Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Portfolios

Book Portfolios
There are too many Seventh Grade students -- in all the teachers' classes-- who aren't getting their book portfolios in on time. If you turned yours in on time, and did a quality job, give yourself a big pat on the back. If you didn't, it's time to develop a new habit.
You can expect to create a book portfolio every term through seventh, eighth, and ninth grade, so get yourself in the habit now of starting work on your portfolio as soon as you get the assignment, of doing high quality work, following directions, and turning in the portfolio

Last Day to Hand in Late Work

Last Day to Hand in Late Work for Term 2
The last day to hand in late work -- including your novel portfolio and reading bingo -- is January 4th.

Test on Confusing Words

Test on Confusing Words --
Our test on the Seventh Grade Confusing Words will be given on January 8. Because we have been working on these all term, there will be no retakes. Be ready on the 8th!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I'm Reading

What I'm Reading

Update on January 29. I finished Fablehaven, and I recommend it. I took a break from Seeing Red (so much violence!), and read Mira, Mirror, which also has a considerable amount of violence! Mira, Mirror (by a Utah author -- Mette Ivie Harrison) is the story of the mirror from the fairy tale "Snow White," though it gives only a couple of brief mentions of the actual Snow White story. This is a story told from the perspective of the mirror, an enchanted woman who schemes to collect enough magic to free herself.

Earlier entry:
So far this vacation, I'm continuing to read Fablehaven (almost done), and Seeing Red (about halfway though). I recommend both, though Seeing Red has more violence in it than I usually prefer. It is the second in the The Looking Glass Wars series. This is a whole new take on the Alice in Wonderland story. I have books and CD's of the first book in the Looking Glass Wars series available for student checkout after the holidays.
I also started Gossamer by Lois Lowry during advisory time reading, and hope to finish it over the holidays.
While cleaning house, I've started listening to CD's of The City of Ember and Sir Thursday. At the beginning of The City of Ember I'm seeing some similarities with The Giver. In Ember, children are also given an assigned job at the age of 12. In this city, though, the elders don't decide; the students pull their jobs assignments out of a bag.
Happy Christmas, and happy reading to you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Term 3 Book Portfolio

Term 3 Book Portfolio
Be watching for a book you'd like to read for our Term 3 Portfolio. Look for a book that is nonfiction or historical fiction.
Appropriate nonfiction books include biography, autobiography, and literary nonfiction -- which tells about real subjects in a story format.
Historical Fiction: The setting is based in real places and events from the past. The characters may be based on people who really existed. The author could also make up characters who go through the experiences or interact with famous people of that time and place. Examples: Midwife’s Apprentice, Numbering the Stars, Soldier X.

Here are a few suggested topics and books: For more, see the book list you received with the disclosure document, or ask your librarian.
Look under Multicultural and Historical Fiction.
Africa – Things Fall Apart by Achebe
Civil War – Numbering the Bones by Rinaldi, Shades of Gray, The River Between Us by Peck, and more, Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Wells.
Communist Europe: I Am David by Holm
Disease – Fever 1793 by Anderson, Invisible Enemies by Farrell
Immigration: Esperanza Rising by Ryan
Industry and Exploitation: The Mill Girls by Selden
Israel and Palestine –Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye,
Japanese Internment during WWII: Journey to Topaz, Farewell to Manzanar, Caged Eagles, The Journal of Ben Uchida, Bat 6 by Wolff
Medieval Europe – Crispin by Avi, Catherine Called Birdy or Matilda Bone by Cushman,
Revolutionary War: My Brother Sam is Dead
The Russian Front: Burying the Sun and others by Gloria Whelan, The Endless Steppe by Hautzig
Slavery and Segregation in the U.S.: Witness by Hesse; Elijah of Buxton (new) by Christopher Paul Curtis, Letters from a Slave Boy by Lyons
Westward Expansion – Sacajawea by Bruchac, Riding Freedom by Ryan, Charlotte’s Rose by Cannon,
War and its effect on young people: Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Filipovic, Breadwinner and others by Ellis
World War I:
World War II: Soldier Boys by Hughes, Hitler's Canary by Toksvig, On the Wings of Heroes by Peck, Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Compestine
Holocaust: Night by Elie Wiesel, The Hiding Place, Someone Named Eva by Wolf
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by Boyne

You may select a book not on this list, but don’t use Words By Heart by Ouida Sebestyen or The Diary of Anne Frank (an eighth grade class book) or books being read in the Reading Literature classes. Make sure the book is approved by a parent and by the teacher.

Merry Christmas!

from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, page 200
"On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and fun, but not expecting any presents at all. When he woke early in the morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed.
"'Merry Christmas,' said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled on his bathrobe.
"'You, too,' said Harry. 'Will you look at this? I've get some presents!'
"'What did you expect, turnips?' said Ron, . . ."

Wishing you food and fun and presents, and not necessarily turnips!

from The Dark is Rising, page 126-127
"Strands of music and the soft rumble of voices drifted up from below. In solemn ritual, Will and James looped their Christmas stockings over their bedposts: precious, unbeautiful brown stockings of a thick, soft stuff, . . . When filled, they would become top-heavy, and could no longer hand, they would be discovered instead lying magnificent across the foot of the beds. . . .
"And it was the same as it always was, as he lay curled up happily in his snug wrappings, promising himself that he would stay awake, until, until. . .
". . . until he woke, in the dim morning room with a glimmer of light creeping round the dark square of the curtained window, and saw and heard nothing for an enchanted expectant space, because all his senses were concentrated on the weighty feel, over and around his blanketed feet, of strange bumps and corners and shapes that had not been there when he fell asleep. And it was Christmas Day."
[By the way, the book is much, much better than the movie! The book carries a magic that the movie doesn't even suggest.]

December 20, 2007

December 20, 2007
Christmas Mad-Libs (a reminder of the Parts of Speech)
Could you recognize and use a noun? a verb? a pronoun? an adjective, an adverb, a conjunction, a preposition? an interjection?

December Ceremonies (based on The Giver).
Giver Review Game (if time)

-- Progress reports were sent home last time to be signed by a parent or guardian and returned for required and extra points.
-- If you haven't, turn in your Novel Portfolio, Parts 1 and 2. If you need to do revisions, do them and resubmit as soon as possible.
-- You may finish and revise your essay on The Giver over the vacation. The last day to submit revisions on MY Access essays for Term 2 is January 4.
-- The very last day to hand in any late work for Term 2 is January 4.
-- If you're not ready yet, get yourself ready to take the test on our "Confusing Words."
-- Make sure your binder is in order for when we return from Christmas vacation. We'll complete the binder check then.

Monday, December 17, 2007

December 18, 2007

December 18, 2007
Hand in your Portfolio Part 2 (which was due December 14) if you haven't yet.
Of course, if you haven't handed in Part 1, hand it in!
Your Reading Bingo should also be turned in soon, though, if you're planning on adding to your reading over the holidays, you're welcome to turn in in by January 4.

1. How to organize, state, and support in an essay.
2. Computer Lab time to work on your essay about The Giver.

Find information about writing a 5 paragraph essay at
I was able to access helpful information here for free. Watch the video about the Five Paragraph Essay. Also take the review quiz.

Friday, December 14, 2007

December 14, 2007

December 14, 2007
Students handed in their novel portfolio picture books. (Portfolio Part 2)
Students had a binder check. Those who didn't have their binders will need to arrange for a time to have them checked.
They finished or discussed the play "The Flying Machine."

We prepared for the essay about The Giver. We talked about how to organize and write the essay.
Students worked on rough drafts. We'll be in the computer lab next time to finish typing these.

Coming next time:
Supporting a main idea with reasons.
Supporting reasons with facts, details, quotes, etc.
Time in the computer lab.
Finish binder checks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Essay Assignment for The Giver

Essay Assignment for The Giver --
We will be in the Computer Writing Lab on December 18 to type up the essay for The Giver, and may revise on the Internet up through January 4.
See December 10 below for the prompt.
(The prompt is given in full on the handout students have received, and on MYAccess.)

December 12, 2007

December 12, 2007
Student Targets:
* I'll consider --and contribute to a discussion about -- a major issue addressed in the book, The Giver.
* I'll better understand plot and climax.
* I'll prepare to write my essay about The Giver by collecting details to use. (The exercise for this was just handed out, and we'll work on it more next time.)

1. Self-Starter: On a piece of the lined paper in your binder under "Reading" for The Giver, respond to this prompt:
"In The Giver, individual rights and choices have been given up for the safety and comfort of the whole community. Which is more important, the good and the rights of the individual, or the good (safety, comfort, security) of the many (the whole community)? Explain.

2. We read, or started reading, a short play by Ray Bradbury titled "The Flying Machine." It also deals with the issue of whether one person's rights (or a few people's rights) should be sacrificed to protect the safety of many people. Who has the "right" to decide?

3. Three of the classes received a list of quotations from The Giver. Next time in class students will mark each quotation as representing an advantage or a disadvantage of Jonas's community.

A1 -- Students finished the play and received the quotation list.
"Academy Awards" for the play were received by Chyler, Zach N., Kora, Calea, and Ian.
A2 - Students finished the play. Students will receive the quotation list next time. (Did we present our "academy awards?) "Academy Awards" for the play have been earned by Tanner D., Billy, and Loriel.)
A3 -- Students read the play up to "Act 5." Students received their quotation list. (We need to do our "academy awards.) "Academy Awards" for the play so far were earned by Brittany, Dalton, Caitlin, Jessica, and Dallin.
A4 -- Students read the play up to "Act 4." Students received their quotation list.
"Academy Awards" for the play so far were received by Austin L., Brittany, Aubree, Jordan, Benson, Shayne, and Garron.

Monday, December 10, 2007

December 10, 2007

December 10, 2007
Today's Targets:
1. I'll review how to use the irregular verbs lie and lay.
Students wrote sentences using the forms of lie and lay:
Write original, complete sentences, correctly using each of the following forms of lie or lay. Capitalize and punctuate each sentence.
1. lie (present tense, meaning "to recline.")
2. lay (past tense of lie)
3. lain (always goes with a helping verb)
4. lying

5. lay (present tense, meaning "to put or to place")
6. laid (past tense of lay)
7. laid (using a helping verb)
8. laying

2. I'll understand better how to read a prompt for an essay.
Students received a handout to use while preparing to write their essays about The Giver. Today we talked about how to read the question, and what sorts of details they need to look for to prepare to write.
Students will be going to the computer lab on December 18, and may revise on the Internet up through January 4.

This is the prompt: (The prompt is given in full on the handout, and on MYAccess.)
MyAccess Prompt for The Giver by Lois Lowry
After experiencing the feeling of love from the Giver and his memories, Jonas thought about the way life must have been when there was love and realized it was probably a "dangerous way to live." Think about what Jonas meant. What was "dangerous" about that kind of life, and what was a "safe" life like? What were the advantages and disadvantages of each choice?
Write an essay in which you either support or criticize Jonas's decision to escape the community in light of the choice he made between a safe life and a dangerous one.

3. I"ll plan for and find details to use in my essay about The Giver.
4. I'll finish reading The Giver, answering the questions on the "Reading Road Maps."
Students who had already finished reading The Giver had time to look for details from the book to use in their essays.

Reminders: Friday, December 14
Part 2 of the Novel Portfolio is due.
Be prepared for a test on the Commonly Confused Words.
Bring your binder for a binder check.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December 6, 2007

December 6, 2007
Today students filled out a "Student Self-Assessment" in preparation for the parent-teacher conference.
Students continued to read The Giver using "Reading Road Maps" with directions and questions.
We will finish reading the book next time.
We played "Sparkle," a spelling game, to practice the commonly confused words.

Students continued to turn in their portfolio projects and their reading bingo cards. Signed progress reports were also turned in.

Tonight was the Parent-Teacher Conference. Thank you to the parents who came. My apologies to any parents who were unable to see me because of time constraints.
Please feel free to e-mail me or call me. Parents, I so appreciate your involvement in your student's education! 

The Giver, the color red:

Reading Map for The Giver #2
If you haven't yet read and answered questions for chapters 17-19, ask the teacher for that part of the reading map.

Go! Chapter 20 Read through the end of chapter 20 (pages 152-162), looking for the answers to these questions:
?'s 13. (p. 153): Why would it be easy (emotionally) for Fiona to release one of the Old?
(Notice what the Giver says about this.)

14. (p. 154) List four feelings that the Giver and Jonas mention that people had once felt.

15. If Jonas escapes from the community, what will happen to the memories that he has been given? (See page 153, and page 144.)

16. If Jonas escapes, why would the Giver need to stay in the community instead of going with him?

17. What is the "hearing-beyond" of which the Giver speaks?

So that means that in their community, they don't have ______.
18.-23. Jonas and the Giver have come up with a plan for Jonas to escape the community. (p. 158+)
18. ¶ 2 & 4 When will he leave? at what time?
19. ¶ 2 What will The Giver give to him before he leaves?
20. p. 159 ¶ 1 What will Jonas do with his bicycle and clothing? [¶ = paragraph]
21. p. 160 ¶ 3 How will Jonas and the Giver leave the community?
22. p. 160 ¶ 5 How will they hide Jonas?
23. p. 160 ¶ 5 How will they get food for Jonas to take?
24. . What was the name of The Giver's daughter?
25. What other question on these pages (see page 1 of 4) did you answer using the same name? Question # ___

Go! Chapter 21
Read the first two paragraphs of chapter 21.
? 26. Will Jonas and the Giver be able to use the plan they'd made? According to these paragraphs, why not?
Note: The tone of this chapter changes from the generally peaceful feel of the community to a feeling of tension and danger.

Go! Read through the end of chapter 21 (pages 163-169), looking for the answers to these questions:
?'s 27. Whom does Jonas consider his closest friend now? (p. 163-164)
28. Why does Jonas have to leave the community so quickly?
29. Whom does he take with him?
30. How does Jonas keep the planes from finding them? Answer: He finds a place to hide and __________
Go! Chapter 22 -- Carefully read this chapter, and answer these questions.
31. At the middle of page 171/172, Jonas sees two creatures. The first is a ______.
What do you think the second creature is?
32. As he gets farther from the community, what is happening to the memories Jonas had received?
33. As chapter 22 ends, why is the baby crying?

Go! Chapter 23 -- Carefully read this chapter, and answer this question.
34. As the book ends, what has happened to Jonas and Gabriel?
35. How do you feel about the ending of the book, and why?

Precision of language, please! When you tell how you feel, use a specific word such as "frustrated," "happy," "hopeful," "angry," "upset," "confused," "peaceful," "concerned," or "worried." Make sure to tell why you feel that way.

[After you have finished this page, ask about the upcoming writing assignment.]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007
Today we went down to the Book Fair for a brief preview. The Book Fair will continue through tomorrow, and Thursday through the parent-teacher conference time. Everything at the Fair is buy one, get one of equal or less value free.

Parents, books make great gifts. As a heads up for next term, our portfolio assignment will focus on nonfiction, historical fiction, and biography/autobiography. Of course, your student could be reading from almost any genre for the Reading Bingo pages! Lots of books that are currently popular with the kids are available at the Book Fair.

Today's Self-Starter: Students filled in the blanks in sentences using forms of lie and lay. Then students corrected them together, we sang "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," which uses the verb correctly, and we talked more about these confusing verbs.
Here are the sentences:

Confusing Words : Lie/Lay
Use these forms of the confusing verbs lie and lay correctly in the following sentences:
Lie, lay, lain, lying, lay, laid, laid, laying
You may use your yellow half-sheet with the rules.

1. “My Bonnie ____________(s) over the ocean.
My Bonnie _____________(s) over the sea, . . .”

2. “Now I ________ me down to sleep”

3. Jonas was __________ (use an “ing” word) on the grass,
as he felt the warm sunshine.

4. Father was _________ (use an “ing” word) the newchild into the basket.

5. Yesterday, the Giver _________ his hands on Jonas’ back.

6. I have ________ on the deck by the pool until I was badly sunburned.

7. The bricklayers have __________ five rows of bricks for our new gate.

8. I love to ___________looking up at the stars on a clear summer night.

9. It’s time to ___________ down our weapons and sign a peace agreement.

10. If you’re just going to ________ down on the job, you won’t get paid.

Today's Reading:
We listened to/followed along with chapter 16 of The Giver, and answered these questions on the lines pages reserved in each student's binder:

The Giver, chapter 16
16. A. Why is the memory of the birthday party so special to Jonas? (Q.A.R.:This is a “right there” question.)

16. B. What clues helped you infer what the unnamed celebration was? When were you certain? (Q.A.R.:This is an “author and you” question.)

16. C. Do you agree with Jonas that living the way they did in the memory was dangerous? Why or why not?

Then students received a "Reading Road Map." They read from The Giver and answered questions as directed on the "Road Map."

Where we are: Chapter 17
Jonas is realizing that what the community calls "feelings" are shallow and limited. They don't really "feel" much at all.
One morning the community gets an unexpected holiday. Jonas rides off on his bike looking for Asher. He finds his friends playing a game of "good guys and bad guys" that hasn't had a name up until now.

Go! Read from page 130 to the page break on page 135.
Stop for ?'s After reading to the page break on page 135, answer these questions:
1 What is the game the children are playing that upsets Jonas?
(Jonas recognizes what they are playing because of the memories. What does he recognize that this game is?)
2. As this section ends, what does Jonas know "with certainty"?

Go! Finish reading chapter 17 through page 138.
Stop for ?'s
3. What had Lily done that day that was actually against the rules?
4. In Jonas's community, what happens when twins are born?

Go! Chapter 18 Read through the end of chapter 18 (pages 139-145), looking for the answers to these questions:
Do not just skim or scan for answers. Focus and read carefully.
?'s 5. How many years before Jonas was selected, had the Giver tried to train a receiver and "failed"? _________ 6. What was her name? _______________

7. What happened to that New Receiver of Memory and why?

Chapter 18, cont.
Stop and Reflect
8. Tell whether you think the receiver ten years ago was brave or not. Would you have made the choice she did if you were in her place? Why or why not?

Some students also followed the Road Map through chapter 19, and requested the map for more chapters.

Monday, December 3, 2007

December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

November 30, 2007

November 30, 2007

Giver link:

Today the novel portfolios, part 1 were due. Students handed in the packets with the first three assigngments : the main character chart, the illustration of the setting, and the cast of characters.
1. We talked about how to use the verbs lie and lay.

Notes on Lie/Lay Confusions
Lay, laid, laid = to place -- Notice that this verb takes a direct object. That means it is acting on an object. In the following sentences the object is the book.

Present tense (happening right now): I __________ the book on my desk.
Past tense (happened in the past): Yesterday I __________ the book on my desk.
Past participle (has happened in the past and may still be happening):
I have _________ that book on my desk every day for a week.

Lie, lay, lain = to recline -- Notice that this verb does not take a direct object. It is not doing something to an object.
Present tense: I ___________ on the couch.
Past tense: Yesterday I __________ on the couch.
Past participle: I have ___________ on the couch every day for a week.

2. We read from The Giver, chapters 13 - 15.
Questions about The Giver

Q.A.R. = Question-Answer Relationship
Where do you look for the answer to a question?
“Right there” -- Is the answer right there in the text?
“Think and search” -- Do you have to put together several things the author tells you, and perhaps look at several different sentences or pages to find the answer?
“Author and you” -- Do you need to know what the author says, and combine that with what you already know?
“On your own” – Could you answer the question just from what you know or think without ever reading the book?

Answer the following questions on the lined paper you have prepared in your binder under “Reading.” You do not need to write out the questions. Please do number your answers using the numbers on the questions.

The Giver, chapter 13
13. A. Why do you think Jonas tries to share colors with Asher even though he thinks The Giver would have refused permission? (Q.A.R.:This is an “author and you” question.)

13. B. What do you think The Giver means when he says, “without the memories, it’s all meaningless” (page 105)? Do you agree with him? Explain. (Q.A.R.:This is an “author and you” question.)

13. C. Do we need to protect people from wrong choices because it’s safer that way? Why or why not? . (Q.A.R.:This is an “on your own” question.)

The Giver, chapter 14
14. A. Do you think it’s better to share sorrows or for each person to try to bear his or her own pain? Explain your answer. (Q.A.R.:This is an “on your own” question.)

14. B. Why do you think Jonas was able to transmit a memory to Gabriel, when he couldn’t with Asher, Lily, or his father? (Q.A.R.:This is a “think and search” question.)

The Giver, chapter 15
15. A. The Giver shares a memory of war with Jonas. What war do you think this is, and why do you think that? (Q.A.R.:This is an “author and you” question.)