Monthly Archives: January 2014

January 31, 2014

We got laptops today! Hurray!

Getting them distributed and everyone connected to Sky Drive took most of the day, so we didn’t have a lesson.

As a reminder about homework for this weekend, first period needs to read pages 24-48 and complete the reading guide (see yesterday’s post). All other classes need to complete the “helicopter scene” writing assignment (see yesterday’s post). A few reminders about that:

  • You need to be describing an actual place, not a made-up region.
  • Your focus for this writing assignment is just description – don’t worry about telling a story.
  • Try using the pre-writing suggestions to help you generate ideas.
  • Remember to start out broad and zoom in.

Please bring me a typed copy on Monday.

January 30, 2014


In period 1 today, we continued to work on the St. Lucy’s paragraphs and modelled how to do a PIE-style outline. Those three paragraphs are due tomorrow.

In periods 3, 4, 6, and 7, we discussed Truman Capote, the author of In Cold Blood, and why that book was so important to American literature. Here is the PowerPoint that we discussed:

ICP – Part 1 Presentation

We also watched this interview with Truman Capote about his feelings on the death penalty:

We then did a close reading of pages 3-5, where Capote introduces us to the setting of Holcomb, Kansas. We’re using that section as a mentor text for an assignment in which students will write their own “helicopter shot” of a real (not fictional!) setting that they know well. That assignment is due on Monday. Here is an electronic copy:

ICB – Writing Apprenticeship 1 – Helicopter Shot

Finally, homework for tonight (only for periods 3, 4, 6, and 7) is to read through page 48 and complete the reading guide:

Reading Guide – Pages 24-48

That’s due at the start of class tomorrow.

And tomorrow we get out laptops – hurray! 🙂

January 29, 2014


Today in class, students took their vocabulary quiz over the first half of the first section of In Cold Blood.

Homework for tonight was to finish the reading guide for pages 1 – 24. Here’s an electronic copy of that in case  you need one:

Reading Guide – Pages 1-24

One important thing that I want to mention – it’s really important that you try to come to school on Friday so that you are able to get your laptop! We’re going to do all sort of exciting things with them, and I know you’ll want to be able to participate.

Snow Day II, January 28, 2014

Well, it looks like we’re going to miss both the Good Friday and the Memorial Day holidays. :/

But here are some ways you could make the most of your time off!

1. Do the extra credit I offered by watching the State of the Union Address (see the post before this one). Again, for those of you reading this, would you please make a point of telling your friends about this, since we won’t have school tomorrow and I really want everyone to be able to take advantage of this opportunity?

2. Watch all of the “My Fair Lady” musical with Audrey Hepburn, which is in my opinion one of the best pieces of art from the 20th century:

3. Study for your vocabulary quiz on Wednesday, or finish your sentences if somehow you haven’t taken care of that already.

4. Get a good start on reading In Cold Blood – you’ll thank yourself later. **Here’s something I wanted to mention – that book starts off slowly. The second half is the better half. Don’t give up on it. The biggest thing to worry about in the beginning is keeping track of the different characters that are introduced.

See y’all Wednesday!


Here’s how you can get 15 (FIFTEEN! I’m offering a ton because I think this is important) points of extra credit on this week’s vocabulary quiz:

Tomorrow (Tuesday, January 28), watch the President’s State of the Union Address. If you don’t have cable, you should be able to do that here, or I would bet that YouTube will be streaming it live.

As you watch, take notes in the form of a sentence outline. You can see an example of how to do that here. Note – it needs to be a sentence outline, not a topic outline. I highly recommend that you type this, as making an outline from a live speech is the kind of thing where it’s helpful to be able to go back and make adjustments. Also, typing it as you watch would be helpful because the only way you can submit this is through (so, note – your outline needs to not look like your friend’s outline). The deadline to submit will be 12:30 PM on Wednesday.

Also, your outline needs to have a thesis – what is the one big message that you think the President is trying to get across? And just to reiterate, the point of this activity is not to critique the speech, but instead to practice accurate note-taking skills.

I really, really hope that you guys choose to do this. Those of you who are reading this, would you please do me a favor and share this with your compadres who might not check the website as frequently as you do, since I won’t be at school tomorrow to announce this to everyone?

And hey, just because we talked about this in most classes today, here’s that scene from “My Fair Lady”:

January 27, 2014

Today, we…

1. Turned in letters about your free choice books. (If you still have your library book, get that to Mr. Casteel ASAP! They’re overdue now.)

2. Talked about vocabulary – remember, if you’re missing your list, you can access it on the vocabulary section of the website.

3. Wrote paragraph responses to questions about “St. Lucy’s.” 1st period, we’ll continue working on those in class together. 3rd and 4th period have already turned theirs in. 6th and 7th period, you may come in during lunch on Wednesday if you need some more time.

Fingers crossed that we don’t have another snow day tomorrow! 😉

January 24 – Snow Day

No! NOOOO! Don’t the snow gods know that we had stuff we needed to get done today?

Here’s the revised schedule of what’s going to happen:


Period 1: We’ll continue talking about PIE paragraphs. Your book letter is due – I’m not going to make you turn in the last five quotes. Bring your library book, because we’re going to take a quick trip down there to drop them off. Bring your copy of In Cold Blood.

Periods 3, 4, 6, and 7: You’ll have the period to write your thematic analysis paragraphs. I highly recommend that you come to class with your outlines finished so you can just spend the period writing, and not worrying about what you’re going to write. Your book letter is due – I’m not going to make you turn in your last five quotes. Bring your library book, because we’re going to take a quick trip there to drop them off. Bring your copy of In Cold Blood.


All periods: Your vocabulary sentences are due. We’ll take our vocabulary quiz on this day. Bring your copy of In Cold Blood.


So to recap, what do you need to have ready on Monday?

  • Your letter.
  • Your outline, if you’re in periods 3, 4, 6, or 7.
  • Bring your library book and your copy of In Cold Blood.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Today we talked about the vocabulary from the beginning of In Cold Blood. We discussed the requirements for the letter you need to write about your free-choice book (due on Monday). Here is that project page:

Free Choice Letter Project Rubric

In period 1, we went over the PowerPoint on the PIE method for writing paragraphs. Here is that file:

The PIE Method for Building Paragraphs

In periods 3, 4, 6, and 7, I gave you the St. Lucy’s thematic analysis assignment, which we will complete tomorrow in class. Here’s an electronic copy of that document:

SLHFGRBW – Thematic Analysis

This is for a major grade, so I strongly recommend that you have your outline finished and ready to go (students had some time in class to begin working on this) so that you can begin writing as soon as the period begins. The assignment is due at the end of class tomorrow, and will count as a major grade. Some students have asked if there is an electronic copy of the story – please see yesterday’s post for it.

Finally, some other notes:

  • Your five annotated quotes from the second half of your free choice book are due tomorrow (give me a hard copy, please).
  • Students need to bring their copy of In Cold Blood with them tomorrow, in case they finish early.
  • We’ll have a vocabulary quiz on Monday, as usual. Sentences using each word are due before the quiz begins.

Wednesday, January 22

Today we talked about the corrections that you need to make on your “St. Lucy’s” literary device assignment. Here is the original assignment and the story:


SLHFGRBW – Literary Devices

I’ve included the key as part of the literary devices document. Once again, for each question you missed (whether you missed it because you got the device wrong or because your answer was insufficent), you must:

1. Look up the definition of the literary device and write it down.

2. Rewrite the entire answer, with an emphasis on serious analysis of how the literary device functions in the story (see the key for some examples).

That assignment is due tomorrow.

For today’s lesson, we created a giant illustrated plot diagram of the short story, and students answered questions about the plot (three questions for each of the the exposition and rising action stages; two questions for the climax stage; one question for the falling action stage; two questions for the resolution stage). You can choose which questions you would like to answer from the plot stage posters. Here is an electronic copy of those posters:

SLHFGRBW – Plot Stages

If you did not finish in class today, those questions are due at the start of class tomorrow.

And as a reminder, you should have your copy of In Cold Blood by this point – you will need to begin reading it over the weekend!

Tuesday, January 21

Welcome back!

Today we took our vocabulary quiz over St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Afterwards, students worked on writing three jokes (one based on Freudian theory, one based on superiority theory, one based on incongruity theory – see Friday’s post for that handout). Your jokes must be submitted via by 12:30 PM tomorrow.