Mr. Mullen's Language Arts 8th Grade

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year! This is my eleventh year with the district. As Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch might say, "Word on the street is this group of 8th graders is good people." I'm looking forward to getting to know each of them. We start out with a poster of who you are! What do you like to do? How many members in your family, and what do they look like? My World Poster Activity. Parents: please allow your son or daughter to use photos for this activity (they will return with them in the spring!) as it makes for a better look at who they are! We will work on this on Friday only, and it will be our first graded assignment! The grade will be kind as long as students make a good faith effort, as art is a subjective thing. :) Parents, if you need to contact me, the best way to do so is via e-mail: I check my mail regularly, and will get back to you!

Thurs. Sept. 7: We are looking at being prepared for emergencies such as fire and lock-down. In addition, we will look at the student handbook and discuss cell phones, bullying, the dress code etc. In addition, building wide we will be playing team-building games etc. The students have been introduced to the D.I.N. (Do it Now sponge activity). This consists of two bad grammar example sentences on the white board that students correct to the best of their ability. Then I go over the corrections suggested to me by volunteers. The students make the corrections, then we turn the binders in for grade every two weeks. 

Fri. Sept. 8: We will be doing the D.I.N. as usual, then the My World Poster activity. These posters are popular with the kids (and staff) all school year long. Students make a poster of their family and their hobbies which we hang on the wall. 

Week of 9-11: Monday we will read the short story, "The Landlady." This is always a popular story with the students. They love the twist at the end. Tuesday and Weds. we do pre-reading research into what life would be like in the colonial period. The novel Johnny Tremain is set in the turbulent period leading up to the Revolutionary War. Students will see that life was very different: no T.V., cell phones, electricity etc. Thursday: we will begin the novel and begin to find the evidence for the comprehension questions that go along with the chapter. This is in line with the Smarter Balanced stuff. We will read section one of chpt. 1.  EVIDENCE from the text is word for word, not paraphrased. Friday is usually reserved for independent reading, but things are a bit hectic and we don't yet have access to the books. We will continue our Johnny Tremain reading by finishing chpt. 1.  

Week of 9-18: Mon. we will begin the Three Best Things About Christmas essay. This lays the foundation for our 5 paragraph model essay that we will use for the Expository Essay, and the Persuasive essay we will do later in the year. It also gives me a look at their writing ability. The essay will incorporate hook, thesis with rule of 3, three body paras. and conclusion. Tues. we conclude the essay. Weds. we will read non-fiction on the NEWSELA website on the Chrome books. This is in line with the SBAC. Thurs. we return to the Johnny Tremain novel. On Friday we will go to the library and check out a 100 Book. We will read and make journal entry #1. 

Week of 9-25: Mon. we continue the novel Johnny T. after the D.I.N., which we do daily. We are working on finding the evidence for comprehension questions. We will finish chpt. 2 and begin 3 through sec. 1. Tues. we continue the novel by reading chpt. 3 through the end of the chpt. and answer the questions with evidence from the text. The students now put their finger on the evidence and we discuss if the answer works. Weds. We will read from the novel chpt. 4 through sec. 4 and w/s. Thurs. we will finish chpt. 4 through sec. 2 of chpt. 5 and answer the comprehension questions. We will also take our first steps with Cornell notes.  Fri. we read from our 100 Books from the library and make journ. entry #2. 

Week of Oct. 2: Mon. we continue Johnny T. after the D.I.N. by reading sec. 2 through the end of chpt. 5. We are continuing finding evidence from text. We are also adding to our Cornell notes worksheet. Tues. We continue the novel reading chpt. 6 through sec. 2, as well as answering the comprehension questions and vocab. We will also add to our Cornell notes w/s. Weds. we break from the novel to read from our Chrome tablets on the NEWSELA website for non-fiction. The students have taken a baseline reading of three stories they were assigned to establish their reading lexile. Some may not be finished however, and will do so. Thurs. we return to the novel Johnny T. and will read the rest of chpt. 6 and turn in packet 2: chpt. 4,5, & 6 worksheets. Fri. We read from our 100 Books and make journ. entry #3. 

Week of Oct. 9: Mon. we continue Johnny Tremain reading sec. 1 & 2 of chpt. 7, and answering the comprehension questions by quoting 'evidence' from text. This is a word for word quote, in line with what they will be required to do on the SBAC in the spring. Tues. we again read from the novel by finishing chpt. 7 & worksheet. Weds. we will break away from the novel to look at a classic short story by Edgar A. Poe, "The Tell Tale Heart." The students always love this story. It's one I read in class over 40 years ago, and never forgot. We will also look at "Paul Revere's Ride." This is certainly in keeping with our fall selection of in-class reading! Thurs. again return to Johnny T. and comp. questions. Fri. is 100 Book reading day, and journ. entry #4. 

Week of Oct. 16: Mon. we continue with our reading of the novel Johnny Tremain, from sec. 3 of chpt. 8, possibly to the end of the chpt.  In addition, we will continue looking for evidence from text. The students are being guided quite a bit in this activity, as it's vitally important that they understand how to include the question in the answer, and to quote word for word. I am surrendering this control now, by having volunteers take a stab at it. We also are continuing the Cornell Notes activity along with the reading. Tues. is another reading day from the novel, as we will finish chpt. 8, and read sec. 1 and 2 of chpt. 9. Weds. we break away from the novel to read non-fiction on the Chrome tablets from the NEWSELA site. This is our third day on this activity this fall. Students are finding their reading level by taking the comprehension tests at the end of the articles. Thurs. we return to Johnny Tremain by finishing chpt. 9 and reading sec. 1 of chpt. 10. Fri. is reading day for the 100 Books the students chose from the library, and we make journal entry #5. 

Week of Oct. 23: Mon. Chpt. 10 Johnny T. comprehension stuff. The students for the most part understand the process of finding evidence. We need some more work as to how to do so independently. Tues. we will continue the novel by reading chpt. 11 through sec. 4. Weds. we will read sec. 5 of chpt. 11, and finish the last chapter! The students have really enjoyed Johnny Tremain. I can't say they've enjoyed finding the evidence as much. ;) Thurs. we again read from our 100 Book list book and make journal entry #6. Fri. is a staff development day. Enjoy your weekend!

Week of Oct. 30: This is Conference Week! Mon. Pd. 4 will be with me in L.A. We will lay out the study guide for the final for the novel Johnny Tremain. This group of 8th graders really enjoyed the novel. I heard on almost a daily basis from someone saying, "This is a good book." I agree. Tues. periods 1,2, & 3 will receive the info. needed to be successful on the final for the novel. Weds. period 4 will read from their 100 Book and work on the Template (which is ticket to the interview on their novel) as well as make journ. entry #7. Thurs. periods 1,2,& 3 will read and prepare for the interview. Fri. all four classes will finalize preparations for the interview next week. 

Week of Nov. 6: This is a big week for the students. We place a big emphasis on the independent reading. It is the key to doing well academically and the grade reflects the importance and the time we devote to this. Monday through Wednesday we will be doing the interviews in class. Thurs. we take back our old 100 Book and get a new one which we will read today, and make journal entry #1. 

Week of Nov. 13: Another big week for the students. Some didn't do well with the book report interview. Despite giving them time to read in class, and constant reminders, some didn't take the interview seriously. The students are told at the beginning of the year (first day of school!) that the book report grade is a test grade and reflects the importance of what it is designed to do: make them better readers. Some must stumble before they learn. 
Mon. we will work on our study guide memorization for the Johnny Tremain final which is Thurs. and Fri. Tues. is another study day. Students may do the final draft of their essay component ahead of time. Weds.. we break away from the study to read non-fiction on the NEWSELA site on the Chrome books. Thurs. and Fri. it's test days. The study guide may NOT be used on the final itself. The novel finals are one of the times students must actually study to do well! 

Short week of Nov. 20: This week, in line with the Smarter Balanced requirements, we will compare and contrast the novel Johnny Tremain with the movie version. The movie is from the 50s so I won't bother sending a permission slip home. The film is a bit dated (like all of us relics from the decade) and is a Disney production. The movie does differ from the novel quite a bit, so the task for the students won't be daunting. The film will take up the two and a half class periods for the week. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!