Mr. Mullen's Language Arts 8th Grade

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year! 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 Sept. 7th 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. :) 

Final for The Contender, our summer reading project for incoming 8th graders will be Monday and Tuesday of the week of 9-12-16! Make sure your child has the study guide filled in completely and correctly. THEY MAY USE the study guide on the test. Tuesday will be the essay portion. I will review the five paragraph model on Friday of the first week. If the essay doesn't go well, they may make corrections for full credit. 


9-8-16 I've enjoyed meeting the new 8th grade class. Don't forget to sign the syllabus and have it returned to me for 25 easy points! Thanks for letting the kids use your precious family photos. Everyone enjoys seeing the My World posters. 

Thursday 9-15 the 8th grade read non-fiction articles on the NEWSELA website. This is an activity we will do every few weeks all year long to increase reading comprehension. The website has students reading at their own level, or 'lexile.' It also keeps track of where they are, and I can see how they're doing on the comprehension questions. I can also see on my screen if they are choosing reading that is too easy for them. The idea is to increase their comprehension through increased vocabulary and repetition. 

Friday 9-16 we went to the library to pick out a new '100 Book.' This is a book from the school 100 Book List of novels that every student should be exposed to by the time they graduate. We are reading with a partner this year. They read the same book, stop and recap what they read every few pages, and make a journal entry at the end of the period. We will do this in class on Fridays. The last few weeks of the qtr. the students will read at home as well, since most probably won't finish in class. I'll interview the students for a test grade on their reading as culmination of this project. 

Week of 9-19: Monday and Tuesday are research days for the Colonial Times assignment. Students should learn what folks lived like in the 1770s, the time period that the novel Johnny Tremain is set in. No cell phones, T.V., electricity, automobiles (and road rage!) etc. We will also work in a partner activity with 
tier-2 words that students will see across the various disciplines in their m.s. and h.s. classes. In addition, we'll begin the new novel. 

Week of 9-26-Monday and Tuesday are novel reading days. Students will follow along in the novel as George Cordell reads Johnny Tremain for them. This novel is always a hit with the students. Johnny is a 14 year old boy caught up in the turmoil and politics leading up to the Revolutionary War. The students participate in discussions as we pause the c.d. and answer the guiding questions. We have also recently completed a tier-2 vocab. activity. These are vocabulary words students will see across the various disciplines. Wednesday we will (for the second time this fall) read from the NEWSELA articles online with the Chrome books. This reading is in line with the new shifts in Language Arts toward more non-fiction reading. The students answer comprehension questions with the goal of becoming better readers. They move up the difficulty of the text in their reading with the 'lexile' choices available for the articles. We return to the novel on Thursday, and Friday we once again have the partner-reading for their 100 Book selection. 

Week of 10-3. Monday we read Johnny Tremain, Chpt. 2 pgs. 43 to end of Chpt. 3 pg. 54. Read sec. 1 and w/s comp. questions. Tuesday we read through sections 1 and 2 of chpt. 3, then lay out the requirements for the essay, "The Three Best Things About Christmas." This is an essay which is 5 paragraphs with a 'rule of 3' in the thesis. The 3 pts. in the thesis become the topics for the 3 body paragraphs. Weds. in class we write the Christmas essay. It will be graded from rubric. Thurs. 100 Book partner reading day and journal 4. No school Friday. 

Week of 10-10: We continue with Johnny T. Today, 10-10 we will use the 'Think-Pair-Share' method to discuss the guiding questions for the chapter. We will focus on finding evidence from the text as well.  Tuesday, we read chpt. 4 sections 1-3, again, with guiding questions and 'Think-Pair-Share.' Weds. we will break away from the novel to read on the NEWSELA website. This is a great site that allows students to read at their level, find comprehension answers, and improve as readers. Thurs. we will return to the novel to finish chpt. 4 and begin chpt.5. Friday we partner read from our 100 Books and make journal entry #5.

Week of 10-17: We will continue the novel with Chpt. 5  sec. 1 & 2 and comprehension/vocab. Of course we always begin the day with the D.I.N. sentence stuff on the white board. We will be concentrating on 'finding evidence' on Tuesday as we break away from the novel to work on a practice test from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website. We will talk about understanding the question, and looking for contextual clues for the questions. On Wednesday, the 19th, we will continue with Johnny Tremain, Chpt. 5, sec. 3-5. If we have time, we'll start Chpt. 6. Thursday, we continue into Chpt. 6 and do comprehension stuff. Friday we return to the 100 Book partner reading and journal #6.

Week of 10-24: Monday we will pass back the packet of work from Johnny Tremain, chpts. 1-4, as well as do a practice test from the OSPI website for the SBAC. The students will find the evidence they need in order to answer the questions correctly. Tuesday, the 25th, we will return to the novel and the guiding questions on chpt. 6 sec. 3-6. Weds. the 26th we will be doing the NEWSELA reading and comprehension questions. Thurs. the 27th we return to chpt. 7 of the novel and the questions. Friday will be 100 Book partner reading day and journal 7. 

Week of 10-31: NOTE: The kids are starting to get the 'finding evidence' thing. In line with the SBAC test, we are looking for the evidence in the text, and quoting it word for word in the guiding questions that go along with our reading of the novel Johnny Tremain. They don't like this, as they'd rather paraphrase as briefly as possible. Baby steps folks. On Monday (Halloween) we will continue the novel by reading as much of chpt. 7 as we can. Tuesday, we break away from the novel to read from our 100 Book in preparation for the interviews next week. The interviews allow me to see if the students really read their book, rather than copy someone else's paper. On Weds. we return to the novel to finish chpt. 7, and do sec. 1 and 2 of chpt. 8 and the guiding questions/vocab. Thurs. we will finish chpt. 8 of Johnny Tremain. Friday we return to the 100 Book to finalize the template, and prepare for the interviews next week. 

Week of 11-7: The students are doing book report interviews this week. I have read all of the books on the 100 Book reading list for 8th graders. The kids have been reading with a partner every Friday and working on their Templates. The completed Template is ticket to the interview with me. 

Week of 11-14: The students will continue with the novel Johnny Tremain reading the rest of chpt. 8, and sec. 1 & 2 of chpt. 9. We will continue with understanding the question, and finding evidence by placing their finger on this, and writing it word for word. Tuesday, we continue the novel by finishing chpt. 9. Wednesday, we break away from the novel to once again read non-fiction from the NEWSELA site for close-reading and answering of the comprehension questions. Thursday the students will return their 100 Book to the library, a nd get a new one. They will draw a new reading partner as well. The rest of the period will be the reading of the short story "The Landlady." The kids love this, when they see the twist at the end. ;) Friday is partner reading day, and journal entry #1 for the second qtr. 

Short week due to Thanksgiving! Monday, Nov. 21 we will return to the novel looking for evidence from the text. This is a crucial part of being successful on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in the spring. Chpt. 10 sections 1-3. Tuesday we will be reading the novel again, finishing chapter 10, and doing sections 1 and 2 of chpt. 11. Weds. we will break away from the novel for a fun Greek play reading as part of Greek Day in the 8th grade end of the building. Have a great holiday! 

Week of 11-28: The students will be finishing the novel this week! Monday we'll read chtp. 11 sec. 3 & 4. Tuesday, we read chpt. 11 to end and sec. 1 & 2 of the final chpt. 12. The kids will turn in packet 3. This consists of chpt. 9, 10 & 11 worksheets, worth 72 pts. Weds. we will break away from the novel for non-fiction reading on the NEWSELA website. The students are progressing in their reading level! This is good. Thurs. we finish the novel reading and begin laying out the study guide for the final. Friday we once again have partner reading from the 100 Book and make journal entry #2. 

Week of Dec. 5: Students will be working on their study guides for the Johnny Tremain final. They should be working on memorizing characters/characteristics, vocabulary, and Literary Terms. In addition to the memorization, they will be working on a rough draft for the essay component based upon one of the prompts from the study guide. The final will be Wednesday and Thursday! We will close out the week with the partner reading from the 100 Book they chose earlier, and making journal entry #3. Snow days occurred 12-8 & 12-9 changing things a bit!

Week of 12-12: We will finish the final for the novel Johnny Tremain today. Students will turn in the final, the final draft of the essay component, and the study guide. Rough draft of the essay should be stapled to the packet as well. Tues. we lay out the expository essay and head to the lab to begin research. Students should be researching in a 3 column graphic organizer for the information to be included in the 3 body paragraphs! The 'rule of 3' in the thesis dictates what their body paragraphs will be about! Weds. and Thurs. are also in the computer lab for research/rough draft work. Friday we break away from the essay to read out 100 Book with partners and make journal entry #3 (which should have been last Fri. of course, but was postponed due to snow.)

Week of Jan. 3, 2017: Well, hopefully we have that snow day stuff out of the way! The snow days moved our due date for the Expository Essay back to after the break. Tues. we will be making up one of the days we missed in the lab. Weds. the paper will finally be due after the last day in the P.C. lab. Remember that without the peer review filled out and signed, along with graphic organizer, and rubric attached, the paper will not be accepted! Thurs. the 5th, we will return to the NEWSELA website for more non-fiction reading practice. Friday will be partner reading day, and journal entry #3. 
Week of Jan. 8, 2017: Monday we will be making up one of the several reading days we lost due to snow and ice in December and making journal entry #4. Tuesday the 10th we will be comparing the novel Johnny Tremain to the Disney version of the film for similarities and differences. This is a focused viewing assignment using two-column notes. Wednesday we finish up the focused viewing notes and turning them in. Thursday we will look at O.Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief." This classic short-story is timeless in its use of humor and irony. It is always a hit with the students (since I take some creative license with my reading) and one many of us read in our youth. Friday we return to the 100 Book partner reading and make journal entry #5. 

Week of Jan. 17:  Well, that snow stuff messed us up last week didn't it? No school Weds. and Thurs. caused us to push the last half of the focused viewing of the film based upon the novel Johnny Tremain to this Thursday. Tuesday we make up for missing an earlier snow day we planned to partner read from our 100 Book. We'll also make journal entry #6. Weds. we read non-fiction on the NEWSELA website. The students are progressing despite the fact that most do not enjoy the reading process. Then on Friday, the 20th, we will again partner read from our 100 Books and make journal entry #7. We were unable to read "The Ransom of Red Chief," last week, and hopefully will find time to make this classic up later. 

Week of Jan. 23: Monday the students will be finalizing preparations for the Book Report Interviews! We will also turn in the reading journal. The students will be responsible for 8 total journal entries worth 80 pts. total. The Template, which reinforces learning about literary terms, and quoting from text etc. must be filled out and is 'ticket' to take the interview tomorrow through Thursday! This is an important test grade, and reflects the importance of the amount of time we have devoted to the reading in class! If students are not ready when they are called to do the interview in class, THEY MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT with me to make it up before the quarter ends. Tuesday through Thursday are the only times in class to do the interviews. 

Week of Jan. 29: Monday we do a pre-reading lesson based upon a real-life student whose choices affected his graduating from high school, and made a great deal of drama for not only himself, but his family, and the community he lived in as well. We also look at an example of what some students have done in the past, and I continue to see when they make up stories at home to cover up the fact that they did not do what they should have at school. The students will share stories of how they've told a lie to make things easier for themselves, but found that the truth would have served them much better. Tuesday we will begin the winter novel Nothing but the Truth. Wednesday we continue the novel, and Thursday we break away to read non-fiction on the NEWSELA site once again. Friday we will take our old 100 Book back to the library and get a new one. 

Week of Feb. 6: Monday was another snow day. So done with winter folks! Tuesday we are learning new vocabulary to go along with the new winter novel Nothing but the Truth by Avi Wortis. The students will work in pairs with the goal of a) coming up with what they think the word means; b) looking up the meaning; c) coming up with an antonym or synonym for the word. They also will find two words they don't know the meaning of on their own for each chpt. Weds. we will read chpts. 8,9, & 10 and make journal #2.  Thurs. we will be in the lab for SBAC training to familiarize ourselves with how the tools work on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is something we've taken for granted in the past. It was found this may not be as easy as it seems! Friday we return to our 100 Books for reading and journal #2. 

Week of Feb. 13: Monday we are working on vocabulary for chpts. 11, 12, & 13. Tues. we will read chpt. 11, and most of chpt. 12 from the new novel N.B.T.T. and make journal entry 3. Weds. we continue the vocab. by doing the three components for the words in chpt. 14, 15, and part of 16. Thurs. we break away from the novel for more practice with non-fiction on the NEWSELA website. I will have the students start a NEWSELA record of their reading. I caught one looking at something else. He appeared to be engaged, but was not. I looked on the Notebook on the site and found he had done only one story/questions. Live and learn folks. In addition, the first packet of novel material is due: vocabulary for chpts. 1-13, and reading journal entries 1,2, & 3. Fri. we again will be reading from our `100 Book from the library, and we will make journal entry #3. 

Week of Feb. 20: Monday is President's Day! Enjoy your day and be thankful you're not the president ;) Tuesday we continue reading the novel Nothing but the Truth from where we ended in chpt. 12 through pg. 116 of chpt. 15. We will make journ. #4 as well. Weds. we will catch up on the vocab. through chpt. 16. Those who haven't turned in packet one should do so immediately! Thurs. we continue N.B.T.T. reading from pg. 116 through pg. 146 of chpt. 16. We will make journal entry #5. Friday we return to our 100 Book and make journal entry #4. The students are doing a good job reading the various parts in the new novel. 

Week of Feb. 27: Monday we will finish up the vocab. for the novel Nothing but the Truth. The students enjoy this novel that offers opportunities to reinforce examples of positive behavior, as well as recognize bad behavior. Tuesday we will finish up the reading of the novel and make journal entry #6. We will turn in packet 2 (vocab. for chpts. 14-19, and journ. entries 4,5, & 6) as well. Weds. we will catch our breath after the novel by reading the short story, "The Ransom of Red Chief." This was postponed from an earlier snow day.  Thurs. we return to the lab for an interim test with the Smarter Balanced Assessment stuff. Last time we familiarized ourselves with the tools available, and identified some problem areas. The students needed a reminder about quoting from text, and 'examples' from the text means more than one example! Friday we return to our 100 Books and make journal entry #4. 

Week of Mar. 6: Monday we lay out the study guide for the novel final. The final will consist of seven multiple-choice questions, some literary terms, a one paragraph summary of the novel, and some definitions of tier-two vocab. In addition, the students will give several examples of setting from the novel, and descriptions of the characters, along with characteristics. They will be required to show an example of simile and metaphor as well. There is an essay component that needs certain things in it: a)hook, b)thesis statement, c)body with support, d)conclusion. They must study for the final! Tues. We will again read from the NEWSELA website for non-fiction. Weds. and Thurs. we will work on the study guide and rough draft of the essay in preparation for the novel final which will be Monday and Tuesday. Fri. we read from our 100 Books and make journal entry #5.

Week of Mar. 13: Monday is Final day for the novel Nothing but the Truth. Students may not use the study guide! The final is one of the few times they must actually study to do well! They may use their rough draft for the essay component, and I will write the page numbers on the board for simile and metaphor. They may also use the novel during the final. Tues. we will wrap up the final with the essay final draft. Weds. we will read the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Tell Tale Heart." This is one almost all of us were exposed to in our youth, and one that students love still. Thurs. we return to the lab for our third SBAC Interim Test practice. The students are getting better at recognizing the kind of vocabulary, and difficulty level they will see on the test. Fri. is 100 Book reading day, and journal entry #7.

Week of Mar. 20: Monday we will take a deep breath after the final for N.B.T.T. and begin our Poetry unit. Students will look at terms (stanza, couplet, triplet etc., Idiom, imagery, refrain etc.) as well as some of the acknowledged masterpieces in poetry. Tues. we will break down Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain" for meaning (hint: It's about the death of Lincoln). We'll also look at the "Annabelle Lee" poem, an Edgar Allan Poe classic. The kids love the macabre aspect of this piece. Weds. we break away for the day from poetry to read non-fiction on the NEWSELA website. Thurs. we look at song lyrics as poetry. Fri. We return to our 100 Books from the library, and make journal entry 8. ONE NOTE: On the 16th I was thrilled to see the progress the students made on understanding the question and finding the evidence in our SBAC Interim stuff. I'm hopeful we will show improvement in May. 

Week of Mar. 27: Monday we will try our hand at writing poetry. I don't expect Shelley or Keats, but whether end rhyme, or free verse I expect something from the students in this artistic attempt. I've received some powerful stuff from these young people in the past, and am hopeful this time. Tues. through Fri. are conference days, but we will meet twice for each 'block' of students. Tues. the per. 2,4,6 folks will work on their templates for the book report interviews which begin right after we return from spring break! Weds. and Thurs. both blocks will go to the lab for our 4th go-round on the interimnot SBAC stuff. I am weaning them from my think- aloud strategy and use of the overhead projector to where they understand the question, then find 'evidence' in the story on their own. I then walk around the room and check their understanding. I'm becoming more hopeful each time we do this. Fri. the per. 3,5, students will work on the book report template. 

Week of Apr. 10: Monday we will begin Book Report Interviews. I've read all of the 100 Books for the 8th grade. I tired of the game some played with me of copying someone else's book report form and pretending they read the book. I have moved to an interview process. This format worked much better. Students come prepared with their Template filled out (this is about literary terms, and showing understanding, as well as quoting from text) which is their ticket to the interview. These wrap up on Weds. Thurs. we return to the lab for more training for the SBAC. The students are getting mstuuch better at identifying what the question is asking. The test is tough, and without understanding what the writers of the test want you to show evidence of, the students won't do well! Fri. is one of my favorite days of the year. Jack London's "To Build a Fire." This is the top of the food chain for imagery in literature. This gives students a clear look at what we mean when we say word choice is the spice in the recipe of good writing. 

Week of Apr. 17: Monday we will continue with "To Build a Fire." Tues. we will do a KWL activity to assess what students know of W.W.II, especially as this knowledge relates to the European conflict. Students will begin watching the film, Rise of the Nazis. Most have no idea what this critical time in world history is all about. They should know at least this much by the time we're done: the Frank family in The Diary of Anne Frareadnk had a very good reason to go into hiding. Weds. we continue the film and note-taking activity. Thurs. we go to the library to return our old 100 Book, and get a new one. We will also make journal entry #1. Fri. we continue the Rise of the Nazis & note-taking. Note: last Thurs. the students showed they are grasping what it will take to improve their performance on the SBAC. 

Week of Apr. 24: Monday we finish the film Rise of the Nazis, as pre-reading for the new novel, and turn in the notes from viewing. Students will understand there was good reason for the Frank family to go into hiding. Tues. Effie, from the E.S.D. will joint us for a literary circle activity in conjunction with the NEWSELA non-fiction reading. Weds. we begin the novel Anne Frank in play form. The students enjoy taking a role each day, and making the story come alive. Thurs. we continue the play with reading of scenes 4-5 of Act I. We do vocab. as well, and make a journal entry of the day's reading. Fri. we return to our 100 Book for independent reading, and make journal entry #2. 

Week of May 1: Monday we continue the Anne Frank play. The students enjoy this process. They participate, and it brings this tragedy to life. We read act 1 sc. 3, and make journ. entry 3. Tues. we return to the play and read act 1 sc. 4 & 5 and make journ. entry 4. Weds. we talk over test taking strategies. These include getting plenty of rest the night before, eating a good breakfast, understanding the question after reading the whole article, eliminating the obviously wrong choices, quoting evidence word for word etc. Then we read act 2 sc. 1  of the play and make journ. entry 5. Thurs. we read act 2 sc. 2 and make journ. entry 6. Fri. we break away from the play to read from our 100 Books from the library, and make journ. entry 3. 

Week of May 8: Monday we wrap up our reading of Anne Frank. The students have done a great job of reading the various roles in the play, to the point of jostling for position to sign up for them on the white board at times! We will turn in pack. 2 of the work associated with the reading. Tues. I will lay out the study guide for the kids. If they study what they have been given, they will do just fine. It's one of the few times they actually have to study and memorize. Weds. and Thurs. we will be working on the rough draft of the essay component of the final, as well as locking in the characters/characteristics, vocab. etc. in class. Fri. is 100 Book reading and journ. entry #4. Note: I was thrilled to see that the students engaged in the SBAC for L.A. last Thurs. In the past many didn't really try. I promised them a celebration in class if they did as well as the state average. I look forward to the results returning. 

Week of May 15: Monday is the final for the play. Students will be able to bring their rough draft for the essay, and may use the books, but NOT the study guide. Tues. We will do the final draft of the essay component of the final in class. Weds. we begin a focused viewing of the Ben Kingsley version of Anne Frank. The students will look for similarities as well as differences between the play and the movie. Thurs. we continue the film and two-column notes. Fri. We return to our 100 Books from the library, and make journ. entry #4.

Week of May 22: Monday we continue the Anne Frank film and focused viewing/notes activity. Tues. we finish the film and turn in the two-column notes. #Weds. we  break away from our Fri. tradition of reading independently to read our 100 Books and make journ. entry #5 (this is so Ms. Schroeder can read with her group, as she is gone this Fri.) Thurs. we look at verb mood. This is part of the Smarter Balanced stuff. Imperative; Indicative; Interrogative; Subjunctive; and Conditional. Fri. we do a quiz on what we learned about verb mood, then lay out the requirements for the Persuasive Essay next week. 

Week of May 29: Monday is Memorial Day. Remember a Veteran. Tues. we are in the lab for the Persuasive Essay. This is a formal paper double spaced, 12 font, requiring expert quote, statistics, position statement etc. Graded from rubric it prepares students for high school and beyond. Weds. and Thurs. are also lab days. Fri. we return to our 100 Book and journ. #7. 

Week of June 5: Monday through Weds. we finish our research and word-processing of the formal Persuasive Essay. The paper will not be accepted without the peer review filled out, and done in type-written format! The students all know this from the start of the project. The important thing is they understand that in MLA format, certain things have to be included. I want to see that they get this concept before they leave middle school. Thurs. we catch our breath from all of the testing/research stuff to watch the delightful movie Napolean Dynamite looking for and discussing the themes of friendship, cliques, bullying, etc. that run through the film. Fri. we have our last in-class reading day and make journ. entry #8. 

Week of June 12: Mon. we finish the movie Napolean Dynamite. The kids are enjoying the film immensely. They see the various themes that run throughout the film and understand the concept. Tues. we begin the book report interviews. Weds. it's Wild Waves day! Thurs. and Fri. we will wind up the interviews. Note: The senior class came through in their caps and gowns on Weds. the 7th. I really enjoyed that class when they were here in the building. It was great seeing them in their success as they prepare to launch in their lives after high school. I wish them the best. 

Last few days! June 20, and 21st. Mon. students will receive The Mullenator's Launch into Life List of Wisdom. For the past several years I've shared what I've learned in six decades of living on the planet. Things like: Life is about attitude; most people are good; surround yourself with people headed in the same direction as you are; have a goal etc. Tues. we pass out work from the 4th qtr. and sign yearbooks. Good luck to all of you on your life's journey! It's been my pleasure to have been a small part of your life.