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!

Week of Nov. 27: This week we will be looking at Jack London's "To Build a Fire," and using the Cornell Notes to think more critically about some of the themes that run throughout this classic short story. Monday we will begin the story and employ the Think-pair-share strategy to discuss and record out thoughts as to the guiding questions.Tues. and Weds. we will finish up the story. We will also take time to discuss internal and external conflict. This short story is perfect for this exercise. Thurs. will be a writing day for a narrative essay based upon the guiding question: The Time I was Coldest. Fri. will be 100 Book reading day and Journal entry #2.

Week of Dec. 4: Monday we look at another short story this time with a theme of comedy. "The Ransom of Red Chief," is a story that reminds me of Dennis the Menace, or Home Alone. Tues. we will come up with the questions that we come up with as a group by using Costa's levels of questions for a quiz that we will take next week on "To Build a Fire." Weds. we begin taking the practice test for the SBAC. This will give us an idea where the kids are. THURSDAY is 100 Book reading day and journal #3. Fri. we continue the SBAC Interim test. 

Week of Dec. 11: Monday we will read another short story with a dog! Yes, it is a pattern, but who doesn't love a dog? :) "Stickeen" by John Muir. Tues. we once again read non-fiction on the NEWSELA website. Weds. we continue with the SBAC Interim, and hopefully finish. Thurs. there may be some who need to finish the Interim test. We will also take the quiz that the students designed last week which incorporate the three Costa levels of questions. Fri. is 100 Book reading day and Journal 4.

Short week of 12-18: Monday we will look at two short stories to see how others have responded to the passages they read with questions. I'm looking for Level 2 and 3 questions to see if the students can make the connection to thinking more deeply about what's happening. We will look at "The Path Through the Cemetary," and "A Man Who Had No Eyes." Tues. we write a letter to ourselves to be delivered ten years from now. We'll brainstorm for the things we would say to ourselves about who we are and who we hope we will be in a decade. Yes, I will mail these in the future! Weds. we will make a Christmas message to each other and exchange these. Have a great holiday, and we'll see you in 2018!

Week of Jan. 3: Welcome back! This week we lay out the expectations and requirements for the Expository Essay. This will be the first time students will see what is required in a formal word-processed paper. I'll review the 5 paragraph model incorporating the 'rule of 3' in the thesis. Thurs. we will begin researching using 3-column notes. The 3 columns will have the information that will become the 3 body paragraphs. Fri. we will read from our 100 book and make journal entry #5. 
Week of Jan. 8: We are continuing the Expository Essay. This is the first time we will try our hand at a formal word-processed, researched paper like students will be required to do in high school and beyond. I've given them prompts and examples of what the paper should look like. The paper will have proper info. in upper left corner, a title centered, and introductory paragraph with hook and thesis. There will be three body paragraphs in line with thesis that will include facts and an expert quote on their subject, as well as a conclusion. The paper will be 12 font, and it must be peer-reviewed before it is turned in. We will finish this up on Thursday. Friday we will again read from our 100 book and make journal entry #6. 

Week of Jan. 16: Tuesday we catch our breath from essay writing to talk about verb mood. This is in line with the Smarter Balanced standards. We will also do a life skills lesson on the cost of living. This is part of motivating young people to see their education as "the great equalizer." A way to improve their lot in life. Weds. and Thurs. we look at a classic short story by Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Friday we return to the 100 book to prepare for next week's interviews. 

Week of Jan. 22: Monday we spend the day finalizing preparations for the book report interviews this week. Students should make their eighth and final journal entry, as well as turn in the D.I.N.s that have not been graded. Today's the day to get final help with the Template, which is the ticket to the interview. Tues. through Thursday the students will be interviewed about their books.