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!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Open House 2014

Welcome to open house,

If you were able to join us that's great. If you were not able to join us you can still view the presentation below.

Conflict Resolution


While you're reading (because there is a book out on your desk), OPEN THE BLOG.

Your first set of directions:
  1. Open your English Journal.
  2. Log into Goodreads (by clicking the "log in with Google" button")
  3. Copy and paste the book review that you wrote on Monday into Goodreads.
  4. Go and find the website page that has your book review on it and don't close that tab.
  5. Read until further notice.

There is a fancy form you'll need to fill out today. It is a tab at the top of the blog called "Independent Reading/Book Reviews." Take a look at it. It has helpful information, and you can begin to fill it out. You'll need the link to your book review that you wrote, which is why I wanted you to keep that page open.

You spent yesterday exploring conflict in a short story.
Today, you will work with your partner to identify conflict in your group novel.
  • You should add the examples from your own group novel to the bottom of yesterday's chart. You can do this by right clicking on the table and clicking "add row."
  • Try to find examples of different types of conflict in your novel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Further Adventures with Conflict

Source: Mrs. Roberts

Do you have a book on your desk?
You should have a book on your desk.

Click this link for a view only copy of a document. 
Instead, listen to my instructions.

What you're doing today:
  • Give your partner for today a fist bump. Make sure you know his/her name.
  • Read "The Rights to the Streets of Memphis" with your new partner. Use the Say Something Protocol. (We'll talk about it.)
  • Begin to fill out the chart in your English Journal using this story and the characters in it.
  • Remember that characters can have more than one desire and more than one conflict.

Reminder - By Friday you should have:
  • Completely finished reading two books.
  • Written one book review and posted it on Goodreads
  • Updated your English Journal.
  • Taken the last Group Novel quiz. (See Ms. Black or Mrs. Roberts if you haven't.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Source: Pixabay

Hey! You!
Yes, YOU!
Is there a book on 
your desk?

I need you to fill out another form please!
Thank you!

So far we've taken the time to analyze characters, settings, mood, and sensory details. We are not done yet!

Over the next couple days, we're going to be looking at conflict!

Conflict is a struggle between two opposing forces. (like in chess?)

In literature, there are few types of conflict.

Don't panic! We're going to learn what those are.

When I tell you to, click this link for a view only copy of a document. 
Instead, listen to my instructions.

Reminder - By Friday you should have:
  • Completely finished reading two books.
  • Written one book review and posted it on Goodreads
  • Updated your English Journal.
  • Taken the last Group Novel quiz. (See Ms. Black or Mrs. Roberts if you haven't.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Writing your first book review

Hey everyone. I hope you had a wonderful, reading-filled weekend.

Today you're going to write your first book review. 

There are two questions today. So I'll give you ten minutes instead of seven. (And you all thought I was the mean one.)

Book reviews:
Today you will work to write a book review for your group novel OR your independent reading book. 
  1. Write your book review in your English Journal. DO NOT move on to step two before finishing step one.
  2. Log in to your Goodreads account
  3. Find your book and click "edit review." (If you can't find it, ask someone at your table. If you're still stuck ask one of the adults.)
  4. Rate your book. Copy and paste your book review into the box.
  5. Make sure you hit "Save."

Friday, October 3, 2014


By Lauren Schroer

Happy Friday!

Today we're going to spend some time on a new website that we have not looked at in this class before. You've been reading books in groups and independently. Let's get our reading lives online.

Goal #1: Goodreads
  1. Go to
  2. Log-in using your GOOGLE account. (Underneath the "sign up" spaces, it says, "or sign in using..." Next to this, click the little Google button!)
  3. Send a friend request to Ms. Black AND Mrs. Roberts. (Hint: Look us up by our email addresses.)
  4. Search for the book you are currently reading and add it to your "currently reading" shelf.
  5. Search for at least TEN more books you have read and add them to your "Read" shelf. Make sure you RATE them too!

Goal #2: Looking at awesome book reviews
  1. Take some time to read this book review about a book called The Alchemist.
  2. In your English Journal, write about what makes this book review a good book review. What are the qualities that make it strong? What is the difference between a book review and a summary?
  3. If you would like another example to learn from, check out this one about City of Thieves

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Denotation and Connotation

It's Thursday!
(in case you weren't aware yet)

We'll be reading today.
  • Open Socrative
  • You'll also need your copy of "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" open.
    We're not done with it just yet!

Denotation vs. Connotation
When you look at sensory details and mood within the story, you are using the author's word choice to figure out how you're supposed to feel within the story. When an author chooses specific words over others when they write, they are using diction to tell their story.

Diction involves knowing how words relate to each other in different contexts.

This means we have to understand the denotation and connotation of words.

Let's look at this more closely....

Important Information You Need:

  • The end of the grading period is next Friday 10/10. If you have not finished two books (your group novel and one choice novel), you need to spend a lot more time reading. Finish them.
  • Your group novel should be DONE on Monday, October 6
  • You can improve upon the English Journal grade you gave yourself by going back and working on the pieces that you have not yet completed or done thoroughly.
  • Give Mrs. Roberts or Ms. Black a fist bump (an exploding one, preferably)
  • If you didn't take the Newsela Quiz yesterday, go do that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sensory Details and AOW #3


“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.” 
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Yesterday you made a chart in your English Journal and began reading a passage from your group novel to look for sensory details. We will continue that process today. If you do not know what your passage is, or don't know what the chart could look like, ask a neighbor or scroll down to yesterday's post.

What else are we doing today Ms. Black?

Article of the Week!

I know that we usually do Article of the Week on Fridays, but we're switching it up a little bit. 

There is a new Newsela article in your binder. 

  1. Read it.
  2. Take the quiz.
You do not have to write a summary. Today, focus on the quiz. Ask questions if you have them. If you are not taking the quizzes, it will affect your grades.

Give Ms. Black a thumb's up if you read all the way to the end!