The Big Announcement

DivergentIt’s official….Mr. James and his students will be studying the worldwide bestselling dystopian novel “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.  Starting February 7 we will begin reading the novel in class.  Students will not need to get a copy of the novel because we will use the class set that came in a week ago.

And now the best part….

A movie theater has agreed to offer a private screening of the movie when it opens on March 21.  The film is targeted to be a box office hit and we will get to see it before the masses. Details and permission forms will be sent home as the date gets closer.

It pays to be awesome.  You’re welcome.

Coming Up….

We have been enjoying “The Giver” in class and there is still a lot more to come.  The next vocabulary quiz will be Wednesday, January 29.  The words can be found here.

I am looking forward to the next novel we will study together.  It’s a secret for now because I am waiting to get all my ducks in a row.  Watch for more information as the ducks line up.

Trashy Sentences

Students were asked to write a list of everything they have ever thrown in the trash.  From that list, they chose an item to use in a complex sentence.  Here are some of my favorite sentences that were submitted:

“I was sad as I threw away the Skittle that had fallen on the floor.”  #fivesecondrule

“After I found out my sister made the frosting, I threw it away.”  #siblingrivalry

“If I break a game, it becomes a broken game.”  #statingtheobvious

“As I was throwing away wrapping paper, my brother tackled me.”  #siblingrivalry

“Until the meat got bad, it was steak.”  #steakisgood

“I know I have too many socks, but until you rub my feet I won’t give you any.”  #toughlove

“I threw away my plants until they were dead.”  #notwateringworkstoo

“Since you threw away your report card, you shall be grounded.”  #dramaticdiscipline

“If bowls and spoons didn’t exist, we would have to eat soup on a plate and eat it with a fork.”  #themotherofinvention







Life at the 140

My room number is 140. Learning happens here. The 140 also sees some great things happen that has nothing to do with formal learning. I live for these moments that make school days unique and memorable. They are the moments that bring joy to teaching.

I will be posting some of those moments here. They will not always make sense to the outsider. “You had to be there” stories make great memories that go beyond the teacher/student exchange.


This photo makes sense in the 140. Trust me.

What’s with all the questions?

For years, teachers have encouraged students to ask for help if they do not understand.

There is no such thing as a stupid question.

Famous words passed down from generations of educators to their students.

I disagree.  Over the years, I have heard a lot of stupid questions.  However, I agree with the wisdom even though I disagree with the wording.

You need to ask smart questions.

Whoever asks the questions does all the learning.  Students should do more asking than the teachers.   It’s a paradigm shift that will take some time to make, but it is important that we teach students how to ask smart questions if they are to become lifelong learners.

When reading a story, my students are only allowed to write questions, of which there are three types.

  1. Questions that ask for factual information.  The answers can be found directly in the text.
  2. Questions that require inference.  The answers are conclusions drawn from evidence from the text.
  3. Questions that draw out life lessons from the text.  The answers are drawn from personal experiences and the text can be used as an example to support their answer.

The following is an excerpt from Touching Spirit Bear.

Bracing himself now against the heavy sea, Cole held that same smirk.  His blue jeans, heavy wool shirt, and rain jacket chafed his skin, but it didn’t matter.  He would have worn a cowbell around his neck if it had meant avoiding jail.

Copyright © 2001 by Ben Mikaelson

Level one:  What does Cole want to avoid?

Level two:  What do we know about Cole that shows he has a stubborn side?

Level three:  Have you ever wanted out of something so bad, you would do anything?

Throughout the year, I will be challenging my students’ thinking by requiring questions rather than answers.  The goal is to help them become lifelong learners.  For more information about levels of questions, click here.