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Thursday, October 30: Lexile Testing October 30, 2014

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Students all took the SRI Lexile test today to check their reading level. After they finished the testing, they began preparing for our Socratic Seminar on Monday by reading and annotating this article.

HW: Finish annotating “Free Speech Isn’t Free” by Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday, October 28 and 29 October 30, 2014

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Tuesday, students had a day to finish working on their Dangerous Words essays.

Wednesday’s here’s what we did:

1. Answer the eight reflection questions in complete sentences on a separate sheet of notebook paper.

  1. What is a thesis statement?
  2. How did the tone of this essay differ from the tone of most essays you write in English or Language Arts?
  3. When you’re using the internet for research, how can you tell if you the website you’re using is a reliable source?
  4. What was the most difficult part of the research, analysis, or writing process? Why?
  5. How does this assignment compare to other English writing assignments you have done either this year or previous years? Were you more motivated? Did you feel your writing improved? Did you work harder on it? Or was it about the same? Why do you think that was?
  6. What about your research process or writing are you most proud of? Why?
  7. For this essay, I didn’t give you a strict formula for organization. How did you like not having a clear structure? Did you enjoy the freedom? Did you feel you had to think harder about organization? Or did you feel like your writing suffered because you didn’t know how to organize yourself?
  8. How did this project affect the way you think about or use language (ie “dangerous words)? Have you acted, spoken, or thought differently since you’ve started researching your word?

2. We brainstormed as a class some ideas for spreading awareness about word use.

3. We took vocab notes and played SAT word charades.

HW: None

Friday, October 24: Dangerous Words Workshop October 24, 2014

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Today was an amazing wonderful time! We met in writer’s workshop groups based on our words. If you weren’t here, finish your essay at home and then follow all the instructions here: Dangerous Words Workshop.

HW: Begin making edits to your essay based on feedback in class. Final draft is due on Wednesday. We will have a work day on Tuesday in the library.

Wednesday and Thursday, October 22 and 23: Workdays October 23, 2014

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1. Students received an example essay written by Ms. Garvoille. She read it with great flair to the class. Here it is: Tomboy Example Essay.

2. Students then had time to work on their essays.

Ms. Garvoille will print the essays before class on Friday.

HW: Complete your essay in Google Docs by Friday. If you don’t have internet access, you need to handwrite the rest of your essay for tomorrow, Friday.

Tuesday, October 21: Planning our essays October 21, 2014

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Today, students started class by . . .

1. Starring their favorite sentence in the essay they read based on the writing, and boxing their favorite sentence based on the content. We shared out.

2. Students then rated the essay they read in terms of its tone, from casual to professional, 1-5. They then decided what kind of tone they would use in their own essays.

3. We began working on this planning sheet: Planning for Dangerous Word Essay (I5). Ms. Garvoille modeled this and we continued working on it throughout class. Ms. G. circulated to make sure everyone’s thesis made sense.

HW: You may begin working on your essay tonight if you choose. The rough draft is due Friday.

Monday, October 20: Essay Examples October 20, 2014

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1. Students wrote a one-sentence rationale for why they feel their word should be used cautiously. Here is a poster campaign at Duke we took some inspiration from.

2. Students all picked an article to read. Here is one document with all the choices: Essays on slurs. These articles are examples of the kind of thinking and writing students will be doing for this assignment. As they read, students 1) annotated, 2) highlighted researched facts in one colors, and 3) highlighted the author’s opinion in another color.

HW: Finish annotating your article for tomorrow.

Wednesday – Friday, October 15, 16, and 17 October 16, 2014

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On Wednesday, the guidance counselors came to visit to talk about GPA, college, and transcripts.

On Thursday and Friday, we had work days on our research. Here are the questions we are trying to answer:

  • Where did your word came from?
  • How has its meaning evolved over time?
  • When did it first start being used as a slur?
  • What are some moments in history or in the news when this word was used to disempower others?
  • How do people today think of this word?
  • When is it used in pop culture?

HW: Finish research on your word by Monday.

Tuesday, October 14: Research Day 2 October 14, 2014

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Today we spent continuing our research on our Dangerous Words assignment. Here are a few tips I shared during class:

If you’re having trouble answering our research questions, which, again are . . .

  • Where did this word come from?
  • Did it always mean what it means now?
  • When did it become a slur?

So, if you’re having trouble, try adding to your search the following combinations:

  • term + origin
  • term + etymology
  • term + history
  • term + slur
  • term + insult
  • term + language
  • term + usage
  • or any combination!

Remember, research is a treasure hunt with no map. You just have to keep digging in different places until you strike it rich (and you will)!

HW: You should have notecards in Noodle Tools for three (Regular) or five (Honors) different sources by Monday. We will have one more class day to work on this (Friday).

Friday, October 10 and Monday, October 13: Words and Research October 13, 2014

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1. Students were visited by Ms. Chambers and Ms. Middleton, who talked about the damage insults can do to others.

2. We all did some writing about the impact words have had on us. Here is the prompt: On a separate sheet of paper, tell about a time you were judged or insulted with a slur or you witnessed someone else being insulted with a slur. Then EITHER 1) Write a poem about the word directed toward the person who said it, OR 2) Write out the scene in which this happened, using dialogue, imagery, and internal monologue.

3. We then listened to some poetry about name-calling, listing all the names referenced in the piece:

4. Students then read a poem with a partner about name-calling (either “O Make Me a Mask” or “To Others Than You” by Dylan Thomas or “Queer Theory According to My Grandmother” by Richard Blanco). They annotated the poem as they read and in their discussions responded to the questions: Where does the speaker reference name-calling, if at all? How has the speaker responded to it?

HW: Deliver this letter to parents about the assignment. Pick a word to research.


1. Students received a handout with the outline of our next assignment: Dangerous Words assignment (I3).

2. Students learned how to use Noodle Tools. Here is the handout: Noodle Instructions (I4).

3. Students began research to answer the questions, Where does this word come from? Has it always meant what it means now? and What have people said and thought about this word over history?

HW: You should continue working on your research at home. We will have time in class on Tuesday and Friday to work.

Thursday, October 9: Labels and Language October 9, 2014

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Today, we began examine how words, which in our memoir unit were used to unite, can be used to divide, discriminate, and hurt.

1. On loose-leaf paper, students responded in writing to the following:

After discussing memoirs, we’ve learned that reading and writing personal stories helps us connect to and understand others.

But what criteria do people use to unfairly judge others? In other words, what do people base their judgments on?

(Think about society as a whole, now and through history).

2. We shared out these categories as a class, examining and breaking down each in a discussion.

3. Students then wrote down the one category they felt was most personal to their interests.

4. We then broke out into groups, writing down what others might say to judge these categories. These were sometimes words that are hurtful and we are trying to raise awareness about how these words should not be used. (More information about this project will come home with your child tomorrow.)

5. We then rotated around to the different categories, and wrote down three words, explaining on our paper why we chose them and how they relate to our lives. (7th period will do this tomorrow — instead, we wrote a short narrative about a time we were called a name and it hurt.)

6. Students turned in their writing as they left. I am proud of everyone for their maturity and civility when dealing with this difficult subject!

HW: None.


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