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Weekly Journal

ENG 665
Fall 2015
[Note: I wrote my actual journal in a paper composition notebook, containing lots of personal
references, as well as professional ones. This is an edited version of those journal entries that
were made throughout the semester.]
August 28, 2015
I am so excited to be able to implement more grammar into the class this year. Last year we
simply ran out of time. This year the goal is to do at least one grammar lesson per month. I did
this with my Summer School class and it was really successful. Hopefully it will continue to be
so this year. This week we are starting off with the very beginning: subject/verb agreement. It is
shocking to me how many kids never learn this basic stepping-stone of grammatical usage. Many
kids hear the wrong usage at home so they assume they are speaking correctly because it sounds
right. I know that this concept is taught at the younger grades. However, I am convinced that it
is so glossed over that many kids never learn the concept. We all know that if something is really
important, you dont just teach it one time. You repeat it over and over so that even the ADHD
kids who are watching the leaves fall off the trees outside are aware and able to complete the task.
I am pretty sure this is not being done.
September 4, 2015
My students just did their first essay of the year. It was a response to a story that we read (Sheila
Mant). I want to use this as a baseline essay to see how well they can use evidence in any kind of
essay. So far the results are pretty grim. They know what they want to say. They just dont know
how to say it. I have to keep reminding myself that almost half of my students are students with
IEPs or LEPs. Many of them have definite areas where they need help. However, I have at least
learned not to grade for anything grammar or usage related. They are being graded on the fact
that they wrote an essay that basically answers the question posed to them. Some of them even
missed that mark. I have one student who, no matter what you ask her to write about, ends up
simply summarizing what she read. She does a fairly decent job of summarizing, but she doesnt
answer the prompt. I definitely need to discuss this with her. How can she get better without
September 11, 2015
I stumbled across a book last year that contains the best idea to help kids analyze what they are
reading, rather than just read for storyline. It is called Notice and Note: Strategies for Close
Reading by Beers and Probst, and it uses the concept of signposts. This is perfect for the
Argument Highway metaphor as well. My students dont get it, though. Lol. Anyway, these
signposts are various questions you should ask yourself while reading. We just taught the first
one, Contrasts and Contradictions. It has the reader ask Why is the character doing that? The
theory is that when you notice that a character is behaving differently than you expect, ask your
self that question. Then, if you can answer that question, you can be more aware of the authors
use of foreshadowing and figure out what might happen later in the book. (duh, thats the
meaning of foreshadowing.) I hope that my students can remember to do this while reading. It
has made reading things much more interesting to my own reading.
September 18, 2015
We recently taught our students about satire and irony. We just stuck to a very basic level. It is
amazing how few kids understand the basic concept, even though they use it on a daily basis.
Take hyperbole. Kids literally use it a thousand times a day (see what I did there?) and yet they

dont recognize it in other peoples conversations. They think they are being serious. It makes
me sad that kids are so sophisticated in ways that shouldnt matter to them (drugs, alcohol, sex)
yet they are so ignorant of things that should be important to them (anything that is related to
intelligence or education.) : (
September 25, 2015
Today, we as a department came up with our ELOs (not the 70s band, but Essential Learning
Objectives.) This is a great concept. We look at all of our objectives and decide which ones are
most relevant to our students. These are the things we ABSOLUTELY must teach. All other
things can be taught if we get the time. The problem is, we had 15 people in the room, most of
them incredibly disengaged. There were only 4 people who had to worry about EOCs so we were
the ones who actually participated. Then there were two others who were just throwing us a bone
and trying to help out. Another problem was that the main person who had a stake in it was being
very bossy and not willing to discuss anything. It was a very, very difficult and horrible day.
October 2, 2015
This week we concentrated on how to cite your sources that you use. We tried to do this because
we knew our first Argument Writing mini-unit is coming up. I am not sure if any of the
information was relevant to them at all. I think they just tuned us out and ignored what we said.
We will see how they cite their sources for the essay.
October 9, 2015
We began our Argument Writing pre-unit today. I noticed last year how confused so many
students were about the terms we used day after day after day. They couldnt seem to understand
the difference between evidence and elaboration. I know they are difficult concepts, but come
on! Its not that hard. So, I decided to teach the terms themselves so that kids can hopefully
understand what we mean when we say the various terms. We will see what we get. I am very
hopeful it will be better, though.
October 16, 2015
This mini-unit is dragging on. By the end of it all, we will end up taking almost three weeks of
instruction time just doing one mini-unit. That isnt what I call mini. Part of it is my decision to
front-load all of the terms. I am not sure if that was the thing to do. They started off pretty
interested and engaged. This week, however, they are kind of bored. I definitely need to change
that next year.
October 23, 2015
I am trying to figure out what I should write my article about. Maybe it should be something
having to do with what difference writing to learn makes. Everybody needs to write while
learning concepts. We all need to reflect on what is going on in our brains. I became aware of
this through kind of a fluke. My collaborating partner is participating in the OWP seminar this
school year. She met with Heather, who pointed out the faults in our mini-unit. This was then
relayed to me. At first I was offended because I had a reason why I did things the way I did.
Certain things didnt work last year so I was doing my best to fix them. Then, I realized that I
had been given a wonderful opportunity to have an outsider look at my work and critique it. The
problem was that I was getting it all second hand. I now realize the fault in last year as well as
this year was a disconnect between the annotating process and the writing process. I will need to
ask about solving that issue before our next mini-unit.

October 30, 2015

I am so excited about this class!! I havent say that I have enjoyed all of the articles and book we
are reading. But I have definitely learned a ton of information. It is definitely helping me to
rethink the way I teach. The reason I am excited is that I think we finally worked out a possible
group article. Each of us has a unique perspective and we are going to explore these in further
detail. Michael is doing the introduction and conclusion, with the research thrown in. Dustin will
be basically the control group. He will be using typical literary response essays, and ending up
with argument writing. I will be doing argument writing first, then a literary response. Colter
will be contrasting the work he did with freshmen last year and this year with his seniors that he
has this year. I cant wait to see how this turns out!
November 6, 2015
Im so disappointed. The articles that we had originally planned didnt work out. Colter was
unable to get his hands on the research we had done last year, so he had to change his portion of
the article. I guess the others didnt have the same vision that I had. You cant force others to see
what you see. I was so excited about this, and now it seems as if it will not work out. AH, well.
I am sure I have disappointed them in ways as well. I know there have been times when I was
sick and didnt meet our deadlines we had set for ourselves. I did catch up, though. I just hope
my portion of the article looks good. I know it will be a beginning step to something, I am just
not sure what at this point.
November 13, 2015
Well, I finally got around to grading the Standardized Testing essays. The ones who actually
turned it in did pretty well. I do think this is better than the first essays we did last year. Most of
them learned from the peer review and realized what they were missing from their own essay.
However, the worst thing is that only one-third of my students have turned it in. I have no idea
why this is so bad. Maybe there are too many things attached to turning it in properly (share
rough-draft with me, copy and paste final onto website, graphic organizer and peers grading
sheet all had to be turned in for it to be graded.) I dont know, I really dont. I do know that
every single one of my students wrote something. I saw them doing it. I even read over some of
it and offered suggestions to make it better. I am at a loss as to why this class isnt getting things
turned in. Very frustrated.
November 20, 2015
I just realized that we are only going to be able to get to one mini-unit this semester. Last year we
added a Relationships mini-unit halfway through Romeo and Juliet that we had them reflect
upon their own relationships as well as those of the people in the play. This year, we are
completely out of time and will not even be able to read all of the scenes. We will have to pick
and choose. This really upsets me. I love teaching this play and it has so many things to say
about relationships and lots of life-lessons. This years students will definitely miss out on some
really beneficial information. Too bad.