It’s the Final Countdown!

Hello folks!

We have 12(!!!) days left in school! We are working hard in these final days to catch up and finish strong. As a reminder, any assignment a student turns in from our 4th quarter can receive full credit. I do not take off points for late work, I simply value that they are doing their work.

We have our Cougar Learning Lab after school in the Library on M, T, and Th with a bus provided until 6/12. I will be there after school each day to help students. Students have also received missing assignment reminder slips and are being assigned to my Cougar Achievement period.

7th grade students have a final project involving a Medieval Culture. They have both a research and a artifact production component for this project. These are all linked for students in their Canvas page, but I have links here as well.

8th Grade English students are finishing reading and analyzing The Outsiders , 8th grade ELL Support is finishing reading and analyzing Walk Two Moons.

If you or your student have any questions, please feel free to email me and I’m happy to help. All of your students can and will finish the year strong and I am so proud of their progress this year! Thank you for your continued support through the end of the year!


Updates on April!

Hello All!

Welcome to 4th quarter! Here’s what we’ve been up to!

8th Grade English

  • We have been working through out poetry unit and are on our final project – writing and performing our own piece of poetry. Students have been writing and playing around with it all week. On Monday we will practice workshopping our pieces so we can fine tune them before performing on Thursday.
  • If you have time – ask your student to read their poem to you! Brainstorm other ways they could be more descriptive or include more figurative language.

8th Grade Support

  • We are continuing our Constitution work with the Bill of Rights. We will be making out own Bill of Rights pamphlets with illustrations and translations into our home languages. We will then move on to learning how we can participate in a democracy! We will continue to practice vocabulary and other learning strategies as we go!
  • If you have time – ask your student to describe the Bill of Rights and compare and contrast the government structure of other places you have lived with the one they are learning about in the US.

7th Grade Social Studies

  • Currently, we are discussing the idea of perspective. Historically, we are examining the Crusades and how Muslim and Christian historians write about the Crusades from differing perspectives. We also discussed different real life situations for students and practiced trying to understand another person’s perspective and validation when a person shares. I encouraged students to practice this in their everyday lives. A scenario would run through like this:
    • Your child comes home and asks to go hang out with friends tonight. You respond saying they will be staying home to be a family tonight.
    • The child is given a chance to share their perspective. The parent repeats back what they heard the child says and clarifies the child’s feelings.
    • Then the parent is given a chance to share their perspective. The child repeats back what they heard and clarifies the parent’s feelings.
    • Both parent and child work together to find a compromise. Eg (as suggested by students today)- if you hang out with us as a family tonight – not on your cell phone and you actually talk to us, then you can hang out with friends tomorrow.

Taking on the perspective of another person and validating a person’s feelings rather than trying to get your point across is hard for everyone – especially middle schoolers. Feel free to reference back to social studies if you want to try this out! I know it’s something I have been trying in my day to day interactions with students. It’s hard, but worth it!

Next up for Social Studies is a quick overview of medieval towns and then on to the bubonic plague!


Have a great weekend!


Happy Spring Break!

Hello Folks! We made it until Spring Break and the end of 3rd quarter!

Students were sent home today with missing assignment slips if things are missing and grades are up to date in Canvas. The last day I will accept missing work for 3rd quarter will be Tuesday we when return to school.

8th Grade English – Advanced ELL

Students worked hard on finishing up their argumentative essays and we will do our final edits on Monday (students have been given feedback on multiple revisions). We have also been working through a poetry unit. Students have read / seen several poems and gone over types of poems and poetic devices / figurative language. We watched the documentary “Louder Than A Bomb” about a poetry slam competition in Chicago that was hopefully pretty inspiring. When students return they will be writing and performing their own poems.

If you have time over break, talk about poetry with your student. Do you think it is powerful? Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Do you have a favorite song you feel is poetic? Talk about what words, phrases, and stories are powerful to help students brainstorm. Also make sure they are READING!!!!

8th Grade ELL Support

Students have been reviewing American History and the Constitution in class and have a working base for our 3 branches and constitutional ideals like federalism, republicanism, and popular sovereignty.  When students return they will be working on the Bill of Rights and will create their own pamphlet in 2 languages covering the rights they are guaranteed in the Constitution.

If you have time have a family game night of quizzing each other about the US Constitution and government!

7th Grade Social Studies

We wrapped up our quick unit on Comparative Religion which students handled respectfully and have a basis of the religions which build the foundations of several medieval societies we will examine this year. We are now moving from Medieval Feudualism into the Crusades. We will be focusing on perspective and how these can vary.

If you have time over break talk about perspective and how this changes over time and across cultures. Maybe in the car or at a meal make an observation and notice how each person can interpret this differently. Or if there is an argument (not that teenagers and their parents would ever bicker on something) take time to listen to their perspective and asking probing questions. Make sure they take time to listen to your perspective and ask questions as well.

Hope you all have a wonderful break!

Welcome to March!

Hello Parents / Guardians / Students / Siblings and anyone else!

Thanks so much for checking in to see what your student is up to. As we role into March, I just wanted to update you on what we’ve been working on in the classroom. Know that if your student is checking their grades and wanting to do better, they are ALWAYS welcome to redo an assignment, come in to my Cougar Achievement, or ask to stay after school to meet with me to raise their grade.

8th Grade ELL Advanced English 

We are currently wrapping up an argument essay around work – Should teens work? Should there be a minimum wage? Do companies have a social responsibility to consumers? Is college really worth the cost?

We will be starting a poetry unit next – examining the power of poetry, of words, of figurative language, and of course students will be writing their own poems. We will be focusing in particular on slam poetry and using poetry to give ourselves and others a voice.

8th Grade ELL Support

We are continuing our look at early American History and government and practicing skills of determining the meaning of words in context, cause and effect, and summarizing.

We will also be continuing our work with Greek and Latin Roots / Prefixes and grammar.

7th Grade Social Studies

We just wrapped up a document based question and essay answering the question: Why did Rome fall?

We are now beginning a Comparative Religion Unit. In many medieval societies, religion guided most major decisions and societal structures. Understanding the 5 major world religions helps us understand the ideas of medieval Europe, Japan, India, and the Islamic Empire. Students will be working in small groups to examine the 5 major world religions – Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam – and comparing and contrasting these faiths.

Students know that we are approaching this topic from a sociological and academic standpoint, not from a position of judgement. I strongly believe that the more students learn about the world and people around them, the less we will fear and the more we will understand. This is a rich topic that lead to great discussions around the dinner table (or if you are always on the go like my family, the car on the way to and from practice, events, work, etc).

If you have questions or concerns about this particular topic, feel free to contact me via email.  I’m also happy to send along the readings if you need.


Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

What we’ve been working on in February!

Hello Folks!

Sorry about the lack of update – here’s the basics of what we’ve been doing in our classes this February.

8th Grade English

We have been continuing our Value of Work unit and are currently working on an Argument Essay about work. Students picked from a list of questions – Should teens work? Should companies have a responsibility to their consumers? Should there be a minimum wage? – and are doing research and working on writing their own argument using evidence and reasoning.

We had the opportunity to meet with High School students who work in addition to going to school and students had a lot of questions, and a lot of questions were answered about high school, working, how to get a job, how to spend your money, etc.

We are also using a journal for warm up where students get the chance to practice skills and writing each day.

8th Grade Support

We have been using what students are curious about to practice our language and school skills. Students brainstorm questions about American history – Who were the pilgrims? What is triangular trade? How does the government work? – and we work on finding the answers, building vocabulary, summarizing, comparing, contrasting, and more!

7th Grade Social Studies

Now that we are in Medieval History, we took time to look at and memorize aspects of the World Map that will be useful for our future study. We are currently continuing to build our skills in annotation, analyzing evidence,  writing claims that are supported by evidence, and explaining our thinking by trying to answer the question: Why did the Roman Empire Fall?

Our end product will be an essay where students will answer this question using evidence and reasoning.

We also continue to work on our discussion skills and are pushing each other in our thinking by constantly asking why. Feel free to try this at home! Any time a student makes a claim – a statement about something – ask them to provide evidence and explain why. Or recruit your 2 or 3 year old who constantly asks why anyways to help push everyone’s thinking and making it visible.

Oh hello there!

Hello folks!

Sorry about the absence from the blog through December! Coaching soccer + Family Tragedies + Holiday Season = I forgot I was posting what we were doing in a blog. I sincerely apologize if you have been checking and gleamed no new information.

Now that it’s second semester, I will try to be more on top of it.


8th Grade ELL Advanced English

We are currently continuing work with our “Value of Work” Unit. Students have read memoirs and fiction stories about teens discovering what “working” really is. They are now moving into an Argumentative Essay around the question: “Should Teens Work?” This might a topic you are starting to discuss at home as your students are getting older and this is becoming more of a possibility.

At some point, students will take a survey home to encourage a conversation between you and them about the idea of “work” and what “values” you see in your own work, and what you want for your student. Students will also speak with High Schoolers who do and do not work and interview other adults.

We are also reflecting on the past semester and setting goals for a better outcome in the second semester.

8th Grade ELL Support

Today students discussed what they really want and need from out class. Students emphasized a desire to work on more vocabulary from their other courses as well as practicing skills and content from other courses. They would also like to read a book together and play more games with their learning.  So expect all of those to be coming down the pipe!

7th Grade Social Studies

While the semester switch technically means we are done with Washington State History, we are still finishing up our poster projects (students researched a topic in Modern WA State History – from Starbucks to grunge to Hanford Nuclear Center) and then will take some time to reflect on our learning for the course.

We will likely “switch” to Medieval History next Monday.


December 4 – December 8

Hello folks! Sorry for the lack of posts. I was dealing with a family emergency so your students had subs for the end of last week and it’s been a bit crazy since then, but here’s a update for this week.

8th Grade English (ELL Advanced)

This week, students began their work with our new unit “Value of Work.” We discussed questions together as a class around work: what they would like to do, words they normally hear about work, what makes a job worthwhile, and what they hope to get out of their work in the future.

We then previewed vocabulary for our first story, an excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. We then read the story together and discussed how Tom tries to get out of work, and then students have begun to answer analysis questions.

8th Grade ELL Support

This week we have been wrapping up our work with Compare and Contrast. Students finished a couple projects around Compare and Contrast and took a short test. This is something we will definitely revisit throughout the year.

We also began our work with the term analyze. In order to analyze new vocabulary terms, we are looking into Greek and Latin Roots / Affixes: cred-, photo-, -graph, ir-, il-, im-, in-, non-, de-, and dis-. We analyzed words to find their meaning using this knowledge.

7th Grade Social Studies

This week, students presented their group projects over either: The Founding of Seattle, Lewis and Clark, Fort Vancouver, or the Whitman Massacre. We then continued work that students began last week about US and WA State governments. Students read an article on Newsela, took notes (on paper, but slides are also posted in their Canvas Page) from a quick lecture covering US Democracy, the three branches, Federalism, and our WA state government.

Tomorrow, students need to come to class prepared to discuss an article about the McCleary case which ties in these ideas of checks and balances and branches of government around an issue that impacts them.

Reminder that tomorrow is a half day so students are released at 11. Have a great weekend!