On Writing…

Posted onSeptember 11, 2014 
Filed under Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, SY2014-15 | Leave a Comment

As a teacher, I’ve relied the most on two books: Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings and Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I’m posting excerpts from an interview with King wherein he shares his thoughts on teaching writing to teen-agers (middle-schoolers). 

Lahey: If your writing had not panned out, do you think you would have continued teaching?

King: Yes, but I would have gotten a degree in elementary ed. I was discussing that with my wife just before I broke through with Carrie. Here’s the flat, sad truth: By the time they get to high school, a lot of these kids have already closed their minds to what we love. I wanted to get to them while they were still wide open. Teenagers are wonderful, beautiful freethinkers at the best of times. At the worst, it’s like beating your fists on a brick wall. Also, they’re so preoccupied with their hormones it’s often hard to get their attention.

Lahey: You write, “One either absorbs the grammatical principles of one’s native language in conversation and in reading or one does not.” If this is true, why teach grammar in school at all? Why bother to name the parts?

King: When we name the parts, we take away the mystery and turn writing into a problem that can be solved. I used to tell them that if you could put together a model car or assemble a piece of furniture from directions, you could write a sentence. Reading is the key, though. A kid who grows up hearing “It don’t matter to me” can only learn doesn’t if he/she reads it over and over again.

Lahey: In the introduction to Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, E.B. White recounts William Strunk’s instruction to “omit needless words.” While your books are voluminous, your writing remains concise. How do you decide which words are unnecessary and which words are required for the telling?

King: It’s what you hear in your head, but it’s never right the first time. So you have to rewrite it and revise it. My rule of thumb is that a short story of 3,000 words should be rewritten down to 2,500. It’s not always true, but mostly it is. You need to take out the stuff that’s just sitting there and doing nothing. No slackers allowed! All meat, no filler!

Lahey: By extension, how can writing teachers help students recognize which words are required in their own writing?

King: Always ask the student writer, “What do you want to say?” Every sentence that answers that question is part of the essay or story. Every sentence that does not needs to go. I don’t think it’s the words per se, it’s the sentences. I used to give them a choice, sometimes: either write 400 words on “My Mother is Horrible” or “My Mother is Wonderful.” Make every sentence about your choice. That means leaving your dad and your snotty little brother out of it.

Lahey: Great writing often resides in the sweet spot between grammatical mastery and the careful bending of rules. How do you know when students are ready to start bending? When should a teacher put away his red pen and let those modifiers dangle?

King: I think you have to make sure they know what they’re doing with those danglers, those fragmentary and run-on sentences, those sudden digressions. If you can get a satisfactory answer to “Why did you write it this way?” they’re fine. And—come on, Teach—you know when it’s on purpose, don’t you? Fess up to your Uncle Stevie!

(Source: “How Stephen King Teaches Writing”, The Atlantic)

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Gr7 – Book Trailer Link Form

Posted onSeptember 8, 2014 
Filed under Grade 7, SY2014-15 | 2 Comments

Students,

Your Book Trailers are due today. Please provide the link to your book trailer through this post. Any link submitted after 10 o’oclock tonight (10:00 PM) will be considered late.

Reminders: (1) If you are submitting via YouTube, you must set up your YouTube Channel through your school gmail account. (2) Make sure the privacy setting is made public.

Click here: Book Trailer Link Form

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Creative Prompt

Posted onSeptember 5, 2014 
Filed under Grade 8, Pursuits, SY2014-15 | Leave a Comment

Due: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You may come in during tutorials and lunch if you’d like to have extra time to complete this.

Format: Written/Digital/Art

Prompt 1.  Tell us about a time when you were frightened and how you conquered that fear.

Prompt 2. If you had a super power what would it be and why?

Submit your work by clicking on this link.

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Reminder: Supply List SY2014-15

Posted onAugust 29, 2014 
Filed under Grade 7, Grade 8, SY2014-15 | Leave a Comment

Hello,

In case you forgot the “must-haves”, here’s the reminder. You might need none, some, or all of these.

Everyone’s Personal Supplies List:
* (5 Green) 3-pronged folders with pockets — please get the poly or plastic, not the paper
* Flash drive (to back up save your electronic work) ** optional
* Planner (to stay organized)
* (2) Composition Notebooks (for your grammar/stems)

CLASSROOM WISH LIST: I’m requesting the following items that can be used as supplies for the entire class. 

Grade 7:
* College-ruled Filler Paper
* Kleenex

Grade 8, Section 1:
* Blue or black pens
* Crayola Markers or Map Pencils

Grade 8, Section 2:
* Red pens
* College-ruled Filler Paper

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TEDxKids@SMU 2014 Auditions

Posted onJuly 27, 2014 
Filed under Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Parents, Pursuits, TED Talks, TED-Ed | Leave a Comment

Hi, kids!

You all know that one of the best days in G/T has been our day excursions to TEDxKids. I know that you all have super ideas and stories to share, so here’s an opportunity for a “pursuit”.

Hugs,
Ms. C

But first we are looking for a young person to delight us with a short talk or performance! We are holding our second annual Auditions for TEDxKids@SMU!
 
Boys and girls ages 10 to 18 are welcome to submit a video that is between 60 and 90 seconds. We want your best story, your latest invention, your funniest moment or your talented performance. Almost anything goes and the winner will be invited to perform during TEDxKids@SMU on October 31st!
 
Submissions will open July 21st and close on September 3rd. After submissions close, a panel of judges will review every video and select a group of finalists. Those videos will be posted on our website and open to the public to vote for their one favorite, one vote per email address. Voting will open September 8th and close September 12th and we will announce the winner on September 15th.For more information, guidelines and to submit your audition application click here:

http://www.tedxsmu.org/tedxkidssmu-auditions-2014/

If you have any questions please email us at [email protected] or call 214-768-1558.

Best of Luck,

The TEDxSMU Team

 
 
 
Copyright © 2014 TEDxSMU, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in to receive TEDxSMU mailings.

 

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G/T Class Project

Posted onJuly 25, 2014 
Filed under Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Hi, everyone!

I hope you all are having had an adventurous summer, either at home or afar! My summer definitely began to pick up in July.

All summer, I’ve been making notes of what the new school year will bring, and I think this one would be fun to do: http://littlefreelibrary.org/.

See you all very soon,

Ms. C

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To Kill A Mockingbird

Posted onJune 4, 2014 
Filed under Grade 8, Summer Reading | Leave a Comment

1.       Show book trailer: To Kill a Mockingbird book trailer.

 2.       Read and analyze “Killing the Mockingbird: Historical and Contemporary Efforts to Ban Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird” by Nicholas Patler (literary analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird). You can access the article online. While challenging, this literary analysis essay provides a great deal of contextual knowledge about the novel and provides a real-world example of this style of writing.
MLA citation for the article:
Patler, Nicholas. “Killing the Mockingbird: Historical and Contemporary Efforts to Ban Harper Lee’s To Kill AMockingbird.” Weblog
post. Nicholaspatlers Weblog. N.p., 28 July 2009. Web. 14 May 2013
Here are a couple of  ”Crash Course” videos by John Green on the book. They are simply fantastic.
Race, Class, and Gender in To Kill a Mockingbird:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDS32LEe1Ss
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XC – Letter

Posted onMay 19, 2014 
Filed under Pursuits | Leave a Comment

“The below email was sent by one of the Police Department’s Public Safety Officers.  It explains that he will be assisting Eric Thelie a 91 year old WWII veteran on Honor Flight #20.  Please read his email and visit the website to gain further understanding of how this honors his sacrifice and the sacrifice of others during World War II.
I would like to challenge each of you to write a letter to be presented to Mr. Thelie on the return flight.  It would also be a show of great appreciation and respect if students could also write letters.  If you and/or your students complete letters I will personally deliver them to the PD, so that they can be presented to Mr. Thelie.  Please have them to me by noon on Wednesday May 21st (2 days from now).”
Subject: Honor Flight Trip #20
Friends and Co-workers,
 
I’m sure many of you have heard of or are familiar with the great work of Honor Flight.  This organization, started several years ago in Ohio, works diligently, to get as many World War II veterans as possible to Washington DC to see their World War II memorial.  As you can imagine, time is of the essence in this task.
 
Honor Flight DFW website:  http://honorflightdfw.org/
 
Later this month, I am traveling with Frisco resident and WW 2 Navy veteran, Eric Thelie who is 91 years young.  I met Eric while driving the bus/van at the Frisco Senior Center some years ago. 
 
Those of us who travel with these vets are called “Guardians” although the veterans apparently prefer the term “butler”.  Regardless, one of our tasks is to gather letters, notes, and any other expressions of gratitude from folks that want to express their thanks or simply good wishes for what they did for us many years ago.
 
I don’t think it is overstated in any way to say these people literally saved the world by their work and sacrifice.  Because I believe many of you agree with me, I am asking each of you to consider writing your thoughts, gratitude, etc. in an email or even by hand (yes some of us still do that) to Eric so that he will have these to read and to keep with him always.  These letters, kept as a secret until the return trip from DC, will be presented to the veterans on the flight back to DFW.  The veterans will read, or in some cases have read to them, their letters during this return trip.  This will be one of the most memorable and significant parts of the Honor Flight experience.  You can help make it so.
 ​ 
My thanks to each of you for considering this.
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Tom Sawyer: Characterization/County Food Fair

Posted onMay 14, 2014 
Filed under Grade 7 | Leave a Comment

Tom Sawyer: Characterization/County Food Fair

  1. Choose a character that interests you the most and that you’d like to analyze using STEAL.
  2. It can be a major character,  a minor character, a moral character, or an immoral character.
  3. The cardstock is for your FINAL, so work on scratch paper.
  4. BRAINSTORM.
  5. As part of the brainstorming process, you will need to look for 5 interesting pieces of text evidence for each letter of the STEAL acronym. That means you will have 25 pieces of interesting and revealing text evidence that allows you to analyse your chosen character.
  6. These 25 pieces of text evidence should come from throughout the book, not just from one section. These must show or reveal who your character is as a person (STEAL).​
  7. Be sure to include the analysis and the 5 to 7 of the most revealing pieces of text evidence on your cardstock. This must be neatly and creatively done.
  8. The analysis can be done for each letter or written in paragraph form.
  9. You will need to illustrate your character. The illustration and the analysis should be all on the front of the cardstock.

“County Food Fair”: Match a Southern dish to your character. For example, if I analyse Huck Finn, I might choose Mississippi Mud Pie to represent him – (layered (multi-dimensional, hard crust (life’s struggles), chocolate (dark), and white (innocence), Mississippi (regional).

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2014 ISM Final Presentation Night

Posted onMay 9, 2014 
Filed under Parents, Pursuits | Leave a Comment

Lone Star High School – May 14th
Liberty High School – May 16th
 Heritage/Centennial High Schools (at Heritage) – May 21st
Frisco High School – May 21st
Wakeland High School – May 21st
 
The schedule can vary slightly depending on how large the ISM program is at that school:
 
Showcase in Cafeteria – Starts at 6:15 – 6:30 pm (come-and-go style)
Mentor Acknowledgment – Auditorium – Begins around 7:00 pm
Individual Student Presentations – Begins around 7:45 pm – Various Classrooms
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