April 28


Creative Response to Story: Choose one of the following. You should finish this for homework and bring to class to share tomorrow:

Choice 1: Write a vocabulary poem (like the ones from The Crossover) using a word from the article. A detailed example with guidelines is on the class blog. www.mrsobrienC17.edublogs.org The honors classes already had this for homework so you Block 5 will definitely need to review the guidelines.
Choice 2: Write any kind of poem you wish that shows me how you feel when you think of The Holocaust and/or the life of Anne Frank.
Choice 3: Write a Thank You letter to Anne explaining why you are grateful she left us her diary.
Choice 4: Draw a picture that illustrates how you feel after reading this article. You must include a one paragraph explanation of what you drew and why to submit with your drawing.

October 3

Learning Narrative Structure

In class this week, we have been studying the narrative structure of writing. We discussed how all good stories have structure–and there are building blocks (elements of narrative structure) that fit together like Legos to form this structure). These “Legos” create the novels we love to read, the short stories that thrill us, and the TV episodes and movies we can’t turn off.  We call these five important “Legos” of a story:

1. Exposition

2. Rising Action

3. Climax

4. Falling Action and

5. Resolution.

We learned in elementary school that all good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Now that we’re in middle school and getting more sophisticated, we are going to use more precise vocabulary for these labels. The beginning of a story is the exposition and this is where the reader meets the main character(s) and is introduced to the setting (time and place). Sometimes the exposition can take up many chapters or paragraphs; sometimes exposition is much quicker in a short story.

There is usually an inciting event or something that happens that starts the rising action of a story, where one event leads to another, like dominoes falling over, building suspense until the climax, or turning point of the story. Here, in the climax, the main character comes face to face with an important decision or conflict in the story, or this could be the most action-packed part of the story. But we know we are in the climax because something changes after this part of the story. Things are different as we move into all of the events following the climax (aka the falling action) and finally the resolution, where all of the loose ends are tied up and we hopefully arrive at a satisfying conclusion.

We are still reading stories for enjoyment, but now we are more skilled readers, and equipped with this knowledge, and can analyze or break stories down into these parts for further discussion when we want. We have used a plot diagram to do this in class. We watched a simple cartoon, Lambert, The Sheepish Lion,  where each part of the plot was clear, then, using technology we moved scene-shots from the cartoon around on the Promethean Board and decided as a class how the story worked together so well to make us smile, laugh, and sing along.  And now when we write a story, we know we want to have these essential elements to make it the best it can be.

inigo blog

Using the ActivSlate to plot
the exposition of Lambert,
The Sheepish Lion.

December 19

Technology Troubles & Author Tweet!

Sometimes technology in the classroom disappoints us and that’s frustrating for students and teachers alike. Especially when we have a brand new cart full of awesome GOOGLE Chrome Books to use for the first time but our school’s server doesn’t want to cooperate (personification!). But we won’t let that stop us from pushing forward with our research! It’s also hard to be too disheartened when the same technology did allow something cool to happen today!

I just shared with Block 4/8 that author Chris Lehman knows that we are using his text to guide our research methods. Thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter, which I am still learning how to use in the classroom, Lehman “retweeted” and “favorited” a “tweet” from another teacher here. And the author read it! We kind of feel a little special and famous today. 

Here’s a screenshot of our first five minutes of fame:
C.Lehman tweet

Maybe we can even get him to comment on our class blog! Stay tuned!

December 16

Beware! Opinion disguised as Fact!

opinion fact stone path metaphor

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Now that we’ve checked books (on our topic) out of the library, it’s important that we’re careful as we read to check the author’s claims. Even though the writing is in print, writers are still humans and humans have opinions, beliefs and personal biases you need to identify as you read. You should be trying to read critically and carefully so you don’t automatically believe everything you see in print.

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December 3

Post your 5-7 Research Questions HERE!

In writing workshop we wrote five-seven questions that we wanted to know about our topic for our magazine article. We will write our questions here to share them with our classmates and teacher. In class we talked about What makes a good question?

At the library we looked for and checked out at least one nonfiction book to use for our magazine article. We will read this book and look for questions. We will use all we know about reading nonfiction. In class, we will be learning a new nonfiction strategy called, “2-Column Notes” to add to our non fiction strategies. 

What 5-7 Questions do you Hope to Learn About your Topic?

What 5-7 Questions do you Hope to Learn About your Topic?