Making Connections


“Holler, RT put yer hands up if you dig nerdy pursuits i.e. comics, Dr. Who, Star Wars, cosplay, and mixing with learning…#nerdyedu”

I smiled as I responded to this tweet from Maine high school teachers Dan Ryder and Jeff Bailey, and I attached a collage of images from our classroom walls: several movie and television show posters, all of them representing popular shows with large fandoms.  You’ll find Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Doctor Who and a few more.


Why not more posters about steps in the writing process? about grammar, capitalization, and punctuation?  about vocabulary and reading?

Because together we will be creating wall charts to show our learning of the “school” stuff.  Because those charts will make more sense if we develop them in class, as we are practicing the work of reading and writing.

Because just like the ELA charts,  the movie and television posters help us make connections around our reading and writing!

Let’s take a look at the “big questions” that organize our Holt McDougal literature textbook:

  • What is courage?
  • Is life always fair?
  • Where is home?
  • Can we achieve the impossible?
  • Who sees the best in you?
  • What makes you brave?
  • What stands in the way of your dreams?
  • Who deserves a second chance?
  • What has the power to heal?
  • Where do people find hope?
  • What is honor?
  • Why do we need memorials?
  • What is our duty to others?
  • How can we change what’s wrong?

and more.

Stories explore all of these questions, and some of our most powerful stories have been told or retold via television and film.  Frodo lives up to the faith that Gandalf has in him and finds the courage to battle great evil. Luke discovers his true identity but decides for himself who he will really be.  Harry realizes the terrible truth of his life but finds the strength to overcome it.  The Doctor is burdened with deep sorrow but spends his life helping others.  Belle believes the Beast deserves a second chance, and Simba uses his to change what is wrong.  The Phantom finds that love has the power to heal–and the power to free.

BeFunky_class posters.jpg

The posters aren’t up because they represent stories we will study (we won’t even be watching the movies).  They are up to make us think, to help us make connections between the stories we are studying and the stories we each are living.

How do the “big questions” above connect to books, movies, and shows you love?  How do the questions relate to you and your life?






Photos to Enhance a Post


What do you think of when you hear the word rain?

It probably depends on the circumstances and your mood.  We all know that rain can be an uplifting thing or a disappointing thing, a weather event that ruins your plans or a welcome gift to relieve drought.

Look at the following photos.  All five depict rain, but they each have a different “feel” to them.

In your Writer’s Notebook, do a quick write in response to the pictures.  Spend two minutes writing about each photo and its depiction of rain.


It´s just an illusion.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Daniela Hartmann via Compfight

Water drops on grass
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight


Against the drops #2
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Le Tchétché via Compfight


118/365 :: Specks of Light and Water
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Matt Katzenberger via Compfight


Day 227: Rain
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Snugg LePup via Compfight

Do you find a difference in tone (your attitude toward the topic) and mood (the feeling your words create) depending on which photo you are responding to?

Think about the power of images as we continue with today’s lesson on using images in posts.

About Us


We have been working on our new blogs this week.  Drop in for a visit and read some of the “About Me” pages that have been created:

About Avery O
About William
About Madeline McG
About Ethan H
About Lorena
About Madeleine J
About Thomas
About McKala
About Maddy B
About Reda
About Samantha
About Caroline
About David S

and over 100 more!

What fun to hear our students’ vivid voices come through in their writing.  Our blogs are looking good and sounding great!




What are we reading? We’ve copied the titles of our current or recent book selections into this Wordle. Can you tell which novels are currently the most popular among us?

WordleWe also used Wordle to take a look at our answers to the questions  “What’s happening now in your book?  Or if you’ve just finished a book, what was a main plot event?”

Isn’t it interesting to see what words were most often used in our plot summaries of these popular YA novels?

plot 2

Crafting with Imagery


Students were asked to reflect on poetry they had recently created.

Q: Think about a significant image in one of the poems you have been working on. Quote the line(s) in the space below, then elaborate on the meaning that imagery brings to your poem. What do you want your reader to feel?

We are making the connection between our crafting choices and the resulting experiences of our readers. 












Imagery in Poetry


Click the “full screen” icon to view poems.

We invite you to read some of the poems we crafted after a study of imagery in mentor texts “The Shark” by Edwin Pratt, “Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser, “Poppies” by Roy Scheele and “When It Is Snowing” by Siv Cedering. Students were invited to pattern their poems after the work of the published poets.

As students worked on their poems, they were asked “What do you want your reader to feel?”  The answer informed the use of imagery, and all that goes into that: details, word choice, graphic elements, and more.

These are some of the efforts of the second week of school. We look forward to sharing more as we learn more in the months ahead!