Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Team Hero Logo and Slogan

Our first Team Day began with an assembly in which administrators and teachers welcomed seventh graders, empowered them to become leaders in the school, and invited them to participate actively in school life by joining sports, clubs and activities.  A short video of seventh grade events and advice featuring seventh graders from the past followed.  In the afternoon, students worked in small groups to create logos and slogans capturing the spirit of Team Hero.  They voted on the one that best represented our team.  See a slideshow of the posters below.

Thank You

A heartfelt thanks to all the parents who joined us at this year's Open House at South Middle School.  It was wonderful meeting you and giving you a glimpse of what your children will be doing in English class and on Team Hero.  Please refer to this blog, especially the calendar link, to stay connected to our class.

You know more about your child than we will ever know.  Your child's team teachers invite you to share anything you feel is important for us to know that will help us better meet the needs of your child this year.  In a million words or less, you may share your child's likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, dreams, past successes and failures.  We would appreciate if you submit this to us by the end of September at nmarr@greatneck.k12.ny.us

Another thanks goes to Mr. Lander and Mrs. Graybosch for distributing iPads to our students in an organized and efficient manner, and to the PTA for funding the stylus that each child received with the iPad.  This year students will be using the Homework App to stay organized.  Look for more news about the way we use technology in English class in future blog posts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome to Seventh Grade

You are officially in the middle of middle school.  It's going to be a great year!  You will learn so much about yourself, others and the world.  I look forward to helping you make progress in your reading, writing, listening, speaking, organization and technology skills.

Please bring your Summer Reading Assignment to class the first day of school.  We will spend the first week of school getting to know each other by discussing and writing about what you have read this summer. 


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Third Quarter Review

As the English Language Arts Assessment is the second week of April, seventh grade students have been reviewing the format of the assessment and brushing up on their test-taking skills on standardized tests by practicing taking sample tests and analyzing their performance in order to improve.  Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes balanced assessment practice with outside reading projects and public speaking activities this quarter.  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander won the 2015 Newbery Honor Medal for excellence in young adult fiction.  It is a novel in verse featuring a family drama and the sport of basketball.  This book inspired this quarter’s outside reading project.  Students read fiction and nonfiction books about sports from our classroom library and from the school library.  In their writing and speaking about their reading, students considered writer’s craft and persuasive writing techniques, and evaluated novels in a persuasive book review.  Students competed in a March Madness public speaking activity to determine the best sports fiction and nonfiction books for middle school readers.  We hope that listening to their classmates’ presentations about books will inspire students to read other books about sports or other books that earned the Newbery medal or honor.  Please continue to encourage your child to read and write inside and outside of school.  Better reading and writing skills help academic performance across the disciplines.

As the third quarter progressed, we continued to use iPads to enhance literacy instruction, study skills and organizational skills inside the classroom.  Students used the Google Drive App, the Keynote App and Edmodo App to share their thinking and writing with their peers and teachers.  These digital tools encouraged thoughtful and lively conversations about what students read and how they write.  Students added argument and persuasive essays to their online digital portfolio.  Maintaining a digital portfolio helps students stay organized, encourages reflection and fosters pride in their work.  They used the Notability App to organize their notes for the unit.  Students also utilized digital study tools and online assessments.  As the quarter ends, they will continue to improve their vocabulary by using the Quizlet App to study words from the “Seventh Grade Essential Vocabulary” booklet.  The booklet is a fabulous resource of interdisciplinary academic vocabulary prepared by seventh grade teachers under the direction of Assistant Principal Gerald Cozine.  

Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes end the third quarter and begin the fourth quarter by analyzing, writing and sharing poetry.  Students are encouraged to submit their creative work to Rebel Pen, South Middle's art and literary magazine, and to read their poetry during Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 30th which coincides with South Middle’s Poetry Cocoa House at 4pm.   Students are also encouraged to write for Middleview, South Middle’s newspaper.  The remainder of the fourth quarter will be devoted to reading and writing science fiction, reading nonfiction works to understand the science behind science fiction, and completing a portfolio presentation.  Students will also be receiving information about the Self-Select Honors Program in English in the 8th grade and about the summer reading assignment.


In Flex, students have been preparing their group video research projects.  They have spent weeks researching a topic using online periodicals.  They used their notes in Notability and in Google Docs to prepare an argument essay and to plan their storyboard for their movie.  In the computer lab, students are using iMovie to edit and arrange raw footage on their topic.  Their task is to create a meaningful narrative to show both sides of an argument on their topic.  Students are in the process of videotaping interviews.  In the end, students will be using research gathered through online periodicals and the interviews to create a meaningful narrative using iMovie.  Their video research projects will be on display at the Akidemy Awards at 6pm on May 18, 2015.  Save the date as it promises to be a wonderful celebration of our students’ hard work!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Author Visit 2015

Students read Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, a nonfiction crime thriller about an attempt to steal Lincoln's body from its tomb, in preparation for visiting author Steve Sheinkin. Mr. Sheinkin will be speaking to students on February 9th and 10th. If your child enjoyed reading Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, please encourage him or her to read other award-winning books by Mr. Sheinkin

Here are a few questions our students have for Mr. Sheinkin:

How do you maintain stamina when writing your books? from David F.
What are your favorite books and authors? from Troy A.
What is your main source of inspiration? from Lauren W.
How long does it take to write a book? from Ben RK.
As an artist, how did you continue with your dream even when you were let down? from Aryaman B.
What is it like to write a textbook? from Marc B.
How do you make a style, your own style, when you write? How do you write with a flow? from Ryan C.
Why does historical fiction stick out the most when you write? from Sophia K.

We'd like to thank Mr. Carras, English Dept. Chairperson, Catherine Graybosch, Library Media Specialist, our PTA and our administrators for helping to produce this wonderful event. We look forward to it every year! (February 2015)


Second Quarter Review



Mrs. Marr and Mrs. Sidik’s English classes entered the world of the past as they began studying historical fiction and nonfiction in the second quarter. The unit opened with a “Thank a Veteran” event that occurred the week of Veterans Day. Many faculty members and students shared stories and artifacts from veterans in their own families. Students interviewed local veterans (many of whom were retired teachers from Great Neck middle and high schools) who served during WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the conflict in Afghanistan. In their conversations with the veterans, students reflected upon the idea of heroism, the power of storytelling, and the effects of war on an individual and society. The veterans were impressed not only by the caliber of students’ questions, but also by their respectful behavior. The “Thank a Veteran” event was filmed by our local HTV staff and footage appeared in news segments during homeroom. The event was catered by Panera Bread in Little Neck. The “Thank a Veteran” event would not have been possible without the hard work and collaboration of Team Hero teachers and students, the library staff, HTV, the administration, and veterans from the local veterans center. Thank you to all who made it a meaningful experience!


In the historical fiction unit, students read four books and one play as well as a number of nonfiction texts. Many of the historical topics and universal themes align with students’ work in social studies class. First, students read the classic My Brother Sam Is Dead as a whole class novel, and applied the skills of accumulating the text, envisioning, and organizing and evaluating their ideas in their digital notebooks using Notability. Next, in small reading groups, students interpreted the crises faced by the teenage protagonists and the world in which he or she lives in one of the following novels: Light in the Forest, Sophia’s War, Soldier’s Heart, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, or The Fighting Ground. Students analyzed the Coming of Age theme across two texts making sure to cite specific evidence from both novels in classroom discussions and in their digital notebooks and extended responses. Students also read Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, a nonfiction work written by visiting author Steve Sheinkin. Mr. Sheinkin will be speaking to students on February 9th and 10th. If your child enjoyed reading Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, please encourage him or her to read other award-winning books by Mr. Sheinkin. Finally, students will assume the roles of important historical figures when they study and perform scenes from 1776, The Musical. They will consider the historical context in which the play was written, the techniques used by the writers to breathe life into characters that actually existed in the past, the theme of the play, and its relevance to our lives today. Students will be challenged to think about whether they (and the nation) are living up to the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans. Students will also read Petey by Ben Mikaelsen, an author they are familiar with from their work reading Touching Spirit Bear in the sixth grade. Petey is based on a real life story of a person living cerebral palsy in the 1920s. Through their reading, students will explore the rights of Americans with physical disabilities during that time period. Looking ahead in the third quarter, we will be studying nonfiction in greater depth, writing persuasive essays, tackling a research project, and reviewing test-taking techniques for the English Language Arts Assessment to be taken April 14-16, 2015. If you received a letter about your child’s participation in the tutorial(s), please encourage your child to attend to improve his or her skills. As always, students are encouraged to submit writing pieces to The Rebel Pen, South Middle’s Art and Literary Magazine, and to Middleview, South Middle's student newspaper. 

Talent Show 2014

We are so proud of our Team Hero students who courageously took the stage to entertain the whole seventh grade.  It was an unforgettable experience!

* Sidra H. performed a Tae Kwon Do routine.
* Theodore C. sang "Some Nights" by Fun
* Jason Z. showed off his skills with the Rubiks cube.
* Joanna V. and Andreea C. sang "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith.
* Alice Z. created a video showing off her drawing skills.
* Michael F.  juggled.
* James R. sang  "Classic" by MKTO
* Elizabeth H.  sang "Where Has Time Gone?" by Jin Liang Wang in Chinese
* Michael M., Ian M., Daniel G., Amal D., Hans D., and Stephen F. performed a synchronized swimming routine.
(December 2014)