Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Junior Honors

We will be starting work on the Commonplace Book next week. This will be done mostly in class, but there will be some finishing up that will need to be done at home. I’ll give you due dates after the classes have been able to talk about it.

On November 19th and 20th, the Portfolio Assessment is due. As part of that, students should have rewritten a previous assignment and made at least three major revisions to it. We will be glossing these in class (highlighting and explaining the revisions made). Please remind your student to get this done – we have had two back-to-back writing assignments and I don’t want them to forget.

Next week, we will be reviewing figures of speech – those metaphors, similes and other devices writers use to make their writing more readable. These will be part of the Commonplace Book. Part of the struggle with the Commonplace book is finding samples of figures of speech/poetic devices. I’ll do my best to make sure they have access to those examples here at school, but they may be searching through your old literature or poetry books to complete the project.

Today we had a timed write and we will be analyzing it next time in class. Students will give me samples of their writing to share with the rest of the class to get feedback. It’s always a lively discussion.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Class

We are now working on the science fiction part of our curriculum. In class, we are watching a sci-fi movie clip of the day to analyze the elements of science fiction and to get ideas about how others have done it in the past. The goal this quarter is to produce a script for a short film/TV series.

Friday, November 20th, the Story Seed Assignment is due. Students should have written a story using a “seed” I gave them. We will share these in class. If students wish to, they can use these as the catalyst for their scripts. We are working on designing a set for our stories, too.

For the reading part of class, we are reading a total of 10 short stories by Ray Bradbury. Of course, if students get really interested in his stories, they can read more, but they should have the stories completed and the assignment for this done by November 30th. On December 2nd, we will be having our test for this.

The last half of the quarter will be spent on Literature Circle books and more writing, of course. This time, however, the students will help me design the assignments for reading. As creative as these students are, I’m sure it will be quite exciting.

These kids are great! (In spite of the Yoda incident today…. )

Sophomore English

After looking at the Gilgamesh Projects, it became evident that the sophomores would need some intensive help with their writing skills. The Utah Basic Skills Competency Tests (UBSCT) are coming the first week of February and I want the students to be prepared. These are the tests they must pass in order to graduate from high school. The reading test will require some detailed reading that goes beyond the text. The writing test is a little more complicated – students will need to write a persuasive essay from a prompt that will have something to do with school. In addition, they will be reading passages and analyzing the usage and spelling errors in those passages.

So, this is what we are doing about it in class: Portfolio assessments are due tomorrow, November 19th. A rewrite of a previous writing assignment is also due. Students should have chosen one timed write and selected three revision options to improve the piece. The assignment should be typed, double-spaced, in standard (boring) font. We will be working on analyzing and improving student writing in class.

After the Thanksgiving break, count on some groaning because we will be doing a research project. The writing project is part of the inquiry requirement of the Utah State Core. Students will choose a social problem (world hunger, global warming or any other of a myriad of problems) to research. I’ll let you know when we have had a chance to talk about it as a class.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sophomore English

Today we finished reading Antigone. For our test review, each group wrote a song for a scene of the play. It may sound easy, but most students commented on how difficult it was to summarize the play and put it to music. I was really pleased with how immensely talented the students are. We will finish our performances of Antigone, the Musical on Monday and do a little writing. The test for the play will be on Wednesday.

Our next unit will focus on improving writing skills and preparation for the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test. Students will be tested the first week of February in the areas of Reading, Writing and Mathematics. These are the tests students must pass in order to earn a high school diploma.

After that, I will give the students a choice of what they want to learn. I’ll send you more information on that later.