Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dickens/"Christmas Carol" Research

Students will work on this research assignment, related to Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", this week:

1). Go to the "Team Whiteface HW Page"; open the attachment in the "Mr. Carlisto" section; copy and paste the questions for your assigned topic onto a Word document (be sure to add your name at the top of your document).

2). Research and find the answers to as many of the questions as you can; type your answers onto the word document that you created.

3). Create a works cited page using Noodle Tools.

4). These links may be helpful in your research (you may use others):

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Will the Future Hold?

We have been analyzing different views of what the future looks like.
First, we discussed the bleak future that is portrayed in the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut.
We compared that depiction with the fantastic, flying-cars world of the 1960's TV series The Jetsons.
Next, we'll read an article in which top scientists predict what life will be like in the year 2113.
What will be in our immediate future in ELA class? After Thanksgiving, we'll tackle Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fairness, Equality, Sci-Fi and Trophies

We spent last week exploring the issue of homelessness, reading an article called "I Was Homeless" and watching a clip of a story of 60 Minutes: "Hard Times Generation".
We discussed the matter in terms of "fairness" and "equality" especially in light of statistics like this.
But does "equality for all" mean equal outcomes for all or rather equal opportunity under for all?
This theme is central to the story we'll read this week, "Harrison Bergeron", by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
We'll follow that short story with a non-fiction article which lays out the debate, "Should Everyone Get a Trophy?"

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What We're Reading

Grade 7 students have been reading a lot.

Here are some books that they've said they liked in October:

Change Up: Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Warriors: The New Prophecy by Erin Hunter
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Year We Disappeared by Cylin and John Busby
Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett

October Recap

Where did October go?
Here are some spooky, Halloween related activities that we did in class this past month:
  • We read "The 11:59" by Patricia McKissak, a short story about the "death train" of Pullman Porter lore.
  • We wrote the ending of a Halloween story by author Bruce Coville.
We also marked the anniversary of Super Storm Sandy and wrote about the independent reading we'd done in October.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Beginning to Look Like Halloween...

in ELA 7, at least when you consider the play we've been reading this week.
It's called "The Dead Rising" and it tells the story of Mercy Brown, the alleged New England Vampire.
I've suggested a field trip to visit the cemetery where Mercy is buried, but I'm not getting my hopes up!


It's time for another extra credit assignment.
Students who wish to earn extra credit can complete the following by Tuesday, October 15:
1). Visit the interactive map of vampire incidents in New England.
2). Choose three separate locations and read about the vampire incidents that occurred there.
3. After you "get the gist" of each incident, write a paragraph for each in which you retell or paraphrase what happened.
4. Type your assignment.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What's Up? (week of 10/1)

Here's "what's up" in ELA class this week:
We've been reading narrative nonfiction in the form of an article called "Dying to be Strong" about the dangers related to steroid and performance enhancing drug use.
Also, we heard from several students who shared books they've been reading lately. Among the titles that students shared were Scorpia Rising, Thirteen Reasons Why, and Orleans.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Notes From Saturday: The Week Ahead

But first, a look back...
The last full week of September saw our class working through language arts exercises (here and here) on verb tense and apostrophes.
We ended the week with a writing assignment based on the independent reading that students have been doing (I wrote a model based on Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann).
Mrs. Kennedy came to class for book talks this week and shared some science fiction titles:
The Golden Hour, The Long Earth, Life We Knew It, Coraline, World Shaker, Flip, The Boxes, and Cinder.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Notes From Saturday: The Week Ahead

...But first, a look back.
We read an abridged version of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer this past week and we also continued independent reading.
This week we'll begin with some grammar, as we work through an activity called "The Lazy Editor". Among the things also on tap is a visit from Mrs. Kennedy for book talks. She's planning to share some science fiction titles.
I'm not sure if any of these are among the books she'll discuss, but here's a list of "9 Best Science Fiction Novels for Young Adults Besides Mockingjay". (I'll post a list of books that Mrs. Kennedy shares later this week).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Extra Credit: 9/16

Students can earn extra credit this week by answering questions about the video "Malala Returns to School" (Watch the video here by clicking "video" in the section on "Malala the Powerful" resources).
After watching the video, students will answer the "Video Discussion Questions" (you can print them or I will provide a copy in class).
For extra credit, students must answer the questions in complete sentences.
This extra credit assignment is due Thursday, 9/19.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Notes From Saturday: The Week Ahead

In ELA class this week, students will continue the group work that they started on Friday, which is working together to answer some close reading questions about the article "Malala the Powerful."
There will be an extra credit opportunity tied to a short video about Malala returning to school (which will be posted on this blog later).
We'll also look at identifying a text's central ideas and supporting details.
Book trailers have been popular with the students so far, and I'll share one for 3:15 Season One: Things That Go Bump In The Night by Patrick Carman.
Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Malala: A Crusader

We're tackling some narrative non-fiction this week in class, by reading together the article "Malala the Powerful", about a brave Pakistani girl who stood up to the Taliban.
The students have also begun their ongoing independent reading assignment. We spend some time reading independently in class each day, and several times each week students will be required to read at home.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 1 Summary

Last Friday we completed a lesson on the use of "then" vs. "than." Here's what "Grammar Girl" says about the topic.
The book buzz continued as well, and we viewed trailers for Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann and The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet by Tom Angleberger.
First up this week, we'll talk about how to choose "just right books" for independent reading.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

... and away we go!

Day 1 is in the books, and it was a great one.
I shared with the students some of the books in my TBR pile, and asked if they thought they could infer anything about me based on the books I plan to read: Boy Nobody and The Enemy.
Independent reading is a big part of what we do in seventh grade ELA. You can read about the benefits of independent reading (often called sustained silent reading) here.
For those visiting this blog for the first time, I try to update as frequently as possible during the school year to provide you a chance to learn more about the things that are happening in ELA class. Comments are welcomed!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Final Exam Info

The final exam for ELA 7 will be on Tuesday, June 18, and will include content from our last unit of study (it will not be a comprehensive exam with matierial from the entire year).
To prepare, students should familarize themselves with the following readings which were given to them in class: "Stage Fright" by Mark Twain, "My Papa, Mark Twain" by Susy Clemens, "Bart Simpson and Tom Sawyer: Then and Now."
Additionally, students will read a short excerpt from a biography of Mark Twain, a timeline of Twain's life, and the following article which appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise ("Playing Twain").
The exam will consist of twenty short answer and multiple choice questions and one essay (the draft of which the students began to write in class).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Reading

Here a two titles that I shared in class. They are on my "to be read" list as I plan my summer reading.
Rotters by Daniel Kraus; you can watch a book trailer here.
Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley; here is a trailer.

A student shared her summer reading list yesterday with me yesterday:

Artemis Fowl
Mary Bird
Little Women
Charlotte's Web
Inside Out and Back Again
Crazy Horse
Clementine: Friend of the Week

What's on your summer reading list? Send me some suggestions in the comments section.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry Recitation

I've asked the students to memorize a poem and recite it to the class (due Thursday, May 16). There are many benefits for students to memorizing poems.
To give students an example of what a recitation looks like, we watched this video together.
I also challenged the students, as an option, to create videos similar to those done for My Favorite Poem Project.
We viewed this video about Theodore Roethke's "The Sloth" together in class.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Poetry Month Assignment #2

Technically it's no longer National Poetry Month, but we're not quite done with the genre yet.
Today we'll begin an assignment that involves choosing a poem to memorize and recite to the class.
Students will make their selections from this website.
More details to follow!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Poetry Month Continues

We've been reading and discussing poetry this month, and you might be interested in knowing some of the poems we've covered together in class:
"High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee
"Filling Station" by Elizabeth Bishop
" Deserted Barn" by Larry Woiwode
"The Women's 400 Meters" by Lillian Morrison
"Tennis in the City" by Frank Higgins
We studied personification and onomatopoeia (and sang along to this catchy song!)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Standardized Tests Begin Next Week

The NYS ELA assessment will be administered next week (April 16-18).
If you'd like to see sample of what the questions on the grade 7 assessment might look like, you can find it here.
The Commissioner of Education, John King, recorded a video message for parents about the tests.
Some students report feeling increased levels of anxiety around state test time. On the Team Whiteface homework page, you can find a PDF document with tips for helping kids cope with test based stress.
Finally, if you believe like I do that New York State has put too much emphasis on standardized testing, you can sign this petition and let them know that learning is more than a test score.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This Week in "Local History Project" News

Next Monday, the students will work with author Liza Frenette as our "local history" project rolls on. Liza will be talking about characterization and working with students on improving drafts of their play scripts based on local history.
To get an idea of what the scripts will look like, here's one I wrote based on some research I did about Christy Mathewson and his interest in botany.

(The interior of a sleeping porch at the Santanoni Apartments in Saranac Lake, NY. It is early in the spring. It is nighttime, and the room is lit partially by moonlight streaming through the large porch windows and also by a small lamp on a table by a bed. In the bed is CHRISTY MATHEWSON of the NY Giants, one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He is sleeping. Standing by his bedside is DR. EDWARD PACKARD, Director of the Trudeau Sanatorium and Christy’s personal physician. Standing by Dr. Packard is a NURSE).

DR. PACKARD: Look at him lying there, nurse. It’s hard to believe that this sickly man is the world’s best baseball player, the great Christy Mathewson!
NURSE: Yes, Dr. Packard, it’s very sad. But he’ll get excellent care here in Saranac Lake. TB is a terrible disease, but we’ve cured so many people. At least he has a fighting chance here.
NARRATOR: The cure for Tuberculosis patients like Christy involved resting in fresh air, moderate exercise and keeping the patient’s spirits up. And for Christy, there was one more thing… EXTREME BOTANY!
CHRISTY: (writing excitedly in a notebook) There’s the harebell! (looks at the ground and points) And look: hop clover!
NARRATOR: No one can say for sure how he first caught the “botany bug” but Christy became obsessed with finding wildflowers and writing their names in his notebook. His list would eventually grow to include 13 dozen species!
CHRISTY: (cranes neck to peer into the distance) Is that, yes it is! Sneezewort! Score!
NARRATOR: One day, Christy’s teammates “IRON MAN” JOE MCGINNITY and DAVE WILLIAMS arrived in Saranac Lake to visit Christy and cheer him up. What they found surprised them very much.
CHRISTY: Guys it’s great to see you, and thanks for coming all this way, but I’m just on my way out. I’ve had a report that some day lily was spotted in the backyard of the Bogie Cottage on Franklin Street!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Project Time!

Students will be working over the next several weeks on a project that involves the cooperation of Historic Saranac Lake, Pendragon Theater, Mark Kurtz, and others.
More details in an upcoming post...
Today, students will continue research in the library, using the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki. Among the topics students will investigate are:

People for 7th Grade Projects

(stars indicate the person had a connection to the Helen Hill neighborhood)

* Adelaide Crapsey -- a young talented poet whose life was cut short by TB. Wrote some beautiful poetry while here. One poem is about Pine Ridge Cemetery. She cured in Helen Hill

* Eddie Diamond -- brother of the gangster Legs Diamond. Cured at the Altavista hotel on Franklin Ave., now burned down.

* Jack Kenney -- cured on Franklin Ave. On wiki are some letters he wrote while curing there and photos of him.

* Eva Long -- cured at Prescott. On wiki are pages from a scrapbook of hers and some great photos.

* Mary Prescott -- a philanthopist, owner of the Prescott house. A lot about her on the wiki

* Daniel Riddle -- came as a patient, worked for Dr. Trudeau, built Franklin Manor on Franklin Ave., which later became a convent.

* Jack Carrier -- stayed on Franklin Ave., we have some photos from albums of his

Béla Bartók -- We have a book called “My Father” that has some letters from him to his son written while here. The cottage where he stayed is over by Kiwassa / Riverside Drive. We show the cottage to the public.

Isabel Smith -- cured at San for 17 years, wrote an autobiography called “Wish I Might”, Students could take passages from it to present in her own words. There are some beautiful photos taken of her here online (I can send a link) and HSL can lend the school her autobiography.

Norwegian Sailors -- stayed all over town. On wiki are some good photos of some of them and letters written in their own words. Their graves are in Pine Ridge Cemetery with an interesting marker in Norwegian.

Beanie Barnet -- a patient at the San. who launched a publication that would ultimately sell four million copies called “Trotty Veck Messages”

John Black -- The room at the lab was built for him. We have letters that he wrote while in the war and photos of him here. He cured at 3 addresses in town, none on Helen HIll but one on Church St.

Jack Dalton -- a young patient at the Sanatorium and a poet. We have some of his poems on the wiki.

Walker Percy -- a doctor who cured at the San who became a famous novelist

Norman Bethune -- a doctor who cured at the San who became a hero of the Maoist Revolution in China.

Martha Reben -- cured at the San and then in the woods with ADK guide Fred Rice. Wrote bestselling books about her experience.

Robert Louis Stevenson -- cured here at the height of his fame as one of greatest American writers. The house is a museum.

Albert Charles Badasarian -- cured here, ran a shoe shine stand downtown, was friends with author W. Somerset Maugham, worked for WNBZ radio.

Richard Ray -- cured at San and Ray Brook. Took photos and kept a journal. We have a book of his photos and notes while curing.

Ed Worthington -- cured at San, made radios for himself and other patients to pass the time, had many neat hobbies, taught at the Study and Craft guild. Married a patient and had a child they raised here.


- Bootlegging

- People settled in SL after the cure and established businesses, sometimes making a living from a craft they learned in occupational therapy (example: Temming)

- Wartime (WWI and WWII)

- see the thematic index for links to pages on wiki that relate to other themes and issues in American history such as immigration, the flu pandemic, the labor movement, etc.

- see the list of reminiscences and oral histories at for more first hand photos and accounts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Longer School Day, Longer School Year?

In class we've begun to have very interesting discussions about a proposal to lengthen the school day or year or both.
After reading an Achieve 3000 article about this topic, we began to explore how Governor Cuomo's idea to expand learning in New York could play out.
We discussed how other public officials like President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan support expanded learning time as well.
Students have expressed their own opinions, while also considering other's views about the pros and cons of altering the traditional school calendar.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dog Doodles

Tonight's homework assignment is a favorite of mine: 3-2-1.

I ask students to write three questions about what they read, write two comments, and draw one doodle.

As we're continuing to read Jack London's The Call of the Wild, most of the doodles will be dog related.

Here are some doodles from the last time the students worked on this assignment. Can you guess which parts of the story these doodles portray?

How about this one?

And this?
And finally...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dog Books

As we work through Jack London's The Call of the Wild, I've challenged the students to choose another "dog book" for independent reading.
Mrs. Kennedy answered the "call" with a bunch of book recommendations. Among them:

And these:

Seize the Storm by Michael Cadnum
The Underneath by Kathi Appeit
Listen! by Stephanie Tolan
Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stand with Malala

My friend, Joi Chimera, is a sixth grade teacher in Western NY.
She and her classes are very interested in promoting awareness of social justice issues. Her latest effort is a class blog, and she has invited our students to get involved by commenting on a blog post about Malala Yousafzai, an 11 year old advocate for girls' education in Pakistan.
I've invited our grade 7 students to visit Joi's blog and leave a comment. Here's hoping we can take part in this important discussion!