Thursday, December 2: “Stop It! You’re Ruining the Invasion!”

Posted on December 2, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

First round of TESA reading testing begins tomorrow and runs through Tuesday.  Don’t forget to get extra rest, stay hydrated, and eat a solid breakfast and lunch!

Yesterday we performed readers’ theater for The Diary of Anne Frank, Act II, scenes I and II, and today we are finishing scenes III and IV.  The Dean of Students, Ms. Medrano, stopped in for a visit and gave us excellent reviews!   Individual students were scored by Mr. Markealli using the rubric below:

The Diary of

Anne Frank

Readers’ Theater



Needs Improvement


Knew exactly when to say lines.  Timing helped the performance flow.  Strong modeling of appropriate behaviors such as focus, attention, and professionalism.  Behavior enhanced and was appropriate for mood and tone of scene.

Knew when to say lines.  Timing moved performance along well.  Mainly modeled appropriate behaviors such as focus, attention, and professionalism.  Behavior was appropriate for mood and tone of scene.

Needed prompting or help to know when to say lines.  Modeled inappropriate behaviors such as side conversations, noises, restlessness, lack of attention, or anything else that shows a lack of focus on the scene at hand.  Behavior did not match anticipated tone and mood of scene.


Read lines with careful consideration of creating the emotions, mood, and tone of the character.  Reading contributed strongly to the creation of an appropriate mood and tone for the scene.  

Read lines with consideration of creating the emotions, mood, and tone of the character.  Reading contributed to the creation of an appropriate mood and tone for the scene.  

Read lines without much emotion, or without appropriate emotions for the subject of the scene. 


All or very nearly all words were correctly and clearly pronounced.  Tricky pronunciations appear rehearsed.

Words were mainly correctly and clearly pronounced.  Minor lapses on tricky pronunciation.

Appeared unrehearsed.

 This is the second major evaluation of the quarter.  The first major evaluation was the literary devices quiz (see previous post) and there are still some students who need to study and take that quiz, while others must study and retake the quiz to improve their score.

Wednesday, November 16: “Remember, I’m a Lady”

Posted on November 17, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

We have started reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and are in the middle of Act I, Scene III.  Today we created character webs to increase and review our understandings of the characters and their relationships as we read Scene I. 

Remember to study your definitions/examples of  literary devices for tomorrow’s quiz!



•Flash Back/Forward












Friday, November 4: Fab First Quarter

Posted on November 5, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

Much of this week was spent with students coming in at lunch or after school to show mastery of concepts by completing projects due over the past weeks.  We also got involved with our reading fluency charts on Tuesday and Thursday.  A discussion of foreshadowing ensued during and after our reading of “Rain, Rain, Go Away” by Isaac Asimov, and we split into small groups to develop skits driven by a variety of literary devices, including oxymoron, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, alliteration, juxtaposition, flashback/flash forward, idiom, and allusion.  Today in class, we are performing skits and taking notes and making comments on other skits to develop our understandings of these writer’s power tools.

The memoirs and personal experiences written by the Viking Team have been by and large amazing and an inspiration.  Many funny, powerful, and touching stories from students’ lives have been explored, and the quality of writing is definitely intensified since the last scored writing event.

Students are invited and welcome to come in at lunch or after school to complete projects and assignments.

Tuesday, October 26: The Tie-Fighter of Doom…or Just a List

Posted on October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

Assignments Recently Completed:  Newsletter Rewrites, Character Posters, Teen Ink Interviews, Metaphors (12 extensions), “Tell-Tale Heart” or “The Monkey’s Paw” Summary poem

Memoirs or Personal Experiences

We’ve spent much time the last few days in first draft writing workshop, planning (using webs that look like tie-fighters, or just lists) and writing about our experiences.  Some of us have chosen to write a memoir, which is a collection of memories with a central idea.  I like to explain memoir as a “scrapbook in paragraphs”, since it allows writers to think about capturing critical moments in their life related to a certain activity or person.  Some of us are writing personal experience narrative, which I describe as, “This one time, this happened to me, and here’s what I learned from it…”  Some writers have a tough time trying to categorize what they are writing as memoir or personal experience, which can be a great thinking opportunity.  First drafts are supposed to be completed for discussion in tomorrow’s class, and we will be taking them to the library for word processing on Thursday.

October 19: Memories, Memoirs, and Experiences

Posted on October 19, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

Today we started making decisions about writing a memoir or personal experience.  These early stages of the writing process are going to take us a few days to experiment with topics until we are comfortable with what we’ve chosen and have decided whether we are writing a narrative or memoir.  Let’s enjoy this time together to chat, share, and develop the direction of our ideas.

October 14, 2010: See You at Conferences!

Posted on October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

This week we have entered into a creative writing realm by listening to various music from around the world: throat singers from Mongolia, appalachian ballad, trancelike percussion from Bhutan, and others.  We wrote lists of memories as we listened, simply allowing memories to float back to us from our lives.  Then we wrote in longer form about one or two of the memories that came back to us, using sentences in a narrative style.

We are also choosing a topic for a study of extended metaphor.  How is a family like a computer?  How are the characters and events in a  novel like an automobile?  Today we’ll explore an idea in depth during class time, creating a mini-poster of the comparison.

October 11, 2010: Editing and Revising

Posted on October 11, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

Thursday and Friday we spent some class time looking at our writing scores, and using the chart below to develop an action plan for revision.  We also videotaped our chocolate-making process skits, and are reflecting and preparing to tape the final cut on Tuesday.

Most Common Deductions on Writing Scores



What Action to Take
Ideas and Content

  • Leaving unanswered questions
  • Writing one sentence to open a topic and not writing more to explore it
  • Writing about too many topics without any depth


Ideas and Content

  • Interview more or think more and be creative.
  • Avoid writing one-sentence paragraphs, add details, ask or think more about the topic, make a connection to link it to another topic.

  • Missing an introduction or conclusion
  • Introduction or conclusion is too basic, not “catchy” enough
  • The piece is one giant paragraph
  • No attempt at logical organization of topics/paragraphs
  • No attempts at transitions / linking topics together from paragraph to paragraph



  • Read a few introductions or conclusions and write one.
  • Look at other introductions and “steal” a good technique.
  • Make a list of topics; think about how one topic leads to the next, then reorganize.
  • Look at a list of transitional words and phrases; use appropriate ones at the start of paragraphs.

  • Writer seems uninterested in topic
  • Inappropriate voice for audience



  • Write to honor your subject.
  • Think of who will be reading the piece and write it like a letter.
  • Take a real interest in your subject.
  • Be unselfish in your writing.
Word Choice

  • Repeated use of common words or expressions
  • Using the first word that comes to mind instead of choosing deeper into your vocabulary
  • Using words with incorrect meaning for the situation
  • Profanity


Word Choice

  • Count the number of times you use a noun or adjective; limit repetitions.
  • Explore your own vocabulary and think of two or three ways to say something.
  • Use a thesaurus for synonyms.
  • Profanity is attention-seeking behavior; be unselfish and avoid it.
Sentence Fluency

  • Many sentences start with the same word or phrase
  • Most sentences are the same length
  • Most sentences follow the same pattern


Sentence Fluency

  • Use different words or phrases to substitute for the overused starts.
  • Take the later part of a sentence and move it earlier in the sentence; take the back and put it on the front; throw it in reverse!
  • Look for opportunities to combine two shorter sentences into a longer one.

  • Missing periods between sentences
  • Sentences are too long / too many ideas in one sentence, creating a run-on sentence
  • Commas are used where a pause doesn’t belong if it were read out loud
  • Capitalization is missing at start of sentences or on proper nouns
  • “All caps” / every word or letter is capitalized



  • Read your paper out loud to a listener;               short pause = comma; long pause = period;            no pause = nothing there!
  • Rewrite longer sentences more efficiently using fewer words; use a semicolon or period to split.
  • Capitalize the first word after a period; capitalize people names, place names, titles.
  • Do not use an “all caps” font; uncapitalize everything that’s not the name of a person or place, or the title of something.

Tuesday, September 28: “This Badger Represents Her Independent Nature”

Posted on September 28, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

We continue to work on our character analysis posters.  Complete directions are as follows:

Create a poster in which you thoroughly represent the nature of a character verbally and symbolically.  Include a few paragraphs explaining the text and visuals on your poster.

 How do I do that?

  1. Collect five instances where you think the author is making strong effort to show an aspect of the character’s personality and copy them inside quotations on scratch paper.  Perhaps there are many different layers to the character’s personality.   An instance can be one sentence or a few sentences that directly follow each other.  An instance may be dialogue or narration.
  2. Locate five images or create illustrations that will be on your poster.  We will paste them on your poster later.
  3. Write a paragraph explaining how the images represent various aspects of your character’s personality.  Write another paragraph or two explaining how the instances you chose to write on the poster develop an aspect of the character’s personality.  These paragraphs will be cut and pasted onto the back of the poster.
  4. Quite visibly, include the character’s name and the title of the book or story where they “live”.
  5. Posters will be large size,  18”x24”, so do your best artwork and handwriting!

Poster are due Thusday, September 30.  What a scary way to start October!

Thursday, September 23: Nonfiction: It’s True!

Posted on September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

Biographical Newsletters were due on Tuesday.

We continue to read nonfiction selections from the literature book, and today we chose to do some sentence combining, sentence rearrangement, or vocabulary building based on our nonfiction or fiction readings.  We also had a class discussion on how we rated (on a scale of 1-10) the readings, and identified praise or criticism to support our rating.  We are adding to our repertoire of nonfiction, or the list of true things we’ve read.

Monday, September 20: Finishing Touches

Posted on September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized by markealj

We met in the library today to continue our revisions and final drafting of our biographical newsletters.  Before you print yours:

  • Have your partner preview it to make sure they are comfortable with the information and your style.
  • Compare it to the scoring guide to see if you can make any final improvements.

Free time is reading time, so remember your fiction and nonfiction!

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