Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Memorial Quilt Project

Following an interdisciplinary viewing of the documentary 9/11 narrated by Robert DeNiro and focused on the September 11th terrorist attacks from the point of view of the New York City Fire Department, students will be created a "square" for a grade level memorial "quilt" which will then be displayed in the school.

Students participated in a discussion in class today, where many ideas were shared, questions were asked, and feelings were addressed.  I was incredibly proud of the level of respect demonstrated by all students.  One of the most exciting parts of teaching for me is having the opportunity to learn from my students, and today was a day of tremendous reflection for me.

Students will be finishing their quilt squares on Monday in class or as homework Tuesday night. 

Here is the project description handed out to students:
The 9/11 Ten Year Memorial Quilt Project
On September 11, 2001, extremists attacked American soil, resulting in the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers, serious damage to the Pentagon, passengers on board a hijacked airplane headed for Washington D.C. taking down the flight, the deaths of nearly 3,000 … and the grief of an entire nation.
This Sunday marks the ten year anniversary of one of America’s great tragedies.  To commemorate the event, Pittsfield 9th and 10th graders (or those fortunate enough to have a 9th or 10th grade class with Hamilton and Loud) will each create their own “quilt square” after viewing and discussing the Robert DeNiro-narrated documentary 9/11.
When the quilt squares are put together, we will have a fitting memorial to one of America’s darkest days.
You will be given a square to personalize in the way you feel best captures your thoughts and feelings … and provides a valuable tribute.  Please make an effort to ensure that your quilt square is aesthetically appealing.  Some ideas …
Mosaic of Questions or Phrases
Use a program such as Wordle or create your own “mosaic of questions or phrases” that you have after viewing 9/11.
The simplicity of a haiku (a three-lined poem containing 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 in the third line) is ideal for capturing powerful images.
Concrete Poem
 pyramid shape
          an idea of creating
    concrete poetry imagery
Collage of Visual Images

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Plot Elements: 9/6

We reviewed the elements of Freitag's Triangle of Plot in class today, just to make sure that everyone was on the same page and using the same terminology.
1.  Exposition
2.  Rising Action
3.  Climax (or "Turning Point")
4.  Falling Action
5.  Resolution (Denouement)

Period 2 then read Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (Period 1 wasn't able to get to this because of school pictures, but we'll catch up tomorrow).  Students were given a handout asking them to summarize the story then identify which parts of the story fall under each plot element.

This handout is due on Thursday.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day :-)!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interesting Discussion ... and Best Wishes for a Happy Long Weekend!

Today, the ninth graders demonstrated to me that they remember the discussion protocols established last year.  Students talked frankly about education and the need to balance the individual needs of students (freedom to express creativity chief among them) with the realities of standardized testing.

This is an interesting approach to discussing an informational piece, so I'm sharing it with you.
1.  Topic-based Quickwrite
2.  Short formal whole-class discussion
3.  Read the text
4.  Text-related writing assignment
5.  Follow-up discussion
6.  Written reflection of the topic and the protocol.

While we didn't get a chance to finish, I was incredibly impressed with the depth students reached with their discussion as well as their collective ability to articulate.

They have definitely earned their four-day weekend :-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Settling into our Reading Routine: Class Recap for 8/31

Students received their in-class Writer's Notebooks today.  Following 15 minutes of silent reading, everyone did their first Reading Response exercise.  Excellent work was done by all :-)

* If you did not return your signed syllabus or turn in your letter, please have these for tomorrow
* (Optional) Participate in a general discussion on the class' essential question (What does it mean to be human?)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So ... What DOES it Mean to be Human?

As this is the essential question for English 9, I thought it might be interesting to open up a conversation about it here.  Leave your thoughts in the comments section, and let's get some discussion going :-)

Happy First Day of School!

Well, we made it through the first day of school :-)!

Today was spent reviewing the syllabus and preparing students for the day-to-day operation of our class.  Riveting stuff!

* Return signed receipt of syllabus
* Have silent reading material for tomorrow's class
* Letter to Ms. Loud

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Human?: Welcome to English 9!

Welcome, 9th Grade Students and Families!

I am very excited about having another year together!

As you can imagine, freshman year is a lot more rigorous than middle school. There is an expectation of strong effort, behavior conducive to a learning environment, and striving to learn wherever and whenever possible at all times.

That being said, some things never change ... I'm looking forward to having as much fun as always :-)
The "Essential Question" of your English 9 class is "What does it mean to be human?"  All work will relate in some way to that theme.

We'll be reading some fantastic literature, including Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee as well as a variety of short stories, poetry, and informational pieces.

Students will also be conducting an in-depth yearlong author project (more to come ... trust me ;-)), so be thinking about an author that you'd like to focus on.  You'll be reading four novels by the author of your choice, conducting research into his or her life and experiences, and pulling it all together into an inquiry-based project.

You'll also be doing a lot of writing (come on, now, you must have seen that one coming ...).  We'll do in-class writings of various lengths and genres, weekly papers, and interactive writing through this blog.

Every class will begin with a "Do-Now" focused on grammar lessons and skills practice.  These will be housed in a writer's notebook provided to each student, which will remain in the classroom.

Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at any time or by leaving a comment on this blog (all comments are moderated and will not show up without my permission).

I know that we are going to have a great year :-)

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