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    • 8th Grade: The Metamorphosis
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Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Día Nacional de España

The National Day of Spain, also known as Día de la Hispanidad, is held every year on October 12 and is regulated by the law 18/1987 as national holiday. The event commemorates the day that Christopher Columbus stepped on America in 1492, which meant the connection between the known world until then and the new world. And from 2014, is also commemorated the day of the Spanish language, since the United Nations (UN) as well established it as one more element of union and consolidation of the Hispanic world.

The discovery of America by Columbus was not regarded as such at first, since the sailor was never conscious of reaching a new continent but India, reason whereby the new Americans received the name of Indians. It was then when Américo Vespucio sailed to South America to reach the conclusion that the destiny of Columbus was a different one.

In particular, in Spain the feast coincides with the day of the Virgen del Pilar, patron saint of Zaragoza, Spain. Formerly this same day was named Columbus Day, both in Spain and in many other countries in Latin America, and that name is maintained in places like Mexico. In Argentina, for example, that day is celebrated the day of diversity Cultural American; in Chile, the day of the discovery of two worlds; in Costa Rica, the day of cultures; in United States, Columbus Day; in Uruguay, day of the Americas; and in Venezuela, day of indigenous resistance.
Feliz Día de la Hispanidad a todos!!!

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Creative Writing 6-8: Writing Workshops

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Students began the quarter by learning about the basic narrative elements and writing a Personal Narrative about their summer breaks. They dove head-first into the process of writing a first draft, peer editing, and revising. Before finalizing their drafts, they listened to a TED Talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about “the danger of a single story,” wrapping up the lesson on personal narrative by inspiring students to risk being more personal. They discussed the real-world impact stories have—who tells them, how many are told, what they are about, and who reads them. This introduction to storytelling served to get their wheels turning on the stories they’d like to tell, as well as get them to reflect on the stories they read from their peers and practice empathy.


Whereas in English class students might approach a story with the aim to figure out what it means, something they focused on in Creative Writing is how it made them feel—and the techniques the author implemented to make them feel that way. Whether they liked it, hated it, were creeped out by it or moved by it were all valid ways to discuss a given story. Students could then dissect their reactions to find out how the author produced them, with the intent to apply those techniques to their own writing. They learned that elements like setting and character affect how the story is told and inform their impression of the story as they read.


These ideas about narrative were applied by mapping the narrative elements of a short story (in small groups or individually), and then reconvening with the class to connect them. This visually demonstrated how the narrative elements are interconnected and inform each other throughout a narrative’s development. Rather than meet a quota of elements and call it a narrative, the activity showed how each of the author’s choices in developing the elements contributes to the overall impact and meaning of the story.


After this introduction to narrative, students switched gears to learn a little more about language. They wrote a paragraph in which they could not repeat any word twice, including “I” and “and.” The assignment challenged students to vary their vocabulary and write precisely and concisely, while producing some playful responses to the prompt. This segued into a lesson on haiku, the Japanese form of poetry famous for its brevity and strict syllable count. Students were given a photo and tasked to write a three-line poem about it. The output varied widely, but what the activity revealed was that students’ preconception of poetry required quite a lot of words and a rhyme scheme. Students wrote their poems on the board and pinned their photo next to it; then we pinned a few classic haiku associated with the images and read them as a class, professional and student work alike. Students discussed what all the poems had in common, what made them poems, and what type of poetry they thought was being presented. Through this discovery approach, they came to define haiku as a brief poem describing an image, which reveals some insight through juxtaposition or contrast.


The lesson ended with a game in which students were presented the first two lines of a haiku and tasked to come up with the final line. When the real line was revealed, students directly experienced the surprise ending (or juxtaposition) that makes such few words effective. The game motivated them to beat the original poet to the punch, and their interpretations produced compelling poems in their own right.

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Finally, after learning the basics of narrative and language, students revisited Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her short story, “Hair.” They compared it to the classic fairy tale, “Rapunzel,” by the Brothers Grimm, thus defining the nature and purpose of a retelling, adaptation, and modernization. They then had the opportunity to choose a fairy tale and write their own retelling. This is where many students’ creative impulses really flourished; they seemed eager to put their own twists on their favorite fairy tales and see where their imagination could take them. They ended the quarter by sharing their first drafts in small group workshops, which also seemed to motivate them to put more effort into their work. As a retelling, this assignment eased them into the world of fiction writing and will prepare them for more in the next quarter.

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Rhetoric 9/10 – Reading and Analyzing

The unit started off with students answering a prompt convincing or persuading a potential listener. From this, the students were introduced to the three important elements of a Rhetorical Triangle (ethos, pathos, and logos) and watched a TED-ed video on the methods of persuasion.

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Students then viewed a selection of advertisements for a variety of different products and analyzed how ethos, pathos, and logos were used to influence consumer decisions. Per advertisement, students individually answered questions on a given worksheet followed by a class discussion.

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Through this activity, students learned how to provide reasons for their answers and to defend their chosen appeal with supporting evidence. In pairs, students found their own set of advertisements, identified the rhetorical techniques used and their effectivity on the audience, and presented them to the class.

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In addition to learning about effective rhetorical techniques, students were introduced to logical fallacies (errors in reasoning that weakened an argument), given a list of terms to discuss, and shown a video to reinforce what they’ve learned. Subsequently, students searched for three other examples of logical fallacies used in advertisements and had an option of answering a given chart or making a video for extra credit.

Logical Fallacies

Next, students deepened their understanding of the Rhetorical Triangle by analyzing Coretta Scott King’s speech where they had to identify the rhetorical techniques from the SMART Bank of Rhetorical Terms and evaluate their impact through a given chart. The speech was read orally by a volunteer after which students analyzed the speech in pairs using the Rhetorical Triangle.

A class discussion occurred after which students revised and added to their individual SMART charts as needed. For their assignment, students wrote a reflection evaluating King’s speech, cited textual evidence, and used their SMART chart as a guide to support their conclusions.


Students received copies of Marc Antony’s funeral speech (from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) and read along while they listened to the audio version. The audio was played again while small groups annotated the speech and took note of numerous rhetorical elements (ethos, pathos, logos, repetition, tone, connotation, irony, rhetorical question, syntax and more). Using their notes, students wrote a paragraph evaluating the effectiveness of the various rhetorical elements used in the speech. They then repeated this process with Ninoy Aquino’s 1983 Arrival (undelivered) speech.


The last assessment of the quarter was persuasive essay writing. Students applied what they learned in their previous speech analyses to evaluate the effectiveness of a speech by Severn Suzuki which they viewed. Finally, students peer edited each others’ essays before submitting the final assignment for the quarter.


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English 9 – Myths and Legends

This quarter, the 9th graders were introduced to myth and legends. This unit started off with a class discussion of some of the students’ favorite myths and an analysis of Louise Bogan’s “Medusa.” Through an analysis of “Medusa,”students reviewed grammar.


Students were then grouped into triads –each triad was assigned 2 Greek Olympians to report on (origins, appearance, powers, symbols, etc.) and was required to do a mini oral presentation to the class. Following this, students were introduced to Socratic Circles and linked what they’ve learned so far to the value and culture of Greek society.


To reinforce their understanding of a hero, students answered the question “What is a hero?” on post-it notes and placed their answers against a poster. This visible thinking method allowed students to visualize their classmates’ ideas.

During the discussion of different types of heroes (most importantly, the epic hero), the students learned about the Trojan War and listened to an in-class dramatic reading of Iliad’s Book 22 “The Death of Hector.” Likewise, the students learned about the epic hero cycle and selected a hero of their choice to map out the elements of an epic hero on a chart. Students were then assigned to read of “Theseus and the Minotaur” and answer a comprehension sheet with guide questions based on the story. From this, the students applied what they’ve learned about the epic hero cycle and wrote a creative portfolio entry on their definition of a Modern-Day Epic Hero based on a public figure or role model.

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In preparation for IB, the students learned how to find evidence for their argument by learning how to analyze quotes. They also learned the proper use and format of in-text citations according to the APA format. After further study and analysis of “The Death of Hector” and “Theseus and the Minotaur,” students completed an in-class essay based on teacher-generated questions.

The last essay that the students had to write this quarter was the definition essay. To start off this topic, students partook in another visible thinking method by generating abstract and concrete terms for a few selected definitions using post-its on poster paper. Students then selected an abstract term, defined its history and origins, its denotative definition (literal meaning), and its connotative definition (personal and symbolic meaning). Students were provided with templates and samples to guide them as well as feedback from the teacher for their outlines and drafts.


The final assessment of the term was a persuasive speech. This topic began with a wordle activity where students submitted their responses to the question “What do you think makes an effective persuasive speech?” The teacher generated a word cloud from students’ responses and discussed the largest to the smallest terms as a class.


A game followed where groups matched the cutouts of words and definitions of effective persuasive methods and pasted it onto coloured posters. After the correct answers were revealed, the group(s) with the highest scores received a prize. In preparation for their persuasive speech, students partook in 3 activities.

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In the first activity, students watched a persuasive speech on heroes and answered a template that identified the persuasive methods. In the second activity, students analyzed a tribute and annotated the different persuasive methods. Finally, they repeated the first activity with a different video (a persuasive speech about safety).


To end the unit, students prepared for their persuasive speeches and received teacher feedback for their outlines, drafts, and oral communication. Finally, they presented their speeches in class while classmates wrote down comments in a sheet provided by the teacher.

Persuasive Speech Presentations

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English 7 – The Hero’s Journey Through Short Stories

This quarter, the 7th graders were introduced to the hero’s journey through short stories. In small groups, students recalled their previous knowledge about short stories, made a poster, and shared it with the class.

Students were then given copies of two hand-selected short stories that reflected a particular heroic archetype (hero as a lover, anti-hero, hero as a warrior, etc.), and asked to Think Pair Share about what both texts had in common. From this, students learned about the different types of heroic archetypes.

This lesson segued to students learning about the 12 stages of the hero’s journey through a video about a hero going through the 12-stages. Short story packets where distributed and students identified the 12 stages in storyboard sheets using the story “Rikki Tikki Tavi” followed by a class discussion. Using what they’ve learned, students made a 12-stage storyboard using “Thank You, Ma’am.”

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For their oral presentation, students were split into groups of 2-4 and were assigned one of the next three short stories: “By the Waters of Babylon,” “Marigolds,” or “The Interlopers.” They had to create a presentation which consisted of the following:

  1. Summary of the story
  2. Stages of the hero’s journey
  3. Any missing stages
  4. An evaluation of the story in terms of the hero’s journey and the pros and cons of the story


For the next four remaining stories: “Cranes,” “A Sound of Thunder,” “Initiation,” and “The Most Dangerous Game”), students read and selected their favourite story to write a review essay on.

Lastly, the unit ended with an activity where students had an opportunity to interact with kindergartners. The EY (Early Years) buddies activity consisted of 7th graders pairing up with kindergartners and learning about the hero’s journey. In the storybook activity, each 7th grader interviewed his/her kinder buddy and made a storybook outlining the 12 stages of the hero’s journey based on the story of the kindergartner (the hero). The 7th graders then read their finalized storybooks to their buddies.

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Some storybook samples:

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