Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Dickensian Christmas

As we head into the holiday season the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students will spend the next couple of weeks studying Charles Dickens and his story, A Christmas Carol. A major focus of this study will be on the Victorian Era and how it impacted Charles Dickens. This was the time period of Charles Dickens. His writing was highly influenced by what he observed during this time. Students will gain an understanding of this time period through videos and readings. They will then read A Christmas Carol and find examples of where Charles Dickens wove in his feelings during this time. They will look for examples of the time period through descriptions of the setting and determine if Charles Dickens's representation is accurate. Students will also focus on symbolism and theme throughout this unit of study. Students will also participate in a web quest where they will complete a series of tasks via online links. Students will analyze the characters of A Christmas Carol and then take on the role of a character attending a Christmas party hosted by Scrooge. They will need to represent an understanding for this time period, the personality of Scrooge, and the behavior of characters during this time. This is a great tie-in to our trip to the Grand on December 9th where we will watch the play version of A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Book Study

The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will be spending the next couple of weeks working in small book study groups. Ms. Pothier will be leading a group of students reading the book, Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Mr. Walsh will be leading a group of students reading, Tex by S.E. Hinton, and Mrs. MacDonald will be leading a group reading the book, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Each of these engaging, though-provoking texts has a unique plot structure, well-developed characters, and meaningful, complex themes. Throughout this study students will participate in online books study discussion groups, small group meetings, and whole-class conversations regarding important literary elements. By the end of our book study students will know and be able to:

Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text..

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Do Skilled Readers Do?

This question could be answered in many ways. Skilled readers use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words, increase their comprehension, and overall connect with their reading. Skilled readers also understand which stance they need to take based on the genre of the material they are reading.

Recently the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students have discovered that one of the strategies that skilled readers use is to think beyond the text. Students have discovered that some information is provided right in the reading, but that other information needs to be inferred. This means that students need to use the information from the text and their own knowledge and experiences to draw conclusions about the text. By doing this students are able to connect more deeply with the text, form their own opinions/ideas, and increase their comprehension. To demonstrate their understanding of this strategy students have read short, informational articles and responded to constructed response questions where they stated a claim, supported their claim with evidence from the text and provided further commentary to support their claim. This has allowed students to begin to think and respond more critically to text.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Writing Process

Every writer approaches writing in their own unique way. They determine their topic and audience. Each writer thinks about the message they want to send, and their purpose for each piece of writing. They also think about the words they use and how what they say will impact their readers. One thing that remains the same, however, is that every writer follows a process. This process is extremely important to help writers feel organized and focused. How each writer approaches the process is unique to their own needs, but every step is evident in every writing piece! The following is a list and description of each step of the writing process:

Prewriting - This is when writers come up with their ideas and create a plan for their writing.

Drafting - This is the step where students write their draft. Writers will use their notes from the 
                 prewriting process to guide their writing. This part of the process is for the writer! 

Revising - This is the step where writers now carefully consider their audience. They attempt to see
                  their writing through the eyes of their reader. They reorganize, change words, rewrite 
                  sections, etc, if they are not clearly getting their message across or impacting their 
                  their audience the way they intend. 

Editing - This is where writers are making sure they have used correct grammar. They fix spelling,
                capitalization, punctuation, and grammar usage. 

Publishing - This is the step where writers produce a final copy that is ready for sharing.

The middle level students are discovering how important it is to follow each step of the writing process and that it is a recursive process. This means that students may have to move about the steps out of order.  For example, a student may realize that after revising they have to return to the prewriting stage to develop their ideas further.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Genres: Who knew there were so many?!

The middle level students have been studying the many literary genres that exist! Understanding these genres helps each student know which types of books they like/dislike. This will help them choose books as well as provide ways to challenge themselves as readers. Understanding individual genres also helps students understand how to approach each type of writing. Each genre has it's own specific traits. Knowing these will provide students with the information necessary to increase their ability to read and understand the texts. Author's also write nonfiction texts (persuasive writing, autobiographies, information, biographies, etc) for different reasons than author's write fiction text (realistic fiction, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, etc). Knowing this will help students set their own purpose for reading. Knowing their purpose will help them determine the strategies they will need as a reader to understand each writing piece.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Off To A Great Start!

The school year is well underway and the students seem to have adjusted nicely! In our middle level ELA class we have been focusing on team-building, creating expectations for how we can work successfully in our collaborative environment, and launching our reader's and writer's workshops! We have discussed our reading goal of becoming critical, passionate, life-long, skilled readers and have considered ways that we can intentionally plan in order to achieve our goal. Students have set reading page goals, and have discussed effective ways to choose books. We have also discussed our writing goal of becoming critical, passionate, life-long, skilled writers. Students have made a plan for how they could achieve this goal. Currently, students are working on autobiography islands and writing pieces as a creative way to share a little about who they are. These are very creative and I am excited to have them up and ready for our October parent conferences!
Here is a sample map from another classroom! (Mrs. Lopez In the Art Room)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

School Speech Contest

On April 14th twelve students from fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade participated in our school speech contest. These twelve students prepared speeches on the topic "Hunger in America". They participated in a classroom contest and placed in the top spots in these contests. These twelve students did a great job at our school contest. I am pleased to announce our three winners; Emily Gagnon (grade 5), Darren Easler (grade 6) and Trinity Montigny (grade 8). These three students then participated in the district competition at Ellsworth Elementary School on April 27th. These students did an amazing job! I hope they are as proud of themselves as I am of them!

Classroom Speech Contest Winners

All students did an amazing job preparing and presenting their speeches on the topic "Hunger in America". I am pleased to announce the nine classroom contest winners for the 6-8th grade.

6th Grade:
Darren Easler
Dallas Flood
Sean Daugherty
Gage Hammond
Gavin Coffin

Seventh Grade:
Hunter Flood

Eighth Grade:
Trinity Montigny
Makayla Fishburn
Brianna Abbott


April was such a busy, rewarding and exciting month! The students in grades 6-8 worked very hard on researching, writing, and presenting speeches for our classroom, school and district contests. Our school participates in the Modern Woodmen of America's school speech contest. Each year we are provided with a topic and guidelines for presenting speeches. Students then participate in a classroom contest where the top finishers move on to a school contest. The top three finishers of this contest move on to a district competition. This year we competed with Ellsworth, Lamoine, and Hancock. The topic this year was "Hunger in America". This topic proved to be challenging, but in the end the 6-8th grade students prepared wonderful speeches. During this unit students learn how to narrow a large topic, choose topics based on their audience, research information, and write this research into their own words. They also learn how to add emotion to their writing. They also study the skills of public speaking. They focus on their tone, rate of speaking, pronunciation and enunciation. Many students begin this unit with apprehension, but by the end most are so proud of their work!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Speech Contest

How can I get people to listen to what I have to say? This is the question that the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will be attempting to answer as they begin working on a speaking and listening unit that correlates with a national speaking competition. Each year our school participates in the Modern Woodmen of America's speech contest. The students in grades 4-8 write and present their own unique speeches about a provided topic. This year the topic is: Hunger in America. To begin this unit of study our class had a discussion about what we would have to do if we were going to prepare and present speeches that people would listen to. The following is a list of some of the things the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students said:

write an engaging lead
know your audience and appeal to them (choose a good topic)
stick to a central idea (focused topic)
add voice and personality
keep facts to the most important
use surprising or new information
give the audience something to think about
be enthusiastic
speak clearly
be aware of posture

As we work on this unit students will learn the importance of narrowing a broad topic, asking questions to guide research, locating important information, preparing organized writing pieces, writing powerful leads and conclusions, how to choose a high-interest topic for an audience, the many skills necessary to produce quality, effective writing pieces, and the traits of skilled speaking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



How do our relationships with people, places, objects, and pets shape us? This is the question that the 6-8th grade students have been and will continue to explore as they create and study memoirs in both poetry and prose formats. Memoirs focus on specific moments from our past. These moments may be happy, sad, exciting, or fearful. Regardless of our emotional responses, our experiences (moments) shape us. The 6-8th grade students have been reading and analyzing a variety of memoirs written as poems and short stories. Students have created a list of qualities that create an effective memoir. This list includes but is not limited to: using the first person point of view, having one central purpose (theme), using dialogue, staying on topic, using figurative language, and providing purposeful details.