Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharing Your Reading Life  

by Ms. Cunningham

In the fall of my third grade year, my teacher was doing a class read aloud with Charlotte's Web.  We sat at our desks after recess every day, sometimes with heads down or eyes closed, to listen to the story of Fern Arable's pig. We were captivated.  It was a Friday afternoon before a long weekend, and she had completed all but the last two chapters. When she closed the cover and announced that we would pick up with "The Last Day" on the following Tuesday,  I thought I might die. Incredulous that my teacher could leave me in such a state and knowing that something very important was about to happen, I believed it my only option to slink into the school library, tuck a copy of the book into my book bag, and promise myself I would return it without anyone noticing.

I had to finish the story.

When I got home that day, I readied myself for what would happen next.  I curled up under a blanket in my mother's bed and began to read.  I'm not going to tell you what happened in case you haven't read it yet (and EVERYBODY should read it), but I will tell you that it is the first book that ever made me cry.  To this day, it is my favorite reading memory.  After finishing the book, what remained was that feeling of heart ache you get when you finish a story you love--when you say good-bye to characters who mean something to you--who lived with you for a while and you fear might (and probably will) fade away into and among all of the other memories of beloved characters you have known.  There were also lessons to be learned in Charlotte's Web.  Lessons about friendship and justice, loss and resilience. Sigh.

I guess where I'm going with this is that, as a community of readers, we are sure to have strong feelings about the books we read. These feelings can range from pure joy to absolute disgust--even indifference.  Books make us feel stuff.  Isn't it great?

Your ELA blog is a place where you can share reactions to your reading. In the busy real world where it isn't always easy to get a group together in one place to talk about a book you've shared, you have the online world.  You can log on any time and share your feelings about a beloved (or despised) character, a theme that made you think about the world in a different way, or an inspiration (you can't tell me I'm the only person to want to be a wizard after reading Harry Potter). Anything.

Of course, this IS still school, so we'll have to make sure we are using our writerly skills to share our thoughts.  There will be rubrics and guidelines as always, but the IDEAS are YOURS. So, I hope you will embrace this opportunity.  You will be publishing your thoughts in a very real world way (Yay!).

I look forward to your posts!


Sincerely,


Ms. Cunningham


A book is a dream that you hold in your hand--Neil Gaiman





Friday, September 12, 2014



“My Name”
by Sandra Cisneros
excerpted from The House on Mango Street

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness,
it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my
father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.
It was my great-grandmother's name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too,
born like me in the Chinese year of the horse--which is supposed to be bad luck if you're
born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don't
like their women strong.
My great-grandmother. I would've liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so
wild she wouldn't marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and
carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That's the way he did it.
And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the
way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with
what she got or was she sorry because she couldn't be all the things she wanted to be.
Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window.
At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the
roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like
silver, not quite as thick as sister's name Magdalena--which is uglier than mine.
Magdalena who at least- -can come home and become Nenny. But I am always
Esperanza. would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me,
the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something
like Zeze the X will do.














Thursday, October 11, 2012

Care to Comment?                                                      2012-2013

Now that you've had some time to practice writing blog posts, it's time, yet again, to step up our blogging!  As I mentioned before, a crucial part of participating in the blogosphere is interaction.  It's all about the conversation.  Today, we're going to explain a little more about what this means by introducing you to the blog comment.

A good, thoughtful blog comment might:

praise interesting ideas in the original post
ask for clarification of any unclear parts of the original post
add the responder's own thoughts to original ideas to build strength
contradict or challenge (respectfully!) by explaining another aspect or asking a question to further dialogue
contain connections (to the self, the world, another text, or another part of the same text) to deepen thinking about the post
AND good, thoughtful blog responses always
are respectful and coherent
use standard vocab, spelling, and grammar (so that everyone can understand)
show consideration of the original blogger's work and thought
Finally, since blogs are conversations, it's rude not to reply when spoken to!  You are required to comment on at least two separate posts per week.  If you're the original author, you should also reply to comments that you receive.

For some mentor texts on commenting, click on these links to see former 8th graders rocking the comments thread:


Pia's post on the painting "Life and Death" by Gustav Klimt

Izzy's post on street art by Banksy (speaking of street art, see Max and Rafaele as well)

Nina's post on how girls and boys respond differently to books



Pia's post on the painting "Life and Death" by Gustav Klimt

Izzy's post on street art by Banksy (speaking of street art, see Max and Rafaele as well)

Nina's post on how girls and boys respond differently to books


So, let's get talking!



(Adapted from posts by Ms. Rear and Ms. Robbins and borrowed from Ms. Langbein)


Welcome to Blogging 705, 708, and 805!

     Isn't it fun and inspiring to have a place to share all of our reading work (and some other great stuff, too)?  You've already gotten a pretty good head start on your blog work.  Let's just review some of the blogging structures for the 2012-2013 school year:
  •  You will blog about your independent reading once a week (unless I give you a different assignment for that blog).  It will be posted by 9pm each Sunday!
  • You will follow the rubric for writing a blog that is aligned with the standards.
  • Your blog will reflect the fabulous work you are doing in the classroom (of course).
  • You will comment on 2 blogs each week (following the rules we went over in class).  10/21
  • Your behavior online will always reflect the courteous, mindful, respectful academics I know you ALL to be.
Ms. Cunningham

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Care to Comment?

Now that you've had some time to practice writing blog posts, it's time, yet again, to step up our blogging!  As I mentioned before, a crucial part of participating in the blogosphere is interaction.  It's all about the conversation.  Today, we're going to explain a little more about what this means by introducing you to the blog comment.

A good, thoughtful blog comment might:


  • praise interesting ideas in the original post
  • ask for clarification of any unclear parts of the original post
  • add the responder's own thoughts to original ideas to build strength
  • contradict or challenge (respectfully!) by explaining another aspect or asking a question to further dialogue
  • contain connections (to the self, the world, another text, or another part of the same text) to deepen thinking about the post
AND good, thoughtful blog responses always
  • are respectful and coherent
  • use standard vocab, spelling, and grammar (so that everyone can understand)
  • show consideration of the original blogger's work and thought
Finally, since blogs are conversations, it's rude not to reply when spoken to!  You are required to comment on at least two separate posts per week.  If you're the original author, you should also reply to comments that you receive.

For some mentor texts on commenting, click on these links to see last year's 8th graders rocking the comments thread:

Pia's post on the painting "Life and Death" by Gustav Klimt

Izzy's post on street art by Banksy (speaking of street art, see Max and Rafaele as well)

Nina's post on how girls and boys respond differently to books



So, let's get talking! 


(Adapted from posts by Ms. Rear and Ms. Robbins and borrowed from Ms. Langbein)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There's a First Time for Everything

Hey 708, 805, and 809!

I have a confession to make: THIS is my first blog post ever.

That being said, I can't say I joined the world of blogging easily--actually there was probably a lot of kicking and screaming going on (mostly metaphoric, of course). You can ask anyone in the 8th grade ELA department--they'll tell you it's true. Unfortunately, I'm kind of new to all of this 21st century technology (I bought my first cell phone just this past March) and it makes teaching with it a little scary for me. Luckily we have Ms. Langbein to help us get this community of bloggers up and running (thanks Ms. Langbein!).

So here it goes. I REALLY thought I was going to hate this. BUT, as it turns out, I really kind of like it. I've read some of your blog posts and it makes me excited to see how stoked you are to start blogging. I LOVE that some of you are asking questions about your fellow blogger's posts that will truly make them think more about their writing and I think it's really fun to sit here on my couch with my laptop and read about what's going on with your reading.

As far as who I am as a reader...mmm....it's hard to say. I love to read a lot of different kinds of texts. During the school year I read a lot of professional books (that probably wouldn't interest you) as well as the books that I see you guys reading (it helps me to understand what's going on in your teenage noggins). Outside of school it's a mixed bag. I like to research random topics because I hate it when I don't know the answer to something. I also read comic books, political commentary, stuff I find on the sidewalk (NYC is great for finding books on the sidewalk!), books and articles about travel, and stuff that friends recommend. I just bought a new book yesterday called MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman and I can't wait to crack it open (and blog about it).

So...here we go! I'm truly looking forward to finding out where all of this blogging about books takes us. I'm thinking it's going to be pretty cool.

Ms. Cunningham