7th Gr. ELA in Room 304

Mrs. Comstock

Developing those "soft" skills: Our goal for 2018.

Welcome back! Happy New Year!

Every New Year starts with resolutions and goals -- all those things we hope to do in the coming year. Sometimes we fall short. Ok, when it comes to resolutions, we fall short a LOT. Goals, though, are a different story. We all need goals and specific, tangible ways to reach them. Sometimes, though, we need to have a reason behind those goals. The French call it a raison d'etre -- the most important reason or purpose for something.

In English Language Arts, our raison d'etra is to learn to think critically and communicate effectively (listening, reading, and writing). Sometimes, though, it can be hard for students to make the leap because English can be what i like to call "slow learning." We slow down, think a lot, reread pieces, connect with our peers, and write down our thoughts. It's hard stuff and about as far from video games as anything can be.

Today, I shared with our students an interesting article about research done at Google. You will find it here. I only read a few sections to the students so individual students might like to read the whole article. Parents -- you might want to read it as well. It gives a lot of food for thought.

As I told the students today, my dad was raised in Greece, so he had a thick Greek accent. He was the director of an engineering firm in NJ who worked on government contracts and was responsible for hiring. I cannot tell you how many times, in the midst of a hiring frenzy, he would come home and tell us that he hired another English major. His reason? "I can teach them engineering, but I cannot teach them English." The company did well and they were often awarded the contracts.

I encourage students and their families to talk about the "soft" skills where they excel and those where they need to work a little harder. As the kids can tell you, in ELA writing is the hardest part. It's the last thing we begin to learn as little ones and it's the last thing we master as we grow and mature. Some would say we are always trying to perfect it.

Here's to an amazing second half of the year and really honing in on those "soft skills." Happy 2018!

Developing a Growth Mindset

A little news from 304, September 21, 2017

This year, we'll be focusing on developing a growth mindset, which is really all about trying your best, learning from mistakes, and realizing the power of "YET." We have done a little bit of work around this idea, with the realization that most of us are a combination of a growth and a fixed mindset, depending on the situation and the timing. Every now and then, I will be asking students to reflect on their work in class. Have they exhibited a Growth Mindset in that time period or do they fall somewhere on the continuum? We will be using the attached Effective Effort Rubric to reflect on our efforts in this area. It's exciting to see students thinking about their thinking!


A Field Trip and a "Staycation" Field Trip, too!

A little news from 304

As you may know, our B Block had the opportunity to go to the Public Library today to witness 28 new American citizens take their oath of citizenship. The Library and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services were thrilled that our PMS students were there to welcome our neighbors to their new home.

Meanwhile, A Block had a "staycation" field trip where they watched a short, independent documentary, "4.1 Miles" about Syrian refugees making the treacherous trip across 4.1 miles of open water from Turkey to Greece to escape the civil war and a "60 Minutes" episode on the "Lost Boys of Sudan." Both films address the plight of the refugee. You can find the links to both these films under the ANNOUNCEMENTS page of this website.

Tomorrow, each of the students will be writing a letter to a student in the other block ELA class, sharing what they learned and noticed, as well as what they felt about the experience they had.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share some pictures and videos from the Naturalization ceremony with you. It was quite a wonderful experience!

~ Mrs. Comstock