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.

April 28

My Vocabulary Poem

Reflection: As I was trying to choose a word for the poem, I struggled to find a word that represented all of the emotions that surround the life and death of Anne Frank. And what her legacy is for me. I thought maybe I should write from my unique perspective as a teacher, who used to be a young girl and student.

Legacy is the word that comes to mind for me. As Anne wrote in her diary, “If God lets me live…I shall not remain insignificant…I shall work for in the world for mankind.” The article ends with the sentence, “Through her diary, Anne Frank lives forever.”
Isn’t that what most of us want? For our lives to have meant something? As a teacher, I want my time in the classroom to inspire others. I want to make sure my students have time to discuss and respond to life in ways that are relevant to them. I am excited to see how my students will respond to this article on Anne Frank. So I’m going to title my vocabulary poem, “Legacy.” 



April 24

Vocabulary Poem Guidelines

  • Find an interesting word in a book you are reading or that you’ve wondered about before for some reason. Maybe it sounds cool or you’ve always wondered how to use it in a sentence
  • Title of the poem is the word you choose. It should be written EXACTLY as it appears in the dictionary (Dictionary.com)
  • pronunciation should be written underneath title (exactly as it appears in the dictionary)
  • part of speech (from dictionary)
  • Length: It should be at least 4 stanzas
  • Stanza 1: A version of the dictionary’s definition
  • Stanza’s 2, 3, 4 (or more) should begin with:
    As in:
    and then give an example of using this word in a sentence. The sentence should reflect either your personal feelings about a topic using your word; or, the feelings/perspective of a character you are reading about. (Or both, if you choose)
  • The final stanza should use the word and let the reader know what your “So What” is for the word…in other words…why is this word important enough to you that you chose it as your poem subject
  • Make sure you italicize the word in the poem whenever you use it.


Here’s an example from The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (p.104):

 i ron ic

[AY-RON-IK] adjective

Having a curious or humorous
unexpected sequence of events
marked by coincidence.

As in: The fact that Vondie
hates astronomy
and his mom works for NASA
is ironic.

 As in: It’s not ironic
that Grandpop died
in a hospital
and Dad doesn’t like

As in: Isn’t it ironic 
that showoff JB,
with all his swagger,
is too shy
to talk
to Miss Sweet Tea,
so he gives me the phone?




February 3

Character Analysis Questions

Today in class, honors students listened (and followed along) to the classic fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin. We did this to activate prior knowledge of the text (or learn the story for the first time) because our new read-aloud, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is a “fractured fairy tale.”

A broken fairy tale? you may be thinking. What in the world?  Here is a good definition if you’re unfamiliar with the genre: 

A re-working of a traditional fairy tale that retains familiar elements such as characters and plot, but alters the story in unexpected ways, often with a contemporary “spin” or ironic twist.

After reading the classic version, students were asked to create four character analysis questions. We have been learning about different types of response questions for our book club launch. Students are used to answering response questions but do not have as much practice creating them. And that is important for meaningful (and enjoyable) book club discussion.

Once students wrote their analysis questions in their reader’s notebooks, they were asked to leave their books open and go to another student’s notebook. They were asked to evaluate that students questions. Was it truly a character analysis question or did it ask about the setting? or a detail of the plot?
A character analysis question should ask the reader what he/she thinks about the character choices the author made when creating the character. Students should understand that authors use literary techniques to impact a reader. Furthermore, students should understand that authors use what a character says, does, and thinks (as well as other characters’ responses in the story TO that character) to create a believable character…one that is worthy of book club discussion.

Remember, when we analyze anything, we are breaking down that concept or idea into parts and showing the relationships among the parts.

Here are some Character Analysis question stems to get started:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of the character’s choice in this chapter.
  • How would you categorize the character? What peer group would this character “hang out with”?
  • How is this character similar to (insert another character’s name)?
  • How is this character connected to (the setting? the plot? the theme? another character?)?
  • How is this character different than another character?
  • What conclusions can you draw about this character based on his/her actions?
  • What could have caused this character to act this way?
  • What explanation do you have for the way the character does something?
  • What was the problem with the character?
  • What was the purpose of this main character? Or minor character?
  • Why do you think the author chose to (insert something the author decided to do ) with this character?


Here’s a glimpse at some student examples of this important skill:

20140203_140556 20140203_140603 (2) 20140203_140852 20140203_140906 20140203_141046 20140203_141102

January 14

We are finished going Out of Our Mind(s)!

Our first lengthy read-aloud in class has drawn to an end! We have been enjoying listening to Sharon Draper’s Out of my Mind since the first week of school. We have practiced active listening skills, answered comprehension and analysis questions, and learned about how authors make choices when writing their novels.

End of Book Questions that ALL students are expected to be able to answer by this point (homework if not finished in class):
1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What are three themes of the the novel?
3. Give evidence to support each of the themes you wrote for #2. At least 3 pieces of supporting evidence.
4. What events had to happen in order to cause Penny’s accident? (cause/effect)
5. Write a letter to Melody telling her what you thought of her autobiography?