Careykid's Blog

A High School English Class Blog

Fidget Toys

Apparently, there is much debate among educators and parents about the usefulness of these devices called “fidget toys.” Some claim that they assist students in concentration, reduce stress and help them focus. Others argue that they are mere distractions and the latest “fad” item for kids.

English 9 & English 9H: Monday and Tuesday, May 15th, 16th

I thought it might be neat for the students to research points on both sides of the issue and weigh in with their own ideas in the form of a live debate this week.

First, I showed two news videos in class, one that discusses the positive attributes of fidget toys and another that covered the distraction aspect of them. Then, I assigned an article for them to read about a school in Illinois that has banned the devices. You may be able to access the article by clicking on the link.

Students are required to find TWO sources (legitimate ones) that support their side in the issue. They need to be able to CITE their sources during the debate.

How you can help: Have a discussion about these devices with your student. Do you feel that spinners, cubes, and other objects are distractions or do they work as attention-focusing aids?


This Week in English Classes

Hello Again!

Just a quick note to let you in on what’s happening in English classes this week.

English 9H: Students are finishing up their group presentations based on a quote from the book Great Expectations. All students should have finished the reading the week after April break. For the rest of this week, both English 9 and 9H will be engaging in the same activities.

English 9 & 9H: all students did a quick, ten-question grammar quiz on Monday. After doing some brainstorming/pre-writing exercises, all students are doing an in-class process writing (“hot to” do something) today, Wed., May 10. When they’re done, they have to share their instructions with another students who will evaluate whether or not the language and organization of ideas make sense and can be followed as directions. Thursday during class time, we will attempt to test out some of the processes that students wrote about.

On Friday, May 12, all students will be taking a spelling and “vernacular” (every day use) vocabulary quiz during class. We’ve done a lot of practice with grammar lately.

How you can help: Ask your 9H student if he/she finished the research paper and what grade they’ve earned on it. Ask your student what their current lexile (reading level) score is and what he or she likes to read. Ninth grade students should have a lexile of 1035. Most students were above that. If your student scored below, then we will plan some ways for them to strengthen their reading skills.

Research Revisited

Hello Parents!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here because, as the year progresses, the expectations are that students will become more mature and self-directed, thus eliminating the need for me to be in such frequent contact with the parents.

To bring you up to date: In addition to regular readings, some poetry reading, writing and reciting, the students continued to work on their research projects. I am now busy reviewing and grading the research outlines and works cited pages. It is a really long process. I have occasionally had students return to their research folders to revise errors or re-format in-text citations. My goal is for each student to have learned and engaged in the research PROCESS, including the pre-writing phase. I admit, getting some students to outline was a challenge.

How you can help: Please encourage your student to ask for extra help or come to writing lab (before school, 7:15-7:40am)to get some individualized instruction about research, reading habits and test-taking strategies.

Your students have been exceptionally helpful in being patient about a year-long study I’ve been doing with vocabulary and language. They have provided me with valuable feedback that I have used to modify and revise the types of tests I give. I hope to eventually use the data from this year to develop some better ways to assess students’ English language skills. PLEASE NOTE: Every single vocabulary test is open to revision in order for students to improve their grade. If your teen is unhappy with vocab/language grades, then they have not taken the opportunities given them to revise!!

Explorations and Storytelling

The SearchEnglish 9 – This week, the students have focused on coming up with topics to explore for our research unit. We will spend time focusing on the PROCESS of research. That includes: generating ideas, conducting inquiries, developing a thesis, finding academic sources to support the thesis, constructing a works cited page, outlining and properly formatting in-text citations. It’s a lot, but it’s broken down into workable parts. I am attaching the week’s class plan and ALL class materials have been attached to a post in Google classroom for students to access.

How you can help: Students were advised to discuss their research topic with adults to get some generalized information and perspective on it. Please ask your student about the topic he/she might be exploring for this unit.

English 9H The students in honors have begun a narrative writing unit. We started by experimenting with descriptive writing about setting, then moved on to character. The setting writing prompt involved giving each student a picture of a natural or landscape setting and having them write about the scene. Students also wrote about themselves in terms of character, then had a classmate do a characterization of them. We had some fun reading aloud the descriptions students wrote about one another.

On Thursday we will resume our student-led, research seminar discussions. Friday may be either a “Wordplay” activity or writing day.

How you can help: Please remind students that every week they need to prepare for their peers’ research seminars by reading the assigned articles and answering the questions posted on Google classroom. Each Wednesday I post the materials for the following week’s presentations. Many students procrastinate and are turning in the assignments late. Since it is now the third quarter I will be taking off points for late submissions of assignments. Some students are also losing points on the assignments because they are not being detailed enough in their responses.

Halfway There!!

Keep Going!

Keep Going!

Hello Again. I’m finally finding the time to get back to this blog and make notifications.

We have rounded the corner of the halfway point of freshmen year for your students. I love that the image above shows a sign asking people to please “stay on the trail.” I want your students to do the same.

In both English 9 and English 9H we have spent the last few weeks reading John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” Students worked on close reading exercises and analyzed key scenes from the novel. Our final assessment for the book is a performance task where students conduct a trial and act as prosecutors, defense or jurors in the case of the State of California v. George Milton. The book ends with George killing Lennie, so students must use evidence in the text that they feel will either help convict George of a crime or defend his actions. The students all prepared for the trial during class time last week and are conducting the trial this week. Due to Thursday’s snow day, we will be finishing the trials with closing statements next week.

English 9H – Students have continued to engage in their weekly research seminar discussions and introduced so many fascinating topics of research and discovery. The Save the World project has many great facets to it. One of the areas where students have struggled is with the written portion. I have provided classes for Works Cited pages and format, In-Text Citations, Outlining/Organizing ideas and other instructions relative to the written essay. Some students are demonstrating that they do not listen or use the resources that I post to Google Classroom. As a result, they are not achieving the grade they think they deserve on the research essay.

Students are encouraged to come to Writing Lab any day of the week from 7:15 – 7:40 or to make an appointment to meet with me during a study hall or half the lunch period. I have been meeting with students and helping them individually when asked, so there is no reason why anyone should get a failing grade on the essay, yet some students have turned in sub-par work with plagiarized passages (no in-text citations) or incorrectly formatted Works Cited pages.

How you can help: Please ask your student to seek help if they need it BEFORE their paper is due.

REMINDER: All students are welcome to seek extra help by coming to Writing Lab any day of the week. I open Room 36 by 7:15 and am available to assist with revisions, writing tasks for English or any other class or just to answer questions. Students earn extra credit for the quarter when they indicate they’re “Self-Directed” learners by showing up to get help when they need it. I use a sign-in log to keep track of who comes in, what they work on and how often.


What’s Going On??

January - Yay!

January – Yay!

Hello Parents!

We are back and on track again after the  holiday break. You may have heard that I declared January “National Hoodie Month,” and with the cold temperatures earlier this week, I think you can understand what motivated my decision. I will wear a hoodie every day this month.

Both English 9 and 9H are reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. It’s a short novella about two friends working on a ranch in California in the 1940’s. I posted a pdf of the book on Google Classroom at the beginning of last week so that students can read online or on their phones if they don’t have a copy of the book at home with them. This week we got through Chapter 3 and students answered questions about it. The questions were designed to have students read more carefully, then go back to the text to find information that would support their responses. The question sheets for Chapters 1, 2 and 3 will be attached to this post. Here: OMAM Chp1OMAMChp2-docxomamchp3-docx-1

As of Friday, Jan. 13th, students should have completed the Chp. 3 question sheet and turned it in.

English 9H students are continuing their research projects.

How you can help: Please remind your student(s) to do the required seminar discussion preparation EACH WEEK. In addition to their own research they are supposed to be reading about TWO of their classmates topics each week in order to participate in class discussions every Thursday. Students should also be working independently to collect and read material to support their own research topics. In class this week I showed students how to outline their thesis and arguments for their research paper and showed them the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) website that I recommend as a resource for formatting citations and works cited pages. Please call or email me if you have any questions or concerns as your student works on this project.

This Week in English!

Hello Parents:

Here is what is happening this week so far.

English 9 – Yesterday and today students read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” Today we had a literature discussion about the story and reviewed difficult vocabulary and looked at meaning within the text. Any students who were not in class may access the text through Google classroom or here. I have also attached to classroom and here, the questions to be answered by anyone not in class on Tuesday, 12/13.

Short story:

Questions: Poe Story Questions

English 9H: Once again, students did a progress report where they discussed their research with classmates, got suggestions, offered advice and made note of what they plan to do next in the process. We had a brief discussion about time management and students were told that they should plan on doing work on their research project EVERY DAY or NIGHT. Even if it’s only 10 – 15 minutes of work researching, reading, annotating or taking notes, students should work on it every day. Do not wait for me to post reminders here on Google Classroom.

One of the goals of this project is to teach students how to handle larger, complex, long-term assignments. They do that by breaking down the project into smaller increments and accomplishing goals toward it every day.

How you can help: Please REMIND students they should access last week’s post on Google Classroom and read the articles for their class period’s research seminars. They must turn in their answers to the questions for EACH article by 9:00AM, Thursday, Dec. 15th or it will be marked late and they will lost points.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

English 9: Students in each class voted on, chose sides and began researching debate topics. The Period 3 group has a brief reading assignment posted to Google Classroom. The Period 4 and Period 7 groups worked on finding support for their arguments for each side of the issues they chose for their debates. The debates will begin tomorrow.

How you can help: Ask your student about the topic he or she will be debating. Which side did he/she choose? What have they found to support their point of view?

English 9H: Today, students worked in small groups again to share ideas and offer research feedback. The progress report sheet looks exactly like last week’s sheet, but the questions are different, so please read carefully and provide detailed responses. I have attached today’s progress report sheet to this post. Research Progress Report 2

The progress reports serve as benchmarks along the pathway of your research. The questions are designed to have you think carefully about your project and to seek assistance where you need it.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 7th, I will be posting the next TWO articles and questions for next week’s research seminar discussions. Please be sure that you are ready for THIS WEEK’S discussions by reading the articles posted last week and answering the questions HERE on Google Classroom and submitting them for credit.

How you can help: Please, please, please encourage your student to set up an appointment with me for one-on-one instruction about their research topic, to continue searching for more information about it, and to keep track of their sources by adding them to the bibliography/works cited draft they set up in the library and stored in their research folder on Google drive. Some students have not met to go over their research or even to discuss problems they’ve encountered with it! Some students have very few sources in their folders. The due dates for their work on this will creep up before they know it.

Monday, December 5, 2016




Hi Folks! As I posted in Google Classroom to all of my classes today, Happy Monday and Yay! It’s snowing!

Every English class had a vocabulary/language assessment today. As usual, students were not required to study for it, they are given most of the definitions and then must respond to questions about how the words are used in context or about the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb).

Students in all classes also were given a non-fiction reading to do on NEWSELA. I am attaching the link to the article as part of this post. Each of the classes were given the same article and two questions to answer as part of the assignment. I will attach the questions here as well.

How you can help: Please remind students to do the assignment. English 9H students also have TWO important readings to do this week to prepare for a student-led research seminar discussion on Thursday. BOTH articles AND accompanying questions were assigned last week.

English 9H Parents/Guardians: Please encourage your student to make an appointment for a help session with me regarding their research project. Some students reported having trouble with their research topics and searches, but they have not taken the time to come in for extra help. I have posted appointment sheets and my available time periods on the board at the front of the classroom!! I will be calling some parents this week about my concerns for some students who are already behind in their work on this project.

Article Questions 12/5

Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

English 9 – Today we went on a vocabulary scavenger hunt. Students used their independent readings to find, document and define difficult words from their books. Each student had to find three difficult words from the text they’re reading and follow the instructions on a sheet I’ve attached to this post. Vocab Scavenger Hunt

The sheets were turned in at the end of the class period. The results will be used to compose their next vocabulary challenge.

English 9H – Over the weekend I thought about it and decided that our best course of action for the research project is to move back ALL of the due dates, both oral discussion and research papers, by ONE WEEK. The holiday created a much needed pause for all of us and the sense I have been getting is that many of the students are stressed out. The purpose of the research project is to show them how to conduct research, how to work more independently and how to organize their information into a coherent report.

Today, in addition to showing students some strategies for rewording their search criteria, I spent some time addressing individual issues that have come up with regard to the research project. Then, students in class worked in groups to assist one another with suggestions and feedback on the research progress so far. Some students found themselves in the position of being told by their peers that they have to get to work and get some more research done!

I am attaching to this post the new due dates for students in each class AND the progress activity sheet done in class today. Any student who was absent should fill out the parts needed to be answered individually.




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