Daily notes and class assignments

  • September 10 and 11: All classes finished class policies and procedures, building emergency procedures, Idaho State Emergency Procedures, and introduction to our class syllabus. Everyone has received a syllabus with a letter to parents regarding Standards Referenced Grading. If a parent hasn't seen the letter and the syllabus, please ask your student about it so that all parents are familiar with SRG practices. 

    September 12 and 13: All classes voted for Homecoming representitives. We moved into our first unit over narrative reading and writing. Students took focused notes over the following terms: Antagonist, Protagonist, Direct and Indirect Characterization, Point-of-View to include first person, third person limited and third person omnicient. After listening to my example, students chose an object in the room and wrote a short narrative in first person point-of-view as that object. They then rewrote the same narrative about the same object, but they changed to a third person limited narrator. Grades for this assignment are entered under the "Practice" category.

    September 16 and 17: Students were asked to review the notes over narrative terms and techniques taken in our last class meeting. Then, they were to write a summary of the information. We added the following to their focused notes: Flashback, Pacing, Mood, Theme, and Setting. They set up a new sheet of paper with the headings, "Technique," "page number," and "Details in the Story." While reading "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," by Jack Finney, we identified techniques used by the author, the page numbers, and under "Details in the Story," they included passages and/or quotes that provide evidence of the technique used. At the end of the period, we were about half finished with the story. I asked them to predict on their papers how they thought the story would end and to state what they thought the theme might be at this point in the story. For those who need to catch up, all the terms and techniques are defined in Class Documents, and the story can be found online by Googling the title and the author. The log of techniques used in the story and evidence of each technique will be collected and scored as a practice narrative assignment when we finish the story in our next class.

    September 18 and 19: Students were asked to review the narrative techniques and evidence they collected while reading the first half of "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket." We collected a couple more techniques while finishing the story. Our focus turned to how a reader goes about determining the theme of a story--it's important to consider main events from the beginning to the end of a story. Also, a reader needs to be aware of changes that come over a main character and what events brought about the changes because these are the clues to the author's intended theme. We reviewed the elements of a story as they would be plotted in a Freytag Pyramid: Setting, Rising Action, Climax or Turning Point, Falling Action, and Resolution. After going over the pyramid I made, students started plotting the theme on their own pyramids using the narrative techniques collected and page numbers citing evidence from the text. They didn't have enough time to finish their Freytag Pyramids, so we will pick up there in our next class meeting.

    September 20 and 23: Students finished their Freytag Pyramids. Using the pyramids, they wrote summaries of "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket." It's important to include key details, changes in mood and changes in character. At the end of their summaries, students were to label and write the theme of the story. Theme should not be written as a command, nor should it be written around the details of the story. It should be a statement that is written as a universal truth. The story leads us to the theme, but the theme is the truth the story is suggesting. Students were to turn in their Annotated Notes over the Narrative Techniques collected while reading, their Freytag Pyramids, and their summaries with the theme stated.

    September 24 and 25: Each class took a survey for the Yearbook Team at the beginning of class. We added the narrative techniques Personification, Imagery, Euphemism, Foreshadowing, Word Choice to our Focused Notes over the techniques and definitions. Students again annotated the narrative techniques used while we started reading "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs. At the end of class, we discussed the difference between fate and free will (the dominant topic in the story). Students answered to the following prompt and turned in their responses: Are our lives determined by fate, free will, or both. Explain your answer. We followed this with a brief discussion.

    September 26 and 27: We started the period with a short presentation over our Sources of Strength program at MVHS. Following a brief presentaton, students were asked to write a thank you to an adult mentor in their lives on the back of postcards provided by our Sources of Strength team. They were supposed to deliver the postcards to their mentors the next time they see them. For our opening activity, we tossed around the ideas of "fate" and "freewill" again. I wanted students to have a chance to discuss their ideas in their small groups. Each group got a piece of computer paper. They made two columns, one "fate" and the other "freewill." Under each column, they were to try to come up with ten things that are determined by fate and ten things we have the power and choice to control. Then, beside each item in their "fate" list, I asked them to write down a potential consequence that could be involved if they tried to change that. For instance, eye sight came up under some of their fate columns. We can change that (lasik), but there are some consequences such as dry eyes, sun-sensitivity, and in some cases, further damage to the eyes. After they had their conversations, we got back into "The Monkey's Paw," and students continued their annotations over the narrative techniques used in the story as we identified them. I had my annotations on the screen for them to use as support, but I encouraged them to write theirs in their own words. To be proficient, annotations need to have details (where in the story does this occur) and evidence (how do we know it is the identified narrative technique?) I also showed them what constitutes proficiency and what it looks like to go above and beyond for those who want a 4 (10 in the gradebook).

    September 30 and October 1: All classes have finished reading and annotating narrative techniques from "The Monkey's Paw." Some classes got started on writing their objective summaries, and some classes aren't there yet. We discussed and recorded on the board the important details that would need to be included in an objective summary because those are the details that lead us to the theme. I was able to read my example and show them how I was following the important details we listed in most of the classes, but some of them didn't get that far and will do that in our next class.

    October 2 and 3: Many of the students need practice writing themes as universal truths. I read a short poem entitled "Suspicion" from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. After they listened to the poem, we made a list of topics the author is addressing in the poem. I showed the students website that briefly goes over what a theme should be and what it shouldn't be, and we elaborated on each of the points made. In their small groups, students together wrote what they thought was a good theme statement, and we evaluated each of them as a class. I returned the last assignment to them, and we talked about the feedback given over their first practice over annotations, objective summaries and themes. We reviewed, or for some classes, began talking about the details necessary in an objective summary of "The Monkey's Paw," and I read my example, bumping it up against the necessary details written on the board. Students had time to write their objective summaries. We went back to the theme website and reviewed what a theme should be and what it shouldn't be. Some of the students wrote a "draft" theme that they can change in our next class if they feel they can do better after doing more exercises on writing themes. The annotations, objective summaries and themes over "The Monkey's Paw" will be turned in during our next class meeting.

    October 4 and 8: Students practiced theme writing. We reviewed the rules for writing themes from the website used in our last class meeting. I gave examples (my own) of poorly written themes, and with their tables, students rewrote them to be accurately written. As a class, we evaluated the rewritten versions. The majority of the students are getting the hang of theme writing! We turned to the assignment for "The Monkey's Paw." Some classes needed more time to write their summaries and themes. The assignments were turned in according to the following instructions written on the board for students to see: 1) Annotations on the top   2) Summary with theme labeled and written at the bottom of the page comes next   3) First and last name and class period in the upper right hand corner   4) Staple the papers together  5) turn them into the basket on my desk. While I'm getting these assignments graded, students will turn to working on writing from perspectives other than their own and using indirect characterization. As a closing assignment, students were asked to write from the perspective of any object. The rules for keeping it indirect characterization are, no adjectives to directly describe the subject, no names for describing the subject, stay with either a first or third person narrator. They need to show their subject through behaviors, experiences, dialogue, other's reactions--showing rather than telling. My example was writing from the perspective of one of my rings. We will start with this activity in our next class meeting because students didn't have a lot of time to get started once they figured out their subjects.

    October 9 and 10: When students came to class, they were asked to have a selected object in mind for our perspective writing assignment. At their tables, they could work together or alone to create a list of the pros and cons of being that selected object. They could also include notes beside their pro and con lists. This was a pre-writing activity to help get ideas flowing. We defined and discussed what is meant by "indirect characterization" rather than "direct characterization." I took them back to the example I showed them at the beginning of this unit and reminded them of all the information they were able to gleen from my indirect description of my character. We then turned to writing dialogue accurately. I had them write a short conversation with a partner or the people at their table. This was for them to apply what they already know about writing dialogue. I then demonstrated how dialogue is correctly written by modeling a brief, written conversation. They were asked to go back to the conversations they just wrote with their partners and look at what they did correctly and what wasn't done correctly. They rewrote the same conversations, but this time they applied their new knowledge. I then showed them my revised example of the perspective write I wrote in our last class, and we went through the dialogue in my revised draft. Students were given time to start writing their perspective writes. We didn't have time for them to share them at their tables and allow the others to try to guess what their objects are, but we will make time for that in our next class. They will have more time to write in our next class, and the perspective writes should be due at the end of that class period.

    October 11 and 14: We reviewed the perspective writing assignment students got started on in our last class. I went over the criteria for writing indirect characterization, and we reviewed dialogue writing from the dialogue in my example. Students had about an hour to work while I worked individually with them. At the end of class, they turned in the assignment.

    October 15 and 16: When students came to class, they began by choosing one of the following: shark, raft, water, plane, bullets. I wrote the five sense (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell). In order to start pre-writing and feeling out what it might be like to be one of the listed topics, I had them write how their topic (character) would experience the world through the five senses. After giving them a few minutes to explore this, we discussed the upcoming assignmet. This is one of our sophomore common formative assessments, so every sophomore student in our department will be doing this. We read chapter 15 of Unbroken. For those watching the website, you can get this by Googling "Unbroken." Look for the West Ada site. The entire book is online on that website. Go to chapter 15, "Sharks and Bullets." After reading the chapter together, students were asked to rewrite the chapter from the perspective of one of the above listed characters. If they want to change characters from their pre-writing at this point, that's no problem. This perspective writing should be done just like the last assignment, except this time, there's a story line provided. Students should be retelling the story from the perspective of their character. There should be a lot of dialogue, and the conversation can be between their character and any other character in the chapter or in their imaginations, as long as they're framing their story within the story of the chapter. We will use some time from our next class period to finish this assignment. At the end of class, I asked them to write on a half sheet of paper what they're feeling strong in and what they're having difficulty with. So far, it appears most are struggling with writing dialogue within the rules of English, so we will be reviewing that. Remember, Sept. 16 is the PSAT, so we will not be in first or second periods on that day.

    October 17 and 18: In order to give students practice writing dialogue correctly, I wrote a conversation on the board. We reviewed the rules of dialogue while going over my conversation together as a class. With their tables, students then collaboratively wrote conversations using dialogue correctly, and as a class, we looked over each table's conversation and assessed each together. We then reviewed the "Sharks and Bullets" assignment, discussed how the various topic choices would enter the story, who each might interact with in written dialogue, and what students might want to creatively add to their stories while keeping within the boundries of the original chapter. At the end of class, we discussed the summative assessment over narrative techniques, objective summary, and theme that the students will be taking Monday and Tuesday of next week.

    October 21 and 22: At the beginning of class, students took the summative assessment over narrative techniques, objective summary, and theme. Some finished with about twenty minutes remaining in the class period. Those who finished used the time to work on their "Sharks and Bullets" perspective stories. Some of those have been turned in and scored. Those remaining will need to be finished outside of class. At the end of class, I asked students to give me some feedback on the assessment. On a half sheet of paper, I asked them to write what worked well for them and what was most difficult for them. Most did very well on the assessment and responded that the assessment was exactly like the practices we did together in class, so being able to use their notes and practice assignments made the assessment easy for them. The difficulties were determining the theme of the story.

    October 23 and 24: Students got into groups of three--a few groups of four. Each group was given a literary device with the definition and examples of that device. Each group will teach the rest of the class their literary device. The rest of the class will be taking focused notes over each device taught and participating in the checks for understanding and activities planned by the group presenting their literary device. Today was spent planning and preparing the lesson according to the criteria on a handout/check sheet. For those who missed class, notes over all the devices that will be presented can be found under Class Documents. After presentations, students will take a test over the devices presented.

    October 28 and 29: We had to take some time out of our regular classes for IAB testing. Students took a practice test over Reading Literary Texts and Revision. Those who finished early were to use the time to finish their "Sharks and Bullets" perspective writes or if an entire literary devices group finished early, those students could go in the hall and finish or practice their lessons.

    I got sick and was admitted to the hospital on Halloween morning, so the students were here with substitutes. The substitutes did their best with the help of the sophomore team to keep my classes on track, but when I returned, we had to get our narrative unit cleaned up and finished. I also changed some due dates for the students because I didn't feel comfortable leaving things as they were before I was gone. As things stand now, the summative narrative papers are due on November 15 (A) and November 18 (B). All assignments for our Narrative Unit must be turned in on November 18. At that time, the unit is closed. Today, November 11, we are beginning our Argument Unit.

    November 11 and 12: At the beginning of class, I asked students to write down the silliest argument they've heard recently. It could be something they read on social media, heard here at school, listened to on the news. They were to write the argument and set it aside until later. We went over the most common logical fallacies and examples of them. Students took focused notes over these fallacies, and as a class, we came up with real-life examples. We started reading "The Good Deed" by Pearl S. Buck. For those who were absent, the story can be Googled and read online. Type the title, author, and full text in the Google box, and you will be able to find the story. While reading, the students were to write the arguments made by Old Mrs. Pan and her son, Mr. Pan. They were to include page numbers and leave two blank lines between each argument. We haven't finished the story yet, but at the end of class, we went back to the arguments written at the beginning of class. I asked the kids to review the fallacies taken in their notes and identify the fallacies in the arguments they wrote at the beginning of class. We had time to share some of them.

    November 13 and 14: At the beginning of class, students reviewed their notes over fallacies in logic. Those who missed some of the notes had the opportunity to get them from classmates at their tables. We finished reading "The Good Deed" and collecting the arguments of Old Mrs. Pan and young Mr. Pan. We didn't have time for students to go through the arguments and identify the logical fallacies in them, so we will start with that on Friday and Monday. Reminder: Narrative stories are due on Friday (A) and Monday (B). Monday is the last day to get any make up work turned in for this Narrative Unit.