Mrs. Smith first greeted us all with her warm and cheerful greeting and then got straight to business. She informed us that there would be another fishbowl tomorrow and warned the discussers and the onlookers about talking too much. Blake was asked to stand up in front of the class and give some tips on how to present. He advised us that we might want to share a Google doc with the other presenters that has a list of questions that everyone who is presenting wants to talk about. Mrs.Smith also said that we need to read chapters 12-17 in A Long Way Gone by Thursday. Additionally, she told us that we also need to remember to do our new SAT and informed us that one THE BEST words was on our new list. The word that was highly praised by Mrs. Smith was “quagmire”. One of the students was obviously very excited and familiar with the word and showed the class so as she stood up and shouted a excited “YES!” at the mention of the word.
We then went around the room to introduce SAT 8 while Mrs. Smith handed back our Othello essays. Even though we were supposed to be focusing on the new SAT words, many of us took a quick peek at our essays. To our disappointment, many of us didn't do as well as we had hoped even though there were a few exceptions. Knowing this, Mrs.Smith assured the class that just because we get bad grades does not mean that we are bad students. She emphasized that we should learn from our mistakes and only worry and throw a 3-year-old tantrum if it’s second semester and we haven’t improved at all. Mrs.Smith advised us to look at this as place where we have room to grow, whether we did very well or very poorly on the essay. She warned the overachievers against letting the good grade go to their heads because she will be grading the next essay a lot harder. To drive home her point about learning from our mistakes, our teacher told us about different mistakes that she made and how she learned from them. “One of my mistakes,” she’d said “ was getting a divorce. Was it a big mistake? Yes. But....” Mrs. Smith went on “but, I learned from it. I learned how I wanted and did not want to be treated. I also learned what environment that I did and did not want my daughter to grow up in. Out of my mistake, I learned a lot of good lessons. Look at this as a place to learn a lot of good lessons out of your mistakes.” After Mrs. Smith finished her encouraging talk, she reminded us that this was our starting point and that we should only grow from this.Then, she directed us to make a list on the back of our essay paper of all of the things that we know we did well and all of the things that we need to improve on. On the whiteboard, Mrs. Smith drew a larger scale list of general things that she saw in our papers. The list is below.
Things Done Well
- Intro: organization
- Body Paragraph: quoted corporation
- concluding paragraph
- work cited
- word choice
- good attention getter
- correct quote citations
- tying ideas together at the end
Things to Improve On
- verb choice ,word choice
- using “this shows.....” to summarize what point we are trying to make
- keeping paragraphs in chronological order of events
- set-up before the quote: give a previous understanding; provide context; DO NOT explain the whole plot
- background information....not whole plot
- underline title
- don’t use contractions
- format work cited
- comma usage
- Explain points made
- not using personal pronouns
- no run-on sentences
Mrs. Smith also said that she wants us to start thinking about how to connect A Long Way Gone and Othello to the essential question. While our teacher was going through the list, one student questioned why the rebels and killers were so happy when they brutally murdered another person. Mrs.Smith explained that she would address that question on Wednesday when she shows us some clips from Blood Diamonds.
Mrs. Smith decided that she wanted to give us an example of how to connect both A Long Way Gone and Othello to the essential question. She used the topic of anger in place of jealousy and informed us that in the next essay, going past the originally listed subjects in place jealousy in the essential question was acceptable. For instance, a student in Mrs. Moritz’s class wanted to use innocence in place of jealousy even though it wasn't one of the options. Mrs. Smith assured us that this was okay by her and then she turned her attention back to the whiteboard to continue with her example. The example is below.
Othello: strangling Desdemona
LWG: Ishmael killing everyone
Othello: Desdemona cheating; handkerchief
LWG: boy hiding in attic while sisters raped
What are Shakespeare and Beah saying about anger? Anger overall
- begins to destroy relationships
- affects reputations
- affects actions/state of mind
- destroys a person physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Mrs. Smith advised us again to start thinking about these connections for our next essay that we will start in a week. Again, Mrs.Smith told the class that using unlisted topics was acceptable but she also warned us that if we do that, we might want to check in with her first.
On that final note, Mrs.Smith’s lesson for the day ended and the class was left with 8 extra minutes of class time that most people used to read. Some of the presenters and discussers,however, gathered in the corner of the room to plan for the fishbowl tomorrow. The rest of the students who couldn't focus on their reading, worked on homework or talked to friends.