Sunday, December 26, 2010

Enjoy your holiday break!

Ms. Short would like to wish all her students and their families a restful holiday break!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belated Congratulations

A belated congratulations for the students who earned Student of the Week for 12/13-12/17:

Period One - Lah Yoo
Period Two - Danielle
Period Three - Jahmeer
Period Five - Munirah

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog Question - Due 12/23/10

Please answer the following question in at least two complete sentences. Please also give the title of the book in your answer.

Compare and contrast yourself with one of the characters in your book.

Outstanding Student Volunteers

Our seventh grade AVID class spent Monday volunteering in the long term care wing at the Syracuse VA Hospital. Students participated in a drum circle with the residents and then helped residents create ornaments and decorations for the upcoming holiday season. Overall, the students had a great time while helping those who fought for our country.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Literature Circles

Answer a Question, Earn a HW Pass

Students can earn a homework pass by answering the following question in at least three complete sentences:

What is your favorite book? What makes this book so special?

Students of the Week

Congratulations to our students of the week for 11/29 to 12/3!

1st Period - Kayla T.
2nd Period - Nyla R.
3rd Period - Rochelle B.
5th Period - Katie W.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thank you, Ms. Lesperance!

Ms. Short and all of the seventh grade class would like to thank our student teacher, Ms. Lesperance, for all her hard work. You have been an amazing teacher! Please be sure to come back and visit us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Outstanding Editorials

Congratulations to those students who submitted outstanding editorials describing something important that money cannot buy!
Falastin A.
Sarah B.
Xavier B.
Rochelle B.
Geneve C.
Kapri D.
Sophia D.
Kodie H.
Shabbak H.
Trezure J.
Elia M.
Fahira M.
Lucien M.
Arianna P.
Mariah W.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My School: H.W. Smith Elementary

Check our school on the news!

My School: H.W. Smith Elementary: "The Rota-Kids are an extension of the Eastwood Rotary."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reviewing the Video from Today's Class

Today we watched a video about the bullying epidemic in the United States. Here is the link for the episode of 20/20 if students would like to watch it again or parents might like to watch it and join in the discussion.

A Way to Complete One of Your 25-Book Assignments

If you would like an opportunity to complete a 25-book assignment, link to the video below and watch the entire video. (You will need to watch parts one through four.) When you are done, please complete the following activities:

* Write a complete summary of the show
* Create a poster that would encourage people to stop bullying

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Digital Collage for "Message of Hope"

Check the digital collage Ms. Short created for the non-fiction text we are reading in class, "Message of Hope." You can also create a free digital collage at!

Earn a Homework Pass

Half Days Next Week

Next Tuesday is a half day and students will only be attending periods 3, 4, and 5. On Friday, we have another half day and students will be attending periods 1, 2, and 3.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Versions of "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Take a look at two versions of Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our New Vocabulary

Students will be learning new vocabulary in tomorrow's class. Students (and parents) can review our PowerPoint presentation below:

Learn About Edgar Allan Poe

We are going to be reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe in honor or Halloween. Learn more about Poe below:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Next Blog Question

Halloween is a time of year when most people like to be scared. In your regular life, what scares you? Explain!

All blog responses are due by midnight on October 30th, 2010.

Incentive for Friday, October 29th

To reward the hard work of students throughout the first marking period, the middle school team will be offering a showing of the children's film, "How to Train Your Dragon" in the auditorium on our next half day, Friday, October 29th. To be eligible, students need to be in good academic standing and receive no referrals between Thursday, October 21st and Friday, October 29th.

First Installment of the 25-Book Assignment

Just a reminder that the summary activities for the first installment of the 25-book assignment are due on Monday, October 25th. Students have had all marking period to work on the assignment and no late assignments will be accepted. Possible summary activities are printed on the back of the 25-book assignment handout. Additional handouts are located in Ms. Short's room.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Boys Modified Soccer Team

Congrats to the boys on the Nottingham Modified Soccer team who are undefeated. Check out pics of the great athletes below

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Upcoming Quiz

Students will have a quiz on Monday, October 25th. The quiz will cover:
  • the elements of fiction
  • the legend read in class, "Young Arthur"
  • the elements of effective paragraphs

Enjoy Your Day Off

Just a reminder that students do not have school on Wednesday, October 20th. In addition, students will have a half day next Friday, October 29th.

Practice Your Literary Fiction Vocabulary

Friday, October 8, 2010

Looking Ahead

Students will continue their study of fiction particularly folktales by reading the short story, "Young Arthur." Students can get to know a little about King Arthur by watching the video below:

In addition, students can follow the links below for additional information:

The Week in Rap

Review this week's current events by watching below:

The Week in Rap - Oct 8th 2010 from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Three Day Weekend

Students and parents are reminded that school is not in session on Monday in observance of Columbus Day. Enjoy your long weekend!

Elements of Fiction Rap

Today in class, students learned about the five elements of fiction. Students can review these elements by rewatching the PowerPoint presentation from today's class and/or linking to a song that defines and explains these elements by clicking the link below:

Students of the Week

The following students earned the distinction of Student of the Week for the week of October 4th to October 8th:

Period One - Wa Hi D.
Period Two - Tim W.
Period Three - Eannette P.
Period Five - Bonke R.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Next Weekly Editorial

Students are asked to compare and contrast a successful student with an unsuccessful student. Students will brainstorm ideas using a Venn diagram and then organize their thoughts using our flow chart planner. The final editorial should be four paragraphs and include:
  • an introduction
  • body paragraph one
  • body paragraph two
  • conclusion

Students of the Week for 9/27 to 10/1

Congratulations to the Students of the Week for 9/27 to 10/1:

Period One - Natale D.
Period Two - Faizan H.
Period Three - Johnny D.
Period Five - Geneve C.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Progress Report Grades are Coming Up

Teachers will be filling out progress reports for all seventh grade students by the end of next week. Parents and guardians can expect these reports in the mail by the middle of October. If you would like to check grades before that, log onto the district's Home Access page. Email Ms. Short for more information.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Club Friday

Students are reminded that this Friday, 10/1, is Book Club Friday. Students are required to bring a book that they are currently reading for Friday's class.

Understanding Literary Genres

Watch the PowerPoint presentation outlining the differences between fiction and non-fiction on YouTube.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Congratulations to the Recent Students of the Week

Here are the students of the week for September 20th to the 24th:

Period One - Janaja M.
Period Two - Kiana F.
Period Three - Yasin K.
Period Five - Arianna P.


This Week's Current Events

Current Events for the week of September 20th to the 24th!

The Week in Rap - Sept. 24th from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blog Question - Due by Thursday, September 30th

Every person in class brings something to our classroom community. For example, a positive person brings the gift of positive energy that might help keep his or her classmates on track and feeling good about themselves. Describe how you add to our classroom community. What special gift or quality do you bring?


Open House

This is a reminder that HW Smith's Open House will be held this Thursday, September 23rd from 6:30 to 7:30 in the Middle School wing of the building. Families will have the opportunity to learn more about their child's classes and teachers during the Open House. If you have questions, please contact the Middle School Office at 435-4279.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Students of the Week

Every week one student in each ELA class is honored with the distinction of Student of the Week. Students earn this honor by maintaining high grades in ELA, working well with his or her peers, being a role model to his and her classmates, and/or showing improvement. This week's Students of the Week are:

Period One - Paw L.
Period Two - Shabbak H.
Period Three - Amina B.
Period Five - Falastin A.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Student Lockers

This year seventh grade students will have lockers that actually lock. Here is a little tutorial to remind students how to open their combination locks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Club Fridays

Students will have the opportunity to share the books they are reading in their effort to complete the twenty-five book assignment during Book Club Fridays. Book Club Fridays will be held every other Friday and will give students to both read a book of their choice and share their thoughts on that book with their classmates. Students are required to bring a book with them to ELA class on Book Club Fridays. Students can read books from home or borrow them from our classroom library. Students can also borrow books from the school library or even the public library.

The first two Book Club Fridays will be held on:
Friday, September 17th
Friday, October 1st

Current Events Fridays

Every Friday, seventh grade students will have an opportunity to learn about current events in our nation and world via a great website called This website is shown in classrooms across the country and delivers a summary of the most important events in a fun and concise manner. Check it out!

The Week in Rap - 2010 Summer Recap from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Summer Reading Assignment Reminder

Just a reminder that all summer reading assignments are due by the end of the day next Friday, September 17th. Students can turn their assignments in before Friday, but none will be accepted after 3 PM on the 17th. If students need help with the assignment, they can work with Ms. Short during lunch next week.

25-Book Assignment

All seventh grade students are required to read twenty-five books over the course of the year. Students will need to read a certain number of books each marking period.

Marking Period One - Six Books (Summary Activities Due October 25th, 2010)
Marking Period Two - Six Books (Summary Activities Due January 10th, 2011)
Marking Period Three - Seven Books (Summary Activities Due March 28th, 2011)
Marking Period Four - Six Books (Summary Activities Due June 15th, 2011)

Students are required to complete a summary activity for every book read. Students received a handout outlining the choices for summary activities today in class. If parents would also like a copy of these options, please contact Ms. Short at

Welcome back!

Ms. Short would like to welcome all of her seventh grade students and their families back to another great year of learning at HW Smith. Just as a reminder, families are encouraged to contact the school at 435-4279 if they have any concerns regarding their children. Together we can make this an amazing year!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Last Week of Half Days

Just a reminder that beginning next Monday, June 21st, all middle school students will be dismissed at 10:30 am.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Schedule for the Last Few Weeks of School

The end of the school year is just around the corner. In ELA, our class schedule is as follows:

June 10th - Drama Presentations
June 11th - Finish Drama Presentations and Choose Summer Reading
June 14th - Introduce Final Project
June 15th - Reading Day
June 16th and June 17th - Work Days
June 18th - Project Due, Special Awards Ceremony in Class
*June 21st - 1/2 Days Begin

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blog Question - Due 6/11/10

Please choose one of the following questions to answer. Please be sure to type your name beneath your response, so you can get credit.

1. Describe what our drama project has taught you about creating and/or performing a play.
2. Explain what contributions you made to insure your group's success.
3. Explain why your modernized version of "The Prince and the Pauper" is the best version. Describe what makes it special.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Final Installment of 25-Book Assignment

Just a reminder that the final summaries for the 25-book assignment are due to Ms. Short by the end of the day on Friday, June 11th. Some students have completed two out of the six books by reading Bronx Masquerade in ELA and Out of the Dust in AVID.

Summer Reading Choice Three - Hurricane Song

Here is a review from Booklist regarding this choice for summer reading:
Appropriate for grades 7-12. In the wake of his mom’s remarriage, Miles moves to New Orleans to be with his father, a professional musician, who lives and breathes jazz. Miles, who has always resented his father’s single-minded devotion to music, focuses on making his new school’s varsity football team and dreams of someday playing a championship game in the Superdome. That dream becomes a nightmare when Miles, Pop and his uncle Roy must seek refuge there from the advancing storm that will become Hurricane Katrina. Volponi pulls no punches in his visceral depiction of the horrors that New Orleans’ black residents experienced in a place that became, he suggests, an appalling combination of homeless shelter, war zone, and slave ship. The effect of this experience on Miles’ troubled relationship with his father seems a bit programmatic, and an epilogue feels tacked on to bring closure. Yet Volponi’s passionate outrage is palpable, and his infectious indignation will surely invite much reflection and discussion.

Summer Reading Choice Two - Gym Candy

Here is a review of Gym Candy from Booklist:

Having grown up in the shadow of his father's failed NFL career, high-school football player Mick Johnson is determined not to make the same mistakes. But when he's tackled just short of the goal in a pivotal game, he decides that vitamin supplements aren't enough and begins purchasing "gym candy," or steroids, from the trainer at his local gym. His performance starts breaking records and his father couldn't be more proud, but along with gains in muscle, he suffers "'roid rage," depression, and unsightly acne. When his secret finally comes out, he attempts suicide. Even after therapy, Mick is left wondering if he'll continue to be tempted by steroids. Deuker skillfully complements a sobering message with plenty of exciting on-field action and locker-room drama, while depicting Mick's emotional struggles with loneliness and insecurity as sensitively and realistically as his physical ones.

Summer Reading Choice One - The Rules of Survival

The following is a review of this possible summer reading choice from Booklist:

Appropriate for grades 7-10. Living with an unpredictable, psychotic mother has taught Matthew how to survive. Constantly on alert, he and his sister, Callie, devotedly shelter their younger stepsister, Emmy, from their mother's abuse and worry about staying safe. Matt insists that "fear isn't actually a bad thing . . . . It warns you to pay attention, because you're in danger. It tells you to do something, to act, to save yourself," but his terror is palpable in this haunting, powerful portrayal of domestic dysfunction, which is written in retrospect as a letter from Matt to Emmy. Unfortunately, the adults in the children's life, a distant father and an apathetic aunt, don't help, though Matt sees a spark of hope in Murdoch, who dates his mother, Nikki, and then leaves when he becomes another target for her escalating rage. It is Murdoch, with a violent past of his own, who is willing to risk getting involved and eventually becomes the change agent that the children so desperately need. The author of Double Helix (2003),Werlin reinforces her reputation as a master of the YA thriller, pulling off a brilliant departure in this dark but hopeful tale, with pacing and suspense guaranteed to leave readers breathlessly turning the pages.

Incoming 9th Graders Summer Reading

The school district has recently identified the three possible summer reading titles. ALL eighth graders will choose one of the following to read before beginning ninth grade. The choices are:

1. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
2. Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
3. Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi

Further information including reviews will be posted on our blog shortly. Students will have a chance to investigate each book next week before making their selection.

Half Day Next Tuesday

This is a reminder that all students will be dismissed on Tuesday at 10:30 AM for the half day. Students will attend periods one, two, and three on the half day.

Modified Schedule for Monday, June 7th

This is a reminder that the written portion of the 8th grade state science exam will be on Monday, June 7th. The exam will take place in the large cafeteria from 8:05 to 10:25. This means that students who have ELA periods one and three will not have class on Monday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Props, Costumes, and Scenery

Students are writing and performing original plays based on "The Prince and the Pauper." This means that students will need to create costumes, props, and scenery for their performances. Although students will be able to create some things in class, many students will be borrowing items from home to use in school. Please be sure to remind your child that they should drop off any items in Ms. Short's room in the morning for safe keeping. Also, if there is any question on whether a child should bring in an item for their performance, please contact Ms. Short at 435-4279.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Special Opportunities

The eighth grade class will be entering the busy month of June on Tuesday. In addition to exams such as the state tests in science and social studies, students will be preparing for the last exams or projects in all of their classes. In addition to this, eighth grade students will be participating in their Moving Up ceremony as well as other special days to celebrate their transition to high school. A list of these special events will be posted on our blog as they become available.

Students of the Week

Congratulations to last week's Students of the Week:
Period One - Alex
Period Three - Amir
Period Five - Halima
Period Six - Corey

Modernizing "The Prince and the Pauper" Project

Students will use their creativity and knowledge of drama to create a modern version of the classic story, "The Prince and the Pauper." Students will work collaboratively to write the script, create costumes and props, create scenery, and perform their play. Students will use the following time table to complete their projects:
Tuesday, June 1st - Introduce Project, Select Groups, Review Rubric, Begin Brainstorming
Wednesday, June 2nd and Thursday, June 3rd - Group Work Time (Write and Type Script, Create Costumes and Props, Create Scenery, Rehearse)
Friday, June 4th - Dress Rehearsal
Monday, June 7th - Present Plays

The Home Stretch

We are beginning the home stretch of the school year. Students will be completing both a group project and an individual project that will count for their final exam grade for the fourth marking period. More details regarding these projects including rubrics will be on the blog soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's HOT at HW Smith

No relief from heat for students, teachers

Check out the above link to the Channel 9 News story about the heat at HW Smith. They recorded temperatures of 115 degrees in our classroom!

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, May 17, 2010

Half Day on Wednesday

A reminder that there is a half day this week on Wednesday, May 19th. All students will be dismissed by 10:30 AM. For middle school students, we will be running periods four through six.

Photos Needed

Ms. Short is requesting photos of her eighth grade students from years passed. Ms. Short will be creating a video montage for the Moving Up Ceremony and would love pictures of students before they came to middle school. Pics can be brought to Ms. Short who will scan them and then return them OR digital files can be sent to Ms. Short's email at

Career Day Editorial

On Friday, all eighth graders took part in Career Day. Students were able to interview presenters from a wide-array of professions. Students will utilize this information to complete this week's editorial. All editorials are due on Wednesday, May 19th, by 10:30 AM.

Editorial Directions
Every job has specific responsibilities. Every job also things that make it enjoyable as well as those things that make it difficult. Compare and contrast two professions you learned about at Friday's Career Day. Also, discuss which of these two jobs you would prefer if you had to make a choice. be sure to:

- compare and contrast the two jobs explaining specific details about each profession
- explain which of the two jobs you would prefer to do in the future if forced to choose between the two
- use SPECIFIC DETAILS to support your position

Monday, May 10, 2010

Students of the Week

Congratulations to last week's Students of the Week. Keep up the good work.

1st Period - Jouliana
3rd Period - Justin
5th Period - Moo
6th Period - Safi

Field Test on Friday

All eighth grade students will be taking a field test for ELA and math on Friday. The exam will test questions for future state exams. The test will last from 8:00 to 9:35.

Creating a HW Smith Masquerade

This week students will be writing their own version of Bronx Masquerade. Students will be writing poems and explanatory prose just like we read in the novel. Once students have peer edited and revised their work, they will have a chance to publish their pieces. The final product will be a collection of all eighth graders' work. It should be pretty amazing!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Opportunity for Extra Credit

Need a few points extra credit? Here's an easy option. After finishing Bronx Masquerade, think about a book that someone might like if they liked Bronx Masquerade. Post a comment that gives the name of the book and an explanation of why someone would enjoy the book you are suggesting. All book suggestions are due by Friday, May 14th. Please be sure to leave your name in your comment, so you can get credit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Compare/Contrast Essay

Students are assigned a four-paragraph essay in which they compare and contrast themselves to a character from Bronx Masquerade. Students need to include specific details and examples to complete the essay. Essays are due by Friday at 3PM.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weekly Editorial

This week's editorial is slightly different than for other students in the school. A description is below.

Introduction: This time of year is especially difficult for eighth graders because they realize that the majority of their middle school career is over and they are preparing for their new life in high school. Because of this, many eighth grade students do not put forth their best effort and instead miss class work or homework assignments, do not study for tests and quizzes, and even begin acting out in disruptive ways in the hallway and in class.

Your Task: Your job is to brainstorm the reasons why eighth grade students might think the school is over when we have seven weeks left. Also, you will need to think through the consequences of what might happen if a student “checks out” with so much learning left to do in the school year.

The Editorial Format: You will have a choice of how to present your findings. You could:

Write a Letter to Ms. Lane

Write a friendly letter of at least two complete paragraphs explaining why students do not always do their best this late in the school year as well as a description of things that Ms. Lane and the teaching staff could do to motivate students. The friendly letter format must be followed.

Create a Poem

Using Bronx Masquerade for inspiration, create a persuasive poem of at least ten lines to motivate your classmates to do their best in the last seven weeks of the school year. Remember that the goal is to persuade your classmates to do better.

Draw a Political Cartoon

Create a cartoon that could go into the school newsletter that would inform the reader of the problem of students not doing their best in the end of the school year as well motivate students to change their bad habits. Use your humor and creativity!

You will complete the graphic organizer and then create you editorial on your own paper. Both items need to be turned in by Friday, May 7th, at 3PM for full credit.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blog Question of the Week

All students are reminded to answer the blog question of the week for Bronx Masquerade. Use the link on the right below the picture of HW Smith to connect.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Upcoming Quiz

Students will have a quiz on the novel, Bronx Masquerade, on Monday, May 3rd. Students began reading the novel before Spring Break and have been working steadily on understanding the novel and applying it to their own lives ever since. The quiz will cover all material up to page132 including important characters, plot developments, vocabulary, etc.

The Home Stretch

Students are in the home stretch to finish eighth grade. As of yesterday, all eighth grade students completed the NYS ELA Assessment. As their teacher of two years, I see many of many students developing a case of senior-itis meaning many of them have already finished the school year in their head although we have seven weeks left of school. Please encourage students to continue to do their best work and turn in all assignments. If you have any questions about your child's progress, please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Don't forget that Monday, April 26th, is the beginning of the NYS English Language Arts exam. On Monday, eighth graders will be completing Book One which is the reading comprehension section. Students will read approximately five different articles, excerpts, and/or poems and answer multiple-choice questions based on those readings. Students will also complete Book Two on Monday which is the listening section of the test. Students will listen and take notes on a passage that is read to them and then answer three or four short-answer questions and then one extended-response question.

On Tuesday, students will complete the reading and writing section of the test. Students will read two related passages, excerpts, and/or poems and then answer a few short-response questions based on the readings as well as write a short essay.

Students should be sure to get plenty of sleep and a good breakfast on the days of the exam. Also, the exam will begin promptly at 8:15 am so students should get to school on time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Updated Grades

Students will receive a print out of their updated grades when we return to school on Monday, April 26th. Parents are asked to look over this report and encourage their child to turn in missed assignments before grades are due for progress reports. The grade report will also need to be signed and returned as a homework assignment.

Nikki Grimes: 2009 National Book Festival

Here some words and poems from the author of Bronx Masquerade, Nikki Grimes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Many Assignments Due This Week

Since so many students will be out of the building various days for field trips, the following is a break down of assignments due this week:
- Spring Sport Editorial (Due by Friday)
- Signed Parent Letter (Due by Friday)
- Read up to pg. 64 in Bronx Masquerade (Due by Thursday)
- Character Chart Completed for Characters up to page 64 (Due by Thursday)
*Other classwork assignments will be given throughout the week. Any that are not finished in class become homework.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Break

Don't forget that this Friday is the last day of school before Spring Break. Students will return to school on Monday, April 26th. Enjoy a peaceful break!

Link to the Bronx Masquerade Blog

Ms. Constantine, our student teacher, created a blog for students to comment on the novel we are reading in class, Bronx Masquerade. Check it out!

Students of the Week

Congratulations to those students who were named Student of the Week for April 5th to April 9th, 2010:
Period One - Aseel A.
Period Three - Hassan O.
Period Five - Safa A.
Period Six - Abdinoor M.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Earning a HW Pass

Want to earn a HW pass? In the comment section, give two strategies or tips students should follow in order to be successful on the ELA exam. Remember that your comments will not automatically post. Simply write them and submit them (with your name) and I will post them.

The NYS English Language Arts Exam

Eighth grade students will take the NYS ELA exam beginning Monday, April 26th. Unfortunately, this is the day students return from Spring Break. Students will continue practice for the ELA in class in the next few weeks, and will also be working on ELA practice during their Spring Break. If any student is having difficulty with the practice exam at home, he or she can contact Ms. Short through this blog or by email (

Final Installment of 25-Book Assignment

Students are required to read six books for the fourth marking period. All summaries are due by June 11th. Because so many students have not turned in their summaries by the deadline in the past, it is Ms. Short's suggestion that students turn them in as they read instead of waiting until the end of the marking period.

Bronx Masquerade

Students have begun reading a very innovative novel called Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. The novel is in multi-genre format written in both poetry and prose. The novel surrounds the stories of several different students in an English class in the Bronx. Below are links to reviews about this work of fiction:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Extra Credit Opportunity

Students can earn twenty points to be added to their lowest grading category by creating a poem in the style of Langston Hughes' poem, "Mother to Son." Students are asked to create an extended metaphor comparing their life to an object or idea. As a reminder, the text of "Mother to Son" is below.

Next Installment of 25-Book Assignment

Just a reminder that the third installment of the twenty-five book assignment is due on Thursday, April 1st. Students need to turn in all book summaries by 3PM on the 1st. Students were required to read seven books for the third marking period.

Students of the Week for 3/22/10 to 3/26/10

Congratulations to the following students who earned the distinction of Student of the Week for 3/22 to 3/26:
Period One - Alize
Period Three - Jacob
Period Five - Nickoy
Period Six - Helena

Upcoming Day Off

Just a reminder that there will be no school next Friday, April 2nd, in observation of Good Friday. Enjoy your day off!

Important Poetry Terms

The following terms are important for students to review in order to successfully complete the Prove It's Poetry Project:
rhythm - the beat of a poem
rhyme - the repetition of sounds at the end of the word
repetition - a word or phrase that is repeated in a poem for emphasis
alliteration - a type of consonance where a consonant sound is repeated at the beginning of words
consonance - the repetition of consonant sounds in a line of poetry
assonance - the repetition of vowel sounds in a line of poetry
symbolism - when an object, idea, etc. represents something larger than itself

Prove It's Poetry Project

Students will be working on a poetry project over the weekend and throughout next week. Students will choose a song that they will prove is poetry by identifying and explaining examples of poetic elements found in the song. The project is worth 100 points total. The project will be graded in two parts: the poetry poster and the presentation. Every student has a copy of the directions and grading rubrics for the project.

Welcome, Miss Constantine!

Jessica Constantine, a student at SUNY Cortland, will be working with our class for the next seven weeks as a student teacher. Jessica is a very qualified individual who has already student taught at Groton High School. Miss Constantine plans to teach an innovative poetry unit using the novel, BRONX MASQUERADE by Nikki Grimes, as a medium. We are very excited to welcome Miss Constantine into our learning community.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Students of the Week

Congratulations to the following students who were named Students of the Week for 3/15-3/19:
Period One - Himzija
Period Three - Alma
Period Five - Yvonne
Period Six - Draquan

Figurative Language Quiz

All eighth grade students took a figurative language quiz last year and many students did exceptionally well. Overall the average for the entire grade was a 81.43. Students who achieved an "A" on this quiz were:
Amir B.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scholastic Reading Inventory

All eighth grade students will be taking the Scholastic Reading Inventory on Tuesday, March 16th. The computer based exam will determine each student's reading level. If parents are interested in obtaining the results, please contact Ms. Short.

Students of the Week

Congratulations to last week's Students of the Week:

Period One - Jazmine G.
Period Three - Sheldon H.D.
Period Five - Am P.
Period Six - Ronasia D.

Figurative Language Quiz

We will begin the week of 3/15 by reviewing for Wednesday's quiz on figurative language. Students have been studying and practicing many different aspects of figurative language and should review all of them including:
- literal meaning of words and phrases
- figurative meaning of words and phrases
- personification
- simile
- hyperbole
- metaphor
- onomatopoeia
- idioms
- cliches
Students can review a wide-variety of idioms and their explanations at

Thank You

I would like to thank all of my students and their families for their support and understanding after my mother's passing last month. I am very lucky to teach the students I do since they were wonderful in my absence. Thank you again.

Ms. Short

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Students of the Week

Congratulations to the outstanding students for the week of 2/8 to 2/11!

1st Period - Aseel
3rd Period - Naomi
5th Period - Lanaya
6th Period - Zhamir

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mid-Winter Recess

Don't forget that Mid-Winter Recess begins at the end of the day this Friday, 2/12. Students will not return to school until Monday, February 22nd, 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Writing Business Letters

We will round out our written correspondence unit with a study of business letters. Students will learn the use of business letters as well as the specific format in which to write them. Students will then write a business letter of compliment or a business letter of complaint to the maker of a product they often use.

Congratulations to the Recent Students of the Week

Congratulations to those students who earned the distinction of Student of the Week for 1/25-1/29 and 2/1-2/5!

1st Period
Admir C.
Demetriell D.

3rd Period

Jacob G.
Bailey P.
Ta'carra N.

5th Period
Seik P.
Luis S.

6th Period
Tiana H.
Lovetee D.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Needing Stamps

All students are asked to bring in two first-class stamps for our letter writing unit. If students bring in an additional two stamps, they will receive a homework pass.

Snail Mail Relay

Students are participating in what is known as the Great Snail Mail Relay. Eighth grade students from all across the country practice their writing skills by writing to other eighth graders in all fifty states. Students received a letter from a student in Mitchell, Indiana. All students will write back to this student and then write to another eighth grade class from another state. As we receive letters back, we will keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter Writing Unit

Students began a letter writing unit yesterday by investigating the five most common types of written correspondence. Students learned about:
-friendly letters
-business letters

Students also talked about how emailing and texting have made some written correspondence obsolete.

Students further discussed the proper format for friendly letters and began writing these types of letters today in class. The friendly letters are to the sixth grade class advising them about the transition to the middle school. After a peer editing workshop tomorrow, students will revise and publish their letters before sending them off to the sixth graders.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Just a reminder that this Friday, 1/29, is a half day. Students will begin being dismissed at approximately 10:15 AM. Students will attend periods 1, 2, and 3 on Friday.

Starting a New Unit

This week we will begin a letter writing unit. Students will identify a variety of written communications including emails, memos, notes, friendly letters, and business letters. Students will focus on the use and format of the two latter. Students will begin our unit by creating letters of advice to our current sixth graders advising them on their transition to middle school. We will also create other friendly letters that will connect our 8th grade class to other 8th grade classes in the United States. Students will also use business letters to convey their feelings about specific consumer products. More details and examples of these letters to follow!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Acuity Testing

Students will be taking the second acuity test beginning on Tuesday, January 19th. Acuity testing assesses your child's reading comprehension skills.

Final Literature Circle Quiz

Just a reminder that students will be taking their final Literature Circle quiz tomorrow. Students will answer five short-response questions using their Literature Circle books and notebooks as needed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HW Smith in the News

Check out the recent news HW Smith students have been making.

USDA considers getting rid of chocolate milk at school lunch

Local students upset over letter from President Obama

Looking Ahead

To continue with our twenty-five book assignment, the next installment of summaries are due on Thursday, April 1st, 2010. Students will need to read and summarize seven books by this time.
Summaries should include the following information and be no fewer than five sentences:

*the title of the book

*its author

*a short description of the book

* a recommendation if other students should read the book and why

End of the Marking Period

Just a reminder that the end of the marking period is this Friday, January 15th. All work for the quarter must be submitted to Ms. Short by this date. Thank you!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Students of the Week

Congratulations to this week's Students of the Week:

1st Period - James

3rd Period - Asmae
5th Period - Amal
6th Period - Draquan

Keep working hard!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Only One Week Left

Just a reminder that there is only week remaining to finish Literature Circle books. If students are behind, they can sign out a book to read at home.

Staying Safe on the Internet

On Tuesday, January 19, Kathleen Deck from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be at HWS to make a presentation on internet safety to all students in grades five through eight. This is a great opportunity for our tech-savvy students to learn how to be safe while they are online.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Literature Circle Final Project - Due 1/22/10

Students received directions today for their Literature Circle Final Project. A duplicate of the student directions are below. Also, the rubric that will be used to score the project is after the directions.

REQUIRED MATERIALS: alphabet planner chart

book pages

markers, colored pencils, or crayons

illustrations (hand-drawn, computer-generated, or from magazines

and newspapers)

PROCEDURE: Students will brainstorm words for each letter of the alphabet that represent something important from the Literature Circle novel. The words can be

Ø names of important characters

Ø parts of the setting

Ø description of events

Ø adjectives used to describe characters, events, etc.

Students will then explain the word’s significance in a short paragraph of at least three sentences. Students will also provide a related picture. Pictures can be hand-drawn, computer generated, and/or cut out of newspapers and magazines.

Students will then combine this information into a creative ABC book that showcases the highlights of the novel. The ABC book can be typed or handwritten, but should be neat and pleasing to the eye.

***Please note that the ABC book should represent the entire novel. Points will be deducted from projects that do not include information from the book as a whole. Students who do not finish reading their Literature Circle book will likely do poorly on this project because they may not know all the events of the story.

Students will not receive the pages to create their book until they have submitted an alphabet planning chart to Ms. Short.

Rubric for Literature Circle

ABC Book Project







Every letter contains a word that is meaningful and directly related to the assigned literature circle novel.

Every letter contains a word that is directly related to the assigned literature circle novel, but one or two are less meaningful.

Most letters contain a word that is meaningful and directly related to the assigned literature circle novel, but at least three letters are missing related words.

Most letters contain a word that is meaningful and directly related to the assigned literature circle novel, but more than three letters are missing related words.



Every letter is assigned a graphic or picture that goes well with the text.

Every letter is assigned a graphic or picture, but at least one does not seem to go well with the text.

Most letters are assigned a graphic or picture, but at least two are missing.

Some letters are assigned a graphic or picture, but more than five are missing.

Related Paragraphs

Every letter has a complete paragraph that clearly explains the word and its significance.

Most letters have a complete paragraph that clearly explains the word and its significance, but at least one paragraph is does not clearly explain the word’s significance.

Some letters have a complete paragraph that clearly explains the word and its significance, but at least two paragraphs do not clearly explain the word’s significance.

Although some letters have related paragraph, most do not explain the word's significance AND/OR more than three paragraphs are missing.

Facts Included

The project contains many specific facts and demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the entire book.

The project contains many specific facts, but only demonstrates a thorough knowledge of parts of the book.

The project contains some specific facts, but only demonstrates a basic knowledge of the book.

The project contains few specific facts and only demonstrates a very basic knowledge of parts of the book.

Spelling and Grammar

The project is completely free of errors in spelling and/or grammar in all parts of the ABC book.

The project is nearly free of errors in spelling and/or grammar, but one to three errors remain.

The project contains four to five errors in spelling and/or grammar.

The project contains six errors or more errors in spelling and/or grammar.

Overall Score _________ out of 100 points = ____________