Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Loving and Helping Each Other in 'Any Small Goodness'

What is the significance of the words "Love each other. Help Each other"? Find out in today's chapter "Piano Lessons" of Any Small Goodness.

Reflecting on "The Coach"  Before we begin today's reading let's briefly revisit the third chapter of Any Small Goodness, "The Coach." Look over the assignment Any Small Goodness - The Coach (Ch. 3). What does Papi mean when he says, “When no eyes are upon him, that is a person’s true test”? Discuss with your partner and be prepared to share your ideas with the whole class.

Now let's take another look at the document Any Small Goodness - Prepare to Read and Character Map. Who is the character from the chapter "The Coach" who influences Arturo the most? What lesson does he learn from this person? Might this lesson be a part of the puzzle to ultimately determining the theme of the entire novel?  

Guided Reading of Any Small Goodness: "Piano Lessons"  Today we will continue our reading of Any Small Goodness by reading the fourth chapter "Piano Lessons" together. As we read we will stop periodically to discuss and analyze the text. You will also be using the document Any Small Goodness - Piano Lessons (Ch. 2), which is located in your Language Arts Google Classroom, to reflect on and respond to this chapter. 

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Any Small Goodness - Piano Lessons (Ch. 4), which is due next Friday, October 9. (2.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: ... As the flashing lights came toward me ... story, which we will publish on tomorrow, Thursday, October 1. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two by the end of the day tomorrow.) (4.) Tomorrow is the last day of the school week, which means that there are a couple of assignments that must be completed and 'turned in' by the start of class, including: Any Small Goodness - Corn Fungus (Ch. 2) and Any Small Goodness - The Coach (Ch.3).  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Standing Tall in 'Any Small Goodness'

What lesson will we learn from Coach Tree in today's reading of Any Small Goodness?





Grammar Warm-Up: Identifying and Fixing Run-On Sentences  Yesterday you learned what a run-on sentence is. Today see if you can identify and fix them. First practice identifying run-on sentences while earning points by playing the online game here. Next, try fixing run-on sentences while exploring the site here.

Reflecting on "Corn Fungus"  Before we begin today's reading let's briefly revisit the second chapter of Any Small Goodness, "Corn Fungus." Look over the assignment Any Small Goodness - Corn Fungus (Ch. 2). What does Papi mean when he says, “When no eyes are upon him, that is a person’s true test”? Discuss with your partner and be prepared to share your ideas with the whole class.

Now let's take another look at the document Any Small Goodness - Prepare to Read and Character Map. Who is the character from the chapter "Corn Fungus" who influences Arturo the most? What lesson does he learn from this person? Might this lesson be a part of the puzzle to ultimately determining the theme of the entire novel?  

Guided Reading of Any Small Goodness: "The Coach"  Today we will continue our reading of Any Small Goodness by reading the third chapter "The Coach" together. As we read we will stop periodically to discuss and analyze the text. You will also be using the document Any Small Goodness - The Coach (Ch. 3), which is located in your Language Arts Google Classroom, to reflect on and respond to this chapter. 

Scholastic Book Orders Due Wednesday  Don't forget that if you wan to be included as part of our first Scholastic Book Order you must have your order turned in by tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30You may bring in your order form with cash or a check made out to Scholastic Reading Club. Or you can simply order books online at scholastic.com/readingclub. Once you get there make sure you enter our class code: FMRJ4

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Any Small Goodness - The Coach (Ch. 3), which is due Thursday, October 1. (2.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: ... As the flashing lights came toward me ... story, which we will publish on Thursday, October 1. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two by the end of the week.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Avoiding Run-On Sentences and a New 100 Word Challenge


Grammar Lesson: Avoiding Run-On Sentences  What exactly is a run-on sentence and how can you put a stop to them? Let's watch as our friends Tim and Moby from BrainPop explain how. (Remember you can access BrainPop through the Apps section of your Google Drive.)  


A New 100 Word Challenge  I was very impressed with your first attempt at writing for the 100 Writing Word Challenge last week. Several of you have already received comments from readers from around the wold. Let's keep working on our writing! Let's examine this week's new 100 Word Challenge prompt, which can be found below. 


How can you weave those seven words into a creative story of roughly 100 words? How can you also incorporate some of the elements of narrative writing, including sensory details, imagery, transitions, and dialogue? That is your task. 

Before ultimately publishing our stories to the official 100 Word Challenge site and sharing with our writing with a worldwide audience, we will start writing by using a Google Doc. You can find the assignment 100 Word Challenge: ... As the flashing lights came toward me ... in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Let's start writing! 

Scholastic Book Orders Due Wednesday  Don't forget that if you wan to be included as part of our first Scholastic Book Order you must have your order turned in by Wednesday, September 30You may bring in your order form with cash or a check made out to Scholastic Reading Club. Or you can simply order books online at scholastic.com/readingclub. Once you get there make sure you enter our class code: FMRJ4

Homework  (1.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: ... As the flashing lights came toward me ... story, which we will publish on Thursday, October 1. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Publishing Friday


Publishing Our Writing  Happy Friday! Today is a very special day because today you have the opportunity to become a published writer! We will be putting the finishing touches on our 100 Word Challenge stories and then publishing our stories to the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website. 

To get started, open your 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... story from your Language Arts Google Classroom. Copy your story from the text box. You may then 'turn in' the rough draft of your story, as you will not longer be using this document. 

Now head on over to the 100 Word Challenge/Night Zookeeper website and login (or, if this your first time, register and remind me to give you our class code). Next, click on the '100' icon. Then, click on the yellow "write" button where it asks if you accept this week's challenge. 

Give your story a fitting title and the paste your story into the story space below. Notice that the site provides you with some tips on spelling, punctuation, and word choice. Revise your story and improve your story and make sure it is ready for publishing. When you are satisfied with the quality of your story, click 'save.' Let me know that you are ready to publish and I will open it up for others to read. You will then hopefully begin to receive feedback from readers from around the world. 

Once you have finished your story and saved it on the website, you are welcome comment on other stories. Your comments, however, should be respectful, specific, and helpful. If you liked something about someone's writing, explain what specific aspect of their writing you appreciated. For example: I loved your use of descriptive details! If you have a tip about how a student could improve their writing, make sure to share in a way that is helpful and not hurtful. For example: I really liked your story, but I thought you could have used a few more sensory details.

Sacred Reading Time  Today, if time permits, I offer you uninterrupted class time to simply read and commune with your books. Some of you will invited to read outside, others in a cozy corner of the room, while most of you will hopefully become enraptured by the words on your pages right at your desks. Enjoy this time! 

Get your read on like Samantha! 
Scholastic Book Orders Due Wednesday  Don't forget that if you wan to be included as part of our first Scholastic Book Order you must have your order turned in by Wednesday, September 30You may bring in your order form with cash or a check made out to Scholastic Reading Club. Or you can simply order books online at scholastic.com/readingclub. Once you get there make sure you enter our class code: FMRJ4 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Missing Cats and Silent Heroes in 'Any Small Goodness'

Discover what happens to the family cat Huitlacoche in today's chapter "Corn Fungus" of Any Small Goodness



Reflecting on "American Names"  Before we begin today's reading let's briefly revisit the first chapter of Any Small Goodness "American Names." Look over the assignment Any Small Goodness - American Names (Ch. 1). What do we know about the character Arturo? What is he like? Is he the kind of person you thought he would be initially after previewing the text? Discuss with your partner and be prepared to share your ideas with the whole class.

Now let's take another look at the document Any Small Goodness - Prepare to Read and Character Map. Who is the character from the chapter "American Names" who influences Arturo the most? What lesson does he learn from this person? Might this lesson be a part of the puzzle to ultimately determining the theme of the entire novel?  

Guided Reading of Any Small Goodness: "Corn Fungus"  Today we will continue our reading of Any Small Goodness by reading the second chapter "Corn Fungus" together. As we read we will stop periodically to discuss and analyze the text. You will also be using the document Any Small Goodness - Corn Fungus (Ch. 2) to reflect on and respond to this chapter. 

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Any Small Goodness - Corn Fungus (Ch.2), which is due next Friday, October 2. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of tomorrow.) (3.) Tomorrow is Friday, which means that there are several assignments that must be completed and 'turned in' by the start of class, including: Nadia the Willful - Characters and Theme, Nadia the Willful - Understanding Theme, and Any Small Goodness - American Names (Ch.1). (4.) We will also be publishing your 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... story tomorrow, so make sure that you have a finalized draft close to ready.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writing with Imagery


What is Imagery?  Words that appeal to readers' senses are referred to as imagery. Writers usually try to describe places, characters, and events in ways that help readers imagine how they look, feel, smell, sound, and taste. 

As writers we use imagery to help create mental pictures in the minds of our readers. We want to show our readers what is happening, as opposed to just telling them. 

How do we go about incorporating more imagery and sensory details into our writing? How do we show our readers what is happening as opposed to just tell? The video below gives you a few ideas. 

 

Descriptive Writing Resources  To be successful writers, students need tools and resources. Featured below are word lists that you can reference to help make your writing more descriptive and interesting. (A document with these words has also been placed in your Language Arts Google Classroom.) 


Writing: The 100 Word Challenge  We will now continue working on 'the 100 Word Challenge' stories we started earlier this week. But today our focus is on making our writing more descriptive and interesting. Look over your writing. Is there a way you could describe something that would better allow the reader to visualize what is taking place? Is there a more precise verb you could use? Are there sensory details that you could include, which might better appeal to your readers' five senses? 

We've also arrived at the point where some of you may need to consider revising and even cutting parts of your narrative. This week you only have a total of 104 words to tell your story. Word choice becomes very important. Use your words sparingly. Make sure the words you choose make an impact, are important and necessary to the story, and help your reader visualize what is happening. Additionally, avoid repetition. If you've written a similar idea once, there is no need to say it again. Be concise and precise!  

You can still find the assignment 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Let's start writing! Please have a close to publishable final draft ready by Friday, September 25. That's the day we publish our stories 100 Word Challenge website.

Scholastic Book Order  Tired of the books in the school library? Looking to buy a book just for you? I will be distributing a Scholastic Book Order catalogue today. Look through it. If you see something to your liking, consider buying it. By buying books through Scholastic, not only do you find great book at great prices, but you have an opportunity to earn points for your class so we add more books to our classroom library. 

You may buy books in several ways. You may bring in your order form with cash or a check made our to Scholastic Reading Club. Or you can simply order books online at scholastic.com/readingclub. Once you get there make sure you enter our class code: FMRJ4

The deadline for ordering books for this order will be: Wednesday, September 30

Homework  (1.) Complete a final draft of the 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... by Friday, September 25. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.) 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Introducing the Novel 'Any Small Goodness'


Introducing and Previewing Any Small Goodness  Today we are going to begin reading as a class the novel Any Small Goodness by Tony Johnston. The novel features a boy, Arturo, who moves to Los Angeles from Mexico with his family, and describes how Arturo and his family adjust to their new neighborhood. Although life in the new neighborhood presents challenges, Arturo learns about acts of “small goodness” that come to define his experience.

Before we read the novel, however, let's watch a short video about life in East Los Angeles, which serves as the setting of Any Small Goodness. What's the message of this video? How will this portrayal of Los Angeles compare to the one that we are about to explore in the novel? 


Our focus as we read is going to be to continue to analyze how the development of characters can help to reveal a story's theme. As we read, pay close attention to Arturo as well as the other characters that make up his East Los Angeles universe, and take note of what their words, actions, and feelings. What lessons do they learn from each other? These may all ultimately be clues to the story's themes. 

Lets begin today by previewing the novel Any Small Goodness by using the document Any Small Goodness - Prepare to Read and Character Map, which is located your Social Studies Google Classroom. After previewing the novel, also note how you will use this document to track the characters that Arturo interacts with throughout the novel and the important lessons he learns from them. This document will be used throughout our reading of the novel and is not to be 'turned in' until the end of this unit. 

Guided Reading of Any Small Goodness: "American Names"  Today we will begin by reading the first chapter of Any Small Goodness, "American Names," together. As we read we will stop periodically to discuss and analyze the text. You will also be using the document Any Small Goodness - American Names (Ch.1) to reflect on and respond to this chapter. 

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Any Small Goodness - American Names (Ch.1), which is due on Friday, September 25. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.) 
 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Understanding Theme and Introducing the 100 Word Challenge

What lesson does Tarik learn in "Nadia the Willful"? Could this be a clue to the theme of the story?


 Today's Learning Objectives   (1.) Identify and Understand the theme of a story. (2.) Write narratives to develop real or imaged experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences. 

Identifying and Understanding Theme in "Nadia the Willful"  Today we will closely examine two suggested themes of the short story "Nadia the Willful," which can essentially be considered two different claims. We will select the the claim that best fits our understanding of the story's theme and provide evidence from the story to support our ideas. You can find the assignment Nadia the Willful - Understanding Theme in your Language Arts folders. 

Introducing the 100 Word Challenge  Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Are you ready to publish your writing and have it read by people all over the world? If so, the 100 Word Challenge is certainly for you. 

What's the 100 Word Challenge all about? According to 100 Word Challenge: "We ask children to write in school but often there is no apparent purpose that they can see other than pleasing their teacher! This can prompt some very reluctant writers in our classrooms. The 100 Word Challenge seeks to address this problem. It is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 years of age. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. This should be posted on a class blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog."

100 Word Challenge Student Samples  Last week the prompt was an image, as students were tasked with creating a short creative narrative story inspired by the photograph below. 



Below you can find a a few samples of what students from around the world came up with.  















Signing Up and This Week's Challenge  Before we examine this week's prompt and begin the writing process, let's sign up for the online 100 Word Challenge program, which is being run in partnership with the Night Zookeeper, here. You will be asked for a class code (which I will provide you), as well as directed to create a username and password (make sure you select something that you can remember). Generally, we will not submit to this site until our stories are ready for publishing

Now let's examine this week's 100 Word Challenge prompt, which can be found below. 


How can you weave those four words into a creative story of roughly 100 words? How can you also incorporate some of the elements of narrative writing, including sensory details, imagery, transitions, and dialogue? That is your task. 

Later this week we will discuss the elements of narrative writing in more detail. But today, if time permits, decide on your basic story and start writing. Before ultimately publishing our stories to the official site and possibly sharing with a worldwide audience, we will start writing using a Google Doc. You can find the assignment 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... in your Language Arts Google Classroom. Let's start writing! 

Homework  (1.) Continue to work on the assignment Nadia the Willful - Understanding Theme, which is due on Friday, September 25. (2.) Continue working on your 100 Word Challenge: ... but under the earth ... story, which we will publish on Friday, September 25. (3.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Identifying Theme and Sacred Reading Time

Assignment Turn-In Friday  Happy Friday and congratulations on conquering another week of middle school! Since today is Friday, several assignments are due and must be 'turned in.' Due today are the following: Text Marking: “On Turning 10”, Identifying Fragments - Practice, and Identifying Theme. If you completed these assignments, make sure you turn them in now in order to receive full credit. 

Identifying Theme in "Nadia the Willful"  Today will be continue analyzing the short story "Nadia the Willful" together, especially paying special attention to the characters and their actions, speech, thoughts, and how they change, as clues to identifying the story's theme. You can still find the assignment Nadia the Willful - Characters and Theme in your Language Arts Google Classroom. (This assignment will be due next Friday, September 25.)

Sacred Reading Time  For too many of us independent reading time has become a chore that we either dismiss or do reluctantly. I want you to start considering your reading time sacred and special, and something to look forward to. Today I offer you 30 minutes of uninterrupted class time to simply read and commune with your books. Some of you will invited to read outside, others in a cozy corner of the room, while most of you will hopefully become enraptured by the words on your pages right at your desks. Enjoy this time! 


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Identifying Theme in "Nadia the Willful"

"Nadia the Willful" Background: The Bedouins, the group featured in today's story, are an Arab people of the Sahara and the desert lands of the Middle East. The leader of a Bedouin tribe or clan is called a sheik. Bedouins live as nomads, or wanderers, searching the desert for oases (placed with water and pasture) where they can settle with their goats, sheep, camels, and horses. When water becomes scare, the group moves on. Life in the desert is hard and dangerous. Food is scarce, sandstorms are common, and temperatures can reach up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 Today's Learning Objective   Identify the theme of a story.

Identifying Theme Google Slideshow  Over the last few days we have spent time analyzing some of our favorites stories, books, and movies and trying to identify their themes. Let's take a look at what some of you came up with as part of the 'Identifying Theme' Google Slideshow.

Identifying Theme in "Nadia the Willful"  Today will be reading a wonderful piece of short fiction entitled "Nadia the Willful" and try to identify its theme. You can find the story here, as as well as on page 67 of your Language of Literature textbook. First, examine the "Background to the Story" section, as well as the images featured throughout the text. Take note of the setting of this story. Read the "Text Analysis: Conflict and Theme" section to remind yourself what a conflict is and how it can help a reader determine the theme of a story. 

As we read "Nadia the Willful" together, we will also pay special attention to the characters and their actions, speech, thoughts, and how they change, as clues to determining the story's theme. You can find the assignment Nadia the Willful - Characters and Theme in your Language Arts Google Classroom. (This assignment will be due next Friday, September 25.)

Homework  (1.) Complete and 'turn in' assignments from the past week by tomorrow, Friday, September 18, which include: Text Marking: “On Turning 10”, Identifying Fragments - Practice, and Identifying Theme. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the day tomorrow.)  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Visiting the Library and Identifying Theme


Library Visit  Today we head to the library. Make sure you bring your books to either return or renew and your student ID card if you want to check out books. You may look for new books, read quietly, or take AR tests. Please take advantage of this opportunity and use your library time well. 

Identifying Theme Google Slideshow  Over the last few days we have spent time analyzing some of our favorites stories, books, and movies and trying to identify their themes. Today, visit your class's Google Slides link (Period 2, Period 3, Period 5), add a page, and share the title of one of your selected stories, books, or movies, as well include a theme statement and an image that can be associated with it. Take note of the sample page that I created for the short story "Eleven." Together let's create an 'Identifying Theme' Google Slideshow that demonstrates our developing understanding of what theme is. 

Homework  Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.) 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Identifying Fragments Quiz and Identifying Theme


Identifying Fragments Quiz  Show me what you've learned about identifying fragments by taking the quiz here. If you finish early, you may read your A.R. book and/or take an A.R. test, or make a Digital Reading Log entry.  

Identifying Theme Practice  As we continue to familiarize ourselves with identifying the "theme of a story," let's practice by analyzing a favorite movie or novel and then try to determine its theme. You can find the assignment Identifying Theme in your Language Arts Google Classroomhere. Make a copy and then get to work. 

Library Visit Tomorrow  We are headed to the school library tomorrow to restock your book supplies and hopefully match you up with a 'just right' book or two. Please bring any books you would like to exchange. If will not be getting new books, please bring your AR book so you may read silently in the library.  

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Identifying Theme, which is due and must be 'turned in' by this Friday, September 18(2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fixing Fragments and Introducing Theme

What is Theme?

Identifying and Fixing Fragments  Let's continue practicing identifying and working with fragments. Visit the Online Writing Lab today and identify whether the clause is a fragment or complete sentence in Exercise 1. After completing the 10 questions, click "show my score" and find our how you did. Next, try Exercise 2. This time you will be provided with fragment and you need to identify the choice that corrects the fragment so it is now a complete sentence. Once again, click "show my score" to get your results. Tomorrow, we will be having a 'Fragments Quiz' in which you will similarly need to be able to both identify fragments and correct them. If you would like to learn more about fragments and study for your quiz, try the links here and here.

Finally, for homework tonight, continue your practice by completing the activity Identifying Fragments - Practice, which can be found in your Language Arts Google Classroom.

Introduction to Theme in Literature  One of the elements of fiction that may not be very familiar to you is theme. You probably have been asked: What is the theme of the story? What exactly does that mean? Watch the video below to learn more.  


Now you understand that theme is the meaning or moral of a story. It is a message about life or human nature that the writer shares with the reader. Most themes are unstated. You must figure them out by paying attention to what happens in a story. You can gather clues to the theme of a piece of literature by looking at the characters, the plot, the setting, and the story title.

Next, let's consider some of the pieces of literature we've studied so far this year, including: Thank You, Mr. Falker, "Eleven," "Who's the New Kid?", "Dear Future," and "On Turning 10." What are some of the themes or messages about life of these various texts? Do any of these stories or poems have similar or shared themes? Head over to your class's Padlet wall (Period 2, Period 3, Period 5), choose one or more the pieces of literature we've read, and identify the theme.

Homework  (1.) Complete the assignment Identifying Fragments - Practice, which is due and must be 'turned in' by this Friday, September 18. (2.) Read your A.R. book at home for at least 30 minutes and, if you choose, make a reading log entry using the Digital Reading Log. (Remember you must have made at least two entries by the end of the week.)