Saturday, December 27, 2008

How to Use Commas



How to Use Commas
Here is a site I just found where you can learn about the rules for using commas.
Click here for a tutorial on using commas.

(image from www.comma.org.mt/gfx/comma.gif)
Link

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Week of Term

Last Week of Term

Don't forget to study for your retest on Prefixes and Suffixes which will be given during the last week of the term.
Also, if you haven't presented your "CD" Book-of-the-Month Assessment, be prepared to do so on the first day we get back from vacation.

The Foolish Fir-Tree -- a Christmas poem by Henry Van Dyke


The Foolish Fir-Tree a Christmas poem by Henry Van Dyke


"A tale that the poet Ruckert told
To German children, in days of old;
Disguised in a random, rollicking rhyme
Like a merry mummer of ancient time,
And sent, in its English dress, to please
The little folk of the Christmas trees."

A Little fir grew in the midst of the wood
Contented and happy, as young trees should.
His body was straight and his boughs were clean;
And summer and winter the bountiful sheen
Of his needles bedecked him, from top to root,
In a beautiful, all-the-year, evergreen suit.

But a trouble came into his heart one day,
When he saw that the other trees were gay
In the wonderful raiment that summer weaves
Of manifold shapes and kinds of leaves:
He looked at his needles so stiff and small,
And thought that his dress was the poorest of all.
Then jealousy clouded the little tree's mind,
And he said to himself, "It was not very kind
"To give such an ugly old dress to a tree!
"If the fays of the forest would only ask me,
"I'd tell them how I should like to be dressed,
"In a garment of gold, to bedazzle the rest!"
So he fell asleep, but his dreams were bad.
When he woke in the morning, his heart was glad;
For every leaf that his boughs could hold
Was made of the brightest beaten gold.
I tell you, children, the tree was proud;
He was something above the common crowd;
And he tinkled his leaves, as if he would say
To a peddler who happened to pass that way,
"Just look at me! don't you think I am fine?
"And wouldn't you like such a dress as mine?"
"Oh, yes!" said the man, "and I really guess
I must fill my pack with your beautiful dress."
So he picked the golden leaves with care,
And left the little tree shivering there.

"Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?"
The fir-tree said, "I forgot that thieves
"Would be sure to rob me in passing by.
"If the fairies would give me another try,
"I'd wish for something that cost much less,
"And be satisfied with glass for my dress!"
Then he fell asleep; and, just as before,
The fairies granted his wish once more.
When the night was gone, and the sun rose clear,
The tree was a crystal chandelier;
And it seemed, as he stood in the morning light,
That his branches were covered with jewels bright.
"Aha!" said the tree. "This is something great!"
And he held himself up, very proud and straight;
But a rude young wind through the forest dashed,
In a reckless temper, and quickly smashed
The delicate leaves. With a clashing sound
They broke into pieces and fell on the ground,
Like a silvery, shimmering shower of hail,
And the tree stood naked and bare to the gale.

Then his heart was sad; and he cried, "Alas
"For my beautiful leaves of shining glass!
"Perhaps I have made another mistake
"In choosing a dress so easy to break.
"If the fairies only would hear me again
"I'd ask them for something both pretty and plain:
"It wouldn't cost much to grant my request,
"In leaves of green lettuce I'd like to be dressed!"
By this time the fairies were laughing, I know;
But they gave him his wish in a second; and so
With leaves of green lettuce, all tender and sweet,
The tree was arrayed, from his head to his feet.
"I knew it!" he cried, "I was sure I could find
"The sort of a suit that would be to my mind.
"There's none of the trees has a prettier dress,
"And none as attractive as I am, I guess."
But a goat, who was taking an afternoon walk,
By chance overheard the fir-tree's talk.
So he came up close for a nearer view;
"My salad!" he bleated, "I think so too!
"You're the most attractive kind of a tree,
"And I want your leaves for my five-o'clock tea."
So he ate them all without saying grace,
And walked away with a grin on his face;
While the little tree stood in the twilight dim,
With never a leaf on a single limb.

Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak
He was so ashamed that he could not speak.
He knew at last that he had been a fool,
To think of breaking the forest rule,
And choosing a dress himself to please,
Because he envied the other trees.
But it couldn't be helped, it was now too late,
He must make up his mind to a leafless fate!
So he let himself sink in a slumber deep,
But he moaned and he tossed in his troubled sleep,
Till the morning touched him with joyful beam,
And he woke to find it was all a dream.
For there in his evergreen dress he stood,
A pointed fir in the midst of the wood!
His branches were sweet with the balsam smell,
His needles were green when the white snow fell.
And always contented and happy was he,
The very best kind of a Christmas tree.

December 18/19, 2008

December 18/19, 2008

B1 went to the charity basketball game.
B2 listened to/read, and answered questions about chapter 10 of The Giver. They used part of the period for a party.
B3 spent the period having a class party.

A1 went to the charity basketball game.
A2 held a class party.

Merry Christmas and a Glorious New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16/17, 2008


December 16/17, 2008
Students spent some time studying the seventh grade suffixes.
All students who hadn't had an opportunity to present their book assessment presentations. (CD's)
We read chapter 9 in The Giver and answered questions in the packet for chapters 9-12.

Ms. Dorsey read The Cello of Mr. O to B2 and B3 and A1, and we talked about themes in that book.

Remember to study your prefixes and suffixes so you can get a perfect score on the test we'll take after you come back.

Turn in revisions for book assessments before you leave for Christmas.

The Cello of Mr. O and Theme

The Cello of Mr. O and Theme

Theme, Moral and Topic

Theme: the perception about life or human nature that the writer shares with the reader. It is usually not stated directly, but must be inferred.

A. For each of the following statements, place a "T" next to it if it is an acceptable theme statement for The Cello of Mr. O, and a "U" if the statement is unacceptable as a theme statement. (There can be more than one acceptable statement.)

_____1. Even when life is at its most difficult, there are always ways to find peace and happiness.

_____2. You should always listen to music when you feel sad about things.

_____3. Music has the power to make us feel more courageous and less afraid.

_____4. A man plays his cello for people in a war-torn town.

_____5. People who are committed to something can always find a way to make it happen, even in the most adverse or arduous circumstances.

Cutler, Jane. The Cello of Mr. O. Dutton Books, 1999.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 12/15, 2008

December 12/15, 2008
1. Students took a test on the 7th grade prefixes and suffixes. There will be a retake before the end of the term.

2. Students presented their Book-of-the-Month Assessments -- the "CD" theme project. Students who haven't presented should be ready to present next time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Giver, Questions for Chapter 7 and 8

Chapter 7 of The Giver
Write your answers legibly and in complete sentences.
Read through these before you read the chapter, and answer #1, #2, and either #3 or #4.
1. How would you characterize (describe) the chief elder?

2. What do you think of the ritual of thanking people – for example, for their feelings, their dreams, and their childhood? Should our society adopt this ritual?

3. Do the assignments given out seem appropriate to you? Explain.

4. Why do you think the Chief Elder skips Jonas? Give as many possibilities as you can.

Chapter 8 of The Giver
Write your answers legibly and in complete sentences.
Questions for chapter 8: Read through these before you read, and answer #1, #2, and then #3 or #4.
1. What is unusual about The Receiver? What else in the book can you connect this to?
What meaning do you find in this?

2. What makes choosing a Receiver especially difficult?

3. What do you think a Receiver of Memory might do? Could anyone in our country/culture be considered a Receiver of Memory? In other countries/cultures that you know?

4. Imagine that you are Jonas. What questions do you want to ask The Receiver when you meet him?

December 10/11, 2008


December 10/11, 2008

Self-Starter: With your family unit, answer questions about chapters 7 and 8 of The Giver. Send the mother or father of your family unit to get one sheet for your family unit to fill out. If any family unit members were absent last time, catch them up on what is happening in the book.
(If you were absent, get a worksheet or copy it from this blog, and fill out the answers to the questions yourself.)

Book Assessment Presentations:
We had several of the presentations today (CD's). If you didn't present today, be ready for next time.

Don't forget to study for your test on Prefixes and Suffixes!

Monday, December 8, 2008

December 8/9, 2008

December 8/9, 2008
Attention: Your book-of-the-month club genre for third term may be historical or multicultural fiction, biography, autobiography, or literary nonfiction.

A Song for Theme -- Write in your composition book (about 1/2 page) about the song shown -- "Something for Nothing."
Word Sort for Suffixes -- Don't forget to study these for the upcoming test.
(By the way, I did find some information on whether to use -er or -or when spelling a word. There isn't an easy, simple rule, but there are some general guidelines._
Quiz on Topic and Theme
Example of the Book Assessment Project --
Remember that your CD projects are due next time.
Assign families
Reading The Giver, from page 50

For absent students --
Exercise 1: Word Sort for Suffixes:
Sort these words into three categories.
farmer
artist
doctor
lawyer
physicist
specialist
teacher
author
dancer
chemist
dictator
banker
butcher
podiatrist
educator
What part of speech are all of these words?

Exercise 2:
Sort these words into two categories:
Category 1: Words that have a suffix that means ____________
Category 2: Words that have a suffix that means ____________

hopeful
worthless
careless
careful
hopeless
useful
beautiful
useless
fearless
frightful

What part of speech are all the words in Exercise 2? _____________


Quiz on Topic or Theme

Topic or Theme
Identify the following as topic, theme, or neither.

_________________ 1. We can more easily forgive others when we realize what they must be feeling.
_________________ 2. Forgiveness
_________________ 3. Lily is angry at the boy on the playground who doesn’t follow the rules.
_________________ 4. How can we forgive people who offend us?
_________________ 5. Ron risks his life to help Harry when he plays in the chess game.
_________________ 6. Friendship
_________________ 7. True friends will go to great lengths to help a friend.
_________________ 8. Helping a friend
_________________ 9. It’s fun to play chess.
_________________ 10. It is often our differences that make us helpful to each other.


Read the song lyrics below, and
in your composition book write about 1/2 page about the whole song or about any part of it. Label this entry "Something for Nothing."

"Something For Nothing"
Rush -- Lyrics by Neil Peart

Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow's end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways
You pass the days

Waiting for someone to call
And turn your world around
Looking for an answer to
The question you have found
Looking for
An open door

You don't get something for nothing
You don't get freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story

In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

[ Rush Lyrics are found on www.songlyrics.com ]


Friday, December 5, 2008

Finding Songs and Lyrics to Match Themes

Finding Songs and Lyrics to Match Themes

I tried "googling" song lyrics, and found several sites where you can find the lyrics to many, many songs.
Also, I tried "googling" "songs about ______," putting the topic of theme in the blank. This worked to find songs about several themes. In fact, I found a song about personal responsibility to share with the students next class time. (Theme: Each individual needs to take responsibility for his or her own life.)

Something For Nothing -- Song Lyrics

Notice that this song could be used for several themes. For example, . . .
You can't always depend on others to take care of you.
You need to create your own life.
You don't get something for nothing.
Freedom isn't free.


Something For Nothing
Rush -- Lyrics by Neil Peart

Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow's end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways
You pass the days

Waiting for someone to call
And turn your world around
Looking for an answer to
The question you have found
Looking for
An open door

You don't get something for nothing
You don't get freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story

In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

[ Rush Lyrics are found on www.songlyrics.com ]

Advice for Student Writers

Advice for Student Writers from author James Howe, author of the Bunnicula series:

What advice would you give a student that wants to be a writer?
Two words: read . . . write. Reading is the best way to learn to write, but the way to get better and better as a writer, is to write, write, write. Write what matters to you, write what makes you laugh, write what makes you cry, write in order to get a reaction from the reader, write because you have to, and write because it is fun for you. -- James Howe

Binder and Composition Book

If you need to catch up on the binder and composition book assignments, here is what we've done so far:
English Binder So Far – Second Term as of 12-9-08

December 8/9 --
Topic or Theme Quiz
Word Sort
Prefix and Suffix Chart with Example Words

December 2/3 –
1. Types of Government
2. Giver Questions, Chapter 5-6

November 15/Dec. 1 –
3. Word Sorts, Exercise 1 and 2
4. Anticipation Guide for The Giver
5. Giver Questions, Chapter 3-4

November 21/24 –
6. Magical study guide
7. Yellow prefixes and suffixes chart

November 19/20
8. Word sort (half-page) for periods B1, B2, B3

Sentence Combining Worksheets:
9. Sentence Combining with Key Words
10. Sentence Combining with a Series of Words or Phrases
11. Sentence Combining with Compound Subjects and Verbs

12. Plot Map for The Smallest Dragon Boy with the back (Literary Elements) filled out.

13. Book-of-the-Month assignment
14. Book-of-the-Month approval
15. Reading Logs for theme that have been returned

16. Rough draft/Assignment for persuasive paper (Freedom or Security) (B-Day classes)


Composition Book Self-Starter Writing Assignments So Far – Second Term

November 5/6, 2008
Responding to Poetry -- Emotions and Ideas
Students responded to the poem "High Flight. " They read the poem, and in their composition books they a) wrote quickly for about two minutes about anything this poem brought to mind for them. b) borrowed one line from the poem and created a poem or continued to write their thoughts, focusing now on that one line.
November 7/10: Students wrote a response to a poem from their literature texts: "The Runaway."
a) Read the poem.
b) Write quickly for about two minutes or so about anything this poem brings to mind for you.
(In your composition book -- We're working from the back still.)
c) Borrow one line from the poem and create a poem or write about it, focusing on this line.
Students should write 1/3 to 1/2 page.
Notes for the poem: A stall is an enclosure within a stable where an animal is kept, and a bin is a container for storing food, especially oats.


November 19/20
Label it: "Perfect Society" (Write ½ page or more.)
If you could live in a perfect society, what would it be like? Who would be in charge? What rules would you add or get rid of? What else would you have or not have in your perfect society?


November 21/24 -- Self-Starter: In your composition book, working from the back, label the page: "Naming."
How did you get your name? Were you names after someone? How do you feel about your name? How important is a name? Are there any names you especially like? Write 1/3 - 1/2 page. (If you were absent, you could write this on lined paper to tape in your composition book.)

December 2/3: Ask for the blue sheet with the poem “Nothing In Heaven Functions As It Ought,” and follow the instructions on that sheet.

December 8/9 -- Read the song lyrics for "Something for Nothing." Write about 1/2 page about the whole song, or any part of it. Label it: "Something for Nothing."


Poems for Self-Starters:

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Vocabulary Helps
surly: unfriendly or hostile

trod: to step or walk on, about, in, or along.

sanctity: holiness, a sacred thing


"The Runaway" by Robert Frost

Once when the snow of the year was beginning to fall,
We stopped by a mountain pasture to say 'Whose colt?'
A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall,
The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head
And snorted at us. And then he had to bolt.
We heard the miniature thunder where he fled,
And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and grey,
Like a shadow against the curtain of falling flakes.
'I think the little fellow's afraid of the snow.
He isn't winter-broken. It isn't play
With the little fellow at all. He's running away.
I doubt if even his mother could tell him, "Sakes,
It's only weather". He'd think she didn't know !
Where is his mother? He can't be out alone.'
And now he comes again with a clatter of stone
And mounts the wall again with whited eyes
And all his tail that isn't hair up straight.
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies.
'Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When other creatures have gone to stall and bin,
Ought to be told to come and take him in.'

"Something For Nothing"
Rush -- Lyrics by Neil Peart

Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow's end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways
You pass the days

Waiting for someone to call
And turn your world around
Looking for an answer to
The question you have found
Looking for
An open door

You don't get something for nothing
You don't get freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story

In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

[ Rush Lyrics are found on www.songlyrics.com ]


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Freedom or Security Essay

Freedom or Security Essay

Getting on MyAccess.
1. Click the compass icon in the dock.
2. On our school home page, look in the right column, and click on the second button from the bottom, or type in http://gomyaccess.com/myaccess/do/log.
3. Log in using your user name and password:

Username: firstnameSTUDENT#
Password: 999lastname

4. If your name shows, click on “YES, this information is CORRECT. I would like to CONTINUE.”
5. Above the chart, click on “Assignments.”
6. Go to the assignment topic, “Freedom or Security” and click on “Start.”
7. Begin typing your persuasive essay. Do not type your name or a title.
8. After you have typed, revised, and edited, click on “Submit Writing.”
9. Look over your scores and comments. Come back to the assignment page and click on “Start Revision” for the Freedom or Security” assignment.

Suggestions to score well on MyAccess:
 Write 750 to 800 words or more.
 Use words and phrases from the prompt in your introduction and conclusion.
 Write five or more paragraphs.
 Don’t neglect to revise and edit. You may revise as many times as you wish, but there will be a deadline to improve your grade.
To receive full points, get at least a score of 4 overall on your essay.
We have only today to type this in the computer lab, but you may continue to work on this from home.

 Use the rough draft you prepared in class. 

The Prompt:
Which is more important: freedom or security?
Decide which you feel is more important, freedom or security, create a thesis statement (main idea), and support that statement. Include at least three major reasons why either freedom or security is more important than the other. For each major reason include evidence, examples, quotes, or other supports.

As you write, remember your essay will be scored based on how well you:
 develop a multi-paragraph response to the assigned topic that clearly communicates your thesis to the audience.
 support your thesis with meaningful reasons and sufficient details.
address the readers' concerns, opposing viewpoints, or counterarguments.
 organize your essay in a clear and logical manner, including an introduction, body, and conclusion.
use well-structured sentences and language that are appropriate for your audience.
 edit your work to conform to the conventions of standard American English.

Use any of the tools available to you, such as the Checklist, Spellchecker, or Graphic Organizer.

Write your essay to fit this format.
Name __________________________________________ Period _____ Date
Preparing a persuasive essay: Use what you already know about writing a persuasive essay. Here is a general outline. Add extra paper to this as needed, or write your rough draft on a separate sheet of paper.

1. Introduction – You may use a “hook” (something that will interest the reader). Include a thesis statement (the main idea of your whole essay). For this essay it will be something like “Freedom is more important than security,” or “Security is more important than freedom.” In this paragraph briefly tell your reader what the three reasons are that _________ is more important than ____________ . Just mention them here. You will explain and support each of these reasons in a paragraph.

2. First body paragraph – Give your first reason why _____ is more important than _____, and support that.
Use a transition word or phrase such as “First” or “One reason. . .,” or “To begin with. . .” to begin your paragraph.

3. Second body paragraph – Give your second reason why _____ is more important than _____, and support that. Begin with a transition word or phrase such as “Second” or “Another reason. . .,” or “In addition. . . . “

4. Third body paragraph – Give your third reason why _____ is more important than _____, and support that.
Begin with a transition word or phrase such as “Finally” or “A third reason. . .,” or “Also. . . ”

5. Write a conclusion that briefly restates your thesis/main idea and briefly summarizes the reasons you’ve given why that is true.

December 4/5, 2008

December 4/5, 2008
Remember that your Book-of-the-Month Club project/assessment is due on December 10/11.

You have a reading log due Thursday or Friday of this week. If you have not turned in all reading logs so far for this term, you should also have a reading log for next week.

Today we wrote a rough draft, then went to the computer lab to type up persuasive essays addressing either "Freedom is more important than security," or "Security is more important than freedom."

These may be revised as many times as you wish up until the end of the term, but I will be entering the grades on PowerSchool soon -- hopefully this weekend. See the post for "Freedom or Security Essay."

Topic or Theme -- Extra Credit Quiz

Topic or Theme -- Extra Credit Quiz Available only through December 2008.

Copy and print this quiz. Then answer the questions and bring it to me for up to 20 points of extra credit. See the post titled "Topic and Theme" from November 13 for some hints.

Identify the following as topic, theme, or neither.

_________________ 1. Greed

_________________ 2. Love is the strongest force in the world.

_________________ 3. Catching Monkeys

_________________ 4. In this book, the main character is a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire.

_________________ 5. Often the best sort of friend is someone who is very different from you.

_________________ 6. Friendship

_________________ 7. Is freedom or security more important?

_________________ 8. Freedom or Security in The Giver

_________________ 9. Forgiveness is good for the one forgiving as well as for the one being forgiven.

_________________ 10. Kendra found out that hard work pays off.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 2/3, 2008

December 2/3, 2008
Announcements:
Don't forget that your Book-of-the-Month Club project is due next week.
Don't forget to hand in a reading log for this week (including at least two days for last week).
Parent-Teacher Conferences will be this Thursday, December 4.
The PTSA Book Fair is this week. Here is information from the PTSA:
I am excited to let you know about the Buy-One-Get-One-Free Book Fair which is being held next week in the Media Center.
Because we have done so well at past book fairs, we have qualified to have an extra two cases of books sent with our fair. This means that the book fair will be bigger and better, with an even wider selection of books.
The book fair will be December 2-4, and will be open from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (Ms. Dorsey is assuming that it will also be open during the Parent-Teacher Conferences.


In Class Today:
1. Theme in a poem: "Nothing in Heaven Functions As It Ought" by X.J. Kennedy
and the suffix "ible/able" which turns words into adjectives, and means "capable of."
Also the suffix "-ion," "-tion" which means "act or state – action or process" and is added to the root which means "performance or execution (to do something)." Usually –ion changes a word to a noun, but in this poem it is functioning as a verb.

2. About forms of government. Which is more important -- freedom or safety?
PowerPoint and chart to fill out
We looked at major types of government: anarchy (not really a government, but an option), democracy, republic, communism, socialism, fascism, and monarchy.

3. The Giver -- Themes
Is one of Lois Lowry's themes in The Giver "Freedom is more important than security"?
Or is it "Security is more important than freedom"?

Other Themes in The Giver: Read chapters 5-6.
Communities can run more smoothly when the individual members are willing to give up their own desires.

4. Preview the book fair.

November 25/ December 1, 2008

November 25/ December 1, 2008

Students should hand in their book approvals.
Reading Logs will be due for November 24/25 along with the first week of December on December 5.
Hand in your sentence-revising packet if you haven't.
Notice that your Book-of-the-Month assignment is due next week (December 10/11).

Self-Starter: Students did a word sort. (If you were absent, ask me for one if there is not one for you in your class absent envelope.)

1. Anticipation Guide for The Giver. Students indicated whether they felt various activities should be controlled by government (society). (If you were absent, ask me for one if there is not one for you in your class absent envelope.)

2. We listened to/read along with chapters 3 and 4 in The Giver. (If you were absent, ask me for the questions for those chapters if there is not a copy for you in your class absent envelope.)

Time for jobs and time for Elders and Law and Justice to meet.

A1 and A2 need to finish chapter 4 and finish filling out the answers to the questions on Chapter 4.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Definitions of Freedom


Here are some definitions of freedom given today on the Giver Anticipation Guide:

-- being able to do what you want to the extent of not breaking the law
-- do whatever you want and not get into trouble
-- to get a job, make a living, get a life in which you are in control
-- to do whatever we want if it is okay an not bad
-- to be able to make your own choices and go to appropriate places and be able to do things you want to do
-- People get to choose many things unless it could cause harm to someone.
-- do whatever you want, but still be a little protected and have some laws
-- being able to do whatever you want
-- we have the right to do anything we want to
-- a society in which people can do whatever they want. But there should always be a consequence for everything that you do. It would be a good consequence for service or good deeds, or a bad one for a criminal at or bad deed.
-- having the job you want, the family you want, with laws, police, military to keep people safe. Freedom is the --- to vote, choose where you want to live.
-- Someone can do whatever they want. They don't have to listen to other people.
-- My thoughts on freedom are that freedom means free, but even though you're free doesn't mean you can break all the rules.
-- Freedom is having free agency and choosing where you work, what religion you are in, and you have the ability to choose!!!
-- Freedom is being able to express and do what you feel is right. [Teacher's comment: Isn't this a freedom that is now being restricted? Do people in the United States truly have the freedom to speak up for what they believe, and to do what they think is right?]
-- You should be able to choose how you want to live your own life and to have it not be controlled by other people you might not even know.
-- Freedom has limits. You just can't do what ever you want if it goes against the society.
-- You can do what you want, but you can't choose your consequences.
-- to be independent to get things for yourself -- raise all the money for your family
-- being able to be free from society, but keep rules that make you safe
-- being able to do what you want to and extent, and think what you want
-- My definition is there is not smoking. You don't have to pay money for anything and everything's cool.
-- It means that you're completely free up to the point where it could do damage to something, including yourself.
-- freedom of speech -- being free to say what you wanted
-- freedom of religion -- free to pick your religion
-- means that you choose what you want to do -- freedom of speech -- freedom to carry fire arms
-- Freedom is where you are not a slave and you can do what you want.
A-Day
-- Freedom is when you can choose and take the consequences.
-- ability to make your own choices and have responsibility for yourself
--People are entitled to make their own decisions, but with some limits and restrictions to prevent chaos.
-- free to do whatever you want and not go to school
-- You can do what you want but still have some rules so things don't get out of control.
-- My definition of freedom is a place where you can pursue your dreams without the government conflicting, but also a place with laws to keep peace.
-- Freedom is having free agency, being able to choose right from wrong and making your own decisions from what you think will happen in the future.
--to be able to do whatever you want and not get in trouble
-- free to make your own decisions
-- the right to do something, to be free to do anything
-- You are free to express yourself, live your life, but follow the law. You can work wher you want to work, wear what you want to wear, but follow the law.
-- being free to do what you want to do unless harmful to the community
-- Freedom is when you are free to do whatever you want. Laws are just there so we know what to do. We have to have some kind of rules or we would all go crazy and wild.
-- to be able to do anything you want whenever
-- My definition is that you can control your own life.
-- speaking for what you believe in and choosing what religion you have
-- My definition of freedom is being able to make your own choices without anyone to stop you.
-- People can have a choice to decide what to do to their life, but you can't destroy your or another's life.
-- Freedom is to be free from restrictions and rules; you should be able to choose.
-- My definition of freedom would be to let people do things that they want. If they choose wrongly, that's their fault and they will get punished for it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Examples of Theme from Movies


Examples of Theme from Movies
Extra Credit Opportunity expires at the end of December 2015.

Movie: Spiderman
Topic: A teenager has to make a choice about using his new-found power for self-serving purposes or for the greater good of his community.
It's about power and choices.
Theme: With great power comes great responsibility.

Movie: Twilight
Topic: A mortal girl falls in love with a vampire.
Themes:
Love can triumph over differences.
Love can conquer fear.
We each have a choice whether to follow the evil that is within us, or to follow the good.














Extra Credit: Write up a topic and one or more themes for another movie and hand it in.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Examples of Theme from Students

More Examples of Theme from Students

Title: Where the Red Fern Grows Date Read: Nov. 14-19 Pages read: 1-90
p. 7 "It's not easy for a a young boy to want a dog and not be able to have one."
Theme: It's hard to want something you think you can't have.

p. 78 "He (the dog) seemed to be saying, 'You told us to put one in a tree, and you would do the rest.'
Theme: You should keep your promises.
Thanks to Parker M.

Title: The Doll in the Garden Dates read: Nov. 17 - 20 Pages read : 53-100
p. 69 "Miss Cooper shoved the empty box under my nose. 'Where's my doll?' 'I don't know.' I wasn't used to lying, and my voice sounded like someone else's, weak and trembly, almost a whisper."
Theme: I'ts a lot easier to solve problems when you tell the truth the first time.

p. 72 "Too often, when I was little, I'd make up stories. . . and sworn they were true. If I told her now, she'd never believe me."
Theme: You earn trust from other people when you are honest in your dealings.
Thanks to Natasha B.

Title: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Dates read November 19, 2008
Topic: A thirteen year old girl takes a sea voyage in 1832. She is the only passenger on ship the ends up embroiled in rebellion, changing her life.
Thanks to Allie A.

Title: Easer (?) Date read: November 16-20 Pages read: 1-280
Topic: A robot is trying to find his place in the world.
Passages that show themes:
p. 10 "He doesn't have any feelings, Chloe," Mr. Bell said to his wife. "He's a machine."
"You know what I think," she retorted, "Grumps cares for us just like one of the family."
Theme: Everybody should be treated equally and nicely, no matter who they are.

p. 280 "I am a part of this earth aren't I? Just like the birds and the trees and the people -- I am."
Theme: Everyone's special in their own special way.
Thanks to Ryan F.

Title: Airman Dates read: 11/13-11/19 Pages read: 1 - 128
Theme: Pages 1-10 Vigney risks his life for (newborn) Conor when they are in the hot air balloon. Theme: You must risk your life for something worth saving.
Thanks to Braydan B.

Some Themes for Whirligig by Paul Fleischman:
Sometimes we focus too much on our need to belong.
When we feel guilty, we may desire punishment.
Forgiveness is good for the one forgiving as well as for the one being forgiven.
Discovering new places and experiences helps us discover ourselves.

Themes for Because of Winn-Dixie:
Sometimes we're lonely because we won't let people see who we are.
Sometimes we're lonely because we are unlike the people around us.
Some people choose to be lonely.
By going through trials, we can discover what is really important in life.
Life is like a "Littmus Lozenge" because the sweet and the sad are often mixed in together.

Themes for The Tale of Desperaux (from the Bate Middle School Library Media Center Blog):
An unexpected friendship cab come together through facing hardships in one another’s lives.
Sometimes an unexpected hero rises above evil.
Even a little mouse (or person) can be a big hero.
We often do not like or respect those who are different, but compassion, kindness, and forgiveness can change our hearts.
The power of forgiveness overcomes troubled hearts.
It's okay to be different.
Follow your heart.

Themes for The BFG:
You can be friends with someone who is very different from you.
You can learn a great deal from someone who is very different from you.
Words can be powerful and fun.
It is good to be merciful even to those who are not. (The Queen doesn't want to kill the murderous giants.)
Don't judge people by how they look.
Even the very small can accomplish great things -- especially with help.
Kindness to others is important.

Themes from Shadows on the Sea:
Sometimes you have to make sacrifices you don't want to.
Curiosity can get you into trouble.
Sometimes you can trust the most unlikely people.
Thanks to Kasey M.

Themes from Sign of the Beaver:
Survival depends on our ability to adapt to new situations and challenges.
It is wise to protect the land.
Man cannot truly own the land.
  • Friendship between two people may depend on the patience of one. (American Indian Proverb)

  • Solitude is a good place to visit but a poor place to stay. (Josh Billings)

  • Understanding is a two-way street. (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Topic for The Teacher's Funeral: It's about a 15 year old boy in 1904 whose sister takes over his school when the former teacher dies.
Themes for The Teacher's Funeral:
You will never begin to grow up until you declare your independence from your peers.
We can build hope for the future.
As we grow up, we can learn to appreciate family members.
School is not a jail house, but a pathway to success.
Sometimes when we don't get what we dream of, we get something better.
Persistence pays off. (or) If you seem to be failing, you need to keep trying.
Often, we don't appreciate the people who are closest to us.
This quote from the book is a theme: "You wait for every last thing to get done, you won't go anywhere in life." -- Thanks to Rebecca G.

Themes from Tuck Everlasting:
Death is as much a part of life as living is and that it is not to be feared.
Life Is a cycle that is constantly changing.
Greed can do great damage.
It is a fine thing to develop the ability to understand the right thing to do and to act upon it, even if it is not the popular choice.
All of us, at one time or another in our lives must make moral judgments.
Behind the actions of many who make difficult but right choices is a deep-seated love for their families, their friends, and most importantly, humanity.
(adapted from http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Tuck_Everlasting/Tuck_Everlasting18.html)

Themes from Where the Red Fern Grows:
You need determination to get what you want and to get things done.
Prayer can change things.
Selfless sacrifice can change things for the better.
Family bonds are among the most important things in the world.

More general themes:
Sometimes you need to speak your mind.
Everyone needs and friend. Thanks to Allie A.
It can be hard to do the right thing.
A little thing can make a big difference. Thanks to Natasha B.

Title: Love Comes Softly
Themes from the book:
Never judge what people think. You can't read their minds.
Instead of asking yourself waht you can do, tell yourself what you will do. Thanks to Courtney W.

Themes for You Don’t Know Me by Klass:
It is amazing the things you can learn about people when you actually take the time to look at them.
We can look at the awkward transitions of the teenage years with humor.
The people who know you best can hurt you the most.
Sometimes when someone makes life a joke, it is because underneath it all is profound pain and bitterness.
If you overcome your fears, you can live a better life. (He asks Gloria on a date, and she says yes.)
Even those people in the worst situations can be optimistic about life.
Life is, in the end, a love song.
We may be liked by those around us more than we know.

Themes for Crash by Jerry Spinelli:
It is often difficult to stick up for what you believe is right.
It doesn't pay to be a bully.
Sometimes our best friends are those who are very different from us.





















Friday, November 21, 2008

Another example of Theme

Another example of Theme

Title: The Giver Date read: November 18 Pages read: Chapter 1

Chapter 1 -- Lily, Jonas' sister, announces that she felt angry that afternoon because a group of Sevens had visited her Childcare group, and a boy had constantly cut in line in front of everyone else who had been waiting. Mother and Father suggest that perhaps the boy did not know the rules of their community too well because he was from another community. After listening to her parents, Lily admits that she is no longer angry, but rather, sorry for the boy who must have felt awkward in a new place.
Theme: We can more easily forgive others when we realize what they must be feeling.

November 21-24, 2008

November 21-24, 2008

Students handed in book approvals and reading logs. Reading Logs (focus on theme) are due today (Nov. 21)
See our class blog for more explanation and examples for theme.
Your next reading log is for November 24-25 and the week after, and is due December 5.

Self-Starter: In your composition book, working from the back, label the page: "Naming."
How did you get your name? Were you names after someone? How do you feel about your name? How important is a name? Are there any names you especially like? Write 1/3 - 1/2 page. (If you were absent, you could write this on lined paper to tape in your composition book.)

Class activities:
1. Community job assignments
2. Make a magical study guide for prefixes and suffixes.
3. Read and listen to the tape of The Giver, chapter 2.
A2 did not listen to Chapter 2

(B2, A1, and A2 still haven't done the radio program.)

The Giver -- Summary for Chapter 2

This summary is from Book Rags.
http://www.bookrags.com/notes/giv/PART1.htm

The Giver, Chapter 2
Jonas's parents begin talking about the Ceremony in December. During the conversation, Jonas remembers the ceremonies he has had before and the ceremonies he has seen. During the Ceremony of One, all newchildren who were born the year before turn One. There are always fifty in each year's group. During the ceremony, each one of them is brought up to the stage to be given names. At the mention of the ritual of Naming, Father guiltily admits that he broke a rule earlier that day. Despite rules against doing so, he peeked at the Naming List of the newchildren who had been born last year. He wanted to know the name of the boy he had brought home for the night, and found that it was to be Gabriel.

Jonas remembers the year he became a Five when Lily was given to the family unit. Jonas had gone up to the stage with his parents to receive her. Father then tells Jonas about his own Ceremony of Twelve. His own sister had gotten a bicycle as she became a Nine then. Although it had been against the rules, he had been teaching his sister how to ride the bike. Although the rules dictate the one cannot ride the bicycle before turning Nine, it is a rule that is frequently broken. Nowadays, there is much talk about changing this rule regarding riding the bicycle. A committee is looking into possibly making a change in the rules, but changing the rules is a long, hard process. If it is an important rule, The Receiver, as the most important elder in the community, is consulted.

Father continues talking about his experiences. He tells Jonas that for him, there was no suspense because he had already known what his Assignment would be. As a child, he had very often volunteered at the Nurturing Center, and his talent at caring for newchildren had been recognized by the Elders, who were constantly observing him and the other children. He was not surprised when he was assigned to become a Nurturer. Although appeals could be made in the case that one was unhappy with his Assignment, others in Father's group had been generally pleased with their respective Assignments.

Jonas tells his parents that he is worried about Asher's Assignment because Asher is never serious about anything. Mother assures him that the Elders will be able to assign him something proper for Asher. Mother tells Jonas: "After Twelve, age isn't important. Most of us even lose track of how old we are as time passes, though information is in the Hall of Open Records... What's important is the preparation for adult life, and the training you'll receive in your Assignment."

Lily interrupts Jonas's conversation with his parents. She is impatient for her comfort object which is something children sleep with. They are given to every newchild, but taken away when the child becomes an Eight. All comfort objects are "soft, stuffed, imaginary creatures." Lily's comfort object is a creature called an elephant, and Jonas's had been called a bear.

Father leads Lily into her sleeping room with her comfort object. Mother begins working at her desk, and Jonas turns to his homework. Although he feels better after talking to his parents, Jonas is still unsure about what his future and his Assignment will be.

The Giver -- Summary for Chapter 1

This summary is slightly adapted from Book Rags http://www.bookrags.com/notes/giv/PART1.htm

Chapter 1

With December approaching, Jonas feels frightened, but he immediately corrects himself. He was frightened when an unknown aircraft had twice flown over the community a year ago. It had been his first time seeing an aircraft fly over so closely because it is against the rules to fly over the community.

This aircraft had been different from the usual cargo planes that occasionally delivered supplies to the community. Everyone had been confused, not knowing what to do until an order had been made through the speakers to enter the nearest building and stay there. Jonas remembers that he had been frightened. But the matter was soon resolved. An announcement was made through the speakers that it was a training pilot who had made a mistake. The speaker had added that the pilot would undoubtedly be released. "For a contributing citizen to be released from the community was a final decision, a terrible punishment, an overwhelming statement of failure."

Riding on his bicycle home, Jonas reminds himself of the fear that he had felt then. Always careful about language, he tries to think of the exact word to describe his feelings now. Jonas is different from his friend Asher who is careless with words. Asher is often tardy to school, always having to make his public apologies in front of the classroom. He had made one earlier that day, apologizing to everyone and explaining his reasons for being late. In turn, the class had accepted Asher's apology in unison, and the instructor had corrected Asher's wrong use of the word "distraught."

Thinking back to this incident, Jonas feels that "frightened" may be too strong a word to describe his current feelings. He has long waited this special December, and decides that he is "apprehensive."

After the evening meal, there is the evening telling of feelings. It is one of the routine rituals within the family dwelling. Jonas is hesitant to go first tonight, so he allows Lily, his little sister, to take her turn. Lily announces that she felt angry that afternoon because a group of Sevens had visited her Childcare group, and a boy had constantly cut in line in front of everyone else who had been waiting. Mother and Father suggest that perhaps the boy did not know the rules of their community too well because he was from another community.

After listening to her parents, Lily admits that she is no longer angry, but rather, sorry for the boy who must have felt awkward in a new place. Jonas thinks to himself that Lily's feelings are always "straightforward, fairly simple."

Next, Jonas's father talks about his feeling of worry. Jonas's father is a Nurturer who takes care of every newchild during its earliest stage of life. Father talks about a male child who is not growing like the other children. The child does not sleep well and has to be put in the extra care section. Jonas, Lily, and Mother all sympathize because the child might be released. In the community, there are releases of the elderly and of the children. The elderly are released after having lived a full life, and the release is a celebration. When newchildren are released, however, it is sad because there is "a sense of what-could-we-have-done."

Father says that he is going to keep trying with the child. He has already asked the committee for permission to bring the child home because the night crew Nurturers are not as caring or skilled. Without the "capacity to connect to others," most of them do not even have spouses. Lily suggests jokingly that maybe they can keep the baby, but Mother reminds her of the rules. There can only be two children--a male and a female--in a family unit.

Mother who works at the Department of Justice talks about her feelings of frustration and anger. Someone who had broken the rules before had been brought before her again for repeat offense. She says that she was a bit frightened; within the community, there is no third chance. The man will most likely be released from the community.

Jonas, Lily, and Father comfort Mother, and she thanks them. Jonas's turn comes, and he confesses that he feels apprehensive about the Ceremony of Twelve in December. Mother and Father tell Lily to get ready for bed because they wish to talk to Jonas in private.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19/20, 2008


November 19/20, 2008

Today students handed in book approvals and sentence revising packets not yet handed in.

Students wrote a self-starter in their composition books. If you were absent, you may write this on a separate sheet of paper and tape it into your composition book. Label it: "Perfect Society"
If you could live in a perfect society, what would it be like? Who would be in charge? What rules would you add or get rid of? What else would you have or not have in your perfect society?

B2 and B3 finished reading and discussing "The Smallest Dragonboy."
They also finished filling out the story map and other literary terms sheet for this story.
All Classes --
Did a word sort or (A1, A2) participated in a lesson on prefixes and suffixes with Mr. Christensen.
Started reading The Giver, paying close attention to the first scene so they could describe it, and tell what they learned about the community in the novel. The Giver is part of a branch of science fiction known as utopian/dystopian fiction, meaning it is about the attempt to create perfect societies.

Dont' forget that a reading log for your Book-of-the-Month club is due next time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17/18, 2008

November 17/18, 2008

Students handed in their book approvals. They are no longer eligible for early or on-time extra credit points, but will still receive the 10 points as long as they hand it in by Thanksgiving Break.

Students completed another worksheet on ways to combine sentences. (If you were absent, pick up and complete one of these worksheets.)
This one used compound subjects and verbs.
For example, you could change
"I got up at 6:00 in the morning. I got dressed in my warmest clothes." to
"I got up at 6:00 in the morning and dressed in my warmest clothes." (compound verb)

Another example:
"Joey hiked to Stewart Falls yesterday. Sam also hiked to Stewart Falls."
could be "Joey and Sam hiked to Stewart Falls."

Students finished their Sentence Revision packet to chart the sentences from their personal essays, read about how to revise sentences, and to revise five or more of their own sentences. These were handed in today to be graded.

We listened to more of the short story "The Smallest Dragonboy," students filled out a graphic organizer for the story map, and (if time) we discussed literary elements including protagonist and antagonist, conflict, point of view, genre, and theme.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prefixes and Suffixes Chart Again

Prefixes and Suffixes Chart
At this link, you will find the seventh grade core prefixes and suffixes, or go to my web pages and look under Units of Study for Prefixes and Suffixes from the Seventh Grade State Core.
http://www.afjh.alpine.k12.ut.us/Teachers%20Web%20pages/Dorsey/Dorseypages/english%207/english%20disclosure7/units/prefixes.html

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Student Examples for Themes


Student Examples for Themes

Title of book: Queste Date Read: 11/10/2008 Pages read P. 1-58
Topic: It's about a boy and his friends who live in a world of magic.
Passages that show themes: p. 322 We've go to find Nik," said Jenna. "We've got to."
"Okay," said Septimus, "let's do it."
They care about each other, so they are going to places unknown in order to save their friend.
Theme topic: friendship
Theme: True friends will go to great lengths to help a friend.
-- Thanks to McKay C.

Title of book: Alice in Wonderland Date Read: 11/12/08 Pages Read: 1-38
Topic: The book is about a girl who has a dream and imagines herself in a magical, fantasy world.
Thanks to Tyler F.

Passages that show themes:
Tyler and other students, here is an example of a theme from later in the book.
One theme topic is "Games/ Learning the Rules:"
In Wonderland, Alice must often learn new and strange rules. Not following the rules can cause problems for her. For instance, she is required to follow the Queen's rules in the game of croquet. Alice has gotten better at adapting to new situations as the story goes on.
Theme: Each of us must learn to adapt to new situations in life.

Title of book: The Hero Date Read: 11/9/08 - 11/13/08 Pages Read: 1-50
Topic: This book is about a boy who wants to go on the river with the raft he's building. It's also about courage, friendship, and family.

Passages that show theme:
Pages 6-9 Jaime accidentally loses control of a fire he's using to clear weeds from the family garden. He can't get it out by himself.
Theme: You can't always fix a crisis by yourself.
Thanks to Kaden S.

Title of book: Fairest Date Read: 11/7/08 - 11/12/08 Pages Read: 1-120
Topic: This book is about a princess who is ugly, but has a beautiful voice. She must step into the light to save her kingdom.

Example of passages that show theme:
Pages 83 King Oscaro moved to block her, and it smashed into his face.
Theme: Others make sacrifices to save the ones they love.
Thanks to Kayleigh J.

Title of book: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Date Read: 11/10/08 - 11/12/08 Pages Read: 1-34
Topic: This book is about a young boy who discovers his powers through a man who can teach him to use them.

Example of passages that show theme:
Pages 20 "If you want to do something, maybe you will"
Theme: Stick to your dreams.
Thanks to Marcus O.

Title of book: The Doll in the Garden Date Read: 11/5/08 - 11/12/08 Pages Read: 1-61
Topic: This book is about a girl who moves to a new home and encounters mysterious happenings in the garden.

Example of passages that show theme:
Page 12 "I looked at her and she looked at me. It was a long look and it said we understood something about each other."
Theme: Don't think that you're the only one out there with trials and hardships, because you're not.
Thanks to Natasha B.

Title of book: A Corner of the Universe Date Read: 11/7/08 - 11/9/08 Pages Read: 1-20
Topic: This book is about a girl who discovers she has an unusual family member she didn't know existed.

Example of passages that show theme:
Pages 16 "I have never been away from home without my parents, and I am not about to start now. Mom says 'What are you going to do when it's time to go to college?' I choose not to think about that yet."
Theme: As they grow up, children need to learn independence gradually.
Thanks to Giovanna M.

Title of book: The Boy Who Dared Date Read: 11/1/08 - 11/9/08 Pages Read: 1-120
Topic: This book is about when Hitler was in power.

Example of passages that show theme:
Pages 61 "Hitler is starting to take over and start hiding stuff from the people."
Theme: : "Lies will always be found out and you will get into trouble."
Thanks to Sydney B.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Topic and Theme

Topics for Themes
Often, literary themes are suggested by just one word or one phrase. However, the theme is not the same as the subject or topic. The theme is the idea that the writer wishes to convey about a particular subject, so to complete a theme, you would make a statement about a subject.
A theme will not be stated as a single word or phrase.
A theme will not be stated as a question.
A theme will be stated as a complete sentence.
A theme will use the topic word (or a synonym) in the sentence.

For example: "That which is most difficult is often the most worthwhile."
"It is easier to hate in general than it is to hate specifically."
"Those who try too hard to look good are more often laughed at than admired."

The Theme or Message:
What  does this book teach about how life could or should be lived?
--- about what is of value in life?

Following are the subjects/topics of some common themes in literature:


accomplishment,
anger,
attitude,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
charity, choices,
compassion,
community,
compromise,
curiosity,
courage,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
death,
determination,
dishonesty,
diversity,
duty,
equality,
endurance,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
example,
faith,
family,
fear,
forgiveness,
freedom,
friendship,
generosity,
good vs. evil,
greed,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
grief,
happiness,
hate,
honesty,
hope,
human rights,
humor,
identity,
imagination,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
innovation,
integrity,
a journey to
greater wisdom,
judging,
learning,
love,
loyalty,
nature,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
patience,
patriotism,
peace,
perseverance,
pioneering,
relationships,
responsibility,
revenge,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
self-esteem,
stewardship (e.g., over nature),
success,
survival,
teamwork,
trust,
understanding,
unity,
vanity,
worth
These are topics for themes, not themes.

More About Theme

More About Theme

Piper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A-2NRHWqFQ


Theme in the Short StoryAll good stories have themes. This is the main idea of the story, the discovery about life that we take away from the story. Here are some steps to take to identify a story’s theme:
1. Think about how the main character has changed in the course of the story and what the character has learned. Sometimes what the character has learned can be stated as the theme.
Self-centeredness: “If you are self-centered, you can hurt yourself as well as others.”

2. Think about the title of the story and its meaning.

3. Identify some important passages in the story and think about what they suggest to you about our lives.

Or put in another way. . .

1. Did the main character change? How?

2. What is the title of the story? Does it give a clue about the theme?

3. What do important parts of the story suggest about its message?

[Elements of Literature, First Course, Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 2000, p. 23]


Often, literary themes are suggested by just one word or one phrase. However, the theme is not the same as the subject. The theme is the idea that the writer wishes to convey about a particular subject, so to complete a theme, you would make a statement about a subject. Following are the subjects of some common themes in literature:

Don't forget to state a theme as a complete sentence.
Topics for Themes:
accomplishment,
anger,
community, compromise,
curiosity,These are topics for themes, not themes.
courage, death, determination, dishonesty,
diversity,
equality,
family,
fear,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
friendship,
generosity,
good vs. evil,
greed,
grief,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
honesty,
hope,
human rights,
humor,
identity,
imagination,
innovation,
integrity,
a journey to greater wisdom,
judging,
These are topics for themes, not themes.
love,
loyalty,
patience,
patriotism,
perseverance,
pioneering,
relationships, responsibility,
self-esteem,
success,
survival,
teamwork,
trust,
understanding
These are topics for themes, not themes.




Theme: the message about life or human nature that is “hidden” in the story that the writer tells. Lengthy writings may have several themes. [Write Source 2000, 1995, p. 128; 1999, p. 344]

Many works of literature suggest a question or lesson about life – a theme. To discover the theme of a work, look for patterns of events or contrasts between characters. For instance, if one character is greedy while another is generous, you can conclude that generosity is the subject of one theme of the work. If the greedy character comes to a bad end, the work may teach a lesson about greed.
[Prentice Hall Writing and Grammar: Communication in Action, Bronze Level, p. 257.]

Theme: the message about life or human nature that is “hidden” in the story that the writer tells.
Each short story or novel or movie may have several themes.
The topic of a theme may be given in one word, but a theme itself will be stated in a complete sentence.

Examples: Themes for “Rikki-tikki-tavi”:
Everyone has his or her own natural strengths and abilities. We will be successful and accepted as long as we use those abilities and strengths to benefit our families and communities and not for our own personal advantage.
or
Sometimes an individual must stand up alone against oppression or injustice.

"The Smallest Dragonboy"
A smaller or weaker person can triumph over those who are larger and stronger if he or she has courage and keeps trying.

"Amigo Brothers"
True friendship can last through difficult trials.
Friendship is more important than winning.

"Little Red and the Hungry Wolf"
Crime doesn't pay.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone --
Each person can make a contribution with his or her own unique talents.



Example for the Reading Log
I am reading The Hiding Place by Corie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.
Topic: This book is about a kind, generous family who were persecuted (and some killed) by the Nazis during World War II.
Themes: pp. 4-10 Corrie's father is kind and loving to everyone. He hires people who otherwise couldn't get a job. He pays attention to the children. He "forgets" to charge people for the work he does for them. When the family celebrates the one hundredth birthday of their watch shop, nearly everyone from their community comes, not to celebrate the watch shop, but to honor Corrie's father, whom they love.
Theme: If you want to be loved, love others.


Teacher materials:  http://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2014/09/03/11-tips-for-teaching-about-theme-in-language-arts

November 13/14, 2008

November 13/14, 2008

Today students handed in their book approvals, and extra credit reading logs if they had them.

Sentence Combining
Students completed a Sentence Combining Worksheet. They learned about combining sentences by taking a key word (adverb, adjective, or participle) from a short sentence to combine with another short sentence. For example:
1. "I passed my English test. I passed it yesterday." (adverb)
This could be changed to "Yesterday, I passed my English test."
2. "Ella did the exercises with ease. The exercises were difficult." (adjective)
This could be changed to "Ella did the difficult exercises with ease."
3. "Joe's dog scares people. Joe's dog snarls." (participle)
This could be changed to "Joe's snarling dog scares people."

Activity 1. Revising Sentences
a) Students completed the chart for looking at the lengths and beginnings of their sentences from an essay they wrote.
(Any students who did not copy, double-space, and print their "Cherished Memory" essays in class last time need to do this at home and bring them to class next time.)

b) Students completed and back of the chart and read and studied information in the Writing and Grammar textbook.

c) Students revised at least 5 sentences from their essays by correcting fragments or run-ons, changing beginnings (for variety or effect), or by dividing or combining sentences.

Activity 2. Short Story
Students worked on filling out a story map as they listened to the short story "The Smallest Dragon Boy."

Example for the Reading Log
I am reading The Hiding Place by Corie Ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill.
Topic: This book is about a kind, generous family who were persecuted (and some killed) by the Nazis during World War II.
Themes: pp. 4-10 Corrie's father is kind and loving to everyone. He hires people who otherwise couldn't get a job. He pays attention to the children. He "forgets" to charge people for the work he does for them. When the family celebrates the one hundredth birthday of their watch shop, nearly everyone from their community comes, not to celebrate the watch shop, but to honor Corrie's father, whom they love.
Theme: If you want to be loved, love others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11/12, 2008

November 11/12, 2008

Students who were ready handed in their Book-of-the-Month approvals. The book this time is from a genre different from that which the student read for the other months. For instance, if the student used a fantasy book and a mystery book already, he or she would use a book this time that is from a different genre -- not fantasy or mystery.

Today we were in the new computer lab. We had a very busy day.
Students took the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) Test. This test to match students to the books that will best help them develop their reading skills. It helps us flag students who might need more help with their reading, and recognize students who could be more challenged. Parents, ask your student to show you the print-out of the lexile level and of recommended books at that level.

Students also took a citizenship survey for the school.

They copied, pasted, double-spaced and printed their MYAccess essays so they can work on revising sentences. --- If anyone didn't get that done, he or she should go into MYAccess and copy the essay to a word processing document, double space it, and print it to bring it to class next time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Book-of-the-Month Assessment

Book-of-the-Month Assessment

On November 10 and 11, students received the assignment for the Book-of-the-Month Assessment for November/December. See the samples on the back of the assignment. The CD cutouts (on cardstock) are available in the classroom. This assignment is due December 10/11.

Book-of-the-Month Rubric: Theme
Overall: No more than 2 points will be awarded for any part of the project unless it meets these requirements:
• computer-generated or hand-designed (no pencil) Text must be typed or written in standard blue or black ink.
• no lined notebook paper
• clearly legible and neat
Part 1: Creative Cover
Include --
• a picture (10 points) – in color -- computer-generated or hand-designed (no pencil) – The picture should relate to the book and/or themes. You may not use an already-created cover or illustration for the book.
• your name, first and last (2 Points – Of course, if there is no name on your assignment, you will receive no points at all) ,
• class period (2 Points),
• date created (2 Points),
• title of your novel (2 Points),
• and the author’s name (2 Points)
⇨If this part is late, you lose 10% for each class period after the due date
Subtotal: 20

Part 2: Music and Dedication
• Song names are written on the CD-shaped handout. (10)
• CD is dedicated to a character in your book. (10) (Give name of character and a phrase describing or explaining dedication = to whom and why.)
⇨If this part is late, you lose 10% for each class period after the due date
Subtotal: 20

Part 3: Lyrics
• The lyrics of your three songs are typed.
• Include the name of the group or individual who performs the song. (10)
• Highlight the lines that share the same theme/themes. (10)
• Write in sentence form the theme expressed in the song. This is a theme also expressed in your novel. (15)
• Your three songs must match the theme(s) of novel (15)
• Your songs are appropriate for the classroom. (No points will be given for songs that are not appropriate.)
⇨If this part is late, you lose 10% for each class period after the due date
Subtotal: 50

Part 4: Presenting
• You are ready to present when called on.
• You speak in a clearly audible and understandable voice.
• Your presentation is enthusiastic and interesting.
Subtotal: 20

Total Points: 110

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Runaway


















"The Runaway" by Robert Frost

Once when the snow of the year was beginning to fall,
We stopped by a mountain pasture to say 'Whose colt?'
A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall,
The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head
And snorted at us. And then he had to bolt.
We heard the miniature thunder where he fled,
And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and grey,
Like a shadow against the curtain of falling flakes.
'I think the little fellow's afraid of the snow.
He isn't winter-broken. It isn't play
With the little fellow at all. He's running away.
I doubt if even his mother could tell him, "Sakes,
It's only weather". He'd think she didn't know !
Where is his mother? He can't be out alone.'
And now he comes again with a clatter of stone
And mounts the wall again with whited eyes
And all his tail that isn't hair up straight.
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies.
'Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When other creatures have gone to stall and bin,
Ought to be told to come and take him in.'

November 7/10, 2008

November 7/10, 2008

Students wrote a response to a poem from their literature texts: "The Runaway."
See the nearby post for the text of the poem. The self-starter using "The Runaway" was this:
a) Read the poem.
b) Write quickly for about two minutes or so about anything this poem brings to mind for you.
(In your composition book -- We're working from the back still.)
c) Borrow one line from the poem and create a poem or write about it, focusing on this line.
Students should write 1/3 to 1/2 page.
Notes for the poem: A stall is an enclosure within a stable where an animal is kept, and a bin is a container for storing food, especially oats.

Poetry expresses both ideas and feelings. Notice how the feeling (mood) of this poem changes as the narrator realizes that the colt is running because of fear, not for fun.
Visualize the poem.

1. Students received their Book-of-the-Month Club approvals and first reading log.

2. We practiced for the reading log (focused on theme) and looked at other elements of literature using the short story "Song of the Trees" by Mildred Taylor.

Can you recognize
a protagonist (the main character, usually the good guy)?
whether the protagonist is static (unchanging) or dynamic (changing)?
an antagonist (the bad guy)?
the conflict?
the point of view?
the genre of a story?
themes in a book or story or poem?

We are focusing now on theme.

Theme is an idea about life revealed in a piece of literature.

Examples of Themes from “Song of the Trees”:
This is basically how you will do your reading logs.

p. 30 Mama scolds Christopher John for eating the cornbread because they are in hard times when many families (including them) don’t have enough to eat. – Theme: “When times are hard, family members must share and make sacrifices.”
p. 31 Mama is trying to protect the children from knowing she is sick, and she doesn’t want to tell her husband that the money he has sent has been stolen because she doesn’t want him to worry. – Theme: Family members protect each other.
page 31-32 Cassie loves the trees. They bring her joy. page 36, column 1, last 3 paragraphs The trees kept the memory of the past. Theme: People can take comfort from and learn from nature.
p. 38, 39 The children stand up to Anderson. Theme: Even the small and weak can stand up to that which is evil and unfair.
page 39, last paragraph -- David says he can accept dying "Just as long as I die right." Theme: A person can accept death if it comes as the result of doing the right thing and/or defending something or someone he loves.
p. 40 David stands up to Anderson. – Theme: Standing up to that which is wrong brings self-respect.




Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reading Log for Nov./December: Focus on Theme

Reading Log for Nov./December: Focus on Theme

Student Name ________________Period ____ Points for the week ______
(first and last required) (Important!)
Weekly Reading Log for the Book-of-the-Month Club Book – Month 3
Due: This log is due weekly -- on the last day you attend class each week.
To hand it in, place it in the top wire basket for your period, and pick up a new log.
 Don’t forget to have your book approved before you read it.
 Plan to have your entire book read by the due date: December 10/11
This time you are focusing on themes found in the book. For each day you will record the date, pages read, and as you find them, sentences or passages from the book that indicate theme.
The chart includes these items:
Title of Book (Use ″ to show you’re in the same book as on dates above.)
Date Read -- Required
Pages Read Required -- Example: page 23 – page 41

(“Topic” is what it’s about.)
What is the topic of your book? ______________________________

Passages from the book that show themes:
Include page found (required), the sentence or passage, and the theme shown. [“It might help to think of a theme as an idea that flows through the book and states something about life.” – from “Finding a Theme” by Grace Fleming] Sometimes a theme is called “the moral of the story.” A theme will be a complete sentence. Write complete sentences neatly, and spell correctly.


Example
Title of Book (Use ″ to show you’re in the same book as on dates above.) Date Read -- Required Pages Read Required
Example: page 23 – page 41
The Outsiders 11-5-08 Page 1 through page 20
″ 11-6-08 Page 20 through page 35
What is the topic of your book? This book is about teenagers in the 1960’s and the gang warfare between the rich kids and the poor kids. It’s also about friendship and family.

Passages from the book that show themes:
Include page found (required) and the sentence or passage.
page 148 -- Johnny did’t even try to grin at him. “Useless. . . fighting’s no good. . . .” Theme: Violence doesn’t help solve a situation.