Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Belated Congratulations to Our Students of the Week

A belated congratulations to our Students of the Week for 12/15 to 12/19:

Period One - Miss Davis
Period Four - Mr. Sanford
Period Five - Mr. Abukar
Period Six - Mr. Craner

Friday, December 26, 2008

Some Test-taking Tips

Here are a few videos to help remind you how to do your best on the ELA assessment as well as in our class. Take a look...

Looking Ahead

I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday break. When we return to school on January 5th, we will only have approximately two weeks before the New York State ELA Assessment. On the 5th and 6th we will be taking a practice exam and will take the time to grade and evaluate our progress. At the beginning of the following week, we will do the same thing in order to be sure that we are all prepared to do our very best on the assessment. Students have been doing a great job in preparing for the test and I have high hopes for the outcome.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Break and the ELA Assessment

Holiday break begins on December 23rd. Although I hope that every student has the opportunity to relax and have a little fun, I do want to remind everyone that the New York State ELA assessment is only a month away. Students can continue their practice for the ELA by reading the newspaper or a magazine article and summarizing its content. Students can also go over the ELA practice we have completed in class as well as their Cornell notes covering test-taking strategies. Students can also complete practice tests by going to the following website at the New York State Department of Education:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Extra Credit Project

Students were given directions to create an extra credit project to help improve their grades. This project is optional, but is a great way to practice both their storytelling skills as well as their poetry writing skills.

The project asks students to use the haiku form of poetry to write an original story, retell a familiar story, or tell the life story of a person that they admire. Each project must contain at least ten haikus and related illustrations. Projects are due by 3 PM on Tuesday, December 23rd. Students who need extra help or any materials are welcome to stay with Ms. Short at lunch.

Creating Haikus

We have been studying various forms of poetry including haikus. The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that was usually written about nature. It is comprised of three lines and has a specific number of syllables in each line. Line one contains five syllables, line two contains seven syllables, and line three contains five syllables. Some examples follow:

young shiny green frog
leaping from its lily pad
into the cool pond

snowflakes falling down
cold droplets stinging my skin
first snow of season

Monday, December 15, 2008

Students of the Week

The following are the students of the week for 12/8 to 12/11. Congratulations to each of these hardworking individuals!

Period One - Miss Mpaka
Period Four - Miss Patterson
Period Five - Miss Dweh
Period Six - Mr. Sanchez

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Samples of Poetry

As we discussed in class, poetry can be found in a variety of places, written in a variety of forms, and written about a variety of topics. Take a look at the examples below that highlight how classic poems can be used to sell modern products as well as express a person's innermost thoughts and feelings.

Introduction to Poetry

In addition to preparing for the ELA assessment in January, we began a short poetry unit this week. Students should review the following terms that we have studied in class.

poetry - a type of literature that expresses thoughts and feelings in compact and imaginative ways

rhythm - the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem or it's beat

rhyme - the repetition of similar sounds at the end of words

repetition - repeating a word or phrase in a poem in order to emphasize a specific idea

Multiple-Choice Test Taking Strategies

For the past few weeks, we have been practicing a variety of test-taking strategies in preparation for January's exam. Students have also been practicing these strategies in all of their classes as part of the Do It Now (DIN) Activity. Students should remember to:
- read all directions before beginning any part of the test
- review the questions before beginning to read the selection
- read the selection with a critical eye underlining or circling key words or phrases
- star any information in the passage that can be used to answer any specific questions
- read all possible choices before selecting any answer
- eliminate silly or unrelated choices
- go back to the selection as much as needed

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Having Fun With English

Try this fun ELA game where you create as many words as possible using the letters provided.

Tumble Bees

I love to play Tumble Bees

Form words to fill the honeypot with this sweet online word game.

Pogo.com — play hundreds of fun games online!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Reminders for Checking Grades

Just a reminder that you can check your grade by going to www.mygradebook.com or clicking the link on this page. Each student has an individual password and the Classword for each class is as follows:

Period One - ELA7P1
Period Four - ELA7P4
Period Five - ELA7P5
Period Six - ELA7P6

Please remember that all classwords must be in all caps and all passwords must be in lower case. If you are having trouble logging on, please contact Ms. Short

Students of the Week

Congratulations to the Students of the Week for December 1st through December 5th, 2008.

Period One - Mr. Davis
Period Four - Miss Maddox
Period Five - Mr. Outley
Period Six - Mr. Santarelli-Hansen

Friday, December 5, 2008

Preparing for the State Assessment

We have been working hard to prepare for January's ELA assessment. If you would like to take a look at a sample test for the 7th grade ELA, please follow the link below. We will continue to practice for the assessment as well as review helpful test-taking strategies.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I would like to extend a heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all of my students and their families. As I count my blessings this holiday season, I count being able to teach my students as one of them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Cards for Heroes

As a way to give back to the troops who support us, students will be creating holiday cards for our service men and women stationed overseas and those recovering back at home. Please go to http://www.redcross.org/ and watch a video that describes the project.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Students of the Week

Congratulations to the following young people who were named Student of the Week for the week of November 17th to November 21st:

Period One - Mr. Zulanovic

Period Four - Miss Mooney

Period Five - Mr. Begovic

Period Six - Mr. Corbic

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Take a look at examples of personification that can be found in popular music.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reviewing Hyperboles

As we have learned in class, a hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration. View the rap created by a group of students to see how hyperboles might be used to enhance writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Students of the Week

Congratulations to the first four students of the week for the second marking period:

Period One - Mr. Musa
Period Four - Miss Davis
Period Five - Mr. D. McDonald
Period Six - Miss Aitnajim

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Figurative Language Mini-Lesson

There are several great resources for exploring figurative language at www.youtube.com. If you type in figurative language or examples of figurative language (simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, or symbolism) you can find a wide-variety of interesting clips. Here is another one.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Similes and Metaphors

A simile is a comparison between two unlike things that uses like or as. For example, "the girl was beautiful like a flower." A metaphor is similar to a simile, but it does not use like or as. For example, "my father is a bear in the morning." Take a look at the video which shows that similes and metaphors can be found in more than just poetry or written descriptions, but in popular music and movies.

Studying Figurative Language

Beginning this week, our class will be studying figurative language as we work towards beginning our poetry unit. Below is a short video that introduces the concepts of figurative language as well as a video that has a clever song to help you remember the types of figurative language. Take a peek and see what you think.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A New President

After this week's historic election, take a look at President-elect Obama's victory speech.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fiction Quiz on Friday

Just a reminder that our class will be having a quiz on literary fiction on Friday, 11/7. The quiz will cover elements of literary fiction:
- plot
- point of view
- characters
- setting
- theme
It will also cover vocabulary from "The Tell-Tale Heart":
- vex
- cautious
- cease
- resolve
- audacity
- mockery
- precisely
- cunningly
The quiz will also ocver the major events from the text of "The Tell-Tale Heart." We will be reviewing as a class on Wednesday since Thursday is a half day of school due to parent-teacher conferences. Begin studying now!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Song

As a the election for a new president draws near, check out this song created by a group of students in Atlanta. It's based on a TI song, but the message is much different.

Here are the lyrics:

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

(McCain supporters)
McCain's the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They'll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in site
And all the world will feel our military might

(Obama supporters)
But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama's new, he's younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He'll bring a change, he's got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame, Iraq's a shame
Four more years would be insane

Lower your Taxes - you know Obama Won't
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - You know McCain won't!
Have enough experience - you know that they don't
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won't

I want Obama
Stick with McCain and you're going to have some drama
We need it
He'll be it
We'll do it
Let's move it

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

I'm talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice

But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay

I want Obama
Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama
Iran he will attack
We gotta vote Barack!

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Friday, October 24, 2008

United Nations Day at HW Smith

Check out the video of our United Nation's Day from Channel 9 News.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Edgar Allen Poe was one of the first mystery and horror writers. His stories still send a chill down the reader's spine even a hundred and more years after they were written. In honor of Halloween, we will be reading one of Poe's classics, "The Tell-Tale Heart." Here is an animated version of the story for your viewing pleasure.

Review the Elements of Fiction

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Students of the Week

Congratulations to those students earning the distinction of Student of the Week for October 20th - October 23rd, 2008:

Period One - Miss Ejubovic
Period Four - Miss Allen
Period Five - Miss Mihigo
Period Six - Miss Green

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fiction Terms

We have been studying the following five elements of fiction:

plot - the sequence of events in a story, it surrounds the conflict or problem

setting - where AND when the story takes place

character - the people, animals, or imaginary creatures that take part in the action of the story

point of view - who is telling the story

theme - the lesson about life or moral learned from the story

Friday, October 17, 2008

Students of the Week for 10/14-10/17

Congratulations to the this week's Students of the Week:

Period One - Mr. Ajsic
Period Four - Miss Martin
Period Five - Mr. Mitchell
Period Six - Miss Houston

Our Week In Review

This week we have switched gears and began studying fiction, or literature that comes from the author's imagination. As we have continued our studies, we have found that all fiction has five common elements:

- characters
- setting
- plot
- point of view
- theme

We will continue working with fiction throughout the next few weeks reading a variety of stories and even creating our own.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Identifying Elements of Fiction

To help us understand the elements of fiction, we read the children's story, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, in class on Friday. Check this book also written by Doreen Cronin called Duck for President. You can listen to the story using the following clip. Can you identify the characters, setting, point of view, plot, and theme?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Autobiography Project Due in Just Five Days

All autobiography projects are due on Monday, October 20th by 3 PM. If students need help, I will continue to be available this week during lunch and after school.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just the Facts: Understanding Literature: The Elements of Fiction Video

Here is the video we will be viewing in class on Thursday. You can preview it before Thursday or review it after we watch it in class to better understand the elements of fiction. As you watch the video, think about how each of the elements relate to your favorite fictional story.

PowerMediaPlus » Understanding Literature: The Elements of Fiction

Beginning to Look at Fiction

As we begin to look at the genre of fiction, click on the link below and view a short video about the genre.

PowerMediaPlus » Exploring Genres

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Topics to Study for Tuesday's Non-fiction Exam

Tuesday's exam will cover the following topics:
* Elements of Non-fiction (definition, examples, purposes of non-fiction writing)
* Vocabulary from "Barrio Boy" and "Message of Hope" (dusk, signal, stamping, clutch, separate, visa, refugee, and immigrant)
* Main events and characters in "Barrio Boy" and "Message of Hope"
Students should use their homework assignment to help guide their review.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vocabulary Practice

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Congratulations to the Students of the Week for October 6th through October 10th!

Period One - Mr. Gary
Period Four - Miss Patterson
Period Five - Miss Earsley
Period Six - Miss Imeri

A Little History About Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I don't know if it's the costumes or the candy, but I just love it. Check out this short video about Halloween's history. Can you figure out why this video would be considered non-fiction?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First Major ELA Exam

Next Tuesday, October 14th, will be the first major exam in English Language Arts. The exam will cover all elements of non-fiction as well as the two non-fiction selections we have read, "Barrio Boy" and "Message of Hope." We will be reviewing this material in class on Friday and students will need to complete a review sheet over the long weekend in preparation for the exam.

Friday, October 3, 2008

ACUITY Testing

Beginning Monday, we will be completing Acuity testing. This test is computer-based and assesses each child's reading level in preparation for January's state ELA exam. Student should be well rested so that they can do their very best work on the assessment.

Students of the Week

The following is the list of Students of the Week for 9/29-10/3. Congratulations to these outstanding students.

Miss Dichalya
Miss Matt
Miss Suljic
Mr. Greenfield

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Lost Boys of Sudan

Since we are studying the stories of some of the Lost Boys of Sudan, here are a few videos to give you some background information including a look at John Dau who settled right here in Syracuse.

This Week's Vocabulary

This week we will be studying another piece of non-fiction in the form of a magazine article from Time For Kids. The article outlines the struggles of several Lost Boys of Sudan. The following is this week's vocabulary words to help us understand the article:

refugee - a person who leaves his or her country to find a better life in a new place, many times refugees cannot return to their home country

separated - to break apart, to split or divide

immigrant - a person who chooses to go to a new country and but return home if he or wishes

visa - official documentation that gives permission to enter a country

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Video Biography

We have been studying elements of non-fiction including biographies and autobiographies. Take a look at the video. It is a combination of both biography and autobiography. Can you figure out why?

Students of the Week

Each week throughout the school year, I will be honoring one exemplary student in each of my sections of 7th grade English Language Arts as Student of the Week. The students chosen for this distinction have shown academic excellence and/or improvement, outstanding citizenship in our classroom, and are overall productive, insightful members of our learning community. I will announce the names of these students in class as well as on this blog. However, for safety reasons, I will only refer to the students online by their last name. This week's Students of the Week are:
Period One - Mr. Smajlovic
Period Four - Miss Smith
Period Five - Miss Robinson
Period Six - Mr. Bagiryan

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Ideas for 25-Book Assignment

If you are having a tough time figuring out what your child should read for the 25-book assignment, here are some links that might help.




Non-Fiction Quiz Tomorrow

Just a reminder that tomorrow will be the first quiz of the marking period. We have spent the last few days reviewing elements of non-fiction as well as a variety of examples. Students are still struggling with the four purposes of non-fiction writing which are: identifying current events, instructing, informing, and entertaining. Students should continue to review their notes in preparation for the quiz.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Non-fiction Practice Quiz

An Overview of the Coming Week

We have a very busy week ahead of us. We will begin looking at ways to improve paragraph development especially focusing on topic sentences and supporting details. We will continue working the vocabulary from our study of literary genres and non-fiction. Later this week we will begin writing our own autobiographies. The specific guidelines will be given out by Wednesday and in class work on the project will begin the following day. Students will continue reviewing vocabulary as well as the main events in Ernesto Galarza's "Barrio Boy" in preparation for our first quiz which should be given on Friday.

Reviewing New Vocabulary

Last Thursday, we continued learning elements of non-fiction. We reviewed non-fiction's definition and extended it by discussing the four purposes for non-fiction writing and different examples of non-fiction. Students learned and should be reviewing the following terms:
- essay
- biography
- interview
- autobiography
- informative article
- writing to instruct
- writing to inform
- writing to identify current events
- writing to entertain

Friday, September 19, 2008


I would like to thank all the parents who attended last night's Open House. It was great to meet all of you and I look forward to working with you in the future!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Thursday's Open House will be held from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the auditorium and not from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. I apologize for the error. The Open House will give parents and guardians a chance to learn middle school policies, view course syllabi, and meet the teachers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

HW Smith's Open House is this Thursday, September 18th, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. As soon as the location for the 7th grade teachers has been confirmed, I will post it. If you cannot attend but would like updated information on your child's progress, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Books for 25 Book Assignment

There will be more information coming regarding the 25 book reading assignment. Books can be of any genre, but need to be at least one-hundred pages in length. Short stories do not count unless a student reads a collection of short stories. Students can read poems, but again it must be a collection of poems. If a student has their hear set on reading something less than one hundred pages, he or she can see me. However, we don't students reading twenty-five picture books. A more balanced approach is the intent of the assignment. I will be going over the specifics of the assignment with students in class this week and further information will be available at Thursday evening's Open House. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Practice Weekly Vocabulary Here

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This Week's Vocabulary Review

This week your child has learned the following words in class. Please review them with or her:

-literary genre







Students can practice using the flashcards above.

Year Long Reading Assignment

One of the requirements according to the 7th grade curriculum is that each child read at least twenty-five books by the end of the school year. Students will be able to read books from Ms. Short's classroom library, the school's library, or from other sources such as home and the public library. Students will keep a log of books read in their binders and will also complete a variety of short summary activities after reading each book. This assignment will be on-going and students will be able to complete it at their own pace. I ask that all parents encourage their child to work on this assignment throughout the year and remind their child that when he or she says they don't have any homework, they could always work on their reading assignment. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Vocabulary

Tomorrow students will begin the work of defining and comparing the main literary genres: fiction and non-fiction. Students will then practice classifying examples of literature into each genre. Homework for Wednesday night will be to bring in at least one short example of non-fiction writing. This could be a newspaper article, a review from a magazine, directions from a cookbook, or even a short book about a real person. We will be using these examples in class on Thursday as we explore the richness of non-fiction. If students are still confused between the differences between fiction and non-fiction, here are a couple of links that can help:

Have a great day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Don't Forget Your Homework

Students should have brought home a brochure outlining our class rules and procedures. Please keep that at home so you can reference it as needed. Homework for this evening was to have parents/guardians fill out the Information Card and return it to me tomorrow. Please remind your child all assignments add up. It's only the third day and I already have students who have missed assignments. Let's work together to keep those grades up.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Overview of 9/8 to 9/12

After finishing up the business of explaining classroom rules, we will begin studying literary genres. Students will identify the differences between fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. Students will additionally begin work with parts of speech. Please look forward to a classroom brochure explaining all of the ins and outs of our class. Also note that September 18th is HW Smith's Open House. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I am hoping that this blog will serve as a link between my classroom and your home. I will be posting assignments, an overview of the learning that is taking place in my classroom, helpful websites, and important dates to remember. As the year progresses, I am hoping to post examples of outstanding student work and even review tips and practice related to upcoming quizzes and tests. I encourage you to visit the site often as I will be updating it periodically. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me (kshort@scsd.us) or call the school. I am looking forward to a productive year!