Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blog Catch-up: What we did 8/31 and 9/5:

Hello blog readers. I am sorry I have not gotten to updating the blog lately. I am really trying hard, although it seems I need to try harder, to keep this updated on a regular basis. Please be patient with me!

Friday, 8/31

We first took a vocabulary quiz. If you missed this day, you took the vocab quiz on Wednesday, the fifth. Remember, all students who are here the day you get the vocab words, which will normally be on Mondays, will have the words for the week: if you miss Monday, be sure to see a student who has them and copy them down. A good time to do this is during study skills. That way, you are prepared to take the quiz on Friday. So far, you have done a fantastic job with the vocabulary; keep it up!

After our vocab quiz, we completed our fourth sneeze. For the sneezes we are going to complete, be sure that you write on a different, totally new topic each time, even if your other sneezes are not done. You will have time at a latter date to go back on finish/polish your sneezes; right now, our goal is to build our collection of just-started pieces of writing.

After our sneeze, I read aloud to you as a class from our class novel "Love that Dog". You took notes in your comprehension journals and we had a lively discussion on what is happening in the book. Unfortunately, when you miss class, you completely miss out on the read-aloud experience. I will do my best, though, to catch you up and fill you in on all the pieces you missed.

Homework for the weekend was to read 1 hour or more!

Wednesday, 9/5

First, we completed our fifth sneeze. Again, we wrote about a completely new topic and started from scratch. We wrote for twelve minutes and we were not concerned with anything but writing as much as we could.

After our sneeze, we did "golden lines". I gave you five minutes to read through your completed sneezes. As you were reading, you were on the hunt for a "golden line"-- a sentence that stands out at you for any reason. Some of you chose funny sentences, some of you chose deep sentences, some of you passed. Once we had them, we all shared them out loud. It was fantastic!

After we completed our sneeze, we completed our weekly vocabulary assignment. Again, there are ten words, and you worked through questions in order to determine the definitions of the words.

At the end of the year (for some of you, this will happen much before the end of the year), we want you to completely fill your notebook with your own writing. Every page! In order to do this, we want to keep all prewriting and first draft writing in your writer's notebook: we don't want to take it out! However, we want to be able to work with your writing, and I need you to be able to turn it in. Therefore, today we copied our favorite sneeze from our notebook onto loose-leaf paper, being sure to double space (or skip lines, which ever term you prefer). Most of you finished this in class, but if you did not, it is homework.

Homework for Wednesday was to complete draft of sneeze and study for vocabulary quiz.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today, Wednesday the 29th of August, we did the following: 

1. Bellwork
2. Sneeze #3
3. Went over vocab and grammar
4. Learned the writing strategy "History of a Name"
5. Read Aloud

Sneeze #3: 

Today, we completed our third sneeze. We chose a new topic, making sure it was different from our first two sneeze topics. We wrote for twelve minutes. If you were absent, please complete your third sneeze. 

Vocab #1 and Grammar #1: 

We briefly went over our 10 vocab words, quizzing each other in order to remember the definitions of the words. 

For our grammar homework, I checked to make sure you had it done; if you had an answer written down for numbers 1-24, you got full credit. If you did not have your homework, you didn't get credit. If you turn your homework in on Friday, you can still get half credit!

"History of a Name" Writing Strategy: 

Names are important, aren't they? What would our world look like if everyone did not have names? Communication would surely be made tougher: instead of yelling, "Hey, Josh!" to a group of people in order to get one person's attention, you would have to yell something like, "Hey, you! No, not you, you! No, no, you in the red, NOT YOU, YOU!" It would be very confusing. 

Also though, names define us as people to a certain extent. Many people are certain that their best friend's "look" like a Timmy or a Susie. You name becomes a part of you, the person, as well as obviously your identification. 

For the writing strategy "History of a Name", you attempt to provide all the details of a name of someone or something. Nothing is off limits. You can talk about all or some of the following: 
  • What is the significance of the name? 
  • Why was the name given? 
  • Who gave the name? 
  • Are there any nicknames? 
  • What do others think of the name? 
  • What do you think of the name? 
  • What or how would it be different with a different name? 
  • How do you feel personally for the name? 
And more! Today, we tried this strategy out by writing our own history of our names. If you were absent, please try this strategy out. Be sure to copy the strategy down on page 11 of your writer's notebook: the section titled "What Should I Write?"

Read Aloud: 

Today we continued our read aloud, Sharon Creech's novel "Love that dog". 

Have a delicious Wednesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today, Monday 27th, we did the following: 

1. Bellwork
2. Sneeze #2
3. Vocab Lesson #1
4. Grammar Lesson #1

Sneeze #2: 

Today, we completed our second "sneeze" writing. Remember, when we "sneeze", we are simply writing as fast as we can without being concerned about what comes out. The reason we do this is to free ourselves. Sometimes when we write, we get a bit too concerned about if what we are writing is "good"; because of this, we end up trying to hard to write "well", thereby freezing ourselves as writers. So instead of trying to write well, we are just writing to write. We know that at least some of what we write will be bad: that is ok! The more we write, the more good writing will come out!

 To begin, we chose a different topic from the topic we chose on Friday. Just like last time, we wrote non-stop for 12 minutes. 

If you were absent Monday, please complete your second sneeze on a new topic in the writing section of your writer's notebook (which starts on page 71). 

Vocab Lesson #1:

Vocab lesson 1 is titled "Prometheus and Epimetheus". If you missed Monday, please get the words and definitions from a classmate. 

Grammar Lesson #1: 

We began the first grammar lesson, "Four types of Sentences", in class. You do not have to write the complete sentences; rather, just write the answer. Your assignment was to finish 1-24. 

Have a great day! See you on Wednesday!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today, 8/24, we did the following: 

  1. Exchanged ideas for writing topics using our writing territories
  2. Picked a topic and wrote on that topic for 12 minutes
  3. Setup our "read aloud" journals
  4. I read aloud from Sharon Creech's Love That Dog

Exchanged Ideas for Writing Topics: 

We continued trying to add to our writing territories today by exchanging notebooks and adding topics from other student's lists that worked for us. As you can see from my new list of topics, I was able to add at least 25 new topics; making sure not to add topics that do not interest you, building your list of topics will help you tremendously throughout the year. When you get bored with a piece of writing, you will be easily able to get another topic from your extensive list. The bigger and more diverse your list, the better!

Picked a topic and wrote for 12 minutes: 

After we had gotten many new topics, we chose one that seemed to call out to us that day. During first block, I chose "Rainy Days/Cloudy Days". 

For 12 minutes, we wrote. I told you to not pay attention to mistakes, to not worry about spelling, to not be concerned with how messy your writing became, to overall go for it: to write like your pants were on fire! Writing in this manner is "freeing", as many of you commented after we were done. It allows you to not worry so much about writing "good", thereby allowing you to produce some great stuff! Overall, many of you won't be happy with your writing; this is ok! First draft writing is hardly ever good; however, it is extremely important because I will show you how to polish your not so good writing. 

Setup "Read Aloud" journals: 

Throughout the year, I will read aloud great literature to you. Your goal during read aloud is simple: enjoy! While I read aloud to you, I will not stop to explain or answer questions; that is why you have your journal. You can write down any questions, comments, observations, etc. in your journal while I read. After I am done reading, we will discuss anything you want to! 

Also, before we begin to read aloud, we will take notes and do many different forms of writing and interactions in order to remember where we are in the book. 

Read aloud was one of the favorite activities we did as a class for students last year: it was also one of my favorites, as well! Go literature!


Your homework for the weekend is to read a great book you love for at least 40 minutes. If you missed Friday, please complete a draft of one of your topics from your writing territories. You can write in any form, and your piece does not have to be finished. Just go for it! Write for about 12 minutes, and no matter where you are, stop. We will do more with it soon!

Have a great weekend. 

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today, 8/20, in 7th Grade English we did the following: 

  1. Set-up our writer's notebooks
  2. Passed out grammar textbooks and workbooks
  3. Developed our reading territories 

Writer's Notebook Set-up

First, starting with the first clean sheet of notebook paper, number your pages 1-75. Put the number, preferably in pen, in the lower right-hand corner of your page. Do not number the front and back of your papers; the first sheet, counting the front and back, will be considered page 1. 

After you have numbered your pages 1-75, you need to write the section headings. Write the following section headings at the top-center of your page. 

Page               Section
1               Table of Contents
5               Reading Territories
8               Writing Territories
11             What should I write?
17             Writing/Literary terms
20             Spelling Demons
22             Craft Lessons
49             Editing Lessons
71             Writing

Grammar Textbooks/Workbooks

If you were absent on Monday, please see me when you return so I can assign you a textbook. 

Develop Reading Territories

Developing your reading territories is all about discovering yourself as a reader. In your writer's notebook, on page 5, just under where it says "Reading Territories", I want you to make a subheading that says "Why do I read?" Under this subheading, list as many reasons you can think of for why you read. Once this list is over, I want you to make lists of the following: 
  • Favorite Authors
  • Favorite Genres
  • Favorite Books
  • Books I want to read in the future
  • Subjects I like
Also, make any other lists about reading that you feel like you want to have. Again, this is all about figuring out your identity as a reader. Go for it!

Homework 8/20

Read a great book for thirty minutes or more!

Welcome to 7th Grade English 2012-2013!

Welcome Parents, Students, Friends, Family, Grandma Candi (this is my Grandma...she said she occasionally reads my blog :) ) and anyone else who has mistakenly stumbled upon the blog!

This year in 7th grade English, our goal is to improve our literacy.

Literacy is extremely important. Let me tell you why.

 Our world, more than ever before, is a world of change. It is a world rapid, constantly changing and morphing in ways unpredictable. Teachers and students today are preparing for jobs in fields that do not yet exist. Each day, the average person produces the equivalent of 6 newspapers worth of information. From the moment we wake, until the moment we go to bed, we are bombarded with information in myriad forms: radio ads, television ads, billboards, newspaper ads, flying planes with ads, clothes with logos, pop-ups (ahhh! I hate those!). The list goes on and on.

Luckily enough for us, there is one essential ingredient that greatly simplifies life’s navigation; turning a bumpy, stressful, and oftentimes blind voyage into a voyage of choice and purpose is literacy. I define literacy as the ability to successfully communicate and navigate yourself in today's world. 

Thank you for enrolling in this class. I cannot wait to get started.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Today we will continue to prepare for the AIMS writing test.

Using the rough, first draft you wrote last night, we will discuss how to improve it. We will be focusing on developing our thoughts and ideas while still remaining organized. As I told you yesterday, our focus is to write a five-paragraph piece of writing that is both organized and unique. I will begin by showing you my first draft and how I think I can improve it; then, you will have to work on your own first draft to make it even better!

Your homework is to bring a silent reading book to class tomorrow. It needs to be a book that is new to you: meaning that you have never read it before. During AIMS testing next week, you will be required to have a silent reading book with you at all times. Tomorrow, I will be checking to see that you have a silent reading book. This check will be an assignment worth 10 points; please get these points!

Have a wondrous Thursday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, April 9, 2012

Welcome back!


Welcome back to school. I hope your break was as restful as mine; I found it extra hard this morning to roll out of bed! I made it, however, and I am very excited to get back to work with you.

This week, we are going to be preparing for the AIMS Reading and Writing test. Please remember, the AIMS test is not the only "standardized" test you will take in your academic career. You will take the AIMS again in 8th grade and also in 10th grade. After the AIMS, in order to get into college, many standardized tests will await you such as the SAT and the ACT. Preparing for the AIMS test is valuable to you as a student; please, take it seriously!

Today, we took the following notes in our writer's notebook. If you were absent, please be sure to copy them down.

AIMS Reading Test Tips: 
  1. Do a "first read" of the passage: 
    1. read every word
    2. don't skim or skip around
    3. understand the "big picture" or the main idea of the article or passage
    4. keep reading until you get to the end
  2. Read each question carefully
    1. go slowly
    2. make sure you understand the question
  3. Go back and scan the passage for the answer
    1. scan- to scan means to run your eyes quickly over the page searching for key words and phrases
  4. Choose the best answer
    1. many times, more than once correct answer will exist-don't be fooled!
  5. Don't let difficult questions freak you out! 
    1. just do your best
  6. Don't leave any blanks!
  7. When it is time to take a test--just relax
You have no homework this evening. 

Have a productive Monday!

Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Today we will be presenting book talks all day. Please remember that you need to have your book talk completely written out and ready to turn in after you present.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, March 28th 


To start class off today, I will be giving my book talk. After I give my book talk, I will open the floor up for any questions about what I did or didn't do; after that discussion, we will give my presentation a grade together as a class. My hope is that you realize what to do and what not to do in your presentation by watching and grading my presentation.

After I am done presenting, you will start to present!

If you are absent, please make sure your book talk is written out and ready to present. You can present when you return to school.

Have a great Wednesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Today in class, I gave you time to finish your written portion of your Book Talk assignment.

After finishing the written portion of your Book Talk, I gave you a copy of the rubric that I will use to grade you during your presentation. You had the time to practice your presentations in small groups. As your classmates presented, I walked around giving specific feedback on your presentations using the rubric.

Tomorrow, we will begin presentations! Your homework tonight is to practice your presentation; if you could, it would be really fantastic to practice in front of a real person: Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, neighborhood friend, cat, dog, goldfish...maybe even yourself in the mirror!? Practice!

Make Tuesday a great day!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, March 26, 2012


Today you will begin preparing your Book Talk presentation. In class, we will go over the directions and answer any questions you may have. For the remainder of the day, we will be writing the written portion of your Book Talk.

Tomorrow, you will have time to practice present in front of your small groups. Also, you will have the chance to grade my presentations that I give you.

You have no homework today.

Oh. By the way...there are only 4 days left until spring break! Wahoo!

Have a wonderful Monday,

-Mr. O'Mera

Friday, March 23, 2012


Today we will be putting our new-found knowledge and strategies of conclusions to the test.

First, you will be reading an article titled "Does Red Meat Make You Happier?".

After reading the article, you are going to create two conclusions for the article: a poor or ineffective conclusion and an effective conclusion. After you create those two conclusions, you are going to explain in at least five sentences why your effective conclusions is better than your ineffective conclusion. By completing this activity, you are going to demonstrate your knowledge of what makes a good conclusion and what makes a bad conclusion.

Your homework over the weekend is to finish the book you have been reading during D.E.A.R. for the month of March. We will be beginning book reports next week!

Make your weekend a great one!

-Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Today again, for the second day in a row, we have a half-day *tear*. Today, we will share any of our one-page writer's notebooks we wrote from Tuesday and try out even more strategies for great conclusions.

Your homework for today will be to write three new conclusions to your 1-page WN assignment and also to reflect on which conclusion strategy you feel is most effective and why.

Please keep up your hard work. Your level of commitment and passion for learning continue to inspire me everyday!

Thank you,

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, March 22nd


Today is half-day for conference, so our time is cut short a bit (I know many of you are extremely sad with this idea. Please know that your instructor's heart aches for missed class time, as well :-) ).

First, I will come around and check the conclusions to your homework. After I am finished with that, we will read aloud from our classroom novel "I am the Cheese".

Your homework for this evening is to read 30 minutes.

Have a wonderful day!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, March 21st 


Today, we will begin a mini-unit on conclusions. Way back in first quarter, we went over strategies for great beginnings. Ever since then, many of your beginnings have been fantastic! Now that you are writing fantastic beginnings and middles of your papers , I want to give you some specific strategies to write better conclusions.

Conclusions, as I am sure many of you realize, are extremely important. Think about it. Have you ever watched a movie or read a book or paper that was good, pretty good, or even great, only for it to be ruined by a poor ending? It happens all the time. Endings can either make or break your paper; similar to a crescendo in a classical music concert, the ending of your writing is going to be the element your reader remembers most. Therefore, if you craft a well-written, thought provoking ending that not only wraps up your paper but gives the reader something lasting to think about, you will go from having a good paper to a great paper.

In class today, we will first take notes on three important things conclusions must do. If you were absent, I would like you to write these notes down in your writer's notebook. They may seem simple; and really, they are. However, just because they are simple ideas does not mean they are simply done in a piece of writing.

A great conclusion must: 
  1. Feel finished
  2. Give the reader something to think about or do
  3. Meet your reader's expectations
Homework for Tuesday is to write one page in your writer's notebook. What you write can be on any topic; however, it cannot be a story! It needs to be non-fiction!

Make Tuesday a wonderful day.

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, March 19, 2012


On Thursday, you re-wrote a fake letter that had no commas; today, we will go over that assignment, correcting the paragraph together and talking about any commas that you do not understand.

After we finish correcting the assignment, we will be free reading and writing.

You have no homework!

Have a great day:

-Mr. O'Mera
Friday, March 16th


Today most of you will be departing to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Due to our early departure time, 5th period will not have a class today; therefore, in order to keep all classes on the same page, we will be having a free reading/writing day today! Yes!

Your homework for the weekend is to enjoy your weekend, whether you are at Carlsbad or at home!

Have a great weekend!

-Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Welcome to Thursday, March 15!

Today, we will read aloud from our class novel Walk Two Moons. We are on Chapter 20: The Blackberry Kiss.

After we read, I have a short assignment for you. You will be reading and copying down a letter that I wrote to an imaginary friend. When I wrote this letter, the comma key on my key board was broken, so unfortunately, I couldn't put in any commas at all! Thankfully for me, you guys have just learned how to use commas correctly in sentences! Can you help me out; please?

(Ok, ok. I admit it. My comma key really wasn't broken. But still, you have to admit, that would be an awesome story!)

Once you finish your assignment, you will be able to free read or write.

Have a magnificent Thursday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today we are going to go over your homework sheet together. I will answer any questions you have and we will work through any tough problems together. Our goal is to start to understand the usage of commas; we most likely will not have commas completely mastered, and that is ok. We are just trying to understand them in a broad sense.

After your homework corrections, today will be a free D.E.A.R. or writing day: yay!

If you are absent today, please finish your homework from Tuesday and read or write.

Homework tonight is to read 30 minutes.

Happy Wednesday.

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, March 13th


Today we are going to continue our mini-lesson on commas.

Yesterday we learned three instances where we use commas:
  1. To separate items in a series:
    • Tim wanted rice, chicken, and broccoli for dinner.
  2. After greetings or salutations in a letter:
    • Dear Tom,          Your friend,
  3. After introductory words and phrases:
    • Nervously, Tim turned around.
    • Running and chewing at the same time, Samuel began to choke on his burrito.
Today, we are going to talk about a couple new instances where we use commas:
  1. To separate a direct address:
    • Thank you, Tim.
    • You are welcome, Sally.
  2. To separate appositives. Appositives are phrases that describe a noun. In the sample sentence below, the noun is "Mr. Jenkins" and the appositive phrase "our families doctor" gives us more information about the noun--the phrase describes the noun; therefore, we need to surround it with commas:
    • Mr. Jenkins, our families doctor, is a patient man.
If you were absent today, please copy these notes down in your writer's notebook. Also, if you were absent, you will need to see me to get your make-up homework sheet.

Have a postivie Tuesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, March 12, 2012


Today, to start off class, we had 15 minutes of D.E.A.R. time. Please remember, we will be having a book report/project/book talk (I am still trying to determine which one!) due near the end of March. Reading is extremely important; please take advantage of the fact that you are able to choose your own silent reading book by actually choosing books you enjoy and by actually reading your book during D.E.A.R. time!

After D.E.A.R., we began our mini-unit on "commas". Today, we talked about three specific instances where we use commas:

  1. To separate items in a list
    • Example: I ate hotdogs, hamburgers, and pickles. 
  2. After greetings and salutations in a letter
    • Dear Jane,            Your friend, 
  3. After introductory phrases or words
    • Nervously, Jane turned around. 
    • Before jumping in the pool, Jane took her cell phone out of her pocket. 
If you were gone today, please see a fellow student to copy down their notes. 

You have no homework today!

Have an awesome Monday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Friday, March 9th


Today during class, we worked on completing our outlines and beginning our drafts to our literary analysis papers.

As you wrote, I walked around and had individual conferences with anybody who was having trouble or who needed help understanding an element to the outline.

If you were absent, your homework for the weekend is to finish your first draft of your paper.

Have an amazing weekend!

-Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, March 8th

Today, we spent more time finishing up the introduction paragraph.

We really focused on creating a thesis statement that was arguable: for example, if I was writing my literary analysis paper about a book that talked about horses, my thesis statement could not be "My book is about horses." Of course it is! Instead, to make it arguable, I would need to do something like, "My book is unrealistic and offensive to horse owners."

If you were absent today, please see me to get the literary analysis packet in order to continue your essay.

Have a fantastic Thursday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I am doing a bit of catch up here, students. I will post what we are doing in today's class, Thursday, the 8th, later in the afternoon. Thank you for your patience!

Wednesday, March 7th 


Today we will be going over how to correctly format your TAG, brief overview of the story, and thesis statement. 

All of these elements together in this exact order will make up your introduction paragraph to your literary analysis paper. 

If you were absent today, March 7th, please see me to get a quick explanation of how to fill out these elements. Also, please feel free to see a classmate so they could explain it to you. 

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 6th


Today I will be introducing you to our next form of writing and essay: Literary Analysis

Your purpose in literary analysis paper is to react and respond to a piece of literature you have read. When you write a literary analysis paper, the possibilities of the paper are endless. You could do some or all of the following: interpret the story (tell what you think it “means”), analyze the story (examine what happened in detail), give your opinion about the story, or tell your feelings about the story. 

In class, we will have discussions about the two short stories we recently read, Barrio Boy and Young Ladies Don't Slay Dragons. In our discussions, we will be trying to develop an opinion about one of the two stories that we would feel comfortable writing about in our literary analysis papers. 

If you miss today's class, please be sure to see me when you return so you can get a Literary Response packet. 

Your homework for today is to read 25 minutes. 

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Today, students in 2nd period will be reading the short story Young Ladies Don't Slay Dragons and responding to the story in their writer's notebook.

Students in 3rd and 5th period have already done this, so in order to let 2nd period catch-up, 3rd and 5th period will be having a free writing and reading day.

There is no homework today!

Make today a great Monday: there are only 10 more Monday's left until the school year is over!

-Mr. O'Mera

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thursday, March 1st and Friday, March 2nd


Sorry for the lack of updates the past two days; I have been reading and grading essays like a mad-man! Here is a brief recap of what we got done the past two days:

  • On Thursday, we read aloud from our class novel Walk Two Moons. After that, we had a class discussion about 4 statements to prep us for the next short story we are going to read called Young Ladies Don't Slay Dragons. I wrote the four statements on the board, and then we wrote about each one, telling whether or not we agreed with the statement and why. After we wrote our feelings on the statements, we broke off into groups to share and compare our thoughts and feelings. If you were gone on Thursday, I would like you to respond to the following statements in your writer's notebook. Tell whether you agree or disagree, and most importantly, explain why you feel that way.   
    1. Young ladies don't slay dragons. 
    2. You have to be big to change the world.
    3. Intelligence is as important as strength. 
    4. Stereotypes can be overcome. 
  • On Friday, we read the short story Young Ladies Don't Slay Dragons and answered questions both individually and as a group. If you were gone Friday, you will need to read the story. 
Thanks so much students for all of your hard work! You are really doing great, and I feel that all of you are improving as writers, readers, students, and human-beings. 

Have a wonderful and positive weekend, 

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Today we continue reading the story Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza. After we are finished, we will discuss our thoughts and feelings about the story and the issues the story brings up.

If you were absent today, please get a literature book to make up the reading you missed.

Our homework tonight will be to write 1 page in our WN about an issue, thought, observation, concern, question or anything else you had related to the story we read.

Have a great leap day; these only come once every four years!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, February 28


Today we are going to begin reading an excerpt, or piece of a story, called Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza. 

If you were absent, please see me to get a book in order to read what you missed. 

We have no homework tonight!

Have a great Tuesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, February 27, 2012


Welcome back! I hope your rodeo-break was as refreshing as mine was. I found time to read my new book, go out to dinner and spend quality time with my fiance, play golf with friends, and go to the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Today in class, you will get your graded D.E.A.R. projects back; after you get your projects back, we will have time to DEAR. Near the end of class, as an introduction to a story we are going to start reading tomorrow, we will read about Guadalupe Solis.

Guadalupe Solis imigrated to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico. When she first came, she was not only "the new kid" but she also was a person who spoke no English. Life for her was extremely hard at first, but as she learned English, she realized she should not feel ashamed about herself just because she didn't know English; in fact, she became proud of her heritage and realized that she was going to be bilingual.

If you were gone today, your homework is to write one page in your writer's notebook imagining you have just moved to a country where you do not know the language. Tell us, either in essay format or story format, what it is like being in a country when you do not know the language. Focus on your feelings: what is hard? What is challenging? Be creative!

Tomorrow we will explore this interesting topic much more in depth.

Have a fantastic Monday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today we took a survey about our class, English/Language Arts, and how it has gone so far this year.

I asked you questions about what you have liked so far, what you have learned so far, and what you would change in order to have a better class.

After our survey, we had D.E.A.R. time.

If you were absent today, your homework is to Read and/or write for 1 hour.

Have an absolutely fantastic rodeo break!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


During class today, we are going to be evaluating and examining all of your projects. Hopefully, you will come away with a list of books you can't wait to read!

If you were absent today, your homework is to read 20 minutes.

I want to congratulate many of you on such a wonderful job completing your projects; on the whole, you worked very hard on them and it shows. Great job!

Have a fantastic Tuesday.

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, February 20th


Today we turned in our projects. For those of you who did not finish, please remember to bring your completed projects tomorrow for half-credit!

If you were absent today, please bring a complete project for tomorrow to turn in.

During class tomorrow, we are going to be evaluating and examining all of your projects. Hopefully, you will come away from tomorrow with a list of books you can't wait to read!

Have a fantastic Monday.

-Mr. O'Mera

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday, February 17th


Today we are going to finish our "on-demand" essay. After finishing our essay, we are going to read aloud from our book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

If you are absent today, please see the post from Thursday to get the topic for your "on-demand" essay. The essay should be 5-paragraph.

D.E.A.R. projects are due Monday. Please be sure to complete your project this weekend!

Happy Friday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday, February 16th


Please don't forget: D.E.A.R. Projects are due on Monday!

Today we started our first on-demand essay of the third quarter. For those of you who have forgotten, on-demand essay simply means writing an essay on a topic cold, meaning you did not know what the topic was going to be before you began to write.

The reason we do on-demand essays is twofold:

  1. First, as a writer, student, and human being, it is really important that you develop the critical-thinking skills necessary to "think on your feet" or to produce writing, ideas, work etc... quickly, in any given situation. Just as being able to write a great novel given no time constraints is a great skill, being able to produce a coherent, functional, and (hopefully) great piece of writing in a short amount of time is just as important a skill. 
  2. Second, the reason we do on-demand essays is to teach you the time-management skills necessary for you to succeed during standardized test-taking situations. All of you will move on to high school at some point, where, in the 10th grade, you will have to take the AIMS test in writing. Also, many of you--hopefully all of you!--will move on to college; before you can be accepted to college, you will have to showcase your writing skills on either the ACT or SAT, which both assess writing in a traditional standardized test format. 
So, just as we talked about today in class, even though many of you do not "like" or "enjoy" writing essays, especially on-demand, it is a crucial skill to learn nonetheless!

Thank you for trying your hardest and giving your education everything you have! You will be rewarded for all your hard work!

If you were absent, I would like you to write for thirty minutes on the following topic. It is essential that you only write thirty minutes, as that is the same amount of time I gave students today. Tomorrow, you will be given another thirty minutes to finish your essay. 

The topic:

On-Demand Essay #3

In twelve years of school most students spend time in more than fifty different classes and courses. With all that experience, students develop certain ideas about what they like and don’t like about school and about the courses they take. Students have definite opinions about what schools “should” and “should not” be like. From your experiences, what ideas do you have for changing or improving schools?
        Identify one change you would make in order to improve your school. Explain three reasons why this change would make your school better or more effective. Give specific reasons to help the reader understand your position. 

Wednesday, February 15th


Today we had a workday. All day, you were able to work on your upcoming D.E.A.R. projects. I walked around and helped out with projects, answered questions, and solved problems.

Please be sure to read the entire description of the project you choose to do. Many students did not read the entire description and therefore missed the written component of the project.

So please, please, please read the entire description of your project, that way you do all that is asked of you and you get a fantastic grade!

Happy Wednesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14th


Today, we almost finished our first reading assignment from the "Breaking through" workbooks. Some people finished, and some didn't; if you didn't finish, you will have about 7-8 minutes tomorrow to finish. If you were absent, please see me to make the assignment up.

Your homework tonight is to gather the materials you need to complete your D.E.A.R. projects. Remember, tomorrow, Wednesday the 15th, is going to be a workday all-day, which means you will have the entire period to work on your project! Use your time wisely!

Have a terrific Tuesday.

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, February 13th


Today we continued working from the "Buckle Down" AIMS reading booklets. We read a fable by Leo Tolstoy titled "The King and the Shirt", and then we answered questions about the main ideas, theme and details. 

Perhaps the most important concept we learned today was the difference between Main Idea and Theme:
  • Main Idea: a statement that is clearly about the events or facts in the passage. For example, "Kayla and Jess stuck together throughout their difficult seventh-grade year at Hillcrest Middle School."
  • Theme: a statement that you can apply to people in situations in general. For example, "Good friends are there for you during good times and bad."
If you were absent, please review these notes and copy them into your writer's notebook. 

Homework for tonight is to read 20 minutes. 


Friday, February 10th


Today we started working with the "Buckle Down" reading workbooks. Please remember that although yes, these booklets serve as preparation for the AIMS reading test, more importantly, these workbooks are a tool to help us become better readers. Read to succeed!

If you were absent Friday, please see me to get a booklet to read.

Homework over the weekend is to read/write 45 minutes.

Have a great weekend!

-Mr. O'Mera

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9th


Today, we tied up some loose ends. I went around one more time to meet with you individually to give you help on your bibliographies. After helping you out with your bibliographies, we finished up answering the Organization questions about the year-round school papers we wrote. 

After answering the questions, we had time to complete your homework early, which was either read or write for 20 minutes. 

If you were absent today, please see my blog post from Monday, February 6th to get the organization questions. 

Happy Friday Eve!

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, February 8th


Today, I met with each of you individually to make sure you formatted your bibliographies correctly. After checking your bibliographies, we had D.E.A.R. time.

If you were absent today, please be sure to bring your bibliography tomorrow.

Have a great Wednesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday, February 7th

Hello Students-

Today in class we went over how to properly format a Bibliography. First, we took the following notes. If you were absent, please copy down these notes on the next clean page of your writer's notebook.

Bibliography Notes
What is a Bibliography Page? 
     A bibliography page is a list of all the sources and                                        information you used in your research paper.

Why do you need to have a Bibliography Page?
     If someone is reading your research paper and they want to know where you got your information from, they can use your bibliography to find it. 

     Also, as a researcher and writer, if you use someone else's research, you need to give them credit! Failure to give them credit would result in plagiarism.

Your homework for tonight, the 7th, is to finish a bibliography. My hope is that you have all of your Science Fair sources written out on the Bibliography handout that Mrs. Arnette gave you. If you do, use those sources to create your bibliography. If you do not have your sources or you lost them, please use the sample bibliography sheet I passed out today during class. 

Have a terrific Tuesday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, February 6th

Hello students!

Today we took a closer look at the 5-paragraph essay we wrote last week about the "year-round" school debate.

Since we are learning the trait of Organization, we answered the following questions about our papers organization. If you were absent on Monday, I would like you to answer the following questions in complete answers:

Organization: Evaluation
Is my paper organized?

Answer the following questions in at least 3 sentences each. Please provide specific examples from the paper.

1.     How does the paper look, visually speaking? At first glance, does it look professional and organized? Or does it look sloppy and unorganized? How many paragraphs are there? Are the paragraphs properly formatted? Does the paper look long or short? Are the paragraphs about the same size? Or are some smaller and bigger than others? What is your first impression upon looking at the paper?

2.     Evaluate the introduction or hook: does it work? How well does it work? Why does it work well or not well? What is one thing you would do to improve the introduction? Does it set-up, or briefly hint, at what is coming in the paper? Or does it talk about random things?

3.     How are the ideas in the paragraphs organized? Did you ever get lost when you were reading it? If so, where did you get lost? What could be done to make you not get lost? Do the ideas seem to flow? If not, how would you organize the ideas differently?

4.     Evaluate the conclusion: does the paper end in just the right spot? Does the conclusion reinforce the main idea of the paper? Does it sum it up in a different and surprising way? Or does the conclusion just simply restate exactly what it said in the introduction and body?

5.     State 5 things (in list form) that you specifically enjoyed about this paper. General comments, such as “It was good” or “It was awesome”, do not work! Be SPECIFIC!

6.     State 5 things (in list form) that you think could make this paper better. Again, be specific! General comments such as “Make it better” or “Make it more organized” do not help anyone! Be SPECIFIC!

7.     Using your organization rubric, give this paper a score.

Don't be overwhelmed! Writers answer questions like these about their writing all the time! Going through this process is how you improve as a writer!

Have a great Monday!

-Mr. O'Mera

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday, February 2nd


Today, we discussed the  "Organization" of each of the three sample papers. We talked about the grade we gave each paper, and we also talked about how we would improve each paper's organization.

If you missed today, please see me to get the three sample papers to read and grade. We had no homework for the day.

See you tomorrow! Merry Friday Eve!

-Mr. O'Mera

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday, February 1st


Today, we took a look at three sample papers. We scored them using our "Organization" rubric. Tomorrow, we will finish scoring the papers; after we are done, we will all talk about what grades we gave the papers and why.

The question we are still trying to answer is: "What is good writing?"

Our work grading these papers will bring us a step closer to answering that question.

If you were absent, see me when you return to get copies of the three sample papers.

Have a great night!

-Mr. O'Mera

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday, January 31st

Hello February; Goodbye January!


Today we got caught up a little bit. I checked to see if you had completed your five-paragraph essay on "Year-round school versus traditional school". If you did not finish, please bring your essay in tomorrow for half-credit. 

After I checked your essays, I passed out an "Organization" rubric. This rubric looks identical to the "Ideas" rubric you got last week; the only difference is, it is a rubric to score how well your paper is organized, not how good your ideas are. 

We went over what makes a score of "1" different from what makes a score of "3" and "5". During this discussion, I used many examples to try illustrating why Organization is such an essential part of good writing. 

If you were absent today, you have no homework. Please just make sure you have completed your 5 paragraph essay on "Year-round school versus traditional school". 

See you tomorrow!

-Mr. O'Mera

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday, January 31

Today we had a debate about the issue of year-round school versus traditional school. After our debate, we started a draft to an essay about this topic. The essay needs to be a traditional 5-paragraph essay; please see the following format: 
  • Paragraph One: Introduction--tell the reader what you are going to tell them
    • Paragraph Two: Main idea #1
    • Paragraph Three: Main Idea #2
    • Paragraph Four: Main Idea #3
  • Paragraph Five: Conclusion--tell the reader what you just told them
To get credit for your draft tomorrow, you must have five paragraphs of writing. Don't worry to much about it being "good" writing; this is only your first draft!

Objective: SWBAT discuss/write about issue

Homework: Finish Draft

Welcome to Week 5!


Welcome back! I posted on Friday that it was my hope to have your "IDEAS" papers graded and returned today; unfortunately, that did not happen. Expect those back sometime this week.

This week, we are going to discuss the issue of year-long school. Do students learn more who attend year-long school? Why do we have such a long break off for summers, anyway? During a long summer break, do most students forget all the material they learned during the school year? Or does the break serve as a cooling off period essential for students to catch their break from the marathon that is the current school year?

Also this week, we are going to be working on the trait of Organization. Starting Tuesday, you will begin to understand what it means to have an organized paper. You will be given a rubric, very similar to the Ideas rubric you got last week, and with that rubric you will grade sample papers.

By the end of the week, you will be turning in your essays on siblings to be scored using the Organization and Idea rubrics.

Lets have a great week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Quick Note

I hope to have your papers scored and ready to return to you on Monday! Have a fantastic weekend!

-Mr. O'Mera



Last week, we took notes trying to answer the question: "What is Good Writing?" The list of notes you took went like this:
 Good Writing Has:

  1. Ideas that are interesting and important
  2. Organization that is clear and effective
  3. Voice that is individual and appropriate
  4. Word Choice that is specific and memorable
  5. Sentence Fluency that is smooth and musical
  6. Conventions that are correct and communicative
Now, as we move forward, we will continue to answer the question "What is Good Writing" by looking at each of the Six Traits of Writing in depth. Up first, is IDEAS: 

Here is a look at what we will be doing the week of 1/23-1/27:

Friday, 1/27-
Due to the bowling trip, we will be catching up on any homework and assignments that we have missed, and we will be reading and writing, your choice of topic and/or book.
Homework: Read or write 35 Minutes

Thursday, 1/26-
Today we will be read sample paper #3, grade it using our "IDEAS rubric", and have a discussion about why we gave it that grade. It is important that we continue to remember that even if we do not "like" a paper or subject, we can still recognize it as "good" writing.
Homework: None

Wednesday, 1/25-
Today, I will introduce our upcoming "D.E.A.R. projects", with due dates to be announced soon. It is really important that you get a book that interests you and read it all the way through! Also, today I will introduce you to our "IDEAS rubric". Using the piece of writing you have worked on the past couple of days, we will grade it a 5, 3, or 1. To get used to grading our writing, we will first grade three sample papers together as a class.
Homework: None

Tuesday, 1/24
For the last day, we are going to start our third piece of writing. Remember, we are writing from our writing territories, and this piece of writing can be in any form on any topic (as long as it is appropriate).
Homework: Read 20 Minutes

Monday, 1/23
Today, we are going to write our second piece from our writing territories. If you are absent, please complete a piece of writing, in any form, about one of your writing territories. Go for at least 3/4 a page in length, and try to write until the end of your paper.
Homework: Read 20 Minutes

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week of 1/2-1/6

Tuesday 1/3-

Objective: SWBAT establish writing territories

Homework: Write for 20 minutes 

Wednesday 1/4-

Objective: SWBAT establish reading territories

Homework: Find a new book to read and bring it to class by Friday 

Thursday 1/5-

Objective: SWBAT outline and discuss story elements

Homework: Find a new book to read and bring it to class by Friday

Friday 1/6-

Objective: SWBAT evaluate word choice and sentence fluency

Homework: Read for 30 minutes

Welcome to third quarter!

Can you believe it? You are now halfway on your journey to becoming an eighth grader! Wow! Time really does fly when you are having fun, working hard, and, most importantly, when you are writing lots. I want to congratulate you on your hard work and progress during the first two quarters; I also want to urge you to work even harder during the next five months: the harder you work, the smarter you will become and the more fun you will have doing it.