Monthly Archives: January 2015

January 30, 2015

We opened today’s class with a short discussion of Orientalism in The Count of Monte Cristo. Then students practiced vocabulary words from CMC List 3 by relating them to Harry Potter, in preparation for our quiz on Monday (please remember – the quiz will have words from all three CMC lists – you can study using the lists on Finally, we discussed using gerunds and gerund phrases. Please see me for gerund handouts – in the meantime, you can study gerunds using this website and this website.

Remember that your documented essay (WORTH A MAJOR GRADE) is due on Monday. Please turn it in with your rubric. If you need help putting together your Works Cited page, I would recommend Citation Machine or Easy Bib.

And I pushed the due date for CMC Reading Guide 7 until Tuesday!

January 28 and 29, 2015

I’m sorry that there wasn’t a post yesterday! HISD’s servers had blocked our class website for some reason!

On Wednesday, we discussed how to write an MLA-style paper, and I gave students time to begin drafting their documented essays on heroes (which, as a reminder, are due on Monday).

If you have any questions about how to format your paper according the MLA style, I highly recommend that you consult this site. There are all kinds of great resources there, including a sample paper that shows you exactly what yours should look like.

I also announced that students had the opportunity to earn 10 points of extra credit on their vocabulary quiz by attending Bellaire Orchestra’s performance of Nosferatu this Friday and answering these questions:

Answer the following questions before you attend:

1. What do you already know about Nosferatu and the vampire Dracula story?
2. What are you curious about/what do you want to know about Nosferatu?

After the performance answer the following three questions:

3. What did you learn?
4. Did the movie raise any questions for you?
5. Please describe in detail one particular scene where the score affected, enhanced, or changed the mood/tone/meaning of the story.

On Thursday, students worked in small groups to create posters demonstrating the relationships between the different characters in The Count of Monte Cristo. Hopefully this helped you all to understand a bit more of the storyline! I have put the posters up in the hallway outside my classroom, so if you’re ever confused about who exactly did what in the novel, go check them out!

Remember, your next reading guide is due tomorrow!

January 27, 2015

Today I gave students a handout on transitions that can be used in expository essays. If you weren’t here, please come pick up a copy from me.

We also discussed the documented hero essay (due February 2) and went over the rubric.

Documented Essay Rubric

Students then explored Google Scholar to find more sources for their essays, and used the following notes page to record the information they found. research- note taking form

As a reminder, CMC reading guide 5 is due tomorrow. Students also need to make sure to bring their two notes pages and their laptops so we can continue working on their papers tomorrow.

January 26, 2015

I forgot to tell earlier class periods today: please bring your laptop tomorrow!

Today in class, we took our vocabulary quiz. If you were absent, please come on Friday during lunch to make it up, so that your grade is not a zero.

Students also began working on a STAAR-style essay about ambition, due on Thursday. Ambition Essay Prompt Ambition Essay Rubric I told you that we would go over the transition part of the assignment tomorrow.

CMC Reading Guide 5 is due Wednesday.

January 23, 2015

Today students worked with partners to write vocabulary sentences containing participial phrases. I told you that in addition to the words from this week’s vocabulary list, your quiz on Monday will also have some from last week’s list (so, study CMC lists 1 and 2). I’ve put both of those lists into, so you can just go to your class page, click on my name, and then save my lists to your lists.

Homework is to complete CMC reading guide 4.

Have a good weekend! Stay out of the mess!

January 22, 2015

I hope everyone is staying warm and dry!

Today in class, we revisited participles and practiced writing participial phrases. See me for a paper copy of the notes. Then students worked to research one of their questions about their hero using this page (research- note taking form) and the databases Mr. Casteel showed us. Whatever you didn’t finish in class needs to be done at home. And as a reminder, the CMC reading guide 3 is due tomorrow.

January 21, 2015

Today we discussed the beginning of CMC to make sure that everyone was getting along with the novel all right. I mentioned that this upcoming section is the part where all of the characters change their names, so read carefully (and I’m here in case you’re having any trouble). I assigned Reading Guide 3 (available under the CMC tab), which is due on Friday.

We also talked about the influence of the novel on literature today, looking at some trailers for film and television.

Also! Extra credit opportunity! (10 points on the CMC test)

Attend the Karen Russell (author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves) reading and lecture hosted by Inprint Houston on January 26. (Tickets are available here.)

Take hand-written notes during her book discussion. Afterwards, answer the following question:
What was the most interesting thing you learned about how this author writes?
Turn in your notes and your response to me on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Finally, if you were absent on Tuesday you must come during Friday lunch tutorials to make up your quiz. If you don’t show up, your grade will remain a zero.

January 16, 2015

I hope everyone is in the middle of a very nice long weekend!

On Friday, we visited the library to begin learning how to do research for our heroes projects. Mr. Casteel, Bellaire’s friendly librarian, showed us how to access the school’s databases of scholarly research. (Go to, then click “Students and Parents” from the top menu, then click “Digital Resources” – you’ll have to sign in using “houstonisd” and “astros” to use it from home – then click EBSCOhost.)

We’ll talk about making research questions and statements of purpose on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, your Reading Guide 1 for CMC is due (see the CMC tab of this website if you need another copy), and students will be taking a vocabulary quiz.