Teaching students to write essays that answer the question: So what?!

Asking “So what?” makes the difference My juniors finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Instead of taking an objective culminating exam, they will show their learning by writing a literary analysis essay. However, each student will choose the content and the focus of their essays instead of selecting a topic fromContinue reading “Teaching students to write essays that answer the question: So what?!”

Here’s what Writer’s Workshop looks like in my middle school classroom

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on what is now one of my favorite activities Since I began teaching seven years ago, I’ve learned that sometimes it may be necessary to try a new technique, a new curriculum unit, or simply a new idea more than once in order to fairly assess its effectiveness.Continue reading “Here’s what Writer’s Workshop looks like in my middle school classroom”

Contest #12: Fleet Reserve Association’s Americanism Essay Contest

Here’s a new contest you may want to check out. A former student told me about this contest, which I don’t have any experience with. It’s one I’m totally new to, but thought I would add it to my blog’s contest list anyway. It might be something I can invite or encourage a few studentsContinue reading “Contest #12: Fleet Reserve Association’s Americanism Essay Contest”

The Candy Memoir: A Sweet Assignment

This candy-themed essay is a great intro to the genre of memoir My second writing project with sixth-graders (after the Sometimes Poem) is memoir writing. We dip our toes into memoir writing by documenting memories that involve candy. If kids can’t think of anything or don’t really like candy, they can write about a favoriteContinue reading “The Candy Memoir: A Sweet Assignment”

Contest #11 That Works for My Students: Stossel in the Classroom Argument Contest

Each year for the past three years, I have assigned an argument essay contest to my eighth-graders. The contest is sponsored by Stossel in the Classroom (SITC), an educational website hosted by John Stossel, former consumer reporter and correspondent for ABC’s 20/20, and current Fox News contributor. According to the SITC website’s About page, the “programContinue reading “Contest #11 That Works for My Students: Stossel in the Classroom Argument Contest”

Three Points I Pull from “They Say I Say” in My 7th & 8th Grade ELA Classes

  I came across this book, They Say I Say (Third Edition, 2015), when my son’s college English composition instructor required it for his freshman-level course. I thumbed through it, read a few chapters, and found some very concise passages written to help students solve probably the number one problem that I see in theirContinue reading “Three Points I Pull from “They Say I Say” in My 7th & 8th Grade ELA Classes”

The Triangle Fire and My Students’ Human Rights Dissertations

Triangle Fire forms the first literature unit for my 8th-graders’ human rights dissertations This week I’ve been writing about the unit on the Triangle Waist Co. fire that my 8th-graders start the year with. For them, the last few weeks of seventh grade was an introduction, a sort of “paving the way” for the moreContinue reading “The Triangle Fire and My Students’ Human Rights Dissertations”

A good thing: Weekly in-class awards

I enjoy recognizing students for their on-time, on-target writing Last year, sometime during the second quarter, I decided to start awarding students for their hard work on their weekly written homework assignments. I came up with four awards to recognize students for being on-time and for doing a good job. The awards and the skillsContinue reading “A good thing: Weekly in-class awards”

Contest #7 That Works for My Students: Ozarks Writers League Youth Writing Contest

  Don’t forget to investigate any contest opportunities that may be available from a local writers group in your area. My principal received a flyer from a member of the Ozarks Writers League last fall. The flyer gave the basic details for the league’s annual youth writing contest. I’m always up for the extra motivationContinue reading “Contest #7 That Works for My Students: Ozarks Writers League Youth Writing Contest”

Words are things that are beautiful to picture, things that glow in the world.

Today’s post: Sixth-graders reflect on their writing Today, I’m posting some responses from a reflection assignment I gave to my sixth-graders the last week of school. I asked them to write a 300-word reflection of the progress they made in my language arts class this year. Read more about the assignment and my seventh-grade reflectionsContinue reading “Words are things that are beautiful to picture, things that glow in the world.”