Monday, November 30, 2009

Conflict and Character Development (HW for 11/30)

Today we discussed how conflict develops and even defines characters. How we act, react and interact in times of trouble provide some clues about who we are as people--the same is true in fiction.

In fact, in a way figuring out characteristics through conflict is more important than the conflict itself. The conflict is only a part of a much larger journey. SO when we read fiction or think about our own lives, conflicts should be moments where we thinking about the causes and effects of such problems. Who were we, and what will we become?

For homework, you should read your independent reading book and identify major conflicts that have occured in the narrative and then write a page about how this conflict points to the development of those characters involved in the conflict (what have we learned about this character from his/her actions before, during and after the conflict).

Types of conflict

Internal - Person v. Self
External- Person v. Person, Person v. Nature, Person v. Society, Society v. Society

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Homework

ELA Thanksgiving Break Assignments

  1. Read “Madonna”
    • Highlight key words & phrases that point to the theme of the story

  1. Read “Fashion Show, Grand Opening, and Bar-B-Que Memorial Service”
    • Create a list of at least 5 interview questions for one of the characters in the book and answer each question as you think the character would answer it.

  1. Finish writing your “Compassionate Moment” paper: In this paper you should write about a moment when someone did something caring for others. Describe this moment in detail and then discuss what you have learned from it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Walter Dean Myers Community Poem

Walter Dean Myers writes about how his community has rhythm and his entire book of poems "Here in Harlem" is filled with poems of people's perspectives on their lives within the community of Harlem.

Your homework is to write a poem of your own that shows how someone is feeling and uses the community you live in to describe these feelings. You should try to illustrate your poem with pictures of symbols used within the text of the poem. These poems will be posted on the bulletin board in the classroom so please write neatly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Research and Feature Articles

Unfortunately, we can't spend a ton of time in-class researching. This means that you will have to research at home, in the media-center (open to Journalism Students during 6th period lunch on Friday) and at the library.

However, research can get a little easier if you use some of the "useful sites" posted to the right side of this blog entry: IS 145 Media Center (scroll down for databases, and magazines), Internet Public Library and Teenspace, and PBS Newshour.

The best and most thorough search engine though, is EBSCO. Go to this site- and type in jp145 in both the username and password to begin searching.

Monday, October 19, 2009


834 & 831

Please complete a final draft of your pitch letter. Your final draft should include your pitch cover sheet, and a sketch of your article's layout. (ALL PITCHES MUST BE HANDED IN THIS WEEK!)


You must have a sketch of your article's layout to be handed in on Wednesday.
Your final draft, cover sheet and layout sketch are due on Thursday this week.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Specialized High School Exam

I am still waiting for approval from Dr. B (I should have it tomorrow), but once given I will be holding after-school Specialized High School Test Prep in my room on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:45 to 4pm starting on this upcoming Friday, October 16th. These classes will run up until the day before the test (Nov. 6th) and will cover the ELA portion of the test and time-management skills to use during the testing.

Please see me tomorrow after lunch to get a permission slip. NO ONE will be permitted to this tutoring program unless they have a signed permission slip from their parent/guardian!

I look forward to working with you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Homework Assigned for the Weekend (QUIZ WORDS & DEFINITIONS)

This week we went over what a pitch for a magazine is and how a writer needs to constantly think about the target demographic of the magazine. A writer's pitch is used to convince the Editor-in-Chief that his/her article is worthwhile and beneficial to the magazine. To practice, we created a mission statement and pitch for the magazine as a whole and many of our groups did an excellent job pitching their magazine. To practice further, your homework is to read your Independent Reading book over the weekend and create a title, logo and mission statement for your book (What is the purpose of the book, what demographic is it trying to reach? If your book was a magazine, what type of magazine would it be?) For those classes who were given an outline for your pitch, make sure you complete this outline for class next week.

Quiz Words

Pitch: to sell or get approval for something
Demographic: A statistic about a group of people (ex- Women aged 30-60)
Bias: An unfair or unreasonable judgment of someone or something (usually a pattern of judgements found in the news)
Angle: the interesting approach to a general topic of study (the article isn't just about makeup, it's about how makeup should be applied for day or nighttime use)
Objective: A fair or balanced understanding, recognition of the truth without judgment
Caption: Written explanation of a graphic
Graphic: photos, graphs, illustrations used in a magazine
Sidebar: a section of an article separate from but related to the article.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Interviewing Possible Demographics (HW for 831 & 832)

So far in our unit of study on Feature Articles, we have discussed the ways in which a writer will think carefully about their demographic (or their target reader) to figure out the topic and angle of their feature article before writing it. Today, we went over the 7 types of feature articles (listed below) and we worked on figuring out our ideas. However, before we do our research, we should test out our ideas with the public available to us.

SO, 831 and 832 your assignment is to interview one family member and one friend. Tell them your thoughts about your article and ask them what they would like to know about your topic. Why might they seek out an article like this? What type of information would they want to find in such an article? What do they find interesting about the topic and can they tell you anything about the topic that you might not have thought of yet?

Try to get your relative and friend to be as thorough as possible. You want them to talk to you so you can get good information from them.

The 7 Feature Types


• This is the most common type of feature article. It describes an unusual aspect of the life of the very ordinary -- something that makes this individual interesting to others.

• This type typically reports on someone’s success in spite of great odds.

• It may recall a tragic predicament.

• It may share a continuing struggle supported only by hope and faith.


• The subject of the article may be famous or not so famous but has done something of interest

to others.

• This type usually shows how a person gained recognition.

• The personality feature is very much like a character sketch.


• Many magazines have a column that publishes reviews of the “best” products of all kinds.

• This type of article usually includes the writer’s personal experiences with the product.

• It includes proof and examples that the product is the best of its kind.

• The article includes information about where to get the product and how much it costs.


• This type of article shares the author’s experience of something interesting or unusual

• It allows readers to do something through the eyes, ears, experiences and reflections of the author


• This article explains how to do something – usually a complex process that most people

would not know how to do.

• The best how-to articles begin by telling the reader why it is important or beneficial for him

or her to know how to do this.

• The article explains the steps of the process in enough detail so that another person can do

this process.

• This article also includes a list of all of the materials needed to do this process.


• This article focuses on an historical event or historical celebration.

• The article typically includes research but is not like an encyclopedia report. The article

serves as a human interest history lesson.

• This type of writing is usually puts a “human face” on history. In other words, it lets the

reader know something about the people who were part of history.


• This type of article shows insightful coverage of a topic.

• It gives detailed information focused on one aspect of a given topic.

• The article often refers to sources of research but is not like an encyclopedia report. Instead,

the writer makes a personal connection to the subject and includes his/her voice.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Homework assigned for the weekend (AND QUIZ NOTICE)

831-32: Read 40 pages of your IR book and write the opening to an objective news story to an event that you read about in your book. Write an outline of the different perspectives found in this conflict. Any Alien Reports not handed in on Monday will receive points off for lateness!

833: Finish your Alien Reports

834: Those of you who haven't handed in Alien Reports must have them handed in on Friday or I will start taking points off! Read 30 pages of your IR book and rewrite a conflict in the book from another character's perspective.

QUIZ COMING SOON: Vocabulary words for the unit at the end of the week!

Objective (as in this new story is objective)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homework Assigned on 9/30

833- Read 15 pages of your IR book and write about the motivations of your character and the conflicts s/he has gotten into.

832- Read 20 pages of your IR book and write about the motivations of your character and the conflicts s/he has gotten into. Watch the news and determine whether the news is biased or not.

Homework Due for 831 and 834 tomorrow October 1st:

831- Read chapters 8 & 9 of Three Cups of Tea

834- Read 20 pages of your IR book and write part of your Alien Report

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Alien Report (Some Tips on How to Get an A)

So, you want to write a good report? You'd like to write an amazing Alien Report and start off your first marking period as an 8th grader with a solid A in ELA (notice that B,C,D, and F are not in the intials ELA...coincidence??)

Well, here are a few tips on how to write an awesome report.

1. Write with a mixture of creativity and analysis: You are pretending to be an alien (or if you are already an alien, you are simply using what you know) to make meaningful observations of your human character. So have your alien REACT like an alien observing humans for the first time would act. What feelings do they have? What conclusions would they make? How can this way of seeing the world of the story make the story interesting??

2. Even though I'm encouraging you to write creatively, you NEED to base your reactions and conclusions on the text of your Independent Reading Book. So you MUST have lines from the text to share with your commander. Here is an example from the book I am reading (I am pretending to be an alien here):

  • Then my human did something inconceivable. He quit his job and decided to turn away from the help he had received in America, "I leave, knowing I am leaving this job and I am leaving Atlanta...Today I have options" (533) Despite this abrupt decision, this human sees the world open up before him. His determination to quit and move beyond the help of charitable friends is a sign that he is ready to take control of his life, hopefully for the good.

3. You should try to organize your paper to focus on separate behaviors from paragraph to paragraph. For instance, the sample above would work well in a paragraph about confidence and/or self-reliance. So, my alien would have to conclude that humans are successful when they begin to take control of their lives. The other paragraphs of my essay would be focused on other behaviors (being a victim, endurance, name a few that I would use from the book I am reading right now).

831- Your paper is due on Tuesday when you get back after the long weekend.

832- Your paper is due on Wednesday

833-34 - Your paper is due on Thursday

The due dates are different only because I handed out the assignment at different times to different classes depending on how far we had gone with our lessons. Enjoy the weekend and remember: Reading is out of this world...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Give a Chance to Others

The following is an edited version of a four page paper that I received from a student who was asked to write about what inspires and represents him. I was completely astounded by the size of his heart:

What motivated me was visiting my country Bangladesh. It changed me into a caring person that thinks that everyone should get an education and a good future that isn't based on how much money you have or what you own.

The day that I started was in February of 2008 during President's Week. My parents and I went to Bangladesh for my mother because my grandmother had passed away. It was my third time to Bangladesh. I was not that excited because I got tested alot when I went there and it was hot...I mean HOT and there are mosquitos, a whole lot of them. I went to Bangladesh to pay my respects to my grandmother.

When I got there it was something that you couldn't imagine in America. It was crowds of people, police officers with AK-47s and the heat was just crazy. But out of all of this drama, the thing that stands out was the poor people. It wasn't like it was one, it was hundreds of them begging for money or food. What shook me the most was that I was as I was getting into the taxi to my Auntie's house, there was a little boy. He was not begging for money or food. He said to me, "Can you take me with you when you go to America, so I can have a good education." I didn't say anything and I just walked away to my taxi.

On the way to my Auntie's house I thought about the kid that was begging. As we were going, I saw a lot more people that were in need. It made me have a feeling that I never had in my life. It was like I lost my heart and replaced it with a new clean heart without anything in it. Staying there a couple of days made me feel like something you can't describe, but it feels good. I spent most of my time playing with my cousin and the poor kids. We played cricket, swam and even caught chickens. As I was playing I learned about so many of these kids. Like most of them don't have parents, they didn't live in a home, they lived outside in the streets. Seeing them just made me feel really bad and I wanted to help them but I couldn't. They didn't have clothes on their backs, no shoes, but one thing that just shocked me was that every one of them wanted to learn. It just made me feel serious about my work. I said to myself, I am going to do this for them and become something. I hope I can go back and give everyone the education so they aren't just hanging around on the street begging without clothes on their backs.

The picture that comes to mind is of three kids that will do anything to learn for school. They don't have money so they hide in the bushes next to the classroom window and write on the ground. It showed me how far kids will go to learn.

I think if every child around the world was helped there will not be so many problems in the world like poverty, hunger, and wars. I believe that if everyone helps each other there won't be any problems in the world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

HW Assigned today!!!

833- Read 15 pages of your IR book and write a paragraph that discusses what you think the demographic of the novel is.

834- Read 20 pages of your IR book. Write a list of topics and angles that you might be interested in writing about for your major assignment for the magazine.

831- Read up to page 44 of Three Cups of Tea and write a page about what angles you might use to discuss Greg's journey thus far if you were asked to write a feature article on his life/work/interests.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homework for Tomorrow 9/22

831: Read Chapter One of Three Cups of Tea. Look through the book and figure out what the demographic of the book is and evaluate whether it uses good captions. You may be quizzed on it.

832: Caption handout.

834: Figure out the demographic of your novel after reading 20 pages of your book.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Homework for the Weekend

831, 832 - Begin noting the behaviors of your main character to prepare for your alien report by reading at least 30 pages and collecting quotes for your use: this will NOT be collected but it will be checked.

833 - Read 30 pages of your IR book and write a personal response that notes your personal reactions to specific moments from the book. Be sure to take lines from the text and use them in your response. Write a one page paper that replies to Ghandi's statement: Be the Change you Want to See in the World.

834- Read 30 pages of your IR book and collect lines from the text that you find interesting or important and then write a personal reaction to that quote. Write a one page paper that replies to Ghandi's statement: Be the Change you Want to See in the World.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Homework Assigned to 833 & 832 on Wednesday 9/16

I have noticed a continuing trend with ALL of my classes--none of you like to use lines taken directly from the text to explain your summaries or personal reactions. The following homework is a direct result of this:

833- Read 15 pages of your IR book and write down any quotes that you find interesting or intriguing. Be sure to put the page number that you found the quote on. Then write a couple of sentences that gives a reaction to the quote. You should have at least 3 quotes or reactions.

832 (for Friday) - Read 20 pages of your IR book and write down any quotes that you find interesting or intriguing. Be sure to put the page number that you found the quote on. Then write a couple of sentences that gives a reaction to the quote. You should have at least 4 quotes and reactions.

832 Should also write a description of how you will/would "Be the change you wish to see in this world". Try to be specific about what issue(s) you care about and want to make a stand on. How will you make a change and how can you personally set an example about how to bring that change about. The assignment is one-page minimum but you will receive extra credit if you offer more details and write more pages.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homework Assigned to 833, 834 and 831 on Tuesday.

833 (For Tomorrow): Read 15 pages of your IR book and write a personal response that uses lines from your book and provides a reaction to them.

834 (For Thursday): Read 25 pages of your IR book and write a personal response that uses lines from your book and provides a reaction to them.

See personal response in yesterday's blog posting

831 (For Thursday): Write a description of how you will/would "Be the change you want to see in this world". Try to be specific about what issues you stand for and how you would like to make a change and how you can personal set an example about how to bring about that change. The assignment is one-page minimum, but you will receive extra credit for more thorough details and extra pages.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homework for Tomorrow 9/15

831, 832 834- You MUST read X pages of your Independent Reading book and write a thorough personal response that reflects how you are feeling as a reader and which portions of the text you found interesting or important. BE SURE TO USE TEXT EVIDENCE to support what you are talking about. A sample personal response is posted below.

831: X = 20 Due tomorrow
832: X = 30 Due Wednesday
834: x = 15 Due tomorrow

Personal Response for Romeo & Juliet: I really liked the play. At first I thought I wouldn’t because the language was really hard to understand, but then we started to act bits out and we watched the movie and followed in the book. After we studied a few scenes in detail and learnt about the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ it got much easier. My favorite scenes are the balcony scene and the scene where Mercutio gets killed. When Romeo climbs up to see Juliet after the party and says “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks, it is the east and Juliet is the sun” I think it’s really amazing. I understand why it’s so famous. I wish someone would compare me to the sun! The whole of that scene is so romantic because he compares her to lots of beautiful things. The scene where Mercutio dies is powerful in a different way: when he shouts “A plague on both your houses” it really makes me want to cry. Mercutio didn’t deserve to die – it was so pointless. The final scenes where Romeo and Juliet kill themselves and their families realize the damage they have done are really emotional too. By the end of the play, when the Prince is warning them never to fight again, it makes you feel like screaming ‘this was your fault’ to both sets of parents. The play ends just as the prologue tells you it will – and leaves you full of anger, sadness and frustration. It teaches a powerful lesson in putting aside differences and not teaching others to hate. I’m really glad I read this play and now don’t feel so scared about reading Shakespeare.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homework Assignments for the Weekend

As I mentioned to all of you in class, you will have homework due every day that our class meets. Check this blog to find out what your homework is, if you haven't already written it down in your agenda books.

Here is the assigned homework for each class:

831, 834 (for Monday) 833 (for Tuesday): Bring your signed contracts, one notebook and one pack of loose-leaf paper to class. Find a picture that holds meaning for you and/or represents who you are, then write a one-page explanation about why it represents you and what it means. Bring the picture and the page explanation to class. Read at least 40 pages of your Independent Reading book (I would love it if you read more) and write a thorough summary of what you have read. 833 is assigned 50 pages to read because of the extra day for reading.

832: (for Monday): Some of you still owe contracts and picture profiles that were due on Friday, please bring these in. If you were absent on Wednesday and have no idea what I'm talking about see the assignment listed above. Also, read at least 40 pages of your Independent Reading book (I would love it if you read more) and write a thorough summary of the human behaviors you have noticed from the characters in the book. Use the chart that we created in class on Friday to assist you in your reading for character traits (see below).






Welcome to the TeacherDude blog

This blog is designed to help students who may have extra questions beyond the classroom and to serve as a reminder to those who have forgotten what their homework is. Thus, many of the posts on this blog will either contain a listing of the night's homework for each class, or more detailed instructions and/or handouts connected to our lessons from the day.

As you can see, to the left side of this blog is a list of links that I have provided for you. Many of these links can be useful to you as you try to figure out which books might interest you, which careers and colleges you might be interested in, or how begin to research for a project (in any class). Please feel free to recommend any other websites you think will interest and help the rest of the class.

I highly recommend checking up on this blog on a daily basis so you won't miss any important information.