Friday, October 19, 2018

Daily Agenda: Friday, October 19

Do Now: Vocabulary presentations.

Today’s lesson: All narrative texts have themes within them, and when readers start to look for those themes, they ask questions like, “what is this text really about?” or “what is this text trying to teach me about life?”  Then, they sometimes write long to grow their ideas.

The book review assignment is here. Another sample book review is here.

Next Tuesday 10/23: In class book review draft
Friday 1026/: Book review final due on Google classroom.

Watch 4 Year Old’s Bucket List: Water is Life.

What do you think the artists who created the commercial are trying to say?
  • Theme: Problems are severe in some places, and it can feel hard to figure out how to solve them.
  • Theme: Be thankful for what we have.
  • Theme: Hope and determination go together as we know we can change the world.
  • Theme: Live life to the fullest and have no regrets!
  • REMEMBER, all narrative texts have themes within them...many themes.

What’s on your bucket list?  Share with the class.  

Collect ideas about themes in a text.
Name a central problem or issue that characters in the story face.
The Pearl: greed, injustice, racism, poverty, discrimination, abuse…

Reflect on parts of the story that pertain to this problem.
We focused on greed. Problems include how the doctor’s greed causes him to make the baby sick; the pearl buyers collude to scam Kino; Kino abuses Juana when she insists on getting rid of the pearl; the assassins are hired by a greedy person; Kino attacks the assassins and Coyotito is killed.

Think to yourself, “What is the story teaching me about this problem, this issue?”
The Pearl: Greed is almost as bad as a crime.

Write long about your thinking to grow your ideas, perhaps by asking how different characters relate to that issue.  
Beginning of a long write on the theme of greed: In life, greed is almost as bad as a crime.  One theory on why things fall apart in The Pearl is that mother nature has a cruel hand and causes bad luck: a scorpion wanders into the brush hut and bites the baby.  A pearl, called an “accident,” gives Kino much more than he can handle, and mother nature burdens him with ill fortune.  The desert even catches Kino’s family in its parched trap.  On the other hand, perhaps greed is like a man-made disease, a “monstrosity” engineered out of the Frankenstein-like lab of twisted ambitions. Steinbeck shows us that greed, like a man-made strain of the pneumonia, can become so potent that it overtakes a person’s being and makes criminal behavior suddenly so rampant.  Kino seems like such a simple, loving husband, but when greed infects his being, he becomes a criminal.  The greed is the first crime, and the violence, death, and loss that comes next is the result...

Use this model to complete a couple of theme long writes this weekend.

Further handouts:

HW: For 30 minutes, write one and half or two pages in your notebook.  

  • Write a theme entry or two, to dig deeper into the book review.
  • Use notebook paper, or start a google doc.  
  • Writing about themes will help you with building up your in-class book review.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Daily Agenda: Tuesday, October 15

The first quarter book review of your independent reading assignment will be due on Friday, October 26.  The rubric will be the same as the summer reading book review.

Today we learned about writing a summary.  We read a sample student essay, on Fish in a Tree, focusing on the outstanding summary.

Next, we used the top-down web approach with a sample from Ms. Hodgens' quarter one book Brick Lane, to focus our thinking on character and conflict to set up a summary.

The top of the top-down web includes your name, the character, and the essential conflict.  Nazneen's essential conflict in Monica Ali's novel is with fate, and I typified her conflict like this:

Brick Lane's central conflict is about the obligations that are inherited, which are unwanted.

Three aspects of the essential conflict are...
Her mother's (Amma's) unresolved death (aspect 1)
Her sister's (Hasina's) struggle because of her choices (aspect 2)
Her husband's inability to follow through on his work.

Next, we followed these directions and read my model:
Write an introductory sentence that states the conflict in a summary:
Nazneen carries the burden of memory as struggles with a central conflict about unwanted obligations linger from her past and disorient her present.

Next, turn your three aspects of the top-down web into sentences, using your own words along with quotes and moments.  This writing can be super in depth and that will help you transform it into a paragraph summary tomorrow in class!
1. Amma's death never leaves Nazneen.  Quote?  Moment?
2. Her sister, Hasina, drops in and out of her life through letters, but the letters offer no hope of being able to shift Hasina's fate because she is out of reach.  Quote?  Moment?
3.  Her husband hoards furniture and books which creates actual physical obstacles in Nazneen's life. Brief overview of the setting of their apartment?

HW Eng: Finish your top-down web, introductory sentence, and aspect sentences which we started today in class.  Follow the notes on the blog for a summary of today's lesson.  Re-read the model essay on Fish in a Tree from class today (also linked on the blog) and bring your quarter 1 choice book to class tomorrow as we continue to draft the book review in class. 

Daily Agenda: Monday, October 14

Eighth grade class field trip today to Monty Tech and Mount Wachusett!

Thanks for the awesome living literature timeline of Louisa May Alcott's "kingdom" of writers -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Mark Twain.

HW Eng: Finish reading your quarter 1 choice book by Tuesday, October 15.

Daily Agenda: Friday, October 12

We went to the Harvard Public Library today, and many students checked out one or more new books for independent reading.

HW Eng: Finish reading your quarter 1 choice book by Tuesday, October 15.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Daily Agenda: Tuesday, October 9 - Thursday, October 11

Tuesday, October 9
Over the long reading, students read the quarter 1 choice book for 30 minutes a night, and each student started a new book review on their independent reading.

The hard copy of the summer reading book review rubric was returned and must be kept in the binder.  I will ask for it back for parent teacher conferences in November.

Next, we turned to Google docs organization.  Each student must do the following:

  • Share the ELA folder with
  • Create two folders within the ELA folder: The Pearl and Choice Books
  • Drag or move files into The Pearl and Choice Books.  For example, text frames, vocabulary, and commercial notes go into The Pearl folder; the summer reading book review and Q1 draft started in class today go into the Choice Book folder.
HW Eng: Read the choice book for 30 minutes OR continue writing the choice book review we started today in class.

Wednesday, October 10
We prepared for the Great Pearl Debate, which will happen tomorrow in class.  The lesson is here.

HW Eng: Continue your written contributions to the document Ms. H. started for your debate team and which you go started on in class today.

Thursday, October 11
The Great Pearl Debate--
  • Final prep with teams.
  • Debate!
  • Upload team notes to Google classroom (one person per group) and vote at the end on which position you choose.
HW Eng: 1. Complete the Google form I sent to you via e-mail to self-evaluate your debate prep and participation.  2. Read your choice book for at least 30 minutes tonight, and bring the book to class tomorrow.  The A, B, and G classes will be going to the HPL, and the C period class will be going to the TBS library.  Please also see some important notes from the Harvard Public Library about book renewals on the class blog,

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Daily Agenda: Thursday, October 4

We prepared for our great debate on The Pearl with a lesson on how to debate.

We watched commercials as the basis of our debate, and our debate question was this: Which of the commercials is most memorable?

What makes a memory?  Some of the basis for the notes we took while watching the commercials included the factors which we feel makes a memory: colors, hooks, repetition, humor/jokes, inspiration, dread or despair, extremes, "cringe" factor, music or the "earworm", associations. 

By the way, Aristotle would be interested in the list the C period created; he pushed in a slightly different direction and said that any text should have a balance of ethos (appeals to character and values), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).  A fallacy of ethos, pathos, or logos is a natural outcome (think - the gushy fakeness of the Kay Jewelers ad would be a fallacy in pathos). 

We watched the commercials, jotted notes, and then used the templates for debate for first and in some cases second rounds of debate.  The commercials include Kay JewelersWhere's the Beef, Samsung, and Dove.

HW Eng: 1.  Read your choice book for at least 30 minutes each day this weekend; the choice book should be finished by October 16.  2. If you conferenced in person with Ms. H., turn in your revised book review on Google classroom by Tuesday, October 9.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Daily Agenda: Wednesday, October 3

Learning at least one new work a day is a core habit of mind in eighth grade English, and to that end, we wear many hats -- sometimes quite literally.

As an opener, students walked around the room and chose a hat, which was then connected to one of our vocabulary words.  Students created a brief performance which included the hat, a vocabulary word, and a scenario.  We then had a challenge in some classes -- how many words, perhaps all, could each group accurately and appropriately use in a slightly longer enactment of a scene?

We learned about the various parts of speech forms which many of the words can take on, with the goal of being able to multiple our vocabularies and use these words in a host of circumstances for life.  That includes in essay writing, which creates a more mature prose style.

We will be having a debate early next week on The Pearl.  Should Kino be convicted?  Or is he an innocent man?  The text frames assignment for Chapter 6 is here, and it will be a way to get started in thinking about your opinion.

HW Eng: Finish up writing your text frames for Chapter 6 of The Pearl.