Saturday, May 7, 2016

First Quarter Review

Students in Mrs. Marr's English classes explored the nature of heroes and monsters in stories and novels in the first quarter. Students marveled that ancient Greeks asked similar questions about nature, human behavior and the origin of things in myths created thousands of years ago. Ancient Greek myths have persisted for so long because they explore mysteries that we still face today, and because they are so emotionally and intellectually engaging. Students began the mythology unit with an independent reading project in the library. They traced a theme through multiple myths in their notebooks and then in a formal essay.

Next, students analyzed the heroic, yet flawed, nature of Ulysses (Odysseus) in Bernard Evslin's The Adventures of Ulysses, an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, and are applying what they know to Beowulf in Robert Nye's young adult adaptation of the Scandinavian epic. They are thinking critically about the dual nature of man and the values that a culture expresses through its literature. Students have been making claims and supporting claims with text evidence in their notebooks. They have been refining their writing skills by composing essays with engaging openings, clear thesis statements, and specific evidence from the text. They have used the Quizlet and Edmodo Apps to work on their vocabulary and study skills. For their creative writing assignment this quarter, students will be composing stories featuring heroes and monsters. The stories will most likely become a wonderful amalgamation of the myths and fantasy novels they have read this quarter.

For enrichment, students may volunteer to participate in a Mythology Bee or in a lunch book club discussing Rick Riordan’s new novel Sword of Summer. 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. Looking ahead to the second quarter, we will be focusing on historical fiction and nonfiction by studying 1776, The Musical, reading My Brother Sam Is Dead, participating in historical fiction book clubs, and reading The Notorious Benedict Arnold or Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. They will be reading Petey to prepare for visiting author Ben Mikaelsen. The after-school tutorials in English Language Arts and math have begun. 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. Finally, a special thanks goes to the PTA for organizing and managing the Book Fair. It is wonderful to see students excited about owning, reading and