Mr. Parker - ELA

Reading/Writing, 7th and 8th Grade



Contact Info:

email: rparker@gsastl.org



About Me

  • Family: I was born and raised in Collinsville, Illinois, home of the world's largest ketchup bottle! My father worked as a cartographer until he retired, and my mother taught special education and elementary school classes for over 40 years, which inspired my love of teaching. I also have a younger sister, and while I don't have any children of my own, I've got two cool cats named Zelda and Indy, and the world's best dog named Sheldon.

  • Education: I graduated from Knox College in 2001 with Bachelor's degrees in English Literature and Russian. In 2006, I received my Master's Degree in English from St. Louis University.

  • Teaching Experience: I've taught high school and college-level literature, writing, and film studies courses, and I've worked as a Title I teacher in middle school, as well. This is my first year at GSA, and my 17th year teaching.

  • Hobbies/Interests: I am a huge sports fan and proud season ticket holder for the St. Louis Blues and the Battlehawks (Ka-Kaw!), a big movie buff, and I enjoy gaming on the Switch and PS4. I also enjoy hanging out with friends, traveling around the world, going to concerts/plays/musicals, and I love doing many different outdoor activities, especially hiking, camping, skiing, and biking.

E-Learning Daily Schedule

Please follow the daily schedule posted above. Note that Advisory does not meet on Mondays.

Teacher E-Learning Schedule


School Supplies

Below is the full list of supplies required not only for ELA classes, but for all 8th grade classes.

    • 1 box of 12 skinny markers

    • 1 box of 24 colored pencils

    • 1 package blue or black ink pens

    • Pencils and sharpener if using wooden

    • 1 pencil pouch or pencil box·

    • 1 large glue stick

    • 5 subject notebook

    • Folders for each class

    • Small dry erase board

    • Dry erase markers

    • Headphones or Earbuds (Compatible with the Chromebook) (recommended)

    • 1 Daily/Weekly Student Planner/Agenda Book (highly recommended)

    • TI-84 Graphing Calculator (Elite Math only)

    • Package of white paper

    • 1 metric ruler (both centimeters and inches is fine)


Course Overviews

The study of literature in GSA Middle School Reading courses encompasses analysis and discussion of the literature of various genres. In the GSA Middle School Writing courses, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the writing process – prewriting, drafting, revision according to standard usage and mechanics, and final copy. For a more detailed overview of each course, please see the individual courses listed below.

7th Grade Reading (Pre-AP)

Seventh Grade Pre-AP English Language Arts (ELA) - Reading is an advanced course with rigorous content and pace. This course is designed to continue to develop reading, vocabulary, and information literacy skills. Students will use active reading strategies to comprehend increasingly more complex material, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. Students will develop comprehension skills as they explore and understand various publications throughout the year.

8th Grade Reading and Writing (Pre-AP)

While the 8th Grade Pre-AP Reading and Writing courses are technically separate courses, remember that they are intertwined. This means that in the Reading course, you will be expected to write analytically about the texts that we read, and in the Writing course, you will be expected to read prompts and supplemental texts from which our writing assignments will stem. The whole idea is to provide you with rigorous content and pace that integrates both reading and writing in order to best prepare you for the future.

In the Reading course, the focus will be on fluent comprehension and analysis of 9th-grade level texts. This course is designed to continue to develop reading, vocabulary, and information literacy skills. Students will use active reading strategies to comprehend increasingly more complex material, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama. Students will develop comprehension skills as they explore and understand various publications throughout the year.

In the Writing course, students will practice and apply conventions of writing, such as grammar and usage, referencing and documenting source materials, and organization and revision of multiple types of composition. Students will develop fluency in composing the standard writing formats, including narrative, informative, and argumentative composition.

8th Grade Reading

Eighth Grade English Language Arts (ELA) - Reading will continue to develop reading, vocabulary, and information literacy skills. Students will use active reading strategies to comprehend increasingly more complex material, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. Students will develop comprehension skills as they explore and understand various publications throughout the year, and the focus will be on fluent comprehension of most texts at an eighth grade reading level. However, as there may be some struggling readers, literacy and foundational skills will be reinforced throughout the course to improve the reading experience for all students.

Late-Work Policy

After the due date, any late assignment’s score will reduce 10% per day, until it reaches 60%. The next day and forward, the submitted assignment will be worth a maximum of 59%. After the unit is finished, the assignments that are part of that unit will no longer be accepted.

We all understand that sometimes things happen. Sometimes you might have forgotten about an assignment, got sidetracked with work for another class, etc. And in the end, we want you to learn the material that will help to prepare you for success on the unit assessment. However, it is really important that you do not consistently submit late assignments, as they will add up to negatively impact your grade. As 7th and 8th graders preparing for high school, it is important that you all begin to take responsibility for completing assignments in a timely fashion, and we want to help you to develop those responsible practices. Remember to always communicate with your teachers if you’re struggling to complete an assignment or if there is an extenuating circumstance like a family emergency or extended illness. Please email me in such cases and let me know, so that I am aware and can work with you. But know that consistent late work for reasons of forgetfulness, disorganization, etc., will negatively impact your grade according to the grade-level policy outlined above.

The Gator Way for Virtual Learning

Although I am an experienced teacher, virtual learning will present new and different challenges for all of us. We will be learning and growing together in ways that we haven't experienced before. So, it is very important to me that my students follow The Gator Way! I expect my students to always be respectful, responsible, safe, and of service. That is how we do things when we are in the school building, and it's how we will do things virtually! So, it's extra important that we are all on the same page about how to be our best selves for virtual learning. Look at the matrix below to learn about how to demonstrate the Gator Way during virtual school. Keep scrolling to read more about my classroom expectations down below too!

My Classroom Expectations

Please read everything below to figure out how to follow the Gator Way in my virtual classes! Following these expectations will help us make the most of our time together.

What Does It Look Like to Be Respectful?

  1. Mute yourself on Zoom when I ask. If I ask you to unmute, please do so! If you need to ask a question out loud, please use the "raise hand" function on Zoom.

  2. Be kind and courteous in the chat. Please only use the chat feature as a way to ask questions or provide meaningful, on-topic thoughts to the group. Use language that is appropriate for school.

  3. Keep distractions (TV, cell phone, music) put away.

  4. Participate in class! Stay focused. Ask and answer questions.

  5. Stay on topic and limit side conversations. Please make sure your comments, questions, and conversations are related to the topic we are learning.


What Does It Look Like to Be Responsible?

  1. Be on time. Join our Zoom class on time, or even a couple minutes early!

  2. Be prepared. Have your materials ready to go. Make sure your Chromebook is charged!

  3. Be in a quiet, indoor location. Make sure your family members know you are on a Zoom call. Make sure there isn't any music or TV playing in the background.

  4. Check email and Google Classroom every single day. Respond to emails within 24 hours.


What Does It Look Like to Be Safe?

  1. Use your Chromebook safely. Visit safe, school-approved websites.

  2. Communicate safely. Make sure you use your Chromebook to communicate only with people from our school. Their email address should end with @gsastl.org

  3. Report any unsafe behavior to a teacher or principal. If you hear of someone participating in unsafe behavior (talking to strangers, talking to you or others about unsafe behavior, looking at unsafe websites, etc.) please report it to a staff member.


What Does It Look Like to Be of Service?

  1. Help others when you can.

  2. Help your classmates to stay on task. Avoid distracting behaviors and off-topic conversations.

  3. Help your parents and family to stay connected with school. Share announcements and other important information with them. Invite them to help you with your assignments!

  4. Be helpful in your home! Help your parents and family around the house. Keep your study space neat and tidy. Ask those you live with how you can be helpful to them!


Rewards and Consequences

Look at the chart or read down below to know what you can expect to happen if you do meet our expectations (rewards!) and if you don't (consequences).

Rewards

If I can always count on you to follow the Gator Way in our virtual classroom, you might receive some of the following rewards:

  1. Verbal Praise: I'll say something like, "Nice job! Great answer! Fantastic work! You're amazing!"

  2. Positive Contact Home: I'll email home and say, "Wow, your student is just the BEST ever! They are doing such an AMAZING job and should probably be rewarded with a new phone, a new Xbox, or maybe even a puppy!"

  3. Extra Credit Points or an Assignment Skip Pass: Enough said!!


Consequences

If I can't count on you to follow the Gator Way in our virtual classroom, I'll be very sad and will have to follow these steps:

  1. Removal from Class: I might have to ask you to leave our Zoom and come back when you can be more respectful and responsible.

  2. Email or Call Home: If it's really not working out well for us, I'm going to have to ask your parents or caretakers to help me out.

  3. Referral to the Principal: I hope this doesn't happen! If you continuously violate the Gator Way in our virtual classroom, I will complete an office referral and ask for the principal's help.


ELA Resources