Getting excited about Poetry

Today, we read Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay in English class. Students looked for poetic devices and tried on their own to get the meaning of the poem going line-by-line. When we came back as a group, we were ready to explore the deeper meaning and overall message. Except for a few who have read ahead in our class novel The Outsiders, they don’t know why we chose this poem. They will find out tomorrow when we read chapter 5!

With grade 7 students, I have found the trick to having students enjoy poetry (rather than the usual groans) is presenting it to them like a puzzle. First, what and where are the poetic devices – like a frantic “search”. Next move on to having them break down the meaning of the poem – again a frantic discussion to “figure it out”. Finally, back as a bigger group, put it all together for the overall analysis of the poem. It allows the analysis part (at grade 7 level) to be “easy” once all the other pieces are thoroughly put together.

Nothing Gold Can Stay  By Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Photo on 4-21-14 at 1.44 PM Photo on 4-21-14 at 1.45 PM




Lit. Circles

We are into our latest round of lit. circles with 4 well-known YA books: Smiles to Go, City of Ember, Last Book in the Universe, and Book of a Thousand Days. They seem to be going over well, with students seemingly enjoying their respective novels. The “book talks” are also working well – After doing general comprehension checks within the group, students seem actively engaged in sharing their key words, interesting quote, figurative language (marked by stickies), and then moving on to discuss “connections” they may have with aspects of the novels or connections between texts.

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ESOL – Food Unit – Second cooking day

Today, the remaining 4 boys brought their ingredients and took us through the steps of making food from their home countries. We had a spicy feast with 2 Korean dishes and one Filipino dish, and then finished it off with German Griesbrei (a type of sweet milk pudding).


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Here are each of the boys hard at work:

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ESOL – Food unit

Once again, the students were most looking forward to cooking in this unit. From day one, “When are we cooking?” was all that was on their minds.  Oria brought in ingredients to make an Israeli dish, and I brought the Joy of Cooking and ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. Tae Bo and Felix were in charge of the cookies:


Oria was in charge of her dish, with Siyoung and Harry as her helpers. It was delicious – a couscous dish with a spiced vegetable broth.

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New English Unit – reading and writing focuses

Happy New Year. January marks the beginning of our new unit in English – Obstacles. We will read a class novel, Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine, which looks at a family’s experience during the Cultural Revolution of China.


Today we began with some pre-reading to help you become familiar with the topic of the Cultural Revolution, including an excerpt from World Book Student and some parts of the picture book Red Land Yellow River by Ange Zhang, a teenager during the cultural revolution and the son of a writer. We will continue with a couple more samples of writing dealing with the Cultural Revolution before beginning our novel. The purpose is two-fold – to familiarise you with the topic and also to expose you to different types of texts all telling the same story, but in very different ways and with different biases.


The instructional writing focus for this unit will be on expository writing – style and language. However, you will have a choice in writing topics and genres in an 8-week differentiated writing program. Each of you will individually conference with me to come to a consensus on topics, genres, and areas to focus (each student will focus on improving one aspect of their writing). Each Friday, during writer’s workshop time, I will conference with individual students to review their writing and guide their area of focus. I hope to see a lot of individual growth during this time!

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Speech outline

Students, here is what you can use to build your outline for your upcoming speech on food culture.

Remember – In speeches, you must clearly state what you are going to talk about in your speech right in the beginning (different than writing, where we are encouraging you to stop writing “This paper is going to be about…”, etc. )

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Reading “The Giver”


In English 7, we just finished reading our first class novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. Reading was done mainly at home, with learning activities taking place in class. We did a variety of learning activities such as oral comprehension checks, quick-writes and shares, small group discussions, class discussions, and literary elements activities focusing on characterisation, dialogue, simile/metaphors/personification. Another activity was to promote the idea of visual literacy; in partners, students chose a chapter to focus on and determined images that would best represent the chapter. Our tech teacher was involved, teaching us proper citations of photos using Creative Commons, powerpoint sharing on Googledocs, and embedding powerpoint googledocs into students’ blogs.

Here is the Powerpoint that students shared to create a collage of visual images to represent different chapters in the novel: