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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Let's Get Blogging! (For Class 809)

By now, you should have one intro post under your belt (on your former blogs.)  Right now, please don't worry about moving those intro posts to your new blog.

Today, you'll have the chance to join your new blog group (if you already haven't) and start working on your first reading response post.  (You lucky ducks!)

For those who need refreshing on last week's "How To Blog" lesson, access a how-to guide here.

Using the rubric that I gave you on Tuesday, make sure that your post:
  • Has two good paragraphs
  • Shows that you're thinking about and connecting to your book, rather than just retelling what happened. 
  • Uses academic writing with good capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. 
  • Has some voice!  
We will be available to answer any questions that you have.

If you finish with your responses early, there may be time to show you some fun things that you can do with your group blogs.  So, get writing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stepping Up Our Blogging Game

By now, you should have two blog posts under your belt.  So, it's time to step up our blogging game!  Before we do this, let's check our posts first.

Ask yourself:
  • Do I have two posts? If not, your task this period is, first and foremost, to create these.  We are available this period to help you with any technical or writing issues that you are having.  
  • Does my post have a title?  Is it something that reveals the content of my post?  If you've titled your post with "10/10 Homework," try to think of something a little more creative.
  • Is your post labeled properly?  Does it have your name and the title of your book?  Can you push yourself to think of a few more relevant labels?
  • Is your post free of spelling and grammatical errors?
Once you have answered all four of these questions with a resounding "yes," you can now begin customizing your blog with the rest of your blogging group!

You will all be made blog "admins," free to make changes to your blog's name and appearance.

Here are some things that you may want to discuss in your group:
  • Do we want to change our blog title?  (This can be done by going to your Dashboard, clicking on "Settings," and then on the "Basic" tab underneath that.  You should see a place where you can change the title.)
  • Do we want to change our blog's appearance?  (This can be done by going to your Dashboard and clicking on "Design."  On the first page you can edit the blog's layout, adding or removing "gadgets."  You can change the color, font, and picture by clicking on "Template Designer" at the top.)
  • Do we want to add any websites to our "Blogroll," or as Google calls it, a Blog List?  (This can be done by going to your Dashboard and clicking on "Design" and then "Add a Gadget."  A "blogroll" is a collection of blogs that you like, read, follow, etc.  Hint: you may want to add your classmates' blogs to your blogroll!)
Remember, your blog should take into account all of your group members' preferences.  Please make changes only if you have everyone's consent.

Also, please use your admin privileges wisely.  We think you guys are responsible enough to make your group's blog amazing.  We would hate to have to take away your privileges if we notice anything less-than-fantastic.

Happy Blogging!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dangerous Pie, Dangerous Book

Okay, I'll admit it.  When I read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, there might have been some moments when I teared up a bit.  There might also have been moments when I had to put the book down and get a tissue. 

Specifically, I'm referring to the chapter called "The Fat Cat Sat."  Steven seems confused and in pain in this chapter.  He seems to use anger and his acerbic (ooh, good vocab word!) sense of humor to deal with Jeffery's cancer diagnosis.  He sounds really angry and sarcastic, but I actually think this is a mask for other feelings.  I think he feels scared and guilty.  Since Steven is Jeffery's "Protector," it really bothers Steven that he couldn't "save" his little brother.  I think this because on page 41, Steven says: "But for some reason on that first horrible night, it seemed as though everything I ever did to Jeffery had probably caused some horrible genetic damage."

I felt a lot of sympathy for Steven when I read this quote on page 44: "When [Mom] told me that [Jeffery] would have to go with her to the big city in the morning to see another doctor, all he had asked was, 'Will Steven come, too?'  This was the one piece of information that put me over the edge.  I started crying..."

Me, too.

I deeply identified with Steven's emotions in this chapter.  When he talks about the excitement and then the let-down of experiencing Jeffery's being born, I knew exactly what he meant.  I experienced the same thing, too, when my younger brother was born.  Like Steven, I've also always felt like my brother's Protector.  And like Jeffery, my brother has always idolized me.  In some ways, I have not always been able to be my brother's Protector.  I feel sad and a little guilty about this.  I think Steven probably feels the same way.  It's hard when relationships change.  I hope Steven can come to terms with Jeffery's cancer, and that their relationship becomes stronger, even if it does change.