Archive | October, 2014

Into the Wild Test; The Five Five Five Challenge Writing Piece

22 Oct

12th Grade:

Quick Write:  What is a position you have regarding the Sachem Scavenger Hunt; What is a position you disagree about regarding the hunt?

We will spend a few minutes discussing the layout for an editorial piece regarding the Sachem Scavenger Hunt Scandal.

  1. Title- The title should make a statement about your opinion that is clear for the reader
  2. Clear Thesis- Within your first paragraph you should be clearly stating what your opinion is, that you will prove in your editorial
  3. Give reasons why you think your opinion is valid.
  4. Mention an opposing viewpoint and explain why your viewpoint is better.
  5. Close by clearly reaffirming your viewpoint

Into the Wild Test in class.

Tomorrow we will work on the writing piece in class. It is due Friday.

9th and 10th Grade:

Quick Write:

  1. What kind of movies do you like best?
  2. Write down 3 random places.
  3. Write down 3 random objects.

We will begin our next piece, The Five Five Five Challenge (which is due Friday).   For this piece, you can write about anything you want, but you must do the following:

  1. Use any Five vocabulary words.
  2. Use any Five skills.
  3. Use any Five of the random places and objects we listed in class, or the following:
    At some point a character says:

    -“How did you find out?”

    -“It must have fallen out of my hands.”

    -“My monkey is missing!”

    -“Look behind you!”

    -“Now that’s what I call getting down.”


    -An object that is symbolic

    -A sound

    -A smell

    -A description of a texture

    -Time Travel

Two Word Tuesday; Vocabulary Assignment

21 Oct

Two Word Tuesday

12th Grade:
Obscure: (adj) vague; unclear; not well-known
Pugnacious: (adj) eager to fight

9th Grade:
Bolster: (v) to add support; to prop up
Daunting: (adj) intimidating, difficult to deal with

10th Grade:
Mitigate: (v) to calm down; to make less severe
Reprehensible: (adj) blameworthy, unacceptable

Vocabulary Assignment

We learn vocabulary through experience with the words and making connections to other ideas and words. Simply learning definitions is one of the least effective ways to learn new words.  This activity will help strengthen your understanding of each word.

For 10 of our 16 vocabulary words, Draw a picture, create a Word Cloud* with five synonyms, connect the word to a person.

*To create a Word Cloud, draw a cloud with the word inside.  Draw lightning bolts from the cloud that connect to synonyms or words related to the word in the cloud.

Reminder to Seniors: Tomorrow we will have an Into the Wild exam!

Rhetoric; Reading Exams

20 Oct

Winston Churchill delivering a speech

9th and 10th Grade will be taking tests on Speak and Lord of the Flies, respectively.  The test is worth 10 points and is to confirm that you have read the book, paid attention during class discussions, and can synthesize your thoughts and interpretations of events of the story.

12th Grade will be taking a similar Into the Wild exam on Wednesday.

12th Grade- Rhetorical Strategies- Today we will be discussing how we can use language to assert our points and be more convincing.

This is the PowerPoint slideshow on rhetorical strategies we took notes on today.

Skills for Being More Convincing in Your Writing and Speech

Rhetoric– the art of effective speaking. Using the following rhetorical strategies will make your points more convincing and help you to get people to do what you want!

Rhetorical Question: a question that is meant to prove a point or raise an issue, rather than be answered directly.
ex: A child is asking for a very expensive toy. His parent says “Do you think that money just grows on trees?”
Here are some great examples of rhetorical questions and when to use them.

Rhetorical Strategies:
Logos– The speaker attempts to appeal to the audience’s logical or reasoning side.
ex:”Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: we have not only the fingerprints, the lack of an alibi, a clear motive, and an expressed desire to commit the robbery… We also have video of the suspect breaking in. The case could not be more open and shut.”

Pathos– The speaker attempts to appeal to the audience’s emotional or sympathetic side
ex: “There’s no price that can be placed on peace of mind. Our advanced security systems will protect the well-being of your family so that you can sleep soundly at night.”

Ethos– The character of the speaker is used to appeal to the audience.
“As a doctor, I am qualified to tell you that this course of treatment will likely generate the best results.”

More great examples of these three rhetorical strategies in use.

Skills to Make Your Statements More Effective

Anaphora- the first word repeater. By repeating the first word(s) of a sentence, you drive your point home.

Example from Winston Churchill during World War II:
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

An anaphora makes the listeners/readers predict what you are about to say.  It has a subconscious effect of creating harmony with them, because they know what to expect.  Listeners/readers that feel harmonious with you are more likely to believe you and be convinced by you.

More examples here and here.

Epistrophe- the first word repeater. By repeating the first word(s) of a sentence, you drive your point home.

Example from Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003):
“A day may come when the courage of men fails, but it is not this day. When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!”

An epistrophe can cause your listeners/readers to finish your sentence.  Often when people are telling us something we already know, we can finish their sentences for them.  By manufacturing this feeling through epistrophe, we can create that same sense of agreement, and make people more likely to agree with our statements.

More examples here and here.

College/Personal Essays Due; Review Literature

17 Oct

Today our college/personal essays are due.  Turn them in along with your reflection.

9th and 10th Grade: We will be reviewing our books (Speak and Lord of the Flies, respectively) in preparation for an exam on Monday.

Literature test on Monday!

12th Grade: We will conduct a Socratic Seminar regarding the recent events in our community and the reaction to those events.  This will prepare us for our next writing piece.

Final Touches on College/Personal Essays

16 Oct

Today is the last day before our College/Personal Essays are due (writing piece #3).  Make sure you have your final copy with you in class tomorrow.

Read, review and discuss the following websites

Five Weak Words That Make Your Writing Less Effective

Using Strong Verbs and Noun

New Skill for Ending a Piece of Writing

Skill: Bookending– A technique for ending a writing piece, in which an idea that was brought up earlier in the piece is returned to.

Read the Time Magazine Article about the roller coaster Goliath.  Notice the way the story is structured. The author begins with a little bit about the roller coaster Goliath.  Next he is on line waiting to ride the coaster.  The story switches focus and discusses other large roller coasters and coaster technology.  Finally at the end, he returns to his riding of the roller coaster.  He has created a “bookend” structure, in which an idea/situation is introduced, departed from, and then ultimately returned to.  This creates closure in the writing piece.

Forced Revisions; Use Better Words; Quick Write

15 Oct

45 ways to avoid 'very'

Today we will be working on revising our college essays, so it is imperative that you have yours with you.  It will count as an assignment grade.  The same goes for tomorrow; have your typed college essay in class for an assignment grade.

Quick Write Wednesday

What is the your favorite part of your essay?  What is your least favorite part of your essay?

Skill: Using Better Verbs and Stronger Words

Avoid weak words that require additional explanation.  For example: “Walk” does not tell us much, you would need another sentence or modifier words to clarify.  Instead of “I walked clumsily” say “I stumbled.”  Think of all the more descriptive words we have for “Walk” (strut, skip, scurry, stomp, hustle…) These are better choices because they do not require additional explanation.

You probably have a weak verb if you are using adverbs (words that describe how something was done).  

Example: “I spoke loudly.” You need the word “loudly” because “spoke” is a weak word. Use “shouted,” “screamed,” “announced” instead.

The same goes for words like “very,” “really,” “extremely,” “super,” “quite,” etc… Instead of saying your are “very smart” say “brilliant,” or “intelligent.”  Review this handout 45 ways to avoid ‘very’.

If you are relying on adverbs and words like “very,” you are being a lazy writer.  You are not exploring your subject deeply and your writing will quickly become boring.  If your reader thinks your writing is boring or lazy, he/she will stop reading.  The worst thing that can happen to writers is that people stop reading their work.

Vocabulary Fun

14 Oct

Make sure you have your college/personal essay with you in class tomorrow!

Two New Words for Tuesday

12th Grade:

obliterate-(v) to completely destroy
copious-(adj) a large amount

9th Grade:

corroborate-(v) to confirm; to backup a story
precarious-(adj) dangerous; unstable

10th Grade:

Brevity-(n) Briefness
Incoherent-(adj) impossible to understand

Vocabulary Games and a Chance to Earn a Point on Your Average!

In class and in groups we will be writing Bio Poems for Vocabulary words.

Here is the Structure:

First name

Four traits that describe the word

Relative of (synonyms, other characters)

Who feels Who needs

Who Needs

Who fears

Who would like to see

Resident of

Last name.


Here is an Example:

Querulous- verb complain in a whining manner

First Name Debbie

Four traits Annoying, weak, childish, frustrating

Relative of Whiny

Who Feels Cranky

Who needs constant attention

Who fears having to deal with a difficult situation

Who would like to see someone give them everything they want

Resident of SnottyBratsVille

Last Name Downer