Week: 8/31-9/4

After an initial stumble, Week 1 was a success, filled with meme-inspired rule setting and assigning of the summer work essay for my freshmen. This year, I had to say goodbye to my junior-level American Lit., so I’m now all-freshmen-all-the-time. Several folks have messaged me wondering about my pacing of the class. I don’t have a full semester calendar available to share, but today I’m happily borrowing an idea from Adventures in Kinder and Beyond (thanks so much for the permission, Carrie!) to share what’s coming up each week in my classroom. Carrie’s blog is a visual feast and makes me (almost) wish I spent more time with the littles. Check her out because ideas that work in kindergarten can sometimes still be a good fit for our high school kiddos.

Here’s what’s happening in Room H-9 this week:

Open with a five-minute M.U.G. Shot (Mechanics, Usage, Grammar) Monday mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

This summer, students were assigned to read Gary Soto’s A Summer Life and Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. Last week, they were assigned to write a 400-to-500-word literary analysis essay on one of the works (their choice), explaining the author’s theme and how the author uses various literary devices to support that theme. I imagine this may have been a challenging weekend as students built their first-ever high school essay. On Monday, we’ll debrief their writing experiences and I’ll cover the basics of M.L.A. with a light-hearted Prezi lecture and reference handout.

Also, I’ll model front-page M.L.A. format submission, since many of them haven’t ever seen this before and they’re a little too in love with slick report covers and colorful clip art.

Some students may need class time to dig up their page numbers, so I’ll have copies of both books available.

Finally, if time allows, I’ll talk about the economy of language (they shouldn’t use ten words when three will do the job), show this adorable Friends clip, and put them in teams of two to complete this Thesaurus Abuse activity.

For HW, students need to finish their essay rough drafts.

Open with a five-minute Lit. Term Tuesday mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

Then, I’ll present this overview of lit. analysis essay pitfalls and we’ll complete two rounds of Peer Editing.

For HW, students will revise their essay rough drafts and print their final drafts. The essay packet, including an annotation journal they kept this summer as they read, their edited rough draft, their two completed peer edit sheets, and their final draft, will be due at the beginning of class on Wednesday.

Open with a ten-minute Words on Wednesday vocabulary mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

Collect the summer work essay packets.

Present the How to Write an Email Prezi and writing activity where students learn the netiquette of email correspondence with adults. (I’ve already had a few doozies this year, so this lesson can’t come too early in the year!)

For HW, students may need to finish writing their practice emails seeking a (fictional) internship at a law firm.

Introduce the qualities of Personal Narrative writing with a quick PowerPoint presentation.

Re-read “The Pie,” a wonderful vignette from Gary Soto’s A Summer Life and complete a series of close-reading questions (included in the Personal Narrative writing unit).

When individuals are finished writing their responses, they’ll share their answers in groups of three before I lead a full-class discussion of the story.

For HW, students only need to remember to bring their S.S.R. books to class tomorrow.

Introduce my new Quarter Trios game plan and assign teams. After students name their teams and complete our first Brain Teaser, then we’ll have S.S.R. reading time for the remainder of the hour.

For HW, students should continue reading their S.S.R. books. Book talks are due by the end of the first quarter, sometime near the end of October.

That’s it for this week, certainly enough to keep everyone busy. And, yes, I’m about to receive an avalanche of student papers to grade over the Labor Day weekend, but that’s okay – my batteries are still fresh from summer vacation.

Have a great week and teach on, everyone!

29 thoughts on “Week: 8/31-9/4

  1. Carrie Ogulnick says:

    You are so welcome!! I am so happy to inspire teachers 🙂
    Have a great week!


  2. Laura, I’m teaching English 11 this year. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see your “What I’m Teaching This Week” segments of it. It would really help me. Thanks again…

  3. Hi Sarah, so glad you like the segment. I’m actually not teaching juniors this year (solely freshmen this time around), so I don’t have my weekly calendars to share. Sorry about that. I can tell you a bit about my global planning. The course for English 11 on my campus is American Literature, so I run it chronologically, starting with Colonialism and ending with Post-Modernism. For each of the movements, I include a variety of poetry, short stories, and one long play or novel. I like this approach because the history of each movement ties nicely together with how those events/philosophies impact the literature of each time period. I might return to juniors for the 16-17 year (it all depends on the master schedule) and I’ll certainly share whatever I have when I circle back around. Hope you’re having a restful winter holiday! 🙂 Laura

  4. rory sugay says:

    Thank you , Laura, I am showing this to the barrio school teachers that I have adopted as part of my volunteer work. This will help us greatly. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Great, Rory! By all means, spread the word. Hope this is able to help some of your folks. 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! Just seeing what an awesome experienced educator does in real time is so helpful! I can’t thank you enough! Also, I want to buy every single thing you have on teacher pay teachers! You’re awesome!

  7. Thanks so much, Kristen! I figured this series would be helpful for folks to see how all of the pieces fit together. Glad you found me!

  8. Everytime I find something absolutely fantastic on Pinterest it is made by you. You are and have been a lifesaver for me many times. Thank you for all the love you put into teaching and then sharing that love with others.

  9. Ah, thanks so much, CS! It’s heartwarming to know you’ve found some value in the things I make. Success! 🙂

  10. Barbara Cheney says:

    I concur with comments here. Every time I find something I like and can use, it is YOUR material!

  11. Thanks for the kind words, Barbara! I’m so glad you found me. 😉

  12. Kim Sutter says:

    Do you review the WOW words and quiz the students on the words?

  13. Absolutely, Kim. For assessment of vocabulary, I keep things easy on myself and give a weekly quiz on (most) Fridays of just three questions. For the first question, I give the class a word aloud and have students write down a definition (which can be in their own words; the definition just needs to be accurate). For the second question, I give a different word and have the students write down an accurate synonym. For the third, I give a third word and have students write down an antonym. (Vocab. is also cumulative over the semester and comprises a large section of my semester final exam.)

    I used to write up full quizzes for the weekly assessments, but students would cheat and tell friends in other classes which words I used. No surprise, I also quickly grew tired of writing a separate quiz for each section. My current method is quick (I choose different words for each of my classes on the spot as I’m giving the quiz) and super-easy to grade, as each quiz is only three questions long.

    I hope you give the three-question quiz a try. I think you’ll find it’s an easy way to manage weekly vocab. quizzes. Also, vocab. is a major part of the semester final exam, so they need to master those words. 🙂

  14. Thank you for this! It is extremely helpful!

  15. I have just accepted a position teaching ESL and English for a cyber charter school. Since my new students would not have been assigned summer reading, what would you suggest as an alternative for that assignment? I so appreciate your generous sharing! I am dual certified [obviously], but it has been several years since I’ve actually taught ‘regular English’, so any help or tips you could give would be deeply appreciated. Thank you in advance!

  16. Great questions, e1snover! I haven’t ever taught online classes, but I suspect your students could use some digital citizenship lessons right from the start. Do the kids see each other online or is it solely you that they interact with? If it’s just you, I guess I’d jump in pretty quickly with short stories and start building that skill foundation. Honestly, my head is spinning right now with all of the possibilities and, since I haven’t ever taught in this format, I have a lot more questions than answers. Wish I could be more helpful!

  17. Laura,
    Thank you for your response. As far as I understand, the students will be able to see and interact with one another. What specific skills would you suggest I address with short stories? Reading strategies? Any more specifics would be welcome. I will be receiving training this coming week, so I am sure that I will be getting a ton of information.

  18. I like to launch the year with short stories to give us a good foundation of the standards lit. terms and devices. Okay, I don’t want to overwhelm you, but here’s a list of the ones we introduce in the fall semester of Eng. 9: theme, storytelling arc, exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, protagonist, antagonist, anti-hero, foil, point of view, first person, third person limited, third person omniscient, third person objective, rhetoric, ethos, pathos, logos, tone, mood, archetypes, diction, dialect, dialogue, figures of speech, figurative language, idiom, characterization, direct/indirect, static/dynamic, satire, parody, internal monologue, soliloquy, aside, simile, metaphor, extended metaphor, mixed metaphor, symbolism, denotation, connotation, verbal irony, situational irony, dramatic irony, personification, pathetic fallacy, foreshadow, foreshadowing, flashback, hyperbole, paradox. Whew!

    Obviously, you’ll want to wait until your informational meeting to figure out what your specific curriculum needs to include. I’m guessing that your school has already built a bunch of online resources for you to use. I know you’re chomping at the bit to get started with planning (I know I would be, too!), but try to hang tight until that meeting. A bunch of material is very likely headed your way.

    Enjoy your new adventure! 🙂

  19. Laura,

    Thank you for both your expansion of your answer, as well as the acknowledgement of where my mind is right now! As most other teachers, I like to have everything planned! 🙂 I know I will have a ton of material coming my way this next week, nonetheless, I truly appreciate your personal response.

  20. Of course, e1snover! It really will all work out just fine. It always does… 🙂

  21. Just crazy about your site! What a service you provide for teachers. Thank you!

  22. Hi Laura, I really appreciate your advice and resources. I’m a fairly new teacher (only a couple years in), and I’m still attempting to sort out a curriculum map for each grade I teach. This is a bit challenging as I teach at a reservation, and I am, quite literally, the entire English department (8th-12 grades). It’s incredibly time consuming and exhausting to create a different curriculum map per grade, and yet, each grade deserves a variety of educational opportunities. Do you think it possible to use your two curriclum guides and modify them so that I have a frame work for each grade: for example, use the ninth grade guide for ninth and tenth grades and the eleventh grade for eleveth and twelfth grades somehow? Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks!

  23. Hi Julie,
    So glad you checked in with me! With the workload you’re facing, you absolutely should avoid trying to build everything from scratch. If your school is interested in following the Common Core State Standards, that’s exactly how the high school grades are clumped together. There’s one set of standards that applies to both 9th and 10th grades; there’s an additional set of standards for 11th and 12th. Each English department (hey, that’s you!) decides how to divvy up those standards so that they’re all taught and reinforced during that two year window.

    If it’s helpful, I have overview calendars that you might want to check out.
    English 9/10: https://laurarandazzo.com/2018/04/07/free-h-s-english-monthly-calendars/
    English 11/12 (I use this with 11th grade, which is focused on American Literature where I’m from): https://laurarandazzo.com/2016/07/23/grade-11-calendars-have-arrived/

    Hope this is useful info. Do what you can, but also know that you’ve been given a Herculean task. Hang in there!

  24. Oh wow. You are amazing. Selfless!! Thank you for sharing!!!! #priceless!!

  25. Hope this series is helpful, Jenn! Don’t hesitate to let me know if questions arise as you work through the schedule. 🙂 Laura

  26. Christina Nidowicz says:

    I’m just taking a glance at your page and thinking what a small world it is. I started out with freshmen and then taught American lit for years and now I’m back to all freshmen. Stories like Cask and Rules of the Game are near and dear to my heart. I’m on year 23, but I will definitely stop by your page for some fresh ideas and inspiration. Love it!

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