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

Powered By ProProfs: Create Flashcards

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!