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