyed
by most of Mrs. Walker’s class.

Yellow Star

Yellow Star

Throughout the first quarter, the students of Mrs. Walker’s class worked on Yellow Star. Yellow Star is a series of free verse poems about a young girl, Syvia, who endured life in the Lodz Ghetto. As you may have guessed, this story takes place during the tragic Holocaust.
We read a small, printed section of the book, and then answered a few questions about what we read. When the first packet was given, each student anxiously awaited the next part of the story. It was so intriguing; we couldn’t wait to read what was happening next. Brinnley said, “I must confess, I was not happy with Mrs. Walker for not letting me go on and read the rest.

When asked what they thought about reading Yellow Star, Andre said, “It was shocking”. Jorge simply said, “It was real good.”

Like with all things, there was opposing opinions. Lorenzo, for example, enjoyed it, but said, “Behind the Bedroom Wall was better.”

Reading Yellow Star helped us to better understand what life was like for Jews in Ghettos during the Holocaust, how they endured, what they suffered. Hanna stated, “It was cool to be able to read both Behind the Bedroom Wall and Yellow Star so we could see both sides of WWII.

Behind the Bedroom Wall

We wrote our report on “ BEHIND THE BEDROOM WALL” because we wanted to show how a book could show interest.

On the “BEHIND THE BEDROOM WALL” project. We surveyed 20 students and 99% had good comments and one comment was not so good. On the report one group had no comments for the project. But the rest of the groups had comments like “it was shocking and surprising.” By Vanessa Ruiz. Another group said “it was a well written story” by Brinnley Ashton. On group said, that the ending of the story could have been better “The ending was not good,” said an anonymous source.

Our favorite comment was by Lorenzo, he said “it was a good story, and good Nazi stuff” and he rated the book a 10 out of 10. We liked this comment because he showed a rating for the book, how it was, and a reason why.

We felt Behind the Bedroom Wall was a great book!

Written by:
Jorge, Andre, and Abraham


The quickwrites are about us answering a question that is about a paragraph long.

One of the questions on our quickwrites was, “If you were any age, it would be?” In that question we answered in our reading notebooks and if we want to share we can share with the class.

We answer the question that Mrs. Walker gives us in our reading note books. In the morning Mrs. Walker gives us a question to write about. Mrs. Walker teaches us to do quickwrites because we learn how to do daily writing and gives us practice. Mrs. Walker wants us to make writing a daily thing...

By: Shayla, Breahanna, Nessa

Classroom Games

Most classrooms have a test at the end of the quarter, but not our class. We played Jeopardy and Hollywood Squares (Housel Squares to Mrs. Walker). It was an interesting end of the Quarter grade. Every team was getting very competitive over it.

Peyton said, “I thought that it was really competitive because there were a lot of people cheating off me.”

When asked about how she came up with the ideas for the grade, Mrs. Walker said “one of my students, Lorenzo, said he learned best when he was playing games. So playing games was the best way to have fun and learn, in my opinion.”

When asked if they liked it or not, 84% said they did like it, 10% didn’t like it that much, and 6% didn’t like it at all.

By: Connor & Lane

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Trip to D.C.

This summer I had the privilege of traveling as a Teacher Leader to Washington D.C. for People to People. There I met 210 student delegates from all over the United States for 8 days of adventure across D.C. The sites were amazing and now I think I will take the rest of the summer to recover from the adventures we had!
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Books, Books, Books!

Well it's that time of year where I'm going to start asking parents for help!

First, if you happen to notice any HMS books lying around your house, please have your child bring them back to my classroom. We have 100's of books missing from the classroom library and many students who admit they have one, two, or possibly even six lying around at home!

Second, every Spring I ask parents and students if they have any donations they would like to make to our classroom library. As our financial woes increase, the chances of new books making their way into the classrooms become smaller and smaller. I have found that the most sought after books are those donated by fellow students. Sooooo, if you happen to have books lying around the house that your child has already read, refuses to read, or just anything you personally would like to donate, it would be most appreciated!


Monday, April 6, 2009

USS Midway

While in San Diego, my dad took me to his favorite place, the USS Midway, a retired naval carrier, the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century--a 47 year odyssey that spanned the end of WWII and the liberation of Kuwait in 1991!
Located downtown in San Diego at Navy Pier, the Midway provides a dynamic and enriching experience "from boiler to bridge." It is said that a visit to Midway instills a greater appreciation for courage, freedom, and service to country, and that was certainly the case for me. It was such an incredible, amazing thing to be able to walk through, and gain understanding of our military. The entire time I was there, I kept saying, oh I wish I could bring my students here, oh my gosh I can think of ten kids right now that would love this more than anything in the world, oh I wish we lived closer!

Unfortunately, we don't; however, check out this site: and even better, if you have the chance to go to San Diego, visit this incredible piece of history!

Yep, that's me in the captain's chair!

Spring Break in San Diego

To celebrate the near end of my National Board Certification process, my parents bought me a plane ticket to visit them at their condo in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego, CA. Here are some pictures from my trip!

The view from Las Flores #410, they got the fountain running, heated pool behind it,

and the ocean just beyond-it's heaven!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jodi Picoult-What an awesome author!

For our final assignment in 3rd/4th period Mele Mele, students wrote letters to Jodi Picoult, the author of My Sister's Keeper. I found an email for Mrs. Picoult and asked if there was an address that we could send our class letters to. Within an hour of sending my email, I received a response from Jodi Picoult herself-from her Blackberry no less! She provided me an address, but explained that she would prefer email, so we decided to type our class letters and sent them by email at 11:00 a.m. today. Tonight I came home exhausted from three full days of conferences and decided to take a look at my school email. Imagine my shock when I saw that my inbox was full of messages from Jodi Picoult. She had responded to each and every one of my students. What an amazing author and role model for these kids. Here is a woman who is one of the most successful talents of our time, and yet she is humble and kind enough to recognize what a difference it could make to a child to receive word from someone of her stature. I can't wait to give my students the copy of their letter with her response, this has been such an awesome faith renewing experience reading her book and watching their engagement, and I am so grateful that I came across this author and this particular story!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Ula Ula, we have just finished reading a wonderful novel called Stargirl. Stargirl is a great book by Jerry Spinelli that looks at society and ponders, "What would the world be like if everyone looked and acted the same?" In the novel, we meet a phenomenally free-spirited girl who calls herself "Stargirl." Stargirl teaches us about the dangers of conformity and how sometimes we just need to be true to ourselves! From this novel we also learned the benefits of doing things for others, Random Acts of Kindness. I encouraged students to create service projects to spread that kindness throughout the halls of HMS and furthermore to our entire community. Please see the Ula Ula link to discover the projects this class chose to complete (it will be updated at some point this week, it's conference week so I don't get to see them often enough!)

My Sister's Keeper

A few months ago I was trying to find a book that would interest my wide variety of diverse students in our community of learners. I spoke to a 6th grade teacher from Grandview Middle School and she told me how several teachers there were reading an edited version of Jodi Picoult's famous novel, "My Sister's Keeper." Though an adult book, the characters are richly developed and the plot unfathomable, and upon reading it cover to cover, I knew instantly that this story would captivate my learners like no other book had. So I took out my sticky notes and covered the pages not critical to the meaning of the story and away we went on this 424 page beast. Immediately the response to the novel was unlike anything I'd seen this year. Kids begged to hear more and held insightful, wonderful academic discussion about the characters and plot. Now we are finished with this story that is said to have, "one of the most shocking endings of recent novels." My students were left wanting more and fortunately for them, they'll have it in a movie version due out this summer. Until then we are left with one additional assignment, a letter they are writing to the author herself, Jodi Picoult. I will post many of their letters on the Mele Mele and Oma Oma links so check them out and see how advanced our students can be when they find a topic that truly engages and captivates their attention.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recap of Last Two Months...

In Mrs.Walker's classroom everyone is typing a report on their favorite assignment from the past two months. Students are explaining the Dragon project, Parent project, Theme Message in the bottle and the Goldilock's project. Some students are adding surveys to their articles. There are different point's of view on this assignment which will make the reading VERY interesting. So enjoy this recap of the previous assignments we have been learning in Language Arts and Literature.

Tyler,Trevor, Bailey, and Adrian.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Theme Message in a Bottle

Theme Message in a Bottle
On January 30th, a normal Friday in Mrs.Walkers class, we learned about theme message in a bottle. This project took from January 30th to February 4th in the year of 2009. In this project we learned how to read a story and find its theme statement and learned how to write about the characters and their different view points. We also could take two different stories and put them together. The two stories that we used werem "The Power of the Powerless" and "Mother and Daughter." Mrs.Walker said that she chose these two stories because she " thought that these two stories had connections that we could connect with. Particularly because bothe featured elements about families." Mrs.Walker said that she liked listening to the letters and she "thought the kids did a great job being creative."

After this project was due we interviewed the whole class for their opinion on the theme message in a bottle. 22 out of 25 students that did the project said that they liked it. In the class 18 out of 25 said that if they were to do the this project again next year they would do better than this year. 6 out of 25 students said that they would do the same than this year on the project. 0 out of 25 said that they would do worse on the project.

Even though the main reason for this project was to learn how to read a story and be able to know the theme statement(s) and know the different viewpoints of the characters or learning how to connect two different stories, many kids learned a variety of different things from this project. Taylor said she "learned more about theme statements while being creative." Kenzie said that she learned "that every story has a theme statement." " I learned how to express my feelings through a characters view point," said Adrian.

Our group feels that this project has turned out a success for Mrs.Walker!

Dragon Characterization

Kaylee portraying Mrs. Walker's dramatic reading
Our final products!
Thursday, January 15th, 2009 Haylie, Kaylee, Jason, Isaiah and the rest of the class read a story called "The Reluctant Dragon." After everyone had done a few projects each group had to pick one project and basically write a review on the topic.This is why we are writing this for Mrs. Walker's class.

Our blog project that we decided to pick was about, "The Reluctant Dragon." What we had to do was draw a picture using a good description of the Dragon characteristics. Mrs. Walker's instructions were to analyze the characteristics of characters, then draw an accurate picture of the dragon and pick ten character traits of the dragon and creatively place them around the border.

We had to learn how to be able to look between the lines and infer characteristics about the main characters in the story. We went around the classroom to see what people thought about this project. When asked what she thought was easy and hard, Sierra said "The easy part was drawing and coloring the dragon, and the hard part was thinking of 10 descriptive words."

Kaylia said "I liked that we could do a comic picture about anything we wanted and what can I say I love creativity" When asked what the most fun thing about the dragon charcterization? Kenzie said "Drawing the dragon because it was fun and mine was cute." After interviewing a couple of students, we decided to take a poll. 81% said that they like the dragon project, 18% said they did not.

In conclusion, the dragon project seemed to be a success because a lot of people enjoyed it and we learned a lot about characterization.
Written by:

The Lyrics Assigment

On February 2, 2009 in Mrs. Walker's language arts classes, we listened to "Video" by India Arie, "Imagine" by John Lennon, and "The River" by Garth Brooks.

When asked which song students felt spoke to them "The River" ranked-13 votes. "Video" ranked- 6. "Imagine" ranked-4.
Here's what we did:
1. We read the lyrics.
2. We listened to each song and highlighted the verses in the song that spoke to us.
3. After listening to each song Mrs.Walker gave us some time to visualize what we thought the song meant.
4. Than we came up with theme topics-one word that sums up the theme.
5. As a group we came up with theme statements-a statement that we thought portrayed the theme topc and author's message from the song.
6. Then at the end of class we reflected upon which song we identified with the most.

Here's what our favorite teacher Mrs.Walker had to say: "I liked this assignment because I heard from former students that it was their favorite activity and I like to see how passionate kids are about music."
There were also students that really thought the words spoke to them-for"India Arie's song about self esteem" Kaylee Main-"I feel that I need to do certain things to get noticed, but deep down I am happy with who I am, and listening to this song will help me let my true colors show."
Also a very deep response was by Kenzie Gould. "The song that really spoke to me was "Video" because every girl goes through a hard time when they don't like themselves for who they are, but finally they figure out that they can be someone completely different."
In closing, "Everyone can be who they want if they figure out their true self."
Produced by Kaylia, Sara, Colby and Alondra.

The Parent Project

The Parent Project

In Mrs. Walker's room, she wanted her student's to be able to write persuasively to their parents because persuasive writing is used everywere! Everyone in room 306 said that they liked the parent project. Mrs.Walker said that we exceeded her expectations on this assingnment.

The parent project was about students writing a letter to their parents trying to persade them to let them do whatever topic they choose. 70% of the students got a maybe, 20% got a no, and 10% got a yes. So tune in next time for more news from room 306 Mrs.Walkers first & second period classes!

Favorite things people asked for:

A new dog

Getting to stay up later

A cell phone

Internet access

Getting to go to the mall by themselves

Being allowed to wear makeup

Getting an allowance

Staring Head Anchors Ty, Joey, Jonny, and Bailey. See you later!

Goldilocks Trial

After completing a persuasive writing activity where we had to decide whether or not we felt Goldilocks committed a crime in trespassing on the 3 Bears property, we went around our classroom and asked our fellow classmates if they thought Goldilocks (from Goldilocks and the Three Bears) was guilty or innocent. 16 people believe that she is guilty, but there were 9 who believed in second chances and say Goldilocks is innocent. Mrs. Walker (with her amazing voice) said that she was guilty over all. No Joke. We also wanted to know whether guiltiness affects kindness so we asked to rate Goldilocks guiltiness on a scale of 1-10. 10 being horrible, snotty, rude, trespasser and 1 being she is very nice but guilty. Mrs. Walker said a totally 10, the girl showed no remorse whatsoever! Do you agree?

Brandi and Sara believe she is innocent. They think that she has a twin named Modoldilocks and she is half-dog. She can't help it she was born that way, but let's look at what other people say. Jonathan also says that she is innocent because the Muffin Man sent her sister Modoldilocks (the half-dog) to get some muffins at the Bear's house. Yet although these are some expample of extremely excellent evidence there are still those lawyers out there who argue until they get their snobby way. Like my good friend Erica. She believes Goldilocks is (without a doubt) 100% guilty. She explained to us, "I don't like Goldilocks because she is a criminal, and she can get into my house!" Another good guy is my peer Joey. He says, "She is guilty for ransacking the Bear's house. Winny the Pooh is my witness!" Another good friend of mine is Sierra and she says, "She is 100% guilty because she deliberately disobeyed her mom and went into the forest in the first place."

So now it's up to you, the people of the jury and the people who have heard the story, is she guilty or is she innocent?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Can You Convince Me?

Today was our first day of our Persuasive Writing Unit. This is one of my favorite lessons of the year! I got the idea from a wonderful teacher by the name of Marcie Belgard. It's a pretty simple premise, I place a prize item (today's was a bag of lollipop's) on a shelf clear for all student's to view. I then tell each student group that they will be writing persuasive arguments to convince their classmates that their group deserves the treat. They may use ANY persuasive strategy they can think of, there are no rules, but they should keep their AUDIENCE in mind when planning their argument. Oh boy do I get some creative responses! Strangely the most common middle school idea is to THREATEN their classmates. Apparently in other avenues of their lives this tactic works; but, not so with this competition! Many tried to play on the emotions of others, a very intelligent strategy! I heard comments of low blood sugar, students who had "never" tasted sugar before, and a very adorable Diego that simply asked, "How could you resist this face?" Taylor, Adrian, and Nicolle found a winning route by singing a persuasively-tailored version of the Littlest Pet Shop theme song. Ivan wanted nothing to do with the singing portion but benefited from his teammates courageous performance! It is always fun to watch just how creative middle school students can be!
Tonight's homework: Persuasion is Everywhere! Students must find and analyze a persuasive ad, whether it be a billboard, a commercial, or a magazine/newspaper advertisement.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Today's assignment in class was to analyze a Norman Rockwell print. Students first wrote their initial reactions to the print and shared with their new desk groups. Then we catalogued the story elements discussing the characters, setting, situation, and vocabulary. It was interesting to hear the students opinions as their unique background knowledge factored into much of what they saw. My students are becoming wonderful inferential thinkers who are prepared to support their thinking with evidence from the source and their own personal experiences and knowledge. From this assignment, students then chose to either write from the 1st person or 3rd person omniscient point-of-view and wrote a narrative piece regarding what was occurring in the print. Be sure to ask your child about their story!

That which I am thankful for...

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