Mr. Mullen's Language Arts 8th Grade

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year! I've met this year's 8th graders and I'm looking forward to getting to know each of them. After procedures and rules etc. which will take a few days, 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 second graded assignment! The syllabus signed and returned was the first. 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: amullen@crschools.org. I check my mail regularly, and will get back to you! 

Week of 9-10: We are working on some tech glitches as we begin startup for the new Amplify online curriculum. Monday we took a look at a classic short story this morning, "The Landlady," by Roald Dahl. The students enjoy discovering the truth as to what happens to the young protagonist. Hint: the landlady is a taxidermist.Tues: we hope to begin our Amplify program, but our backup will be the Newsela site for non-fiction reading. Weds. we finished the assessment activity on NEWSELA to establish a baseline for lexile (difficulty of text) for each of the students. Thurs. we did a practice SBAC thing from the OSPI with the goal of understanding the question, and looking for evidence from the text. These are key elements for students to get as we prepare for the future. Fri. was a big day. We attempted the log on for the new digital ELA system. Almost all were able to log on. We're getting closer to working out bugs with the help of our new tech addition Joel. 
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Week of 17: Mon. and Tue. We will continue getting familiar with the new digital Amplify ELA program. Weds. We will continue on Amplify with some reading and writing stuff. The students will add details to an excerpt and share those that they come up with. We are getting better with negotiating the digital format. The problems we had logging on, and the glitches we had with e-mail addresses (it was discovered they had to be entered in the system) and passwords seem to have been solved (thanks Joel and Mrs. Golden) and we are getting better at this every day. Thurs. We revise the writing that was included in Wednesday's work, as well as critique and add suggestions. Fri. We return to the NEWSELA reading and work at bumping up our lexile. 

Week of 9-24: Mon. We continue with Sub Unit 2 lesson 3. The students are revising their writing from last week. Tues. and Weds. the students will study emotions and how to communicate them in literature. Students will write and perform a skit based on emotion. Looking forward to this! :) Thurs. We will begin lesson 4 activities on Amplify. We are becoming more comfortable with the digital platform. Fri. We return to the NEWSELA program for non-fiction reading. 

Week of Oct. 1: We are learning that reading the whole story helps with reading comprehension. We looked for evidence after discussing what the question is really asking. Mon. we will perform skits the students wrote in groups based upon one of the members' narrative writing earlier on Amplify. Tues. we focus on a moment and write using details. Weds. we write from a prompt based upon an awful or great moment in school. Thurs. we revise our earlier writing. Fri. we will return to NEWSELA to work on comprehension of non-fiction and bumping up lexiles. 

Week of Oct. 8: Mon. : Aims Web testing. We have an assembly on bullying today as well. Tues. we will finish the Ames Web assessment, as well as take a look at the short story "Bargain." We will begin the novel that goes with the first qtr. Weds. and Thurs. we continue getting to know Amplify and the curriculum. One note: the students are more prolific writers when using the keyboard and computer! All of the ELA teachers agree that using paper and pencil was way less productive. Stay tuned. Fri. we will try our hand at one of the interim SBAC tests to establish a baseline for later testing. 

Week of Oct. 15: Mon. We continue with the Interim baseline test for non-fiction reading on the OSPI site. Most did not finish Fri. As students finish up, they will log into NEWSELA. Tues. through Thurs. we return to Amplify. We are getting better at negotiating the website. The students love the vocabulary stuff. It's full of kid friendly stuff. I've played with it myself more than once. :) Fri. We'll take a look at the online novel.  
ttechnology. :) I've been practicing with the grading and comments sections. The students get plenty of writing and reading practice with the new system. Thurs. we will use a think aloud strategy to break down one of the interim SBAC practice tests for breaking down what the question asks, and returning to the technique for comprehension of looking back in the text for evidence. 

Week of Oct. 29: Mon. We move on in the Amplify L.A. curriculum. We begin to see the pre-reading for the new novel. Conference week, so days will be kind of messed up with the classes, but we will get through it! :) Tues. fourth and fifth periods do the Amplify stuff that 1st and 2nd did yesterday. Weds-Fri. the L.A. folks will begin the novel. 

Week of Nov. 5: We are just about done with the first qtr. Most are doing well with the new online format. Mon. We look at strong verbs in relation to a few of the characters in the new novel. Tues. we share the phrases that we identify with as being strange, unique etc. Weds. and Thurs. we continue with Amplify, and Fri. we will stop to look at one of the Interim SBAC practice tests. We will be paying particular attention to understanding the question, and finding the evidence for the answer in the text.

Week of Nov. 13: We continue the Amplify online digital L.A. stuff. Tues. Weds. Students read from text and answer comprehension questions. Thurs. and Fri. We continue with the novel and the vocabulary and writing stuff.

Week on Nov. 19: We continue on Amplify. Comparing and contrasting and expanding on our choices of evidence from text. Tues. we share our writing, and highlight additional evidence. Weds. we read on Newsela. 

Week of Nov. 26: Monday and Tues. we will be finding examples of convincing evidence.The students will be adding details to their writing to make it more convincing. Weds. we will reading more from the novel Going Solo, and answering multiple choice comp. questions. Thurs. we review what's happened in the story and explore the implications of what's going on between Roald and the Corporal. Fri. we will be looking at an interim SBAC test for more practice recognizing what the question is asking, and finding and quoting evidence from text. 

Week of Dec. 3: Monday the students will look at their compare/contrast essay and comment about each other's writing. Tues. We will work on vocab. as well compare passages in Dahl's writing. Weds. we will continue on Amplify by starting Sub Unit 4. Thurs. we will begin writing an in depth essay based on the novel. Fri. we break away from the novel to read non-fiction on NEWSELA. 

Week of Dec. 10: We have been gearing up for a multi-paragraph essay lately. Monday and Tues. we will be in Sub Unit 4 responding to the text with evidence. Weds. we will be working on editing and a conclusion. Thurs. is revising etc. and tying up loose ends on Amplify. Fri. we will revisit an Interim reading we started a few weeks ago on the OSPI site. 

Week of Dec. 17: We continue with the multi-paragraph essay. Mon. we will work on the hook or Lead. Once they have this, we will add text, author, and some background to go with their claim in the introductory paragraph. Tues. we continue with the intro. Weds. Again, on the Amplify site, we will work on the conclusion. Thurs. we will edit our essays. Fri. we return to the NEWSELA stuff. 

Short week of Jan. 3: Before we went on break we feverishly edited and turned in our culminating project, the essays for the Dahl Unit. Some were good, most needed some polishing. :) Today and tomorrow we will work from the comments on the rubric to fix problems such as lacking required components, and grammar. Students are REQUIRED to make corrections in bold type and bring the original rubric to me when they are ready to have it looked at. 

Week of Jan. 7: We are beginning a new unit on the digital platform Amplify. This unit will feature Ben Franklin, one of the founding fathers. We begin by taking a look at some of Franklin's writing. Students are introduced to Silence Dogood, one of the alias characters Franklin used to convey his message to the public without using his real name and identity. Friday we will do some Ames Web testing, and if time permits, NEWSELA reading. 

Week of Jan. 14: Mon. we will finish up the Ames Web reading test. Tues. we return to Benjamin Franklin on the Amplify digital ELA program. Students continue to get to know Silence Dogood, one of the pseudonyms Franklin wrote under while a young apprentice printer. Weds. we continue with the Franklin unit. Students see that Franklin wrote with persuasion of the masses in mind. Students also write to show understanding, as well as quoting evidence from text. Thurs. students will analyze one of Franklin's experiments to show what Franklin observed. Fri. we step away from the Amplify learning to look at an Interim test for reading comprehension. 

Week of Jan. 22:We spend the next four days fine tuning the culminating project for the second qtr.: the compare/contrast essay. The essay has several required components for full pts. These include intro with hook, the author and text named, the fact that the author is going to Africa on business for Shell Oil, and thesis with the two characters named. The two body paras. must be: Body 1 with one character developed and min. of 140 words. Body 2 will compare/contrast the character in body 1 with a new character of your choice. Again, 140 words. Conclusion with final thoughts. More than a sentence! Grammar also graded!

Week of Jan.29: Mon. We will read NEWSELA and answer comp. questions. Tues. through Friday we will looking at the way Ben Franklin changed his style of arguing from abrupt, and contradictory, to a softer, gentler style of persuasion after being introduced to the Socratic Method. Students will summarize the learning with a short essay (graded) which will require a topic sentence that includes Franklin's name and sets up the essay with proper info. The Socratic method must be mentioned, and contain a quote from the text of the featured essay. Grammar is important as well. 

Week of Feb. 4: Mon. We will look at some debatable subjects in preparation for students to practice debate! This will be an experiment folks. I'm not sure how it will go. The students will research pro and con sides of topics such as: should students be required to wear uniforms? Should students be allowed junk food in school? What about cell phones in school? Tues. we will come together in groups and write debate skits. Students will decide who will do the talking, and the others research an write the skits. Weds. we will finalize the skits, and some will present. Thurs. we finish the skits. All students will be graded on how the group worked together and presented. Fri. we get an independent reading book and make our first journal entry. 

Week of Feb. 11: Mon. SNOW! School cancelled. Tues. The student skits were not an overwhelming success, but weren't awful. The student groups all received the same grade based upon, 1) participation; 2) Does the presentation of your skit show Franklin's Socratic method?; 3) Does the skit run at least 2 1/2 minutes min.? Today we read two selections on Franklin and answer 6 multiple choice questions. Weds. we begin lesson 7. This will run through Thurs. Students read and discuss the Junto established by Franklin as a small library for folks to better themselves as members with. Fri. we take the first half of the Interim test based on Research. 

Week of Feb. 18: Monday we take the day off in honor of President's Day. Tues. We will finish the Interim test and read from NEWSELA. Weds. we return to our Amplify curriculum on Lesson 8. This lesson deals with Franklin's experiments with electricity. Thurs. we read "Franklin the Scientist and answer comprehension questions. Fri. we return to our library book after a week's hiatus, and make Journal entry 2.  

Week of Feb. 25: Mon. and Tues. we continue on Amplify with Sub Unit 1 Lesson 10. The students will look at symbols that we recognize and discuss meanings. We also see that Franklin became a symbol of democracy and freedom, and played his role to the hilt. Weds. we do some more Interim work recognizing the question, and finding evidence. Students will do most of this themselves now. Thurs. is independent sustained reading day and Journal #3. Fri. we return to Amplify working on writing in the "Loom" with two sources. 

Week of Mar. 4: Monday we work on lesson 12 of Amplify. Students learn that Franklin wrote an autobiography. They interpret one of the maxims from Poor Richard. Tues. we have an assembly, which shortens our classes. Newsela day. Students record the number of articles they read and number correct in comp. questions. Wed. we return to Amplify. We read the beginning of Franklin's autobiography and annotate. We review citations etc. Thurs. students write about a specific place in the writing that made an impact on them. Fri.Silent sustained reading and journal entry. 

Week of Mar. 11: Monday we read "Franklin and Lightning," as well as answer comp. questions. We move on to lesson 13 do a partner activity where we summarize the impressions we've developed about Franklin. We also review the writing we've done lately looking for connecting threads, and create a web about Franklin. Tues. and Weds. we discuss what Franklin would do in various situations, and read independently on the Amplify Library. Thurs. we do some team building activities. 

Week of Mar. 18: Mon. we 'Tell a Friend About Benjamin Franklin.' Students summarize the impressions they've developed about this founding father in essay form. Tues. we review the writing they've done about Franklin in the loom and look for connecting threads. Weds.. Students read from their Amplify novel and work on vocab. Thurs. Students revise an earlier response and do some close reading. Fri. we return to our library books and make a journal entry. 

Week of Mar. 25: Mon. we work on Amplify in the Franklin Sub Unit 2 stuff on the Declaration of Independence. Students build off their paraphrase work of last week by discussing the document's subject and audience. We also analyze whether this sounds like something Franklin would have written. Tues. we look at the second paragraph of the Declaration and make inferences and use citations. Weds. we work on the One Pager text analysis of our library books. This will be a fun activity where the students draw/color illustrations they make about their indep. reading books. Thurs. we continue the one pagers. Fri. we return to Amplify to work on essay stuff. 

Welcome back! Week of Apr. 8: Mon. we continue to work on the 'One Pager' book analysis activity. These will be do ABSOLUTELY, on Weds! No exceptions. Tues. we continue the One Pager. Today, no partners, as many have visited more than work. Weds. We finalize the One Pagers, and read from NEWSELA. Thurs. we return to Amplify. We look at analyzing evidence for drafting a claim. Fri. we return our library books, and find another for the 4th qtr. 

Week of Apr. 15: Mon. and Tues. we begin the process of preparing for writing a multiple paragraph essay that looks at the different sides of Franklin and compares two of these. Weds. we do our final Interim practice for the SBAC which is coming up on us quickly. Thurs. we return to our Amplify essay on Franklin with revising/editing. Fri. we read from our library books and make journal entry 2. 

Week of Apr. 22: Mon. we work on the beginning of a big multi-paragraph essay that we did the preliminary work for last week by concentrating on drafting a claim for paragraph one about one side of Ben Franklin (for instance Franklin as writer). They will work on this Tues. as well, by adding transitions and making revisions. Weds. we will work on another side of Franklin in the second para. For instance, Franklin as scientist/inventor. Thurs. we continue paragraph two. Fri. we work on body 2 and conclusion. 

Week of Apr. 29: Monday it's SBAC day one! All our effort this year gets assessed in the state testing spring ritual. This is the first year of our switching to a digital program. Amplify has been good for our writing I believe. The students write more, and more critically this year. It'll be interesting to see our scores. Tues. and Weds. we'll be finishing up the SBAC, and catching up on some loose ends with the Franklin essay we worked hard on last week. Thurs. we will see where we are, and adjust what we do accordingly!. Fri. we will read our library books and make journal entry 2.  

Week of May 6: Monday we continue the SBAC. Those who did not finish the CAT portion will do so today before taking on the Performance Task part of the state testing. Tues. we will hopefully finish the P.T. Weds.(REVISED!) I hope it's good news that the students are taking their time with the P.T. (essay) section of the SBAC. We will finish up today...I hope.  Thurs. we will look at a classic short story of a dog, "Stickeen" by John Muir.  This is a story I read when I was young, and the students today enjoy it as well. Fri. we return to our independent reading and make journal entry 3. 

Week of May 13: Monday through Weds. we take a break from our Franklin Unit and take a look at poetry. The students will be exposed to Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and some of the great poets. I enjoy this and have been pleasantly surprised at some of the students one wouldn't expect to engage in poetry, who tell me they loved it when we're done. Thurs. we look at song lyrics and share some of these that the students bring in. Fri. we return to our library books and make journal entry #4. 

Week of May 20: I wanted to start out by saying we have less graded stuff on the Skyward site than we might ordinarily. We spent quite a bit of time writing, and revising the Franklin essay for the requirements. Then we practiced for the SBAC, and took the SBAC over a seven day period. I'm pleased with early results which are trickling in as we speak. This week, Mon. we will begin a new unit on Amplify, called Frankenstein! The kids should love this. Unfortunately, due to time restraints we won't finish it, but we'll get a taste of it, as it were. Tues. through Thurs. will be more of the unit. Fri. we continue with our library books, and journal entry 5.