Hello, 2018-2019!

We are well on our way to achieving awesome things in Room 140.  Three weeks into the new year and I cannot wait to see what becomes of this batch of 7th grade students.

This website is where you can get news about my (Mr. James) class as well as connect to my students in the US and even students around the world!

Be sure and subscribe (it’s a painless process) over on the right so you can get all the latest updates about what’s going on in class.

Things to look forward to:

  1. Knowsys quizzes (Pre AP classes only) – Knowsys is a SAT vocabulary preparation program that is used in JH and HS English classes
  2. Blogging – Every student has their own blog and will use it to connect with me, each other, and students from around the world.
  3. Novels – We will be reading some novels in class this year (don’t worry, I have plenty of copies for everyone so no need to spend any money)
  4. Classcraft – If your student has mentioned Classcraft, ask them about it.  It is a system I use to help engage students in learning and help encourage positive behaviors in the classroom.  You can find out more about it here.

Christmas Traditions Around the World

The city of Riga, Latvia holds the claim as home to history’s first decorated Christmas tree, back in 1510.

In Argentina, Christmas is a blend of American, European, and Hispanic traditions. Their celebrations typically include the boots of Father Christmas, red and white flowers, and putting cotton on Xmas trees to simulate snow. But most family gatherings take place on Christmas Eve, with huge feasts, gifts exchanged at midnight, and children going to sleep to the sound of fireworks.

In spite of Ethiopia’s Christian heritage, Christmas is not an important holiday there. Most people actually call the holiday Ganna or Genna after a hockey-like ball game played only once a year, on Christmas afternoon.

On Christmas Day, tradition allows Lebanese children to go up to any adult and say, “Editi ‘aleik!” (“You have a gift for me!”). If the adult has a present to spare, the kids add this to their Christmas morning haul.

Winning the award for longest preparation time, Greenland’s traditional Christmas dish, kiviak, takes a full seven months to prepare. It begins with hollowing out a seal skin and stuffing it with 500 auks– a sea bird (feathers and all)– to ferment. When the holiday rolls around, it’s served straight from the seal.

How’s this for a weird Christmas food? South Africa is home to some of the world’s most unusual holiday food fare. Every December locals feast on a seasonal delicacy– the deep-fried caterpillars of Emperor Moths!

The tradition of tinsel, which was invented in Germany in 1610, is based on a legend about spiders whose web turned into silver when they were spun in a Christmas tree.

Information from:


Interesting Facts About Germany

I will be traveling to Germany this summer.  Germany is an amazing country for many reasons.  Here are just a few that I found most interesting:

  1. Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight saving time.
  2. Prison escape is not punishable by law in Germany.
  3. Germany has legal say on what babies can be named.
  4. College education in Germany is free even for internationals.
  5. Germany is one of the world’s leading book nations.
  6. It’s illegal to run out of fuel in the German Autobahn.
  7. Germany has over 400 zoos, the most in the world.
  8. There are over 2100 castles in Germany.
  9. One third of the country is still covered in forests and woodlands.
  10. Berlin has the largest train station in Europe.


Facts found at


Poetry Friday


by Terry Webb Harshman


Some houses look scary,


and bleak,





with windowpanes broken

and shutters

that creak,




with lawns unattended,

and porches

in shambles,




and overgrown gardens

of thistles

and brambles.





But don’t look upon them

with fear

or disdain;

they just need the love of

a family


Grade Reports

Each student received a grade report today showing what assignments are missing or failing. Students should double check that they do not have any missing assignments in their binders.

The only failing grades that they can correct are Knowsys related (Pre AP only). Corrections can be made by writing the sentences with the correct word underlined.

The six weeks ends on February 19, but I would like for any corrections or missing assignments be turned in no later than next Friday, February 12.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions or concerns.


Thanks for your help!  Have a great weekend.

Writer’s Toolbox & Homework

BadabingLast week, I introduced the “writer’s toolbox” that includes Ba-Da-Bing!  Writers use Ba-Da-Bing to add details to a sentence.

Ba – What are your feet doing? What kind of action is in the sentence?

Da – What did you see? Did you see anything or make any observations?

Bing – What did you think? What thoughts did you have in this part of the story?

For example:

Original sentence: “A truck hit a telephone pole.”

Ba-Da-Bing!: “While walking down the street, I saw sparks flying and thought, “What is going on?”

Today, we added Dialogue to our toolbox.  Punctuating dialogue reminds me of “The Chicken Dance.”  Ask your student to demonstrate how it works.

To practice punctuating dialogue, I sent home with your student an orange sheet with sentences to complete.  It is due Friday, October 16.