Photo Credit: Mary Blow  

Our classroom website is a resource to help you succeed in English class and in middle school. Homework directions, handouts, and resources are available on this site. Below are quick links to two documents that may answer many questions that students have at the beginning of the year:

English Language Arts is a course that will help you to become a better reader, writer, listener, and speaker. We will be reading about many topics and using text-based evidence to effectively support our ideas in classroom discussions and written assignments. 

Thematic Units
Texts from different genres are paired to form thematic units. The themes inspire us to think about what we are reading and how it connects to our world. Some units are taught every year, some are switched out, depending on students' interests. However, the same skills are covered despite the unit being taught. Some of the units are:
  • Growing Ups and Downs
  • It's Debatable Argument Writing
  • Making a Difference in Our World
  • Cinderella Dark and Grimm
  • Child Labor Past & Present
  • A Hero's Journey
Word Study
We love vocabulary. The more times students are exposed to words the higher the rate of retention. Sometimes, students hear a word, and it sounds familiar. Sometimes, they can know the definition, but can't put it into their own words. Then there are the words that they can define, but don't really use in their writing. We study rich words from the text we read. In addition, we have words-of-the-week and Greek and Latin root words. 

A portfolio is a collection of your work that demonstrates your growth as a reader and writer. We will keep track of the books you read and save your BEST writing here. This year, we will create digital portfolios, so you can show your parents your progress throughout the year. 

Throughout the year, you will take different types of assessments. This information is used to determine whether or not you have mastered the skills being taught. If you master the skill, we move on or provide extra help.

Pre-Assessments: Help me to learn more about your reading, writing, and spelling skills at the beginning of the year. This information is used to support you in the classroom. You do not receive a grade for this test.

Interim Assessments: These are similar to unit tests. They are given three times a year to determine if you are showing growth and mastering the skills being taught in my classroom. I use this information to determine what we need to review or if we can move a quicker pace in class. You will be graded on this test. 

New York State Assessments are tests given in the spring that indicate if you are growing as a learner. The middle school assessments are a reflection of the New York State English Language Arts Regents Exam, an exam that students must pass to graduate. Think of our state assessments as the games that help you win the Super Bowl. 

Final Exam: This test is 20% of your overall grade for English. It is averaged into your other four report card grades to create an overall GPA. I create this test. I assesses the skills that you learned in my class. 


There are some rules and guidelines that everyone needs to be aware of so that each of us has the opportunity to succeed. 

Grading Policies
Remember that you are not defined by a number. Next year and the year after, I will not remember what grade you received on your report card or on your state test. I will, however, remember your attitude, effort, and dedication toward learning. These are behaviors that define who you are. It has been my observation that the students who work hard in class travel far in life. 

All Assignments Are Weighted Equally
In the real world, your grades are used to monitor progress. Homework, tests and quizzes, and projects are weighted equally. Homework is as important as tests because daily assignments provide practice to reinforce what you learned, thereby, helping you to succeed on tests. Therefore, all assignments weigh the same. Because it sometimes takes days to read an article or story and a week to write an essay, you may only get one grade per week, making this one grade automatically weigh more. It would be unfair to you to add additional value to the grade. It also means that EVERY assignment is important. 

Grade Categories
You will receive progress reports with your assignments divided into the following categories. This will help you and them to identify your areas of strengths and weaknesses, which in turn, will allow you to set new learning goals.
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Tests
  • Projects/Presentations
Late Work
Handing homework in on time is one step toward becoming a responsible adult. This means that all assignments are expected to be handed in on time. In life, however, things happen that result in us being late for work or needing a day off. If you come to see me to explain the situations and develop a plan for getting back on track, I will be understanding. 

Unless you have extenuating circumstances and you have spoken to me BEFORE class, there is a 15-point penalty for late assignments. You can, however, get 5 points back if you take the graded late assignment home and have a parent or guardian sign it, stating they are aware that you handed it in late.

Please put late assignments in the Homework Drop Box. This ensures that it does not get misplaced.

Extra Credit
I have a lot of respect for students who strive to improve. It shows a lot about your character. Extra credit assignments are available, but only if all your assignments are handed in and you are attentive during class. Students who owe assignments or who are not putting effort into learning during class are not eligible for extra credit assignments.
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Mary Blow,
Aug 27, 2016, 10:40 AM