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Phew! What we've been up to!

I feel like I'm running a marathon until December 20th!

Here's what we've been up to in class lately-

Edgar Allan Poe

My 8th graders just finished up with Author's Purpose, and are moving on to study Short Stories, specifically Edgar Allan Poe. I'm differentiating a bit by having my ET students read/listen to "The Tell-Tale Heart" and then they are doing a close reading of a section of the text. They are also examining mood and tone, since they already knew story elements from last year. We spent a day reviewing the story elements in their ISN's from 7th grade, which I had kept over the summer (I knew it was a good idea to hold on to them for them!) and then we were able to move on, which saved us some time!

Then my students will read "The Black Cat" and create a mind map using the Heinemann Note and Notice signposts to guide them. I was completely inspired by The Creativity Core  and I'm excited to see how this one turns out. Usually I have students do mind maps completely on their own, but I wanted to see how it turns out when they have a tiny bit of guidance. Also, my students will be working on this while the other half does Writer's Workshop, so they have to be able to work independently. I've noticed that some students, especially my ET students, can get very "stuck" when there are no guidelines, and it actually makes it harder for them.

Epistolary Writing Projects

I am so excited about this project! We just recently finished up our narratives, and I needed an activity that would still be narrative in nature, without making them write yet another paper. In came the Epistolary Writing Project to save the day! The Epistolary Writing Project requires students to tell a story through documents and artifacts. I told them about an example from my past. I found a set of love letters that my Grams saved. They worked at the same company, and all the notes, cards, and letters combined to tell a story of their relationship!

The entire lesson that prompted this project can be found here. I was short on time, so I chose to do Ordeal By Cheque, which the students went nuts for, as well as the Reuben Bright poem. Students have been scrambling to Michael's ever since to prep for their work, buying Smashbooks, Scrapbooks, File Folders, Posters, and Tri-Folds. I can't wait to post pictures of this project! I even bought my own Smashbook to make one of my own. I also bought a baby smashbook since it was on clearance (feeling optimistic!) :)

Since I don't have any pictures of a smashbook, I found this one at Inspiration Everywhere that I just love!

I've do another Epistolary project every year with the Holocaust journals, and it is always my favorite project to look at and grade!

Writer's Workshop'll just have to wait until tomorrow to hear about this one. Because I am (a) so excited about it that it deserves its own post and (b) I want to take pictures tomorrow :)

On a personal note, I'm doing a 1 month purge in our house in an attempt to be more minimal. Going in I know that there are two areas I'm going to struggle with the most: Kitchen Stuff and Clothes/Shoes. Here's my purge from yesterday!

I started with 4 of these bins, 5 bags of random makeup, and a bunch of stuff that was just hanging out in random drawers. I have it pared down to one makeup bag, plus one bag with "extras" that I wouldn't use everyday, one tiny tray with my Benefit benetints and lip glosses, and one bin with hair and face wash! Do you go through "purges" in your house?


  1. Way to go on the purge!!! I keep craft stuff around 'cus I figure I can use it at school :/

    I am interested in the smash-book idea...what is that? I'll check out the website. The only smash-book I know of is the one from Mean

    Tales of Teaching in Heels

    1. It's like a scrapbook, but you are just supposed to paste things into it rather than spending all the time to cut out all the cutesy stuff you usually have to do. Maybe I should make a replica "Burn Book" as my model... just kidding, I like my job :)

  2. Funny... I just organized all my bathroom organizers on Sunday and threw away a bunch of things I never use. I'm a good purger, but I'm still always amazed at how much junk I accumulate.

    Are you watching the Bears game? I'm sure glad I'm watching from the warmth of my house instead of Soldier Field. Every time I see their breath, I snuggle a little closer in my blankets!

    1. Oh my gosh, I know! It's SO cold outside! I ran out to Target to get a few things, and my car said 5 degrees. This stinks!

  3. It is great that you share with us such information, for me such things are very helpful.

    Accommodation in world


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