Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Classwork: 11/12-11/13

Here's a list of common claims about the "First Thanksgiving" (adapted from

Common Claims about the "First Thanksgiving" 
The Wampanoag brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving feast. 
The First Official Thanksgiving took place near Plymouth Rock in 1621. 
The Native Americans the Pilgrims encountered lived in tipis and traveled on horseback.
The Native Americans wore elaborate head dresses with many feathers. 
The Pilgrims shared pumpkin pie, corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes (or yams) with the Wampanoag. 
The harvest feast celebrated by Pilgrims and Wampanoags in the fall of 1621 was the first of its kind in the Americas.

DIRECTIONS: Choose 5 of the 6 claims about the First Thanksgiving to research. Investigate whether the claim is truth or myth. For each of the 5 claims, write a paragraph and explain: 1). What about the claim is true? 2). What about the claim is myth? 3). Is the claim mostly a myth or truth? Share your work with me as a Google Doc: Due end of day Monday, 11/16.

These sites will be useful, although you are free to use any others you find:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Classwork: 11/5-6

Please create a Google Doc and do A, B and C below:

A). Choose one of the following questions and respond in character (as Odd, Buddy or Sook). Your response should include details from the film "The Thanksgiving Visitor" and should be 150 words, minimum.

1). Odd, why are you so mean?
2). Buddy, why don't you tell a teacher about the bullying?
3). Sook, why don't other people care about your opinions?

B). Choose one of the following "starters" and write a paragraph in response. Be sure to include specific details from the film (100 words min.)

This reminds me of…

I still don’t understand….

I like the part where..., because….

At first I thought…, but then…

______ made me think about ______, because….

Based on the film, and what I know, I think ________...

C). During Thanksgiving dinner, Buddy accuses Odd of stealing Sook's cameo. Predict what happens next. Be sure to include specific details from the story to support your ideas. (100 words, minimum).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Classwork: 10/21-10/22 (update)

Write a letter to one of your favorite clothing brands (or a brand you often wear).

A). Re-read the letter the sample letter Kristen Lewis wrote to the "Madewell" company.
B). Find examples in her letter where she included details from the article "Why are Your Clothes So Cheap?"
C). Look at examples of corporate responsibility websites here, here and here.

In your letter be sure to:
1). Include details from the article telling what you learned about working conditions in garment factories (see Kristen Lewis' letter).
2). Explain what you learned about your company's views on corporate responsibility. Couldn't find information like that for your company? Tell the company (politely!) in your letter.
4). Explain how you want the company to help those who make our clothes around the world.
5). Follow business letter format.

NOTE: This link will be helpful to find the address of the company that makes your favorite brand of clothes. Please include your name but NOT your home address; please use the school's address-C/O Mr. Carlisto, Saranac Lake Middle School, 79 Canaras Ave., Saranac Lake, NY 12983

DUE: share one copy via Google Doc; print one copy due Monday, 10/26.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What's New in ELA Class: Update 10/10

After reading  "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" we did some collaborative group work exploring the actual town in NY that got its name from Washington Irving's story.
The benefits of having students work in groups is supported by research, and I was impressed by how well the students did with this activity.
The week of 10/12 we'll work on writing entries for author Bruce Coville's annual Halloween Story Contest.
I promised the students I'd post some videos of Coville reading his stories from previous years, so check those out here, here, and here.
Have you asked how your student's independent reading is going? I'm progressing (a bit slowly, I admit). Since school started in September I've read Game, The Sixth Gun: Volume 1 and am now reading The Book of Laney (the author of which went to the same high school I did: Go Bulldogs!)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What's New in Grade 7 ELA: Update 10/3

September was a great month; spectacular weather and good times while getting back into "school mode" after summer vacation.
Grade 7 students have been reading, (ask about their "independent reading books") writing (ask to see their journals) and participating in some excellent class discussions (ask about our conversations regarding "successful people").
As I write this on Saturday morning, I'm reflecting on this past week. We read together a version of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
Also, Jill Kennedy, library media specialist, visited class to share some book talks. The books she recommended are: The Thickety, The Jumbies, and Magonia.
This coming week we'll be doing some research about the setting of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Sleepy Hollow, (formerly North Tarrytown) NY.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two People I Want To Be Like: a poetry writing assignment.

What does it mean to be successful?   Who do you consider a success? Who do you want to be like?

1.   Choose a role model. This must be someone who you can research.  Try this site to match your interests with someone who has achieved success. Or choose someone from this site who may fit your definition of a successful person.

2. Write a poem that emulates Eve Merriam's "Two People I Want to Be Like." In your poem, include a description of the role model you researched. Incorporate details from the person's life. Also include someone you know personally. Just like in the poem, these should be two people you want to be like.

Here's an example:

That girl just laughs.
She skips around and jokes too.
I’d never seen Mr. Adams laugh or smile.
But as soon as that girl came into town,
Mr. Adams let out a smile when those two talked,
And sometimes he’d laugh if it were a nice day.
But it was only her that could create joy out of Mr. Adam’s sadness.
That man working at the restaurant is friendly like a dog.
He talks a lot.
Always got something on his mind.
Good things like jokes and stories.
Never have I heard him complain about his life and that he deserves better.
No, no, no, no, he’s not a grump.
That man loves life,
“It’s special you know,” He tells me, “You only get one.”
That man keeps talking and enjoying life.
I wish everyone were like them.
But I guess it’s better we’re not.
Then it wouldn’t be special.
I guess it’s just a rare gift from god.
Only for her and him.
*Taken from this website.

And here's an example I wrote based on

That non-violent protestor,
That sit-in organizer,
That heroic Civil Rights activist.

Your work was necessary but dangerous; you got arrested, beaten up,
And even though it made your mother mad, still you continued...

.You continued to do big things: the March on Washington, the March on Selma; all way while you were so young.

You're much older now,have the title "Congressman Lewis," but still leading, still achieving, still succeeding, standing up for you believe,
and inspiring us. All of us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sit Right Down and Write Yourself a Letter

Based on this lesson by a teacher in Canada, students will be writing a letter to their "future selves."
Ok, so it's not too far into the future (I'll be collecting these letters and returning them during the last week of school in June).
The letter should be a Google Doc and should include:
Greeting/Salutation (Dear...)
Body (my hopes, fears, dreams, intentions, goals, problems, concerns, likes, dislikes, joys, frustrations; what I like about myself; what I don’t like about myself; what I’m proud of; what I think about; what bothers me; who I am, predictions about the upcoming school year, etc.)
Closing (Sincerely, Yours Truly, etc.)

DUE DATE: Monday, 9/14. Your letter should be typed as a Google Doc and should be 500 words in length, minimum.
Here's an example of what this letter might look like:
Here's another:

Stumped on What to Read Next?

Try a book trailer...
Here are some links to sites where you can watch book trailers and hopefully get ideas on great books for independent reading:
The Children's Book Council YouTube Channel
Penguin Teen YouTube Channel
Harper Teen YouTube Channel
We'll be reading in class several times a week and students should have their independent books with them each day.
Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Happy New Year! (Stuff for Parents of Grade 7 ELA Students to Know)

September, 2015
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to grade 7 ELA class!
I’m looking forward to working with you to help your student have a great school year.
Here are some expectations I’ll share with your student related to behavior in my class:

  1. We listen respectfully when someone is talking.
  2. We arrive at class ready and prepared to learn.
  3. We show respect to each other at all times.
  4. We work to the best of our ability.

I’m hopeful that you’ll find these rules fairly straightforward and easy for your student to follow.
In addition, I’ll enforce the rules of student conduct as explained in the middle school handbook.
While the majority of assignments will be completed during class time, occasionally there will be work for the student to do at home. Typical homework assignments may include independent reading, writing/revising essays or other written assignments, etc.

While we’re on the subject of homework, here’s some that could really help me if you have the time to complete it:

“Please write an email or letter that describes your child. Include anything that you would like me to know about your child, his or her needs, your goals, etc. If there is anything you would rather share or ask me in person, we can certainly set up a conference time in the first weeks of school." 

NOTE: While I will make every effort to post reminders about assignments on the Team Whiteface page at, it may not always be possible to do so. If you have questions about homework, or anything else pertaining to ELA class, please feel free to call me at home: 354-8496 or email me at

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Who Are You?": A Portfolio Final Assignment

The assignment described below will take the place of a final exam in ELA 7 (all grade 7 students, regardless of ELA teacher, will complete this work in place of a test).

Who are You?

For your final project, you will create a portfolio that is all about YOU.  You will work on each part, one at a time, and hand in the entire project when you’re finished. There are planning pages you will complete before you begin to write certain pieces..   Be sure to complete every part of the project, as this is your ELA 7 final.  

“Who are you?” Portfolio

1). Title Page:  title of your project, your name, ELA 7 and the date

2). “My Inspiration”:  Research a person who is an inspiration to you.
Research person’s life and print at least one article
Write a short essay explaining why this person is an inspiration
Typed, 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced
2 pages
Three Body Paragraphs
Introduce the person
First reason why he or she is an inspiration
Second reason why he or she is an inspiration

3). Works Cited Page

4). “Soundtrack of My Life”:  Choose a song that means a lot to you.  The lyrics must be appropriate.  
Print the lyrics and include them in your portfolio
Write a short essay explaining why this song means so much to you
What is the title of the song?
Who recorded the song?
Who wrote the lyrics?
In your own words, explain what the lyrics are about.
If you could choose another title for the song, what would it be? 
What is the musical genre of this song?
Typed, 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced
1-2 pages

5). “Collage of My Life”:  Create a collage of pictures that represent who you are.
This will be in color
You may use pictures from the computer, but you will need a Work Cited page if you do
Two journal entries explaining the process of choosing the pictures
Journal One:  When someone looks at my collage, the three things they learn about me is...
Journal Two:  Describe a connection between one or more of your pictures, and the song lyrics you chose.
Check out this link for help finding pictures to include in your collage:


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Poetry Reflections: 4/17 and 4/20

Poetry Reflections

Please compose a 300 word minimum journal on a Google Doc that discusses, analyzes and reflects upon one poem you have read and another of your choice. NOTE: You must write a reflection for each of the two poems you choose.
In addition to choosing one of the poems we read together in class, please choose a poem from the Poetry Out Loud website.
Please include the name of the poet and the title of the poem in your journal reflection. To help give you ideas about what to include in your reflections, please consider including your response to any of the following prompts:

• I think this poem means...
• When the author said, “....”, I think he/she was trying to...
• This poem makes me feel ..... because....
• I really like this poem because...
• I really dislike this poem because... (please do not say “because itʼs boring/ difficult/dumb, etc.)
• This poem reminds me of...
• One line of the poem that really stands out for me is “...” ......because....
• One thing I noticed about that poem is... 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April is Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and we'll be marking the occasion in ELA 7.
First up this week, we'll look at "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins. We'll spend the majority of our time this month reading, writing about, and writing poetry. Check this space often for updates about our poetic endeavours.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pendragon Young Playwrights' Festival

Post winter vacation we are turning our attention to Pendragon Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival.
Earlier this school year, the students were treated to an assembly in which they viewed a performance of last year's winning play which was written by Saranac Lake High School student student, Witter Swanston.
The students will start this week by writing monologues based the theme "a very bad day."
An example of a student performing a monologue can be found here.