Thursday, December 18, 2014

Project Due Date Postponed!

In light of all the illness going around the school, I have decided to extend the due date for the Crunch projects to MONDAY.  Students who are reading this, please spread the news to your classmates.  Monday is the LATEST day on which the project will be accepted.

Thanks y'all, and Happy Thursday!  For all of you sick people, GET BETTER QUICKLY!

Much love,
Miss Whitman

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Carol Script Link

Hi all!  Tomorrow and Friday in language arts classes, we'll be reading an abridged version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."  Students, you've already received your parts, but the scripts are here at school with me.  So here's a link to it online.  Feel free to practice at home--I'm hoping that every line of the script will be read with great inflection and expression!

See y'all tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Important Reminders!

Hi there, all!

Some important reminders for this week...

1. Period A did a very nice job at our story celebration today.  Tomorrow we're having our story celebrations for Periods B and D.  All students in those classes should have their FINAL DRAFTS of their stories totally typed and ready to submit at the end of the celebration.  I'm excited for some visiting students to hear what my awesome writers have been working on so far this year!

2. All students have received a list of assignment options for the culmination of our class read, Crunch.  In case anyone has lost it, here's a link to the list of choices.  Students can choose any ONE project, and they're due by FRIDAY of THIS WEEK.

3. This Thursday and Friday (Thursday for Periods E and G and Friday for Period F), we'll be doing a class dramatic reading of "A Christmas Carol."  All students have received their parts, and I'm very excited to hear them tell the story with feeling and gusto!

Thank you all for being wonderful--looking forward to these last few, fun activities before the break!

Much love,
Miss Whitman

Thursday, December 11, 2014


SUPER IMPORTANT REMINDER!  All stories must be TYPED and PRINTED before your next Writing Workshop class!  For Period A and B students, that means BY TOMORROW!!!  For Period D students, you have until Monday (but getting it done before then is always a smart move!)

Remember the requirements

  • Type it on your CMS Google Docs account and share it with me -
  • Font size 11 or 12
  • No bold or italicized text except in special circumstances that you've discussed with me
  • Times New Roman font
  • Double-spaced

Monday, December 8, 2014

Homework 12/8/14 and Information on Story Final Drafts

Hello there, all!  Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend.  A couple of important items...

1. Friday and Monday (today), I did a check for student reading reflections, and was disappointed to find that a number of you have not been doing this small task.  All I'm asking is that you record the title of your daily reading book, the date, and something that interested or intrigued you, a connection you made, a prediction, etc.  Just a few sentences will do the trick.  I do these checks randomly to ensure that you are completing your reading reflections regularly, so it's your job to always have the reflections with you in class.  If you can show me your reflections, even though they're late, I will still give you almost-full credit!  But I'm not going to chase you down--it's your job to find me before or after class to show me your work.

2. Your tone and mood packets should be completed by your next Language Arts class (tomorrow for Periods F and G, and Wednesday for Period E).  They were technically due today, but because so few students had them finished, I decided to give extra credit to the small number of students who did submit them.

3. By the end of tomorrow, all students will have had a class period spent in the computer lab to begin typing their stories.  Outside of that class period, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to get them typed, with extra attention paid to spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.  All stories should be typed and shared with me on Google docs by THURSDAY.  We will be peer editing them, and then reading the final copies aloud to each other on TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.

4. The second SRC book of the marking period is due TOMORROW.  Please turn it in on time, whether you see me for class tomorrow or not.

Thanks for your attention for this long post--all important stuff.  We have much to accomplish before 2014 draws to a close.  Please do your VERY BEST to stay on task and remember the goals that you set for yourselves at the beginning of the marking period.

See y'all tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Hey y'all!  Happy Thursday!

For homework tonight, students must...

1. Fill in the second column of the "Author's Intent" graph that you received in class today.  (This assignment is for Writing Workshop Periods A and B--it will be given to students from Period D tomorrow.)

2. If for some reason you haven't finished writing your story in your writing notebook, this is a MAJOR issue that must be rectified immediately.  In light of the LARGE amount of time that we've spent on our stories, there will be NO EXCUSE for not having it finished.

Have a splendiferously lovely day! (and yes, "splendiferously" is an adverb!)

Much love,
Miss Whitman

Monday, December 1, 2014

Homework for 12/1/14

Welcome back, lovely students!  

I hope that all of you were able to refresh and rejuvenate a bit over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I am so very thankful to be your teacher!

Three quick reminders:

1. Your next SRC (number two for the marking period) is due on December 9th, which is next TUESDAY.  You have ample time to finish your novel and submit an excellent quiz score and/or alternate assessment.  I'm looking forward to finding out about what you've read.

2. Students in Writing Workshop Periods B and D received a homework assignment today, and the same assignment will be given to the Period A students tomorrow.  You are to record in your writing notebook two techniques used by the author of your independent reading book.  Mention specifically what the author does (i.e. during the high speed car chase, the author writes using short, choppy sentences).  Then write your best explanation of WHY the author does this (i.e. I think the author uses these choppy sentences to make the action move more quickly for the reader).  Try to focus on the techniques we've talked about in our most recent classes--symbolism, imagery, sentence variety (short vs. long/simple vs. compound sentences), mood, etc.  I'll be looking for the writing homework DATED and IN YOUR WRITING NOTEBOOKS (you can do it on a piece of paper and paste it into your  notebook if you want) when I grade them on Friday. 

3. Students in Language Arts F and G have a short homework assignment related to our class read, Crunch.  They should write down answers, in complete sentences, to the two questions below.  This should be ready to submit during the next language arts class period.

  • Why do you think Lil is so stubborn about Robert helping out at the Bike Barn?  How do you think you would act in Lil's position?
  • Dewey feels bad after insulting Lil and saying she's spent her summer "hanging off a scaffold."  Have you ever said something to someone close to you and then immediately regretted what you said?

Have a happy day, my darlings!
Miss Whitman

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dialogue Homework

Hi there students and parents, and Happy Weekend!

Just a reminder that all students have a homework assignment to prepare for our lesson on writing realistic dialogue.  Students have been asked to "eavesdrop" on a conversation that fills up one side of a sheet of lined paper.  Students should bring the transcribed dialogues to class on Monday, and we'll be using them to note the difference between believable dialogue and the less-convincing stuff that sometimes ends up in our stories if we're not careful.

There are some stipulations to the assignment, so I've listed the task and all conditions below.

1. Sometime before Monday, you must record a conversation between two speakers.  YOU should NOT be one of the speakers, and the speakers should  not know that you're recording the conversation.

2. After you've listened to/recorded the conversation, write it down on a sheet of paper, starting a new line each time the speaker changes.  Label the speakers as Person A and Person B--do not use actual names.  Your conversation SHOULD NOT REVEAL ANYTHING THAT THE SPEAKERS WOULD NOT WANT OTHERS KNOWING.  THEY SHOULD ALSO NOT INCLUDE ANY INAPPROPRIATE CONTENT OR LANGUAGE.

3. In class, we'll be looking at the dialogue strings that you've found and determining what makes them authentic.  We'll then translate our observations into strategies to improve the dialogue in our stories.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Hi everyone!  Happy Wednesday!

Just a reminder that the first SRC of the marking period was due YESTERDAY 11/18/14.  Overall, I'm pleased by how many students showed responsibility in getting them in on time.  BUT, if you look in Genesis and your SRC is marked missing, please aim to get it to me ASAP so that you don't lose a bunch of points for lateness.  I'll look forward to receiving them tomorrow from students who still owe them to me.

Have a great day!
Miss Whitman

Monday, November 17, 2014

Today's Language Arts HW

Hi everyone!

Today we learned about conflict, and the four types of conflict that we most often see in literature.  For homework, students are to look at their independent reading texts and identify two different conflicts (of two different categories from the four that we discussed) that they can find in their story.  They should write the title and author of the book, the two types of conflicts, and a short sentence telling me what the conflict is.  I'll be checking for it tomorrow.

Also, EXCELLENT work on the benchmark!  SO many of you did really well!  I'm so impressed and proud to call y'all my students!

Much love, and happy Monday!
Miss Whitman

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Benchmark Exam Tomorrow, Y'All!

Here's the text of the study guide I provided to students today after school.  There are links to practice exercises that you can do online.  Please come to school prepared to do your best!

Benchmark Exam Prep

Context Clues
What are context clues?
Practice figuring out what a word means based on the words close to it.

Narrative POV
Be able to name and define the four narrative points of view that we’ve discussed (first person, second person, third person limited, and third person omniscient).
Be able to identify the narrative point of view of a passage.  To practice online, go to this link:

Author’s Purpose
Know the acronym PIE and what it stands for.
Be able to identify the author’s purpose in different types of writing.  For extra practice with this, go here:

Plot Structure
Be able to identify and define the five components of a plot diagram (exposition/introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution).
Be able to determine where different parts of a story belong on a plot diagram.  To practice this skill, go here:

Be able to identify the meaning of S.T.E.A.L. and give examples for each.  For a practice organizer, go here:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Important Reminders

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to school after that nice, long weekend!  I hope you're all refreshed and rejuvenated.  A few important items of note...

1. Your homework, due TOMORROW for A/E and D/G and WEDNESDAY for B/F, is to complete the class survey found on this very website under the "Links" tab.  Under the "Links" tab, click the word "survey" and it will take you to the form you must fill out.  It's entirely optional to put your name, but the rest of the items on the form are required for submission.  Thank you for helping me to become a better teacher!  Your thoughts and ideas matter to me a lot.

2. This FRIDAY, you'll be taking your BENCHMARK EXAM for Marking Period One.  The exam will cover the main topics you've learned about in Language Arts so far this year--narrative point of view, plot structure, author's purpose, characterization, and context clues.  Please begin reviewing your notes NOW so that you're super prepared for Friday!

3. This Wednesday and Thursday, we'll be having "student-led" conferences, meaning that YOU, the STUDENT, will be facilitating a discussion with me about your performance over the past marking period and your goals for improvement.  You have received (or will receive tomorrow) copies of your grades from MP 1 and a reflection sheet that you must fill out and bring up when you conference with me.  I expect you to be thoughtful and specific during our conversations.  I think you all know how much I want you to succeed, but if you don't want it for yourself, then we've got a problem...don't forget that you're all WAY better than adequate!

4. This Friday evening is Collingswood's Book Fair at the Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill.  The event will take place from 3-8 PM, and a $100 gift card will be raffled off to a lucky someone.  A portion of all money made--on books and on food purchased at the in-store cafe, will go to Collingswood if you mention our school when you make your purchase.  Come on out and join in the fun!

I think that's all for now.  It's a busy week--make sure that you're keeping track of what's due in your agenda books.

See y'all tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

HOMEWORK for 11/5 - DUE MONDAY 11/10/14

  1. Your first piece of homework is to finish drafting your story by the start of next week when you come back from the long weekend.  It doesn't have to be your final copy, but the draft should be completed. I will be checking!

  1. Your second piece of homework is to think about, and look at, some endings--endings of books you’ve recently read, articles from class, etc., and think about what makes them effective (or not effective).  Jot down some thoughts in your writing notebook (with the entry dated).

Opportunity for the girls...

Attention, ladies in my grade seven Writing Workshop and Language A

Opportunity for the girls...

Attention, ladies in my grade seven Writing Workshop and Language Arts classes!  Here's a great opportunity for you to engage with other young writers AND professionals in Philadelphia.  Check it out!  If you go, I will happily give you some extra credit points for the second marking period!

Have a great long weekend!
Miss W.

Friday, October 31, 2014

SRC 4 Grades are IN GENESIS

Please check Genesis to make sure that all of your SRC grades are accurate and entered.  The end of the marking period is looming before us, and I want to be sure that we're all on the same page with regard to your grades!

Happy Halloween!  Hope it's full of Edgar Allen Poe-tastic eeriness!

Miss Whitman

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marking Period One - Check Genesis!

Hi students and parents,

Just a reminder that Marking Period One is coming to a close very soon.  Please be sure that you're checking Genesis for your grades and taking note of any missing assignments that you can still turn in for partial credit.

If you are missing one or more SRC grades, you are likely to receive a D or an F for the marking period.  Please don't let this happen!  

Some of you have been reading, but haven't been submitting SRC assignments, which is just silly!  PLEASE come and see me if you have questions or concerns about your grade, and I will happily sit down with you and help you to think things through, and, if needed, come up with a plan to do better next marking period.

Have a beautiful Wednesday!
Miss Whitman

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Final SRC for the Marking Period

Just a reminder that the final SRC for the first marking period is due this coming Thursday, October 30th.  Please be sure to turn it in on time to receive full credit!

Also, here's the link to the wonderful interjection song video.  I'm pretty sure you're going to say, "WOW!" after you've watched it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Having trouble remembering your usage rules? There, their, they're, it's okay...

Hope y'all caught my funny words of comfort in this blog title.  The correct reassurance is actually, "There, there there," but I'm hoping that you already figured that out for yourself!  Today, we went over the proper and distinct uses of "their," "there," and "they're."  I wanted to share the distinction with all of you, students and parents both, so that you can utilize it in all future writing, and also rock out all future weekly usage quizzes.

Here are my tricks...

THERE - This word has to do with location, as in, "I put my toothbrush over there."  One way to remember it is to think about the fact that if you knock off the "t" in front, you get "here," which is also a location.  You can also use this to remember to use "where" instead of "were" when you're saying something like, "Where is the movie theatre?"  So, THERE you are--a nice, simply way to remember the meaning of "there."

THEY'RE - This is a contraction for the words "they are."  The apostrophe tells us that two words have been sort of fused together to make this new word.  You should also know that a contraction is a pair of words connected and made shorter by adding an apostrophe.  If the opposite of contracting is expanding, it makes sense that when a word/phrase "contracts," it gets shorter.

THEIR - This word has to do with possession.  In fact, it's a possessive pronoun.  That means it can take the place of a noun AND it has to do with ownership.  So instead of saying, "Emily and Bill spent months preparing for Emily and Bill's wedding," I could say, "Emily and Bill spent months preparing for THEIR wedding."  We know that "their" is a pronoun substitution for "Emily and Bill's," and we know the wedding belongs to them, so we use "their."

For my video people, here's a cool video that details - in under two minutes--which word to use when.  It includes those little green army men too--bonus!

Also, if you want to review past quizzes to prepare yourself for future ones, here are links to each of them:

Usage Quiz One:
Usage Quiz Two:

Have a beautiful Wednesday!
Miss Whitman

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Hey Y'all!  Happy Friday!  This week really flew by!

Yesterday and today, we infused a bit of math into our language arts class, which I hope was at least a little bit fun!  From a practical standpoint, it should help you students to manage your reading time in a way that ensures that you finish your current books before your final SRC of the marking period is due (on October 30th).

Just a couple of quick reminders:

  • If your reading reflections are marked as missing, you can show them to me before the end of the day tomorrow for partial credit.  After that point, you will NOT be able tot get credit for them.  BE PREPARED FOR FUTURE CHECKS LIKE THAT ONE.  Hint, hint, nudge, nudge....
  • If I haven't received your third SRC, I've marked in "missing" in Genesis.  Please make sure it's submitted ASAP, as missing SRCs have a sizable impact on your class average.
  • Make SURE that you have your "Understanding Perspective and Point of View" homework with you in language arts class tomorrow.  I will be giving you a grade for completion and we'll be going over it in class.
  • Sometime in the near future, expect that I'll be doing a random "book check" to make sure that all students have brought their independent reading selections to class.  This is something that you should have EVERY day, no excuses.  Now you can't say you weren't warned!
  • If you are struggling, have questions, or need extra help, please know that I am here to assist you!  I am here in the morning by 7:15 each day, and in the afternoon most days until at least 3:30 (often a lot later).  Stop on by!  I'd love to see your face, hear what's new, and help alleviate any confusion you might have.
Have a great day!
Miss Whitman

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Homework 10/14/14

Hey there, y'all!

Great classes today--lots of good discussion and participation.  Just wanted to share the homework assignments and information so that you can stay on top of your game!

All Writing Workshop classes should bring to their next class meeting the narrative writing checklists that I distributed to you in class.  Before next class, you must review the criteria listed on the sheet for a quality piece of seventh grade narrative writing.  Once you've reviewed everything, I want you to circle three areas that you want to particularly focus on as you compose your first narrative pieces.  You do NOT need to check off anything on the checklist, as you haven't yet written a draft.  Just circle the little blurbs for your three areas of focus.

All Language Arts classes must finish the "Understanding Perspective and Point of View" sheets that you received in class.  Remember that they are double sided!  If you need to re-watch the clip to help you as you write your answers, here's the link:

Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

P.S. If you want to see the clip from "Dead Poets Society" to understand why I made you stand on your desks today, here it is:

Monday, October 13, 2014

:-) Happy Teacher

Happy Monday, my dears!

While y'all are gallivanting all over town, I'm here at dear CMS about to begin a day of professional development!  I'm looking forward to seeing my smiling students tomorrow!

I wanted to extend a GIANT thank you to all of the students who were able to make it to Saturday's book festival in spite of rain and general busy-ness.  It was such a great experience to see CMS students so engaged in literary conversation with a real, live author--whose work they've read and enjoyed.  I was extremely impressed by the caliber of questions asked by our CMS seventh graders, and I know Mr. Rothwell is proud as well.  I hope that many of you were able to find some great book bargains too!  I bought about 15 myself, plus a few good-looking selections for our classroom library.

At the end of Mrs. Connor's talk, she said to me, "You are a very lucky teacher to have these kids for your students."  I quite agree.

Thank you for being wonderful!  Don't forget--your next SRC is due TOMORROW!!!  Don't be late!  If you need a copy of the alternate assessment list, you can find it in the Scholastic Reading Counts menu on this website.

Happy Reading!
Miss Whitman

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Festival!

This is your final reminder, everyone!  Tomorrow is the Collingswood Book Festival!  If you would like to receive extra credit (in the form of a 100% SRC grade), just show up at 1 PM on the 2nd floor of the Collingswood PUBLIC Library.  Be prepared to ENGAGE in the conversation by listening actively and asking thoughtful questions.  Make sure that I stamp your paper so that you can receive the extra credit.  If you lost your paper, here's the link to another one.

IN THE EVENT OF RAIN, the show will go on!  But the festival will be held at CHS, and the conversation with Leslie Connor will be in Room 121 of the high school.  You can keep track of the final decision--it will be made by 6:30 AM tomorrow--at the Collingswood Book Festival website here.

Looking forward to seeing many of your smiling faces!  Happy long weekend!

Miss Whitman

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Free Compliments

Hi all!

Kudos to my wonderful students for doing a great job breaking down the "wall of disrespect" today.  You were awesome, and you had great contributions to our class conversation.  For those of you who may want to watch them again, I'd like to share the link to the two videos we watched in class.  Here they are:

Jeremiah's Story -
The Free Compliment Guys -

As I mentioned in class today, I will provide a bit of extra credit to students who decide to emulate the upstanders featured in the above videos, either by doing what they've done or coming up with your own awesome initiative.  To receive extra credit, I'll require you to present some kind of photographic or video proof of your efforts.  I'll also require a reflection paragraph telling me about what you did and how the experience affected you.  Be as creative and thoughtful as you can!

Thanks for being wonderful and making my job a joy!
Lots of love,
Miss Whitman

P.S. SRC THREE IS DUE ON TUESDAY 10/14!  DON'T FORGET!!!  I will NOT be providing class time for students to take SRC quizzes, so if you need to take a quiz, you'll need to find time before or after school, or during advisory, to take your quiz.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Week of Respect

Hi there, students and parents!

This week, we are celebrating the Week of Respect, and we kicked off today by having students enter CMS to find inspirational messages posted on their lockers.  Students, if you are lovers of "words of affirmation," as I am, then you probably took great delight in finding a special message to brighten your day!  To reiterate the positive messages in those notes, I want to say that one month into the school year, and knowing y'all a lot better than I did in early September, I still really do believe that every one of you is smart and capable of doing great things!  Please, parents and guardians, encourage your young people to seize the day (Carpe Diem!), because they are the leaders of tomorrow.  I hope that this Week of Respect is simply a reminder of the behaviors that we exhibit throughout the year.

Have a beautiful week!
Miss W.

Monday, September 29, 2014

SRC Check-In

Hello, students and parents, and Happy Monday!

Just a reminder to students and parents to STAY ON TOP OF YOUR SRC reading!  Not doing your SRCs is a very easy way to sabotage your language arts grade, and I don't want that to happen to any of my students because you're all way better than that!  If you're having trouble or concerns of any sort about this, please come and see me.  I've just entered grades for the second SRC of the marking period, and those students who haven't submitted either of them at this point are looking at a very low grade right now.  Please be sure to submit ASAP!  I also received three alternate assessments today with no names on them--if one of them is yours, please identify yourself tomorrow so that I can give you a grade.

See y'all tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello there, my dears!

A few reminders for tomorrow....

1. Your writing notebooks are due for a weekly grade, and should be left in the blue bin before the end of the day.

2. Your reading binders are also due for a weekly grade, and should be left along the window sill in our classroom before the end of the day.  Remember that I'll be grading the binders based on organization, notes, and reflections on your independent reading

3. Your second SRC of the marking period is due.  You may turn in an alternative assessment or take a ten-question quiz on one of the school computers.  All students have now had the opportunity during class to take their SRC quizzes.  If you plan on taking one and still haven't done so, you are responsible for finding time to take it tomorrow--either during advisory or before/after school.  If you need another copy of the Alternative Assessments option list, you can find it here.

I'll see all of you tomorrow.  Happy Almost Friday!!!
Miss Whitman

P.S. I know that I was talking to one call (my D/G "do-gooders," I think) about personality inventories and the Myers Briggs test.  If you were interested in finding out your Myers Briggs typology, you can take a free quiz here.  (I'm an ESFJ).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writers' Notebooks

Hi there, students and parents,

Just a quick note for those of you who may have been unhappy with your current Writing Workshop grades in Genesis...don't fret quite yet!

Some students did a GREAT job on their first Friday notebook check, but others were missing some very important items that affected their grades.  Some of the most common issues were...

  1. Forgetting to put the date above ALL entries in your notebooks--anything you write on any given day should have the date at the top!
  2. Writing insufficient notes, or writing no notes at all.  Every time we have a mini lesson in class, you should be writing down notes on what is most important in the BACK of your notebook!  These notes should be written in a way that is most useful to you!  If you want to review it, you can access the (fabulously fascinating) Powerpoint from this week's lesson on note taking and retention HERE.
  3. Not writing ENOUGH.  While I am looking more for quality than quantity when it comes to your writing, I do expect that you are writing at least a FAIR amount during our independent writing sessions.  When I open a notebook and see little or nothing written on a particular day when we had class, I am concerned, and it will affect your grade.
  4. Sloppiness and disorganization.  There were a small number of cases this past week when I could barely read a student's handwriting, or where a student's notebook was not organized properly (mini lesson notes in the back, all other writing in the front).  Please be sure that you're keeping your notebook organized.  It will make your life--and mine--much easier!
Please keep these issues in mind so that next week, your writing notebook grade goes soaring upward!  Remember--every student in my class is better than adequate, and your notebook should reflect that!

Looking forward to giving out some high scores next week!
Miss Whitman

P.S. Parents who may be reading, I would recommend that you also check out the Powerpoint on note taking (link included above under item two).  There are some very interesting tidbits about the importance of teaching others, and your child should be able to tell you all the intriguing details after today's (or, for some students, tomorrow's) lesson!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Due Date Update

Hi all!

Just a quick announcement--I am postponing the due date for the second SRC of the marking period.  Originally, it was to be turned in tomorrow, but it will now be due on FRIDAY 9/26.

Hopefully this will provide the extra bit of time necessary to finish your current independent reading books and complete your assessments.  I will be bringing students to the library later this week to take the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), and during this time you will also be able to take SRC quizzes if you need to.

Thanks!  Feel free to e-mail if you have questions,
Miss Whitman

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unpack Your Adjectives

Just in case you liked this song so much that you want to listen to it again and again, here's the link!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homework...and a funny

Hi there all!

Just a reminder that all classes now have homework for Writing Workshop due either tomorrow or Friday (whenever your WW section meets next).

Overall, I've been very pleased with what I've seen happening in our Writing Workshop sessions.  Remember, though, that during independent writing time, you need to be writing independently.  I know it's tempting to just tell your peers about all of your story ideas instead of writing them down, but I can't assess your progress when I can't see it on the page.  For that reason, I ask that you please stay focused on your OWN writing during writing time!

Looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow.  Until then, here's a bit of humor for your Wednesday...


Reblogging cuz I love it.

Lyrics to I like big books and I cannot lie. Hilarious!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homework for 9/16/14

Hi there, everyone!  Happy Tuesday.

Just a homework reminder for my Writers' Workshop A students.  Tonight, you are to look at either a newspaper, a magazine, or a blog (or a combination of these) and come up with as many possible story ideas as possible.  Look at things going on in the world and see if you can think of a creative way to fictionalize them.

For example, I came across an article on entitled "It's back to class, and less sleep, for many high schoolers."  I might come up with an idea for a piece of realistic fiction featuring a student who decides to fight to get her high school to start in the afternoon instead of the morning.  Maybe she'll start a big movement at the school and there will be a huge student vs. administration debate that changes school hours all over the state!

I challenge you to come up with as many ideas as possible!  I expect to see this list in your writing notebook, with the date of completion (tonight, 9/16) when I check it at the end of the week.  I'll walk around and check during the next class session as well.

Miss Whitman

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some Wisdom from Honest Abe...

More 6-Word Memoirs

Here are a few more six-word memoirs to check out...

Homework for 9/15

Any students who were not prepared to organize their reading binders today in class should please do so and have them ready to go tomorrow.  There should be five sections in the binder, and they should have the following labels:

1. Class Reads
2. Independent Reading
3. Mini-Lessons
4. Annotations
5. Friday Letters

I will be checking for the organization of these binders on Friday, and it WILL count toward your language arts class grade.  This is an easy way to get a 100% added to your marking period average!

Thank you!
Miss Whitman

Martin Seligman and Positive Psychology

This morning, the students in my Period D class talked briefly about the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Positive Psychology, where the renowned Dr. Martin Seligman is a leading researcher in the field.  We talked about how we can become happier simply by choosing to be happy, and following the "fake it till you make it" plan!  Some students expressed interest in learning more, so here is a link to the Center for Positive Psychology, where you can read about Seligman's research as well as take an inventory to determine your happiness quotient! :-)

Have fun!
Miss Whitman

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Reading SRCs

Hello there, students and parents!  I hope that all of you had a restful weekend.

I just wanted to quell any concerns that might have arisen regarding the summer SRC quizzes, which were supposed to take place this past Friday.  Most students were able to successfully log into the system and take their quizzes, but for a few, there were technical complications or password issues.  If this is you (or your child), fret not!  I will be sure to allow the time necessary to rectify the issue, and your grade will not be affected.  Students, I'll speak to you this week regarding when we can arrange for you to take your quizzes if you haven't already.

Sorry for the inconvenience--technology is always a bit of a struggle during the first few weeks of the school year.

See y'all tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Monday, September 8, 2014

6-Word Memoirs...

Today I challenged my students to create memoirs that were only six words long.  I asked them to be very deliberate about the words they chose, and to come up with a statement that expressed who they were.  Here are a few of their creations...

Yes, I know my students are awesome.  :-)

Happy Tuesday, wonderful students and parents,

I'm so excited for the year ahead in Seventh Grade Language Arts and Writing Workshop!  I hope that you are too,  This week, we'll be giving some personality to our writers' notebooks, as well as organizing our reading binders and our Word of the Day cards.  I hope that by getting all of these organizational tasks completed now, we can be more efficient about learning throughout the remainder of the year.

Don't forget that we'll be visiting the computer lab this week for students to take the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) and their summer reading quizzes (SRC).  Also, remember to bring in any decorative items that you may want to use to personalize your writers' notebooks.

Also, parents, if you happen to find a great deal on hand sanitizer and want to send in a bottle for our classroom, it's always appreciated as cold season approaches!

Looking forward to the rest of the week!

Lots of love,
Miss Whitman

Just a reminder of the most important rule of all...

Be Nice

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Homework 9/4

Happy First Day of School, all!  It was truly a joy to meet all of my students today, and I know we have a great year ahead of us, full of great books and beautiful words!

For tonight's homework, students are to review the class syllabus with their parent(s)/guardian(s), and return the signed lower portion of the third page by tomorrow.  Students have also been asked to sign up for Remind, our class text messaging service, as well as follow the class website (where you're reading this post as we speak!).

Looking forward to tomorrow!
Miss Whitman

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SRC Basics

All students in Language Arts 7 will be required to read four books per marking period independently.  These selections may NOT include anything read as a class or in previous school years.  Students who complete all four selections in a marking period may opt to submit additional books for added points.

When a student completes an independent reading selection, he/she may either take a 10-question SRC Quiz on a CMS computer OR submit an alternative assessment chosen from a list of options provided by me.  I will NOT accept sloppy work or alternative assessments based on sixth grade language arts requirements.

Students are most welcome to submit SRC assignments early, and will receive extra credit points for doing so.  There will be a specific due date for each SRC, and a text reminder will be sent home 5-7 days in advance of each due date.

Here are the SRC due dates for the 2014-15 school year.

Marking Period 1
Summer Reading SRC - Wednesday, September 10th
SRC 2 - Tuesday, September 23rd
SRC 3 -  Tuesday, October 14th
SRC 4 - Thursday, October 30th

Marking Period 2
SRC 1 - Tuesday, November 18th
SRC 2 - Tuesday, December 9th
SRC 3 - Tuesday, January 6th
SRC 4 - Friday, January 16th

Marking Period 3
SRC 1 - Friday, February 6th
SRC 2 - Wednesday, February 18th
SRC 3 - Friday, March 6th
SRC 4 - Tuesday, March 24th

Marking Period 4
SRC 1 - Friday, April 17th
SRC 2 - Friday, May 1st
SRC 3 - Friday, May 15th
SRC 4 - Wednesday, June 3rd

Some wisdom from the great Nelson Mandela...

Quote of the Week (Color) - 36 quotes included use one each week! Quotes teach students to never give up, use their imaginations, value education, be unique, and be a friend.

Awesome Work

This page will feature great pieces of student work.  Get excited to check it out soon!

Writers' Notebook

One of your first assignments will be to design and organize your WRITERS' NOTEBOOK.  I have designed my own as an example.  This book will be a VERY important part of our class this year, and it's therefore important that you take good care of it and always bring it to class.  You're welcome to leave it in the classroom if you'd like, but many students like to take the notebooks home to be able to write freely outside of school.  We will engage in what some have called SWT (Sacred Writing Time) at the beginning of most Writing Workshop classes, and we'll also use our notebooks to free write, brainstorm, and take notes on good writing techniques.

Displaying photo 1.JPG
The front cover of my Writing Notebook.
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The back cover of my Writing Notebook.

Friday, August 15, 2014

September is coming!

Hey there, y'all!

I'm shocked to be saying it so soon, but September is upon us!  I am eager to meet my new classes and to begin using the Writers Workshop curriculum to help my students to embrace the writing process.  Though the school year won't officially begin until September 4th, I want to say WELCOME to all of you!  I cannot wait to get to know each and every one of my students, and to get started reading and writing together!

Below, I'd like to share the e-mail that I sent to all of the parents and guardians of my incoming class of seventh graders.  Please be sure to review the information and be in touch if you have questions or concerns.  I'm looking forward to the first days of school!

Much love,
Miss Whitman

Dear Parents and Guardians,

My name is Sarah Whitman, and I will be teaching your child this year at Collingswood Middle School.  I will be teaching both Language Arts 7 and Writers Workshop 7, and I'm so excited to about sharing my love for reading and writing with your children!  I wanted to send a quick e-mail before the first day of school to share a few important pieces of information.  Since I like lists, I've numbered them below.  Thank you for entrusting your children to me this year.  It is an honor to be able to guide them as they grow into leaders and thinkers.

1. Please check out--and bookmark--the class website that I'll be using to update students and their parents/guardians on important announcements, due dates, and assignments.  The website can be found at  Please check it regularly and consider "following" the site so that you'll receive e-mail updates when announcements are made.  I plan on using the website as a form of communication as often as possible.

2. I believe that students have already received a list of required supplies for class, but I wanted to send a finalized version.  Students should come to class with the following items:
1 package of blue or black pens
1 3-ring binder and lined paper
1 black and white composition book
1 colored folder
1 colored notebook
1 box of tissues
2 packages of 3x5-inch index cards
Post-It notes--lots of them!

3. In addition to updating our class website, I'll be sending out regular reminders about homework and assignment due dates using Remind (previously called Remind101), a service whereby I can send text messages to students and parents with important class information.  I will send home a form with your student at some point during the first few days of school, and he/she will be responsible for sharing the information with you and giving you the opportunity to enroll in this free service.

4. Though it's not something I mention every single day, students are expected to spend at least 30 minutes of each weekday engaged in independent reading.  Students will be expected to read at least four independent reading selections each marking period.  I will provide additional information on due dates and book reports during the first few days of school, but I would ask that you encourage your children to read often and enthusiastically.  The BEST way for you to do this is to exemplify good reading habits in your own lives.  I would appreciate any and all efforts to get your children reading, and would also suggest the following article as a resource:

5. Collingswood School District requires that all students complete one independent summer reading selection.  Upon returning to school, students will be given the opportunity to take a brief, ten-question quiz on their selected reading.  Please remind your child to read and review his or her selection, and to be prepared to take the quiz during the first few days of school.

I am so excited to meet my students this year, and hopefully to meet many of you at Back to School Night on Thursday, September 18th.  Please feel free to be in touch if you have questions or concerns before then.

Have a wonderful last few weeks of summer!
Sarah Whitman

Seventh Grade Language Arts Teacher
Collingswood Middle School

Friday, August 1, 2014

A record of homework assignments will be kept on this page for students and parents.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Freak the Mighty: A Classwide Quest!

Knights and ChivalryKevin showed a great interest in King Arthur. Go to the website below and learn more about him. When you have finished, write a summary of King Arthur, who he was, and what he did.

Go to this website and learn about the Code of Chivalry. Come up with a brief explanation of the Code of Chivalry to be able to explain it to your classmates.

Read about the virtues listed in the Code of Chivalry at the website below. What is a virtue? Define it, then pick five virtues from the list and give an example from the book where these virtues were displayed.

Morquio’s SyndromeOne of the recurring themes from the novel Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick, is how people can overcome challenges. Freak, has a physical disability, Morquio’s Syndrome, but lives his life to the fullest. What is Morquio’s Syndrome? Take a look at the following websites and make a list of symptoms and complications for this syndrome.

Throughout the book, Kevin goes into the medical research building for treatment. What types of treatments are there for children with Morquio’s Syndrome? (MPS IV) How long do the treatments last? Check out these websites for some answers.

Learning DisabilitiesOne of the recurring themes from the novel Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick, is how people can overcome challenges. The main character, Max, has a learning disability, but writes his own novel. What exactly is a learning disability?

People with learning disabilities often need some assistance. Explain the different types of learning disabilities and how they affected Max and others in his life.

Explain what can be done to compensate for any of these disabilities. How would Max’s life have been different if he had outside intervention?

Incarcerated ParentsWhat are some of the common issues experienced by children whose parents are incarcerated?

What are some of the best ways that communities can support children who have parents in jail?