Friday, December 19, 2014

AOW - TED Talk #2

Last Friday we reinstated Article of the Week, and we watched a TED Talk about being wrong. You wrote a response in your English Journal. Today we're going to watch one more.

After today, you should have THREE entries in your English Journal so far for this grading period. If you do not have these three entries, you need to do them (or you won't be happy with your English Journal grade in January). 

This Ted Talk is by a woman named Chimamanda Adichie. She's from Nigeria, and has some interesting stories to share with us. 

In your English Journal, respond to this TED Talk in the usual way:
  • Paragraph 1: Write a summary of Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk. What is her main argument? What is the "danger of a single story?" What examples does she give to support her argument?
  • Paragraph 2: Share your opinion of Chimamanda Adichie's talk. What do you like or dislike about what she has to say? How might this relate to your own life and experiences?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Summary Document and Publishing Cont.

Your NaNoWriMo Summary Document is due tomorrow, Wednesday, December 17th. You will no longer have access to it on Thursday. Finish ALL of the parts!

The agenda:
  1. Read
  2. Please fill out this form if you haven't already (The password is "publish.")
  3. Finish your summary document (ALL OF IT)
  4. Work on your publishing option (You need yesterday's post.)

If you are using TeenInk or other social media to publish:
  • You must take a screenshot of your submission using the "snipping tool" on your computer.
  • Your name must be in the screenshot. (If you're using TeenInk, it will be on the top right corner, so make sure you take a screenshot of the whole page.)
  • Email that screenshot to me. 
  • You must email that screenshot to me by Friday, December 19

Monday, December 15, 2014


There are numerous things we have to do this week before we leave for break. Some of it we'll do in class. Some of it will have to be done at home. Here's the run-down:
  1. Finish the summary document (all of it). It's due this Wednesday. Look at the post from last Wednesday for definitions and models.
  2. Get your novels ready for publication AND publish it in some way. (This is required!)
  3. Make sure you have a book (or two. or three.) that you will like and enjoy reading over break. Click here for recommendations from last year's 9th-graders.

Links and Directions you will need:

Things to add to or fix in your novel BEFORE you upload it to CreateSpace (or publish it at all):

Friday, December 12, 2014

Article of the Week - TED Talk

Today we're going to return to something that we haven't done in a while: Article of the Week!

It's going to be a little different today though. I have a TED Talk for you. We're going to watch a video. Before we get to that though, I have a question for you.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are wrong. How does that feel? Is it okay?

In your English Journal, write at least two paragraphs:

Paragraph 1: 
According to Kathryn Shulz, what is the value in being wrong? What are her main arguments about being right or wrong?

Paragraph 2:
How have your views about rightness and wrongness changed? What is your overall opinion of this talk? How might it affect you and your peers?

Things to Work on at Home (Homework):
  • Continue working on your summary document. You should have your blurb and examples by this point. Work on writing WHY the examples you have are strong.
  • Write your NaNoWriMo reflection (Part III).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Summary Document Peer Review

Today you will work in groups on your Summary Documents to peer edit.

You will work in groups of 3. I have shared your document with the people you will be working with, and shared your group members documents with you (in your shared folder in Google Drive). You can view and comment, but the author is the one who should be doing any editing.

I'll explain the process as we go along.

You'll need THIS FORM. when I tell you you need it.

Things To Do Tonight:
  1. Keep working on your summary document. Apply any suggestions given to you today, make sure you have ten excerpts (that are 2-3 paragraphs) and your book blurb.
  2. If you haven't already, work on filling in the second part of each question - Why your excerpt is a strong example of the literary element it asks for.
  3. On Friday, I'll be sharing options for publishing your novel. If you feel like you need to finish your story or make edits, start thinking about how you might do that.

If you click on the name, it will take you to the student model for that element.

Direct Characterization - When you TELL the reader about a character (looks, attitude, personality, likes, dislikes, hobbies). It is not enough to say one thing about looks. You need to include lots of information!

Indirect Characterization - when you learn about a character (looks, attitude, personality, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc.) through their actions. Don’t tell me that the character is energetic. Have the character do something energetic.

Setting that reinforces character - A place can tell you about a character (looks, attitude, personality, likes, dislikes, hobbies), such as whether the room is messy or organized, or what kinds of things are on the walls, or the colors in the room. What things are in the room that are well-used? What is the first thing you notice when you walk in? DESCRIBE A SETTING, NOT THE CHARACTER.

Setting that creates a mood - Mood is how the READER feels when reading the story. DESCRIBE A SETTING that makes the reader feel something (tension, happiness, joy, helplessness, desolate, celebratory, etc.) Do not tell me how a character feels.

Sensory Details - This is a description that involves the senses (how things taste, feel when you touch them, smell, sound like, or look like.) Truly using sensory details means using lots of senses in your description, not just one, and especially not just sight.

Strong Verbs - If you’re using strong verbs, you’re being creative with your character’s actions. Be specific with your word choice. The more specific your verbs, the better the reader can picture what’s happening in the story.

Dialogue - Things you need to know about formatting:
  • The punctuation should look like this:   “I love to read,” Ms. Black said.
    • Not every sentence has to be structured like this one, but you need to pay attention to where I’m putting capitals, periods, commas, and quotation marks.
  • Every time a new character speaks, start a new paragraph.
  • Don’t forget the period that comes at the end of the sentence (after the dialogue tag.)

Climax - This is the height of your story, when the protagonist finds out whether or not they are going to achieve what they’ve been working toward in your plot. Give me the best part of your climax, and explain why it is the best part.

Subplot - Beyond the main plot, the main goal your protagonist is trying to achieve, he/she might run into some other smaller problems with some of the characters in your book. Subplot is referring to those smaller problems that the protagonist runs into.

Time Shift - It is not enough to have a character remember something from their childhood. For time shift, you need to write the scene as if the character/reader is ACTUALLY THERE.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Productivity Day

Today, there's a lot to do.

Goal #1: Goodreads
Yesterday I mentioned to you that your next two book reviews are due on Wednesday, January 17. If you haven't been doing so already, today you need to go log in to Goodreads and update your "Currently Reading" shelf to show what you're reading.

Goal #2: Ten Excerpts
If you have not found an example of each literary element to copy into your summary document, you need to do that. After today you should have all ten.


Here are student examples of dialogue and climax.

Goal #3: Write your book blurb if you haven't already.
(This is Part 1 on your summary document.)

If and when you've finished all of these, let me know. I'll give you some next steps.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Summary Document, Cont.

We'll read first!

By now you should have at least four excerpts in your NaNoWriMo Summary Document.

Work on getting three more today, for a total of seven. Don't forget about writing your book blurb too! (That's Part 1 on your document)

If you're going in order, that means today you'll need examples of: sensory details, strong verbs, and dialogue.

Models for sensory details and strong verbs
Note: I want to make it clear that these examples will not be perfect, but pay attention to how they show the literary element. That is what is most important!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Literacy Interim Assessment 1

Happy Friday!

You get to take a district literacy test today. You can have your book out to read if you finish early. I'll pass out the test materials and get you started as soon as the bell rings. If you have a favorite pencil, now is a good time to get it ready.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adding excerpts

Your whole NaNoWriMo Summary Document is due on Wednesday, December 17th.
I want you to find possible excerpts for all ten literary elements by Wednesday, December 10.
They don't have to be perfect. We'll work on that!

Yesterday, you found excerpts to show characterization. (If you didn't, you need to catch up!)
Today, focus your attention on finding examples in your novel about setting. 

This includes a setting that reinforces character, and a setting that creates a mood. Remember, these excerpts have to describe a place, not a person or actions.

Here are more student examples for you to look at! (Notice that they are more than one paragraph.)

You can also use the search bar at the top left of this page to search blog posts for more resources.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

NaNoWriMo Assessment

This morning I sent you a NaNoWriMo Summary Document in Google Drive.
You'll need to go to your "Shared with me" folder and move it into your drive (click "add to drive")

This will be part of your formal assessment for NaNoWriMo. (Like for a grade.)
It is to collect the best parts of your novel.

We'll spend some time on this in class, but we have lots to do. You'll have to make sure you're keeping up.

Today's Focus: Direct and Indirect Characterization

The due date for your NaNoWriMo summary document is Wednesday, December 17th. (That's two weeks from now.)

A tip:
When you're collecting excerpts for each literary element, don't just pick the first one you see that fits. It might help if you copy and paste two or three excerpts into the summary document and then pick the best one!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Revision! More editing!

Yesterday you began working through an editing checklist. Below is the rest of the checklist. Continue with yesterday's if you need to before starting this one. 

Yes, you will need to reread your novel in order to do all of these effectively.

  1.  I have capitalized proper nouns such as places and people’s names.
  2. I have made sure that every sentence ends with some type of punctuation mark (period, question mark, exclamation mark) and there are spaces between words and sentences.
  3. I have spell-checked my novel and have corrected any spelling errors and/or typos.
  4. I have read my novel and moved around certain parts to make it better.
  5. I have removed (deleted) any parts that are unnecessary or that don’t work.
  6. I have added writing that will make the story better or less confusing.
  7. I use a variety of sentence types and lengths. I have combined sentences where appropriate. 
If you got over 100% in NaNoWriMo, but did not earn the "winner" badge I have submitted your name to them for manual validation. You should get an e-mail in the next few days.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Welcome Back!

You wrote a novel! 

The first thing we do today?

First order of business:
 In your English Journal (not your novel!), start a new entry at the top of the document with today's date.

Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over, it is time to reflect on the experience. Write a paragraph or two describing your experience. Don't spend more than ten minutes on this. Just write as much as you can. Some questions to get you started might include:
  • What did you like or dislike about NaNoWriMo?
  • What did you learn?
  • How has your view of writing changed?
  • What has changed in your own writing?
  • What was difficult and how did you overcome those difficulties?

Second order of business:
Since you finished writing your novel, and probably got a lot of reading done as well, you're welcome to check out new books! (Please make sure you bring back books you've finished or want to abandon so others may read them.)

This week we're going to be spending time working on revision and editing!
This means you're going to take your novel and make it better.
Here are the things that you need to look for today:

  1. My story has an ending that includes a resolution. (You can work on this as you need to, but you cannot simply stop when you hit your word count. You need the climax and resolution to complete the novel!)
  2. I have divided my novel into sections or chapters in order to give it a structure that makes more sense for the reader.
  3. I have divided my writing into paragraphs and have made sure that I have indented properly.
  4. I have indented dialogue properly (each time there is a new speaker, there is also a new paragraph).
  5. I have made sure that all dialogue is punctuated correctly. (Use of quotations, commas, question marks, etc.)
  6. I have capitalized all words at the beginnings of sentences.
  7. I have capitalized the word “I” every time I have used it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Final Push

Do you have a book you want to read over break? If you don't let us help you find one. You should be reading over break, too!!

Today is your LAST DAY 
to work on your NaNoWriMo novel IN CLASS.

Get your computers. Get working.

Here are some important things you will need this week:
  • NaNoWriMo will NOT let you change your word count goal after the 24th of November. If you think you need to change it, try to do that today so you can focus on writing more than anything else. All you have to do 
    • If you expect to do well on NaNoWriMo, and your word count goal is currently above 10,000, you probably shouldn't lower it below 10,000.
    • Go to your "NaNo Stats" to see where you will be if you keep working at the pace you're working. It will help you decide if you need to change your word count. 
  • "Winning" NaNoWriMo will get you 5 free copies of your book.
    • To win, you must copy and paste your ENTIRE NOVEL into NaNoWriMo. It will not allow you to win if you don't copy and paste it in as proof. 
    • You must do this before midnight on November 30. 
    • Win. You don't have a choice. Meet your word count goals. That's why we change them if we need to. You've done some amazing work. Don't give up now.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Extra Practice

What are we doing? READING!
When are we doing it? NOW!

Yesterday I asked you which novel element you would like to have extra review/practice with before we left for break. 

After looking at those, Mrs. Roberts and I have made a document for you! Yay! You'll be working in groups to look at the element that you chose yesterday. 

Feel free to make a copy of it for yourself. You can refer back to it if you need to over break. (It might help to skim the other pieces that your group wasn't working on today!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Novel Climaxes

We have a lot to do today. You need some tabs open:
  • This blog
  • Goodreads (Log in by clicking the Google symbol.). Open the pages where your book reviews are. If you haven't put your book reviews on Goodreads, do so.
The first thing you are going to do today is submit your book reviews. To do this, click on the "Independent Reading/Book Reviews" tab at the top of this page. Remember: you need the links to the pages for your book reviews, not the page for the book itself.

Over our break next week many of you will be writing the climax of your novel. This is the most exciting part of your book, the moment when your character gets (or loses) what he or she wants most. It is a moment of triumph or despair.
Here are some famous film climaxes for your enjoyment and inspiration. 

I may ask you to complete this exit slip form. It's two questions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing," sings Dory.

Homework Reminder:
You have TWO book reviews due TOMORROW, Wednesday, November 19.
Write them in your English Journal. Paste them into Goodreads.

We've been using class time for a lot of different activities lately. Today is your chance to WRITE.

Check out the Dare Machine on NaNoWriMo if you need a challenge.
If everyone in both of our classes writes AT LEAST 500 words in class today, 
we will have written 30,000 words!
I think we could do that.

Source. Don'stuff

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mo' Subplots, Mo' Problems

We will read at the bell

Today we wrote, but first we spoke with our small groups using this protocol in order to generate ideas for subplots in our novels.

Shared Brainstorm:

  1. Remind your group who your main character is, and what the main conflict of your story is. (1 minute)
  2. Ask your group the following question: What other problems do you think my character could face in my story? (2 minutes)
  3. Your group may ask clarifying questions or make statements such as:
    Would it make sense if your character….?
    What kinds of problems do you think _____ would face if...?
    I think it might be interesting if your character….?
  4. While you’re listening, make notes of your group’s suggestions. 
  5. Repeat for next group member.
  6. When instructed - fill out this exit slip

For a quick review of subplots, check out this post from last week. It might help you.

You have TWO book reviews due on Wednesday, November 19.
Write them. Put them in Goodreads. This is homework.

Friday, November 14, 2014

We're Almost Halfway!

Read until your computers are done loading, then get writing.

We will spend most of today writing. 

If you would like to work on writing your book reviews today instead, I suggest you write them in your English Journal before you post them on Goodreads. Scroll down to Wednesday's post for the book review chart and links to other posts about book reviews.

Remember: TWO book reviews of books you have read in the past six weeks are due on Wednesday, November 19st. 

Tomorrow is your 50% day (Yes, on a Saturday). Focus on your short term goal of reaching that checkpoint. Someone who wants to push themselves to be successful in this project should have AT LEAST 5000 words at the end of tomorrow.

Also, a form. Please fill this out honestly.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Direct and Indirect Characterization

Way back in September and October when we were reading group novels, we talked about characterization.
Do you remember this?

Let's add a few vocabulary words to our understanding of authors write about their characters.

Direct Characterization
When an author directly tells the reader about a character. The author might state what the character wants, loves, fears, or dislikes. The author can also tell us what is important to the character, or what motivates them. An example:
Karen, my best friend, was one of the most enthusiastic people at PLHS. No matter what was going on she always had a positive way of looking at things. She spent her lunch talking to as many groups as she could, cracking jokes and telling stories. She was always interacting with lots of different people, no matter who they were or where they came from. She made it a point to talk to at least one new person every week. She wasn’t superficial or shallow; she really cared about all the people she knew and even people she didn’t know. She started a club on campus to raise money for wells in Uganda and she attended every dance and most of the weekend parties. Everyone liked her back too. Sometimes her social butterfly life got on my nerves. I wanted more time with her, but I knew I couldn’t hold her back. Connecting with people just made her happy.

Indirect Characterization
This is when a character is portrayed using other devices. This can include: dialogue, appearance, actions, relationships, and the situation that your character is in. If you have a character is nervous about a test, indirect character means that they are bouncing one of their legs, sweating, and chewing on the end of their pencil. Here is the same character from above, described indirectly:

       Karen came bounding up to me at lunch, a grin spread across her face as usual. 
       "Hey Janine! How's it going? Did you hear about what happened to Jake when he tried to leave campus today? He told me he got arrested! Apparently it's his friend's birthday and he was trying to get him a present, but he got caught. I'm just sorry I wasn't there. He promised me he'd give me more details, so I gotta run. He said I finally get to meet his sister, too! I've been so busy! Alright. Love you. See you soon. Good luck on your math test!" She hugged me and ran off before I could even say hello. If it were anyone else, I'd be annoyed, but she was my best friend. I watched her skip away, waving to people she passed and seeing everyone respond in kind, glad she took the time to come and say hello.

Authors use BOTH types of characterization.

Make sure you do, too!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


(So make sure you have your book out!)

Today we'll be continuing to work on NaNoWriMo, among a couple other small activities.


  • By the end of today, you should have about 40% of your novel written. (You should still be writing rising action! If you're struggling, give a character a new subplot)
  • Your two book reviews are due on November 19.
    • If you do not remember what goes into your book reviews, check out THIS post from last month about Goodreads, and THIS post from last month about writing book reviews.
    • I have put the chart here for you as well. Each box represents what you could put in a paragraph. You should have 3-4 paragraphs!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back in my Day...

You should definitely have a book out on your table.

Today we get to talk about time shifts!

When a character thinks about and describes a time in the past, or imagines the future, that is a time shift. It is also a time shift if there is a significant jump in time in your novel.

Types of time shifts:


Flash forward:

Time jump/time manipulation:

Seventy Years Later....

Creative Commons pictures accessed/modified via Pixabay

There are other ways to play with time in your novel. Those are common examples.

Phrases that might signal a time shift in your novel:

  • I remember when...
  • Once...
  • Long ago...
  • It reminds me of...
  • He thought back...
  • I was only __ years old when...
  • I imagined what would happen next week when...
  • Here's what would happen: 

Today, I DARE YOU to include a time shift in your novel. Have a character remember a fond (or terrible) memory that relates to the current plot, or have that character imagine a day 5 years in the future. The catch is that you have to be descriptive. The reader needs to feel like they are in the memory as much as the character is (so use sensory details and strong verbs to show action.)

Before you leave:
I need you to fill out this form. 
The password is "character."

Friday, November 7, 2014


In novels, there is always more happening to your characters beyond the main plot.

When the characters are encountering a problem that is not directly related to the main plot, it is called a subplot.

Often it involves the protagonist interacting with supporting characters. It also involves conflicts or problems that these characters are facing, just like in the main plot.

Some examples:

  • When Harry Potter, among all of his other problems with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in the main plot, also participates in Hagrid's illegal dragon hatching, learns how to play quidditch to help win the Quidditch cup at school, or fights with Malfoy, he is participating in subplots.
  • While Iggy's main goal is to prove himself and show everyone he can do something with his life, there is one example of a subplot when Mo gets in trouble with Freddie and has to pay him back by Christmas.
  • The main goal for the kids in Lord of the Flies is survival and getting off the island, but as the kids try to survive, they encounter other problems that can be considered subplots: having to get food, choosing a leader, or even defeating "the beast."
Can you think of other examples of subplots in books or movies you've read?

What is a subplot that could happen in your novel as you keep writing?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meeting word count goals

Hey everyone!

Like yesterday, you can choose to get your novel open and start writing once your computer loads.

I have a bit of a challenge for you in a few minutes. It will help you meet word count goal.

Today is November 6th. 
By the time you show up to school tomorrow, you should have about 20% of your word count goal completed. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Successful Writing Ninjas

Read first.

Once your computer is loaded, 
you may get your novel open and start writing. 

When you reach 10%, you may get your stickers from me to post next to your name!
(BUT - It must be validated on your NaNoWriMo account first.)

Some things you might have missed yesterday:
  • I'm grading your English Journals this week. Don't panic. If you've been preparing for NaNoWriMo with the class, and doing your classwork, you'll be okay.
  • November 19th - You have TWO book reviews due in Goodreads. Will you get time in class? Probably. But it will mean that you'll have less time to work on your novel in class.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Write Like a Ninja

This picture was taken in our classroom. Can you figure out where?
Today we're going to write 
like ninjas:

Fast. Silent. Deadly.

Okay maybe not deadly. 

A few things we need to address today:
  1. Yesterday was your 10% marker. Go to NaNoWriMo and update your word count now.
  2. Now fill out this form!
  3. Remember when we talked about sensory details? Here is a great list of words you might be able to use to create descriptions.
  4. I'm grading your English Journals this week. We won't be using them much while you write for NaNoWriMo.
  5. I know you have a lot of writing to be doing at home, but don't forget reading! By now you should be done with one book and reading your second. You have TWO book reviews due soon!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Let's Write!

Over this past weekend, we started writing our NaNoWriMo novels!

By the end of today, you should have finished 10% of your word count goal.

We will spend most of today writing, but we need to talk about how you update your NaNoWriMo account to show your word count progress.

This is something you do EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Let's practice.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Final NaNoWriMo Preparations

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow!

We have a lot to do to make sure we are prepared for that. Ready?

  1. We have a guest speaker coming in for a few minutes to talk to our class. Please be respectful and attentive.
  2. This morning, you received a new document in your "Shared With Me" folder in Google Drive. It is the document you will be writing your novel in, titled "period#, your name - NaNoWriMo Novel" (4, Black Alyssa - NaNoWriMo Novel). Make sure you check it and hit "Add to My Drive" so it is in your folder. You DO NOT need to make a new copy. This document IS your copy. (Notice how it already has your name on it?)
  3. Have I told you I'm writing a novel, too? I'm just as nervous as you are, don't worry. Here is a link to my novel. You will also find that link in the sidebar under "Useful Links." You can look at it at any time.
  4. A Progress Check
  5. Catch-Up - What do you need to do to prepare for tomorrow? Character Questionnaire? Plot Outline? "Practice" Openings?
  6. For your Halloween enjoyment:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Novel Openings

Source: BruceEmmerling on Pixabay

You know what's awesome!?!?

Sometimes the most intimidating part of writing is figuring out where to start. 

That's what we're going explore today.

Goal #1: Independent reading novel examples. I'll tell you about this in a minute.

Goal #2: Opener Analysis
  • For this activity, you'll work with your partner (the person sitting at the same table as you)
  • Together, you can work through this form to look at examples of openers.
  • You only need to submit it one time. You can each be taking turns to type on the same form.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


In a stunning turn of events, we will be reading at the bell!

Today we're going to spend some time talking about dialogue.

 Here's what we'll be doing today. I'll explain more as we move forward.

  1. An educational video
  2. A bit of writing (you'll need your English Journal open)
  3. A bit of reading
  4. A bit of discussion
  5. Revision

If you were absent: 
  • Start with the reading, click on the link and read the two pages. Use it to learn about how authors write dialogue.
  • Today's assignment was to write a conversation between two characters in your English Journal. Use the picture above for inspiration. When you write a conversation, there should be dialogue, meaning your characters need to speak. 
  • TIPS! Whenever a new character starts speaking, start a new paragraph (check your own novels to see how this works). Also, the periods/question marks/commas/exclamations points ALWAYS go inside the quotation marks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Plot Planning, Day 2

So you have a word count goal.
You also have a protagonist, an antagonist, and your conflict.

Now you get to
outline your plot!

  1. Copy and paste this document into your English Journal if you did not do it yesterday.
  2. Begin outlining your plot by following the directions.
  3. When it asks for paragraphs, you should be writing paragraphs.
  4. If you need to review any part of plot from what you should have read for homework, here is a link to the NaNoWriMo Handbook

Monday, October 27, 2014

Plot Planning

Do you have a book out yet?

Remember that NaNoWriMo handbook you downloaded to your desktop last week? I have also put a link to it in the sidebar on this website under "Useful Links." It says "NaNoWriMo Handbook." Quite a bit of what we have been doing lately has come from this handbook, and I know that much of the advice you read last Friday told you it's helpful. Spend some time reading through it when you get a chance.


Photo  by daveynin on Flickr
Goal #1 - NaNoWriMo Word Count Goal:
  • We still need to set word count goals for NaNoWriMo!
  • Go to the NaNoWriMo website:
  • We'll talk about the next part when we get here.
Goal #2 - Plot Planning
  • Open the handbook.
  • Read from page 19 to page 26
  • Read about the elements of plot.
  • Copy and paste this document into your English Journal. I even put the correct date on it for you.
  • Begin to work through it using the plot you are creating for your own novel.

T Minus Five Days until NaNoWriMo starts!

Bonus! In case you hadn't thought of a costume for your cat yet, I've got you covered:

Pusheen the Cat

Friday, October 24, 2014

AOW #6


Goal #1: Update Goodreads
  • By the end of next week, you should be finishing your first book of the grading period. 
  • Right now, go log into Goodreads and update your "Currently Reading" shelf. 
  • Update your status to show what page you're on right now.

Goal #2: "Advice" of the Week
  • This week, I have found some advice for you from other young adults who have completed NaNoWriMo before!
  • Click here to view the advice. Read through it carefully.
  • Pick 2-3 quotes that you find helpful for you.
  • Write a paragraph or two about those pieces of advice and how they help you specifically. 

If you get this far:

Have you finished one of your independent reading novels for the six week grading period? You can begin writing your book review! Do it now while the book is fresh in your mind, and it'll be less you have to do later.

You may also continue working on your character questionnaire or your conflict questionnaire.

If you're feeling nervous about NaNoWriMo, there is also more advice from a couple authors (including Scott Westerfeld) to read at your leisure if you click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing Descriptive Settings

Source: Galleyhip
Books out.

You need 3 tabs open:
  • The blog
  • Your English Journal in Google Drive
  • Socrative (room #504326)

Source: Galleryhip
Today we're going to practice some writing. You've been brainstorming a lot about your characters and the world they live in, as well as the conflicts they might face. Now it's time to think about the specific spaces where they spend a lot of their time.

Here is our agenda:
  1. Read about Larry's apartment. I'll show you this in a minute. 
  2. Practice writing a setting for your novel in your English Journal. 
  3. Paste your example into Socrative and look at what your peers wrote. 
Homework: After reading some of your peers examples, spend some time tonight improving your own description. How can you add more sensory details? You do not have to rewrite it, just revise. Also, double check your homophones: they're/their/there or which/witch or others like it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creating Conflict

Make sure you have a book out.

Source: UK DailyMail
You've been working on creating characters! Congratulations!
Now you have to think about the terrible things that are going to happen to them.

Remember, sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that's where the lessons are.

So. You have two goals:

Goal 1: 
  1. Open this PDF. Read it all the way through. Do not move on until you are done.  
  2. Open this document. copy and paste the questions into your English Journal.
  3. Answer the questions about the conflict in YOUR novel.
Goal 2:
  •  Go back to your Character Questionnaire and keep going. 
  •  A piece of advice: the more detail you write, the easier it will be when we start writing novels. So if it asks if your character has any pets, don't just write "a dog." What's the dog's name? What kind of dog? Is it a friendly dog? DETAILS!
If you got this far, here's a comic for your enjoyment:

Source: Jason Bergsieker via The Curious Brain

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creating Character

Books out.

Yesterday you got to hear some advice about writing novels from Margaret Dilloway.

Today, you actually get to begin brainstorming and writing about your own novels.

You read an article about creating characters a couple weeks ago (AOW #4). Now you get to begin that process.
  1. Open this document about Characters.
  2. READ the first page that talks about protagonists and antagonists
  3. COPY the questionnaire to your English Journal.
  4. Begin filling it out. 

Homework: Calling in your blurb
  1. Remember that blurb you wrote about your perfect novel? It's time to call it in.
  2. Calling it in means you call our number and read your blurb to the voicemail. 
  3. It's very easy. Just dial 1-858-633-6726. The outgoing message will remind you to start with your name and then read your assignment. 
  4. The assignment you need to read is your blurb for your ideal novel. You wrote it in your English Journal on 10/14. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Speaker - Margaret Dilloway

There is not much to catch up on from today because we went to see a guest speaker.

Her name is Margaret Dilloway.
She is a novelist and might be able to answer some of your questions about the novel you're about to write.

  • By the way, did you finish your book blurb for your perfect novel? I have what you submitted, but if you didn't finish or need to make it better, you should probably do that. **hint hint**
  • Read your independent reading novel. Really.
  • If you finish a book, go write the book review for it and post it on Goodreads.
  • Turn in your group novel at the library if you have not done so already.

Some highlights (she had great advice and you might want to use some of this):
  • The 3 Cs of Novels - Context, Character, Conflict
    • Context - This includes your setting or the world your characters live in
    • Character - This includes actions that speak about the character. it is important to know what and who the character loves as well. 
      • In novels, you sometimes have to make bad things happen to good people (it's about the lessons those characters learn from those bad experiences)
    • Conflict - what does the character want and what is in his/her way?
  • There should be conflict of some sort in every scene and every piece of dialogue.
  • Most novels have about 60 scenes
    • Act 1: Inciting Incident and Plot Point 1 (15 scenes)
    • Act 2: Plot Point 2 and Turning Point (30 scenes)
    • Act 3: Climax and Denouement (15 scenes)
  • Check out the index card method for plotting scenes
    • You DO NOT have to have 60 scenes. Your novel can have less. It's a guide. 
  • Dialogue!
    • Real dialogue is boring.
    • You have to include what the characters are thinking as well. What someone is saying isn't necessarily what they are thinking.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Article of the Week #5

Books Out.
When you get here, fill out this survey
for the school.
Then keep reading.

If you did not download the NaNoWriMo Student Handbook, you'll need to do that. Click download, open it with Adobe, and "Save As" a PDF onto your desktop.

It's time for another article of the week.
This week it is a blog post about classic books called "What Makes a Book a Classic?"
  1. Read it carefully several times to make sure you understand the author's points. 
  2. Write a response in your English Journal.
  3. Your response should be two paragraphs, one summarizing what the article said and the second is your response to the article.
  4. Possible ideas for your response are listed below. 

To what extent do you agree/disagree with the author's points?
Discuss what books you think are classics. What makes them "classics"?
Discuss examples from novels you have read that relate to the author's points?
What are some other criteria for determining whether a novel is a "classic"?
How can this article help you write your own novel?
What "universal truths" might you be interested in writing about?
Why is it that most books do NOT become "classics"?

Come back after school if you didn't finish this. I see many AOWs unfinished every week. This is unacceptable. We are here for you to use the computers.

Take a look at some of the book blurbs your peers wrote about their "ideal novel." If you need inspiration, these might give you some different things to think about.

On Monday we have a guest speaker coming. She is an author and a novelist, and will be able to answer some of questions about writing a novel. Please fill out this form:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

First Steps to Authorship

4th period. 

We have an earthquake drill.
We will be going to the football field.
Please be prepared to follow directions carefully.

Source: Unsplash on Pixabay
6th period.

We're going to work on creating NaNoWriMo accounts.
Please be prepared to follow directions carefully.

Goal #1: Make a NaNoWriMo Account

  1. Open your English Journal.
  2. In a different tab, go to
  3. You will sign up for NaNoWriMo. Your username should be your period, your last name your first name.

    Here's an example: 4 Black Alyssa
  4. Once you sign up, you will get an email. Go to that email to find a link to set a password.

Goal #2: Only after you've successfully created an account and password.
  1. Fill out this form.
  2. Open the NaNoWriMo Handbook and download it to your desktop. (Click Download, open it with Adobe, and Save As)
  3. Read the Letter to the author on page 1.
  4. Go to page 3 and banish your inner editor.

Goal #3: What can you do to stay on top of your work?
  • Have you updated your "Currently Reading" shelf on Goodreads lately? What page are you on in your book? (Ms. Black needs to do this too. Remind her.)
  • Do you have any missing work in your English Journal?
  • If you and the person sitting next to you are both done, can you edit each others' work for proofreading mistakes?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A new project...

Source: pixabay
Books out.
If you haven't chosen a book that you're planning to finish in the next three weeks, let us help you find one. Right now.

Today, we explore our new project together.

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?

You get the first few minutes of class to Google it.
Learn as much as you can.
What is it? How does it work? Can you find any good advice?


Remember yesterday how you created you ideal novel and wrote a blurb about it?
Today you're going to focus you're attention on your "model novel" (the best book you've read recently).

Copy and paste these nine questions into your English Journal, and answer them using your model novel (this is NOT your ideal novel).

  1. What is the title and author of your model novel?
  2. Who are the important characters in your model novel?
  3. In two sentences, what is the book mostly about?
  4. What is the main conflict in the novel?
  5. Whose perspective is the novel written from?
  6. How does the novel begin?
  7. Where is the story set, generally?
  8. Name one thing you absolutely love about the author's style of writing (such as "It's hilarious." or "The words flow like poetry." or "I love how the chapters always start with ___.").
  9. What is your favorite thing about the novel (such as "The quirky characters." or "The suspenseful plot.")?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What if you could read the PERFECT book for you?

Sit in yesterday's seat!
Get your books out!
Go to the blog!
Be prepared!

Imagine if you could read the most perfect book for you. It would tell the story you want to hear. It would capture your attention in the right ways. You wouldn't be able to put it down.

Today, you'll use the slides below to create that book.

Follow the directions on these slides. They'll guide you.

HOMEWORK. (Yes. You have homework.)
  1. Write the book blurb for your ideal novel underneath the chart you made today. Check the end of the slides for more information about what that is. Look at
  2. Come to class with a "model novel." A model novel is one of your favorite books. It is a real book that you love and will never forget. If you can bring a physical copy, that's awesome, but you don't have to.
  3. Bring in the signed permission slip that Mrs. Roberts gave you last week if you can or want to.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

AOW #4

You have some work to do today. Are you ready?

  1. Today is Friday. That means you get to read an Article of the Week! You will not be on Newsela today. Instead, open this article called "The 9 Ingredients of Character Development." Make a copy to annotate. In your English Journal, write one paragraph to summarize the article, and one paragraph to share you thoughts and opinions.
  2. Have you filled out the form for your book reviews? The link is on the top of the page and it says "Independent Reading/Book Reviews" on it. Make sure you have submitted that form.
  3. Go back into Goodreads and edit/finish your book review.
  4. Catch up on your English Journal.
  5. Check Powerschool. Are you missing anything?

We are collecting your group novels today so you do not have to take them to the library. If you do not have it today, you have until next Friday, October 17 to return it to the library.

Also, on Monday, you will have an assessment to show your understanding of what we have been working on in the past five weeks. If you want to know what to do to prepare, the answer is to practice looking for characterization, setting, mood, sensory details, and conflict in your own independent reading novels. If you can do that, you will be fine.

Have a wonderful weekend!