Period 6 Only

Because of the fire drill last Friday, you were allowed to take home the Guided Reading Questions for “What Students Really Need to Hear” to finish over the weekend. I said that assignment would be due Tuesday (today) but then neglected to ask you to turn it in. I will assume responsibility for that and allow you to turn those questions in tomorrow at the start of class without grade penalty.

Not everyone is signed up for the REMIND service, so do your friends a favor and send them a text to let them know what I said.

Those of you who turned your paper in today without being asked to, I will be giving you some extra credit 🙂


Week One

Week One is an intro week, of course, but I pride myself on never wasting my students’ time. Following is a basic summary of the first week; please review the assignments and look at Student/Parent Portal to see what we did in class and how students did. Let me know (via comment at the bottom or via email) if you have any questions.

Parent Contact (extra credit opportunity) — I asked parents at Orientation to email me so we could establish communication. I repeated this request with students in class, giving a deadline of Saturday at noon. Parents who did so got their child 10 extra credit points. I will now make an effort on my own time to locate contact information and message parents so we have that contact. I believe that contact between teacher and parent is essential to encourage student success.

First Writing – On the first day of class, students were given a half-sheet of paper with lines on both sides. I directed them to fill the least one side of paper with whatever they wanted to write about. Full credit was given to students who wrote at least one side of the paper; extra credit was given the students who wrote significantly more than this; half credit was given to students who did not fill the space required.

Reading Readiness Diagnostic Test – On the third day of school, following two days of introductory PowerPoint presentations, I wanted students have the opportunity to work together on an activity. This Reading Readiness Diagnostic Test was intended to be given to students solo, but I gave students the opportunity to work alone, in pairs, or in groups of three. (This activity is as yet ungraded because several students need extra time to complete this; that time will be provided on our first Flex Day.)

Website Orientation (optional assignment) – I asked students to visit my website in order to familiarize themselves with my Classroom Policies and Expectations. In order to offer them extra incentive, I offered them the opportunity to answer five simple questions based on the information they found there. Students were not required to do this assignment, but they were offered a significant amount of points (in other words, an Easy A) if they did this. Students at had at least two days to complete this activity.

Bellwork — At the start of most classes, I will be giving students some quick assignment to get them oriented and on task while I take care of calling roll other teacher business. This is worth five points per day, and we had three such assignments this week. The first one was simply to list five synonyms and antonyms for the word truth. The second one was a fifty-word paragraph. The third was a twenty-five-word paragraph. Easy completion-type assignments.

What Students Really Need to Hear – We began by watching a video and listening to an audio of a motivational speech. After this, I distributed copies of the speech with Guided Reading Questions in the margins. I helped students work their way through the first page of this document, and then provided time for them to work either alone or in small groups on the rest. Students (especially those with ESE and 504 plans) were allowed to take this home to finish if they did not finish in class.

Essay: What Teachers Should Know — Following up on the previous day’s activity, students were directed to write an essay of at least 250 words (about 1.5 pages) about what teachers should know about their students. Students were directed to have an introduction that captures the reader’s attention, at least two body paragraphs with details to support their ideas, and a conclusion to wrap their essays up. (First Period was unable to do this essay because of grade level meetings; they were offered the opportunity to do it over the weekend if they wished. Sixth Period had a presentation about bullying that they had to do on Thursday, so they did not write this essay. Instead they read the previous day’s motivational essay on Friday. I had to give them extra time over the weekend because of a fire drill.)



Performance Task Essay #1 — In preparation for the FSA Writing test, students will be doing performance task writing throughout the first semester. Students have two class periods to complete these practice essays: one to read and highlight text, and the other to write the essay in class. This is a timed activity, so students will need to write fast and write well.

Literary Analysis — We will begin looking at literature related to CONFLICT, which will be the focus of Unit One.

Homework — I know you’re excited now! Woo hoo, homework – YES! (What, no? Just me? Hmm…)


AND REMEMBER — Get your copy of ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card (periods 2, 3, 4, 6) or NIGHT by Elie Wiesel (periods 1, 7) before next Monday, 8/26. You can order from Amazon or another online retailer, or you can go to Booksamillion in Lakeside Village and get a 20% discount if you tell them the book is for my class.

Amazon Links: Ender’s Game and Night



For First Period Only

Because of grade-level meetings today, you did not get to write the essay that the other classes did today. I want to give you the opportunity to write it over this weekend if you choose to. If you do, it is due Monday when you come to class. (If you do not, there is no grade penalty whatsoever: I just won’t have this writing sample and you will not get to share your ideas.) And so …


What is it that you wished that teachers would realize?
What do you wish teachers understood about you and your peers?
What do you wish they would take into consideration?

You listened to and read an essay called “What Students Really Need to Hear” and answered some Guided Reading Questions.

Now, I want you to write an essay of at least 250 words (roughly a page-and-a-half) called “What Teachers Need to Know.”

ROLE – an opinionated student who has experienced many things in nine years of schooling
AUDIENCE – teachers, some of whom you never have and never will meet
FORMAT – multi-paragraph essay (at least 4)
TOPIC – things that you think teachers should know in order to better reach their students

So, what is it you think that teachers need to know if they’re going to effectively instruct their students?

I know you have ideas.

You have my permission to tell the real truth (just like the guy in the video).


Your essay should

  • begin with an introduction the catches the reader’s attention
  • move into at least two different points you wish to develop about things teacher should know (separate paragraphs)
  • have details throughout your body paragraphs to support your argument
  • end with a meaningful conclusion that brings it all home



I am excited to be working with freshmen this year, helping them develop successful strategies and skills they will need as they enter the Real World in four short years.

I know many of you have come here today following Orientation to delve more into my classroom policies and expectations. Those can be found at this link:


Please note that these policies are intended to do one thing: Build Success! I take your education seriously and will always treat you with respect; I ask you to do the same with regards to me.

This page — the “front page,” if you will — is organized like a BLOG, which is to say that new posts will appear at the top (like this one). You can scroll down to see posts that I have published in the past.

<<PLEASE NOTE: This post — the one you are reading now — is the first post of the 2019-2020 school year; nothing before this post has any relevance to the incoming classes whatsoever. I say this so you know that assignments and discussions from the past will not be a part of anything moving forward. You can peruse it all you want, to get a feeling for how I do things, but I am teaching a whole new grade level this year (so the assignments won’t matter) with a different age of students (so the expectations vary slightly).>>

Other pages on this site — such as the Classroom Policies and Expectations, referenced above — are “static pages,” which I can edit as I see fit but which will otherwise remain constant. These are often very helpful pages to you; for example:

  • The ESSAY WRITING HELP page has practical advice to help students strengthen their essays. If I had to tell you the one important thing students will gain from this class, it is the ability to write well, so this page should be very useful.
  • The LITERATURE BOOK ACCESS page will give you the ability to use the textbook at home. This is important because I do not have textbooks to issue for you to take home, and you can use the online textbook to (a) make up missed assignments, (b) review readings for tests and/or personal enjoyment, and (c) complete extra credit opportunities when offered.
  • The REMIND page will give you access to me via cell phone and/or computer; it will also allow me to send out reminders, suggestions, and (occasionally) extra credit opportunities.
  • The CONTACTS page has several ways to contact me whenever you have questions and/or concerns that I can help with.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my page. Please let me know if you have anything you wish to discuss at more length. I am here for you!

Interview and Works Cited

Wow, I was amazed at how many students were unable to come to school on Friday! I hope everyone is feeling better as we enter the last couple weeks of school. I promise I will do all I can to provide meaningful work related to our study of literature to ensure all your school days are worthwhile 🙂

Remember that your interview project (potentially worth 200 points!) is due Tuesday, May 21.

In order to help you as much as I can, I am including the documents I distributed on Friday. Please read them thoroughly and prepare to ask any questions you might have so that you can be successful in this project.

CLICK HERE for information on how to write the interview as well as for how to create the Works Cited page.

CLICK HERE for information about how to create the introduction to your interview.

Research Project – Interview

Last Friday, I assigned each student a different poet from our literature book. Here is the  RAFT I put together to help students focus on their task:


Role – You are a writer for a popular magazine that focuses on the lives of poets.
Audience – Your readers are intelligent literary-minded people, well-read and interested in learning more about writers, poets, and artists.
Format – You will present your report in an Interview format.
Topic – What makes this poet stand out among other writers and/or poets? What makes this individual unique and interesting? What common themes does he or she explore in his or her poetry, and why is this an important theme to the poet?

I directed students to generate at least 10 open-ended questions they could ask a poet during an interview and then gave more information; to wit:

Your poet is featured in the literature book somewhere, but you should also be able to find more information about him or her on the Internet.

Just as we saw with The Belle of Amherst, poets live life somewhat differently from other people. Not that they are all as eccentric as Ms. Dickinson, but they are interesting people to explore. Distinct, unique people with their own ideas, their own experiences, their own personalities.

You have been assigned a poet. Your task is to do extensive research into this person’s life and written work and to then create a character sketch of that poet showing how his or her works are representative of his or her life.

  • Where did he or she grow up?
  • What was his or her family like?
  • What significant relationships – romantic or otherwise – did he or she have?
  • What sort of work (like a job) did he or she do?
  • How much did he or she publish in his or her lifetime?
  • How does his or her experiences/background appear in his or her written work?
  • How was he or she reviewed by critics of his or her time?
  • Based on what you have learned, describe his or her personality.

To successfully complete this assignment, you will need to access at least one biographical work, at least five examples of his or her written work, and at least two critical sources that discuss his or her work. Keep track of these materials so you can create your working bibliography.

I then explained that this research would be presented as an INTERVIEW, not as an ESSAY, and I provided these directions:

You will present your research project as if it were an interview. To accomplish this task, you will act as the Interviewer, asking questions to prompt the poet into responding. (Identify yourself as INT. (for Interviewer) and the poet by his or her initials.

For example, if during your research you discovered that Emily Dickinson never left her home as an adult, you might as the Interviewer ask her that question and then, writing as if you had actually interviewed her, provide her extended response. Her responses will provide the bulk of your end product, with all the research you will have done.

INT. I heard that you never left the house as an adult. Why did you make this decision?
E. D. I found that my social interactions were never very satisfying. My sister, Lavinia, and my brother, Austin, were always the social ones. I just never developed the gift of talking to other people. My way of talking to others was through notes and through my poetry.
INT. What sort of notes did you send?
E. D. Oh, I wrote the most confusing notes to people. They used to share my notes with others, I heard, to see what “half-cracked Emily Dickinson was up to now.”

Allow the conversation (the interview) to develop naturally, as if you were actually talking to the poet.

You will present your written interview as well as a Works Cited page (listing your various sources of information) on May 20. Feel free to submit this earlier, as I know that this is much more time than you’ll need.

I also shared with students one of several sample interviews, all of which can be accessed HERE, HERE, and HERE

Following this, students were directed to find the poet’s biographical information page in our textbook and to take notes they felt were appropriate. I provided them a sample MLA bibliographic citation; all they need to do is change the name of the poet and the page number(s)

Emily Dickinson.” Pearson Literature Florida. Pearson. 2015. pp. 404-405.


ON MONDAY I provided time in class to work on their research:

  • Read the biographical information located inside the textbook (using the index beginning on page R54) and take notes.
  • Use your Internet-seeking device (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) to locate other information about the poet that you have been assigned and take notes. Remember that you must access at least five of their poems and at least two critical responses to their writing, in addition to the biographical information you located search in the textbook. (Feel free to search for biographical information elsewhere on the Internet if you feel this would be useful.) Be sure to write down information to help you find these information sites again.
  • Once you have done the research, it might be a good idea to begin rough drafting your interview. Remember that this should seem like a natural conversation between you and the poet, where you ask questions and the poet responds, using information that you have discovered during your research.

I also provided a sheet laying out the guidelines for creating bibliographic citations for websites, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.


ON TUESDAY, they had more time to conduct their research. I encouraged them to come to me if they had any questi\ons, and I helped as much as I was able.


Wednesday is a testing day for most students, so they will have time to work on this if they are in class.

On Thursday, I will give final directions on how to write an interview and how to to create a Works Cited page. I asked students to finish their research by Thursday so they can gain the most benefit from that day’s teaching.

This assignment is due Monday, May 20 and I am toying with the idea of making it worth 200 points (in order to offer a nice grade boost). Typing is expected, but I cannot *require* it.

Please comment below with any questions, comments, or considerations.

NaPoWriMo Feedback Sought

I would appreciate some feedback on my NaPoWriMo. Please consider visiting and reading through my poetry from April 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019 (blogs are backwards dated, so it will start with April 30 and work its way backwards).

I do not expect feedback on all 30 (as marvelous as that would be) but I’d appreciate it if you would do the following:

  • Tell me the titles of at least 3 poems that you really enjoyed, that you felt had promise for future publication. Explain in a few sentences after each why you thought it was good. Suggest revisions.
  • Tell me the titles of 2 or 3 poems that just didn’t seem up to par. NaPoWriMo is about writing a poem every day in April, not about writing a “good” poem every day, so I am sure there are several that just aren’t that good. After each, tell me in a few sentences why you thought it was lacking. [NOTE: Feel free to tell me if you spot spelling errors, etc., but don’t make that the foundation of why you didn’t like a poem.] Again, feel free to suggest revisions to make the poem better.

You can either present this to me on paper, via email, or as comments left beneath the appropriate poems. (Comments left beneath the poems is my preferred method of communication for this.) Let’s send an end date for this to Monday, May 13, just in case I decide this is worth extra credit of any sort. Realistically, I am asking you as fellow writers to provide me some feedback on my writing, so the incentive of “extra credit” should be completely secondary; perhaps consider this “extra credit of the heart,” as we have discussed in class.

Important: Do not hesitate to be very honest about why such and such a poem was not good. Simply saying “I like this poem” is not the least but helpful; pointing out a poem’s weaknesses (and perhaps suggesting ways to improve the poem) is immeasurably helpful as I continue to grow as a writer.

Please be aware that one of my poems contains profanity; I thought the verbiage was necessary for the poem. If you are offended by such language, do not read “The Cancer Blues” (NaPoWriMo #8).

Thanks in advance to all who care enough to provide meaningful feedback. I value your opinions.

NaPoWriMo 2019 – All Poems Assigned

April 1 – Bio Poem (Google: I Am Poem)

April 2 – List Poem (Google List Poem)

April 3 – “Is Poetry Important?” (Turn paragraphs into poems)

April 4 – Write a poem about Children Playing (Noun Verbing)

April 5 – Alphabet Poem (26 words with consecutive A-Z or 26 lines with consecutive A-Z)

April 6 – Free Poem

April 7 – Free Poem

April 8 – Acrostic Poem (Google Acrostic Poem)

April 9 – Countdown Poem

April 10 – Triolet (Google Triolet)

April 11 – Write a poem about a CHILDHOOD MEMORY

April 12 – “I remember, I remember”

April 13 – Free Poem

April 14 – Free Poem

April 15 – “Halfway”

April 16 – Pantoum (Google Pantoum)

April 17 – Write three haiku, connected in some way (morning-afternoon-evening … friend-lover-enemy … breakfast-lunch-dinner … physical-mental-emotional … Heaven-Purgatory-Hell … come up with some interesting idea). Remember that haiku has 5 syllables in line one, 7 syllables in line two, and 5 syllables in line three.

April 18 – Write a poem about SUCCESS or about FAILURE – any poetic format, any interpretation

April 19 – Free Poem

April 20 – Free Poem

April 21 – Free Poem

April 22 – Shadorma (Google Shadorma)

April 23 – Narrative Poetry

April 24 – “Music”

April 25 – Tanka

April 26 – A Lesson

April 27 – Free Poem

April 28 – Free Poem

April 29 – Angry Poem (or Happy Poem, if you prefer)

April 30 – Sestina (Google Sestina)


Poetry Folder is due May 6
I extended the date so you could have another weekend and also so I did not get the Friday “forgetfulness” that might follow two days off school for job shadowing.
You’re welcome.

Want to save yourself the embarrassment of forgetting your poetry folder on Monday? Turn it in on Friday, when it was originally due.


Extra Credit Opportunity – Plagiarism Essay

Write an multi-paragraph essay of at least 500 words on this topic: Define plagiarism (cite examples), discuss why it is wrong and what the consequences are, and explain how to avoid it.

You will need to use quotes from at least four (4) sources in your essay. I am providing two:

CLICK HERE to access the plagiarism policy from Hillsborough Community College. When you cite this source, refer to it as “Brandon Campus” – there will be no page numbers.

CLICK HERE to access a document called “Is It Plagiarism?” from Purdue University. When you cite this source, refer to it as “Purdue University” – there will be no page numbers.

You do not need to provide a Works Cited page (since I have not yet taught you how to do this), but do so if you know how. (Always strive to impress your instructor.) Nonetheless, I should easily be able to find your sources based on your citation method.

Your essay should be formatted according to the MLA guidelines that we repeatedly discussed in class and which are available on the Essay Writing Help tab above. Points will be deducted for papers that are not formatted correctly.

Any essay that has plagiarized information will receive no points at all.

This assignment is worth up to 50 extra credit points.

I said I would post this yesterday but was unable to do so. You never suffer for my deficiencies, so this essay will be due Tuesday at the start of your class time (instead of Monday, which I originally announced in class). No late papers will be accepted, even for absences – work is due when it is due.

Have fun writing your essay – I hope you learn something new that will be helpful to you in your future.