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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.

Tuesday and Wednesday, October 7 and 8 October 8, 2014

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We held our socratic seminar today!

HW: None

Absentees: If you weren’t here you should do everything on this sheet except the “discussion notes”: Seminar notes Memoir. Then, you need to turn in the handout you downloaded and the completely annotated article “But Enough About Me.”

Wordy Wednesday! 

We took notes on vocabulary, talked about new SAT words, and used them in example sentences.

HW: None

Absentees: Get notes from a friend or email Ms. Garvoille for a copy of the slides.

Monday, October 6: Prep for Socratic Seminar October 6, 2014

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Tomorrow we will be holding our first Socratic Seminar of the year, in which students work together to come up with an answer to some key questions. Our questions are: Why do we read and write memoirs? Is this an inherently selfish or selfless act?

1. Students received “But Enough About Me,” a shortened version of a full-length article from the New Yorker.

2. We read and annotated the first page of the article together.

3. Finally, students continued reading alone or in pairs.

HW: Finish reading But Enough About Me and answering the five questions on the back for tomorrow. Optional: If you have a smartphone, iPod, iPad, laptop, etc. you may bring it in tomorrow to use during class.

Friday, October 3: Turning in Memoirs October 6, 2014

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1. Students wrote their answers to 11 reflection questions. Here are the questions: Reflection 2014.

2. Then, students could do one final edit of their memoirs.

3. Finally, we shared some sections aloud for the class.

Congratulations! You did it!

No homework!

October 1 and 2: Final work days on memoir October 2, 2014

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These two days have been spent in the lab or on laptops working feverishly. The students are on fire!

Here are some last minute tips that we looked over in class today: Final Editing Suggestions

On Friday, students should bring in all their rough drafts and planning sheets as well as a printed copy of your memoir. I will be printing your memoir if you indicated in class that you’d like me to. Otherwise, it’s up to you! If you need me to, as per policy, you can email me before midnight with the request.

HW: Complete memoir and all planning sheets due tomorrow. CONGRATS! You’re almost there!

Absentees: Make all your changes to your memoir based on your classmates’ suggestions from Monday and Tuesday. Then, watch the Final Editing Suggestions slideshow and make any extra changes. Print your memoir and bring in all your drafts tomorrow. It must be printed before class begins to be on time.


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