Saturday, February 28, 2009

Harris and Me Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen

My review

(I'm on page 150 of 168. 3-2-09 -- Now I've finished it, and like it even better.)

I'm on page 150 of Harris and Me. Almost done, I've loved going back in memory to growing up on a farm, though without a Harris to get in trouble and risk life and limb with!
This gook is about an eleven year old boy who goes to live with relatives on a farm, including an outrageous nine year old boy named Harris. If you are offended by "body-parts" and "bathroom" humor, and by "classic" profanity, you may not want to read this. Other wise it may have you hooting with laughter.
I picked this up because another teacher in the district told me that her junior high reading class is very much enjoying it.

Extra Credit

If you are looking for extra credit, search "extra credit" or "extra credit opportunities" within this blog. Extra credit may be counted on your final grade only if you have completed and revised (as needed) your book-of-the-month project and your GoMYAccess essay.


Emily Dickinson said,
"I dwell in Possibility -- A fairer House than Prose."

We sometimes divide written text into poetry and prose. Generally thinking, prose is like a novel, short, story, most nonfiction, and other things that are written out and are not poetry.

When you see poetry, how do you know that it is poetry? What characteristics make it poetry?

Write out four qualities that distinguish poetry from prose, and bring them to us for extra credit -- up to 8 points.

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27/March 2, 2009

February 27/March 2, 2009

Note: If you are looking for extra credit, search "extra credit" or "extra credit opportunities" within this blog. Extra credit may be counted on your final grade only if you have completed and revised (as needed) your book-of-the-month project and your GoMYAccess essay.

Note: Your book-of-the-month club assessments were due in class last time. If you didn't turn yours in on time, you may still earn up to the full points, but you will not receive the extra credit for being on time.

If you need help, come during Cave Time any or all days Tuesday through Friday.

Note: Don't forget to register online for eighth grade, and to return your yellow registration form in English class! Turn them in by placing them in your class wire basket.

Note: Parent teacher conferences were held February 26. If you missed and would like to contact us, please feel free to call or e-mail, or arrange a time to meet with us. Thank you.

Class today:

Students watched the rest of the movie for Words By Heart.
They wrote (in their composition books) a comparison between books and movies.

Students shared their book-of-the-month projects.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24/25, 2009

February 24/25, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conferences are on February 26 from 3:30 to 7:30.

Parents, expect your student to bring home the yellow registration packet and the goldenrod on-line registration instructions.

Mrs. Riley, our seventh grade counselor is coming in to tell students about registration for eighth grade. Students receive the registration forms and instructions for registering online.
Timeline for Registration:
Feb. 24/25 Receive materials.
Feb. 26 Online registration opens for 7th and 8th grade students
March 5/6 Counselors in 7th and 8th grade English classes to finalize registration.
March 10 On-line registration window closes for 7th and 8th grade students.
You may make changes through this date.

Return the registration worksheet to your English teacher on or before March 5 for B day English or March 6 for A day English.


Words By Heart,
chapters 12 and 13.

Monday, February 23, 2009

February 23/26, 2009

February 23/26, 2009
Remember that the due date for your portfolio is this week -- February 24 (A-Day) or February 25 (B-Day).

Self-Starter: Arrange the words given below in to two sentences. Label the subject and verb of each sentence. (in your composition book)

Words to use:
Nouns: McDonalds, dog, Franklin, Harry Potter, Bella, the Black Pearl

Verbs: laid, lay (present tense)

Preposition: next to, under

Words By Heart, chapters 12-13

Computer Lab -- Finish your Personal Narrative Essay.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 19/20, 2009

February 19/20, 2009
Penny Warz is still going on to raise money to buy Plumpy Nut. Plumpy Nut is a product UNICEF is using to feed starving/malnourished Kids around the world.

Your Book-of-the-Month Assignment is due next week -- February 24, 25.

Students used their composition books today.

1. Punctuation Activity.
Mr. Christensen read to the students the book Punctuation Takes a Vacation.
Students did a punctuation activity.
Each student wrote (in his or her composition book) about one of the following topics, following these two rules: 1) No talking is allowed. 2) You may not use any punctuation.
Write for three minutes or more.
Topics for punctuation exercise:
BMX biking Facebook Shopping for Earrings Monster Trucks Skiing/Snowboarding Ballet Twilight book series fantasy writing hunting

If you were absent, go ahead and do this, and find someone to put in punctuation for you. Check to make sure that they punctuated it the way you meant.

2. Words By Heart Movie
Students listened to a summary of the chapters, and then watched the movie to cover up through chapter 11, comparing book and movie in their composition books.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17/18, 2009

February 17/18, 2009

Don't forget money for penny wars!

1. Grammar Rock -- Reviewing some of the parts of speech

2. Read chapters 9-10 of Words By Heart. Answer questions:
1) Why do you think Papa doesn't tell Claudie that he's going to Hawk Hill to mend fences?
2) What are the possible outcomes of Papa's going to Hawk Hill?
3) What are the chores that Claudie does to prepare for Mrs. Chism's party?
4) Describe Mrs. Chism's fancy dinner as Claudie tells it.
5) After Claudie tells her family about the dinner, Lena says she's going to Mrs. Chism's to borrow a book, but she's really going to do what?
6) Mrs. Chism throws her Boston fern at what? Why?

3. Personal Narrative Peer Review Activity (If you were absent, see us for a copy of the peer review.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quotes and Poems on Forgiveness

Quotes on Forgiveness

How would the father (Ben Sills) in Words By Heart react to these quotes and poems?

Memorize for extra credit: 5 points for any two quotations. Poems as marked.

Is the mightiest sword
Forgiveness of those you fear
Is the highest reward
When they bruise you with words
When they make you feel small
When it's hardest to take
You must do nothing at all...
- Jane Eyre. (5 points)


What power has love but forgiveness?
- William Carlos Williams.


Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
- Paul Boese.


"Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves."
--James E Faust, "The Healing Power of Forgiveness", May 2007 Ensign


Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.
-- Dag Hammarskjold.


The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
-Mahatma Gandhi


"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.


"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
--Oscar Wilde


If we really want to love
we must learn how to forgive
- Mother Teresa


If I cannot forgive myself
For all the blunders
That I have made
Over the years,
Then how can I proceed?
How can I ever
Dream perfection-dreams?
Move, I must, forward.
Fly, I must, upward.
Dive, I must, inward,
To be once more
What I truly am
And shall forever remain.
- Sri Chinmoy (6 points)


"Father, forgive them;
for they know not what they do. "
-- Luke 23


If Someone Speaks Ill of You

If anyone speaks ill of you,
Praise him always.

If anyone injures you,
Serve him nicely.

If anyone persecutes you,
Help him in all possible ways.

You will attain immense strength.

You will control anger and pride.

You will enjoy peace, poise and serenity.

You will become divine

- Swami Sivananda (6 points)

Under One Small Star (You may select part of this poem to memorize for the indicated points.)

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second. (to here -- 6 points)
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minutes to those who cry from
the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep
today at five a.m. (6 points)
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful
of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the
same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed. (6 points)
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional
thread from your train. (6 points)
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and
each man.
I know I won't be justfied as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light. (7 points)

- Wislawa Symborska

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 12/13, 2009

February 12/13, 2009

1. Students used their composition books for writing a rough draft for their forgiveness essay.

2. Students received their (yellow) packet for writing their essay about forgiveness. See the instructions, prompt, and rubric.

3. Students went to the computer lab to type their essays into GoMYAccess. You have unlimited submissions, so revise from home all you want.

*** Wednesday, September 17 at 3:30 p.m. will be the cut off for midterm grades and qualifying for our Making the Grade activity. If the student has a D or lower as of Sept. 17, it means the student will not be permitted to attend the making the grade activity on Friday, September 26. All students who make the grade this quarter will get an ice cream sandwich during advisory.

** We have a student who read his Book-of-the-Month at home, then came into Cave Time to do the project. He completely finished the project during a few days of Cave Time. You, too, can take advantage of this great opportunity to avoid homework!

Today (February 13) is Ouida Sebestyen's Birthday! Here are some more books she has written. Ms. Dorsey has read Out of Nowhere, and highly recommends it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Personal Narrative Essay: Forgiveness

Personal Narrative Essay: Forgiveness

Throughout Words by Heart we have seen various different perspectives of forgiveness. We have looked at what forgiveness looks like from the view of a person who needs someone else to forgive them and we have considered what forgiveness looks like from the view of a person who is asked to forgive another. We have come to realize how difficult it can be at times to forgive a person and how grateful a person can be that they have been forgiven.

At the same time as we have been learning about forgiveness in the book Words by Heart, we have also discussed certain elements of writing a personal narrative essay. We learned about point of view. We learned about what needs to be included in the introduction and conclusion, and about how much detail needs to be included. We also learned how to appropriately use commas, especially when making a list, what a subject-verb agreement is and how this should look in a sentence, and we were reminded of the rules of capitalization and punctuation in sentences.

The Task
For your assignment related to the book Words by Heart you will be asked to combine the things that we have learned in this Unit. To do this, you will be required to write 2 pages (computer processed, double-spaced) about a situation of forgiveness from your life. This situation of forgiveness does not necessarily have to be an experience of your own, but you must have been present to observe it.
The Essay written on GoMyAccess will be expected to:
• be written in 1st person perspective,
• have an introduction with a good hook,
• have a conclusion with a moral,
• contain plenty of detail and dialogue,
• contain appropriate use of capitalization and punctuation,
• and have purposeful placement of commas.

After you have gotten a score of 4 or higher on GoMyAccess, you will then be expected to:
• print off your essay
• underline your moral
• underline a situation in your paper where you have made a list, separated by commas.
• and show me that you understand the subject-verb agreement by underlining and linking at least three subjects and their verbs throughout the paper.

Whether forgiveness was actually achieved in the experience you are describing is unimportant. What is more important to consider in the paper is what happened, or could have happened, to make forgiveness take place.

For this paper, I (Mr. Christensen or Ms. Dorsey) will be your audience. It is important that you consider this when you are writing. Since I will not have met some of the people you are talking about you will need to give me some background information before talking about what actually happened. You will also need to pay attention to what it is I will be looking for. Using the included rubric and the prompt should help guide your writing.

Throughout our lives, each of us encounters numerous instances of forgiveness. Sometimes we are innocent bystanders, but often we are the ones having to ask for forgiveness or being asked to forgive. For this personal narrative essay assignment, I am asking you to think back to an instance in your life when you have encountered forgiveness and asking you to write about it.

Prior to writing this assignment, you will need to be able to answer some of the following questions:
o Who was being asked to forgive?
o Who was asking to be forgiven?
o Why was forgiveness being asked for?
o What was required of the person forgiving?
o What was required of the person being forgiven?
o What background information might the reader need to know before the essay can be truly understood?
o Were there any conditions put in place by either party before forgiveness was achieved?
o Was forgiveness achieved? Why or why not?

Make sure, in writing this assignment, that you remember the characteristics of a good personal narrative essay: a good hook, lots of background information, has a story feel, is written in 1st person perspective, ends with a moral or lesson learned, and includes some dialogue and a lot of detail.

Grading (for printed off paper)
For this paper, you will be graded on six basic things: 1) Is your paper complete with all parts we did in class? 2) Are your experiences related and tied to the book? 3) Is your paper written in 1st person Point of View? 4) Does your paper have appropriate use of commas (especially when making a list)? 5) Did you capitalize and punctuate correctly? 6) Can you show me that you understand the subject verb agreement? You will be graded in these areas as follows:
Final Paper Grading Rubric
Points Received Points Possible Areas of Grading: Description and rationale for Grading Criteria
40 Completion
(Process/ Presentation) 0 pts = No Draft, peer review, or Completed final draft was submitted.
15-25 pts = 1 part or partial parts were submitted: Draft, Peer review, and final
25-35 pts = 2 parts were completed, but missing one part: Draft, Peer Review, and final.
40 pts = All parts are complete and turned in
10 Connection to book
(ideas and content) 0-5 pts = paper does not talk about an experience of forgiveness at all (or contains very little about forgiveness) and does not connect to Words by Heart at all.
5-9 pts = paper talks personally about an experience of forgiveness, but writer did not connect personal experience to Words by Heart, or connected it fleetingly.
10 pts = paper talks personally about forgiveness and connects that experience to their life.
10 1st person Perspective / inclusion of dialogue/detail
word choice) 0-5 pts = paper does not resemble 1st person perspective at all. No dialogue is included. There is very little detail in the paper
5-9 pts = paper uses 1st person, but includes little or no dialogue or detail.
10 pts = paper uses 1st person perspective correctly. There are adequate amounts of dialogue and plenty of detail that gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of the individuals in the story.
10 Appropriate use of commas
(conventions) 0-5 = No commas were used or commas were placed in inappropriate places. Comma splices cause sentence fragments all throughout the paper or there are incomplete sentences that should be combined with other sentences by comma to make more sense in the paper.
5-9 pts = Commas are used correctly throughout the paper, but there are one or two situations that the comma could be used more correctly to eliminate sentence fragments or run-ons. There is no sentence with commas in a series.
10 pts = Commas are used correctly throughout the entire paper. There is at least 1 sentence that includes commas in a series and in the final draft they are underlined.
10 Capitalization and Punctuation
(conventions/ organization) 0-5 pts = Sentences are not capitalized and are missing appropriate punctuation (periods, quotation marks, question marks, etc).
5-9 pts = Most of the paper has appropriate capitalization and punctuation, but there are a few mistakes.
10 pts = There are no capitalization or punctuation errors in the paper.
10 Subject-Verb Agreement
(Sentence Fluency) 0-5 pts = There are no subjects or verbs underlined in the final draft and there are numerous problems with the subject-verb agreements throughout the paper.
5-9 pts = The final draft has underlined subjects and verbs, but they are either incorrect or there are less than three of them and other mistakes in the paper.
10 pts = The final draft has three underlined subjects and verbs and they are all correct. There may be minimal mistakes throughout the rest of the paper.

Search this blog for a post of quotes on forgiveness. This provides extra credit opportunities, and quotes you could use in your essay.

February 10/11, 2009

February 10/11, 2009

Don't forget to bring your change for Penny Warz.

Especially -- notice how close we're getting to the due date for the Book-of-the Month Assessment. You're doing this on your own. Carefully study the assignment, and follow directions. Notice the example on the bulletin board near the classroom door.

1. Capitalization/Punctuation exercise (If you are absent, copy this, double-space it, and show how you would punctuate it. -- Or ask for the worksheet -- Follow the directions! Hint: There are two entirely different ways to interpret this letter, and the difference is in the punctuation!)

Punctuation Counts!
Directions: Do your best to correctly punctuate this letter without adding, subtracting or changing any of the words.
Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men I yearn for you I have no feelings whatsoever when we are apart I can be forever happy will you let me be yours Gloria

2. Read chapter 7 and 8 of Words By Heart. Write down questions, observations, unfamiliar words, predictions, and perhaps draw a picture to illustrate.
Examples of questions like those you could ask for your own Book-of-the-Month:
p. 56 What is a sickle?
p. 61 What is a "kangaroo pocket"? (think and search) -- You need to look back at page 56-57.
p. 65 What is a piano roll, a player piano?
p. 68 What is molasses?
p. 69 Were the books mentioned on page 69 real books that people would have been reading in 1910? Cook's Voyages, Mr. Dickens, Mr. Alger, Mrs. Fanny Fern?

3. Begin drafting your personal narrative essay. You need a rough draft for our next class time when we will go into the computer lab to type the essay. See nearby post.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 6/9, 2009

February 6/9, 2009
If you haven't, turn in your book approval. February 24th is coming up quickly, when your project is due. See the rubric for the assignment, and the example on the bulletin board by the classroom door.

Today we're checking your reading log to see that you're reading and writing and answering questions.

1. Lie/lay quiz. Do you know which form of the word to use when using the past, present, and future tenses of lie and lay?

2. Students watched part of the Words By Heart movie -- chapters 5 and 6.
They used their composition books to take notes.
Their reading logs were checked.

3. Mr. Christensen helped students review rules for capitalization, punctuation, and commas in a series.

Penny Warz Fundraiser

The school fundraiser that begins on Friday, February 13, will be raising money to send to UNICEF to buy a special food called Plumpy Nut for malnourished children. Bring all the pennies you can to put in your grade's box, and other coins and bills to put in the boxes for other grades. Pennies count as positives, and other coins and bills count negatively. To see a program about Plumpy Nut, go to

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4/5, 2009

February 4/5, 2009

Don't forget that your book-of-the-month assessment is due February 24. You should be reading your book, collecting interesting facts about the topic from the book, and more facts from other sources. Don't forget to record exactly where you found the information from other sources. If you need help, come to Cave Time.

Students recorded the conjugations (past, present, future) of the verbs lie and lay in their composition books.

For the verb "lie"
present: lie/lies
past: lay
future: will lie

For the verb "lay"
present: lay/lays
past: laid
future: will lay

2. In small groups, students made posters to show how to use lie and lay. If you were absent, make your own poster.

a. On a scratch piece of paper, write down 15 nouns and 6 prepositions.
b. On that same scratch paper, create a sentence for each of the conjugations (past, present, future) for lie and for lay.
c. Check your sentences with Mr. Christensen or Ms. Dorsey.
d. Once your sentences have been checked off, get a piece of cardstock and markers to make a poster.
-- On the back you will write all six sentences and your name.
-- On the front you will neatly write the best of your sentences (big enough to read if it were hanging in the hall), and illustrate that sentence. Use color for your illustration!

You will have six sentences. They will use these verbs:

Sentence #1: lie/lies
Sentence #2: lay
Sentence #3: will lie
Each of the above sentences will use these parts of speech in this order:

Sentence #4: lay/lays
Sentence #5: laid
Sentence #6: will lay
Each of the above sentences will use these parts of speech in this order: