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  • Unit 2 Suspense!
    The theme of our second unit this year is Suspense! We will be examining a variety of texts and analyzing just how the authors/creators manage to keep us on the edge of our seats. Our writing focus will be narratives for this unit. Each text we read will be used as a mentor to help us build our creative writing abilities. Students will frequently be working with their Studysync books which will be handed out on Tuesday 10/9. Students are expected to bring these books to school with them every day for the duration of this unit which is scheduled to span Tuesday 10/9-Friday 11/16.
    Posted Oct 5, 2018, 1:40 PM by Garrett Smothers
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If You Missed

  • Tuesday 1/22/19
    Today students wrote a reflection on their independent reading books based on some skills we have been practicing with The Outsiders. Here are the instructions:
    1. Make a list of 5-7 motifs you have noticed in your independent reading book.


    1. Choose a motif and write a statement explaining what your book is currently saying about that motif.


    Keep in mind that a motif is a dominant or important idea that keeps surfacing in the novel.

    We then reviewed our Conversation Flip assignment from Friday. Students were asked to point out a stand out moment in their scene and share with the class. They then responded to this prompt:
    POV Prompt:

    Examine your writing from the Conversation Flip. Did you notice anything new by looking at the scene from a different perspective? What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling the story only from Ponyboy’s point of view? What are Ponyboy’s Blind Spots?


    We then read The Outsiders up to page 62. Students were given time to add four more entries in their Socratic Topics page. Students should have total of 16 or so entries by tomorrow.


    Posted by Garrett Smothers
  • Friday 1/18/19
    Today we practiced making connections between texts with the song "All My Friends are Metalheads" by Less Than Jake and The Outsiders. Students annotated a copy of the lyrics and wrote a paragraph in their notebooks which discusses a connection they have made between the two texts using any technical writing strategies they feel are appropriate for the task. 

    Technical Writing Strategy ideas:
    Make a connection between the text
    Add an additional connection
    Introduce the text
    Introduce both texts
    Provide a quote in context from the song or novel or both

    We finished reading Chapter 3. Using what we learned about looking for blind spots yesterday, we revisited the fight between Ponyboy and Darry which led to Ponyboy running away from home. We discussed responsibilities that Darry has (taking care of two younger brothers, providing for a family, making sure the family can stay together, keeping his siblings out of trouble) and also the things Darry has lost (his parents -especially his dad who he seems to have had a special bond with, his future in the form of college or a sports career, his childhood as he had to grow up early to become a caregiver). Considering these elements of Darry's character, students rewrote the scene from Darry's perspective, so that we can later try to tease out some of Ponyboy's blind spots. Here is a copy of the Conversation Flip assignment.

    Complete by next class:
    "All My Friends are Metalheads" Text Connection
    Conversation Flip
    Posted Jan 18, 2019, 1:32 PM by Garrett Smothers
  • Thursday 1/17/19
    Today students wrote a reflection after AR time:

    Based on today’s independent reading, respond to one of the following questions:


    1. How does the author introduce a new character and their traits?


    1. How does the author reinforce your idea of the traits of a character you already know?


    1. How does the author use Contrast and Contradiction to create drama or suspense?


    We also practiced a strategy called looking for Blind Spots. Today we focused on either Dally or Two-Bit based on the events in the first two chapters. Here are the instructions for that activity.

    We then read through Chapter 3 and students were given time to add four new entries to their Socratic Seminar Topics Chart.

    By next class:
    Compete Blind Spots Exercise
    Add 4 entries to the Socratic Seminar Topics Chart based on Chapter 3

    Posted Jan 17, 2019, 3:14 PM by Garrett Smothers
  • Wednesday 1/16/19
    Today students received Socratic Seminar Topics papers. We will be using these for our upcoming student-led discussions of The Outsiders. We discussed what a motif is created a class list. A motif is a dominant idea or repeating topic in a novel. Here is a sample class list if you  missed:
    family
    conformity vs. nonconformity
    rivalries
    division
    lifestyle differences
    classes
    hardships
    conflict
    violence

    This document also has spaces for big questions, key quotes, opinions, and standout moments. All of these items are commonly used in discussions about novels. Students are encouraged to add to this log as we go through the novel. Today we finished reading Chapter 2 and students were given time to make four entries on the Socratic Seminar Topics paper.

    By next class:
    Complete four entries on the Socratic Seminar Topics paper

    Posted Jan 16, 2019, 1:07 PM by Garrett Smothers
  • Tuesday 1/15/19
    Today we finished  Who is Ponyboy? Poster #1. Those who weren't finished gathering quotes and writing responses were given time to finish while those who were done were given an extra credit opportunity:
    Respond to the following prompt:
    Write an analytical paragraph which examines the character traits of the narrator of the poem "Still Here." Use the appropriate technical writing skills we have practiced for this task.

    The final step was to use all the details that have been gathered to build a theory about who Ponyboy is when we first meet him. Students wrote their theory in the center of the poster inside the outline of Ponyboy's head. Here is the prompt:


    Who is Ponyboy?

    Craft a theory about your character by compiling all the smaller ideas you have. Look across the character’s traits, wants, and desires. Pile them up. State a bigger theory about who the character really is or what he really wants.


    In the spirit of elevating our writing, students were encouraged to avoid using the verb "is" as the primary verb in their sentences. They were given several other options for the task:

    likes, believes, appreciates, judges, admires, is frustrated by, understands, thinks, cares about, wishes, has concerns about, values, etc..


    We also continued reading The Outsiders. We read up to page 27. Students kept an eye out for important signposts as they read. They wrote down what was, in their opinion, the most important signpost on an exit ticket.


    Posted Jan 15, 2019, 3:11 PM by Garrett Smothers
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