Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

Happy reading!

Language Arts Binder

We will create a textbook together this year, full of notes on improving your reading and writing.  You’ll also complete a weekly word study, collect sample texts of what we write, and file all the drafts you work on in your binder.  Here’s how to set it up so you can find what you need when you need it.

You will need a big binder–2 inches works well.  You will need five dividers as well. The label for each divider is in bold.  Then the pages behind each divider is listed in order.  You can also download copies of most of the handouts I give you for your Language Arts binder.   Files are in Word format.  Please let me know if you can’t open them.

Writing Handbook

This section is where you will keep notes on becoming a better writer.

Table of Contents (List all the handouts you put in this section on a sheet of notebook paper.

  1. Individual Proofreading List
  2. Editing Symbols
  3. Student Writing Record
  4. Elaborating on an Idea
  5. RUPR
  6. Types of Grabbers and Zingers
  7. Comparison/Contrast Transitions
  8. Thank You
  9. What makes a Good ISTEP Essay?  and Sample Essays

Reading Journal

This section is where you will keep notes on becoming a better reader.

Table of Contents (List all the handouts you put in this section on a sheet of notebook paper.

  1. Student Reading Record
  2. Some Day Books
  3. Characteristics of Genre Notes
  4. Genres by Format
  5. Book Match
  6. Digital Storytelling:  Animoto Book Project
  7. Three Elements of Characterization and Character Map
  8. Three Elements of Setting Development and Setting Chart
  9. Conflict Type Chart
  10. Plot Diagram
  11. QAR
  12. Paper Bag Book Project and Character Highway
  13. Character Traits
  14. Discussion Notes
  15. Discussion Elements and Rubric

Language Study

This section is where you will keep your Daily Grammar Practice Notes and your Greek Roots.  I cannot post a copy of the DGP note because they are copyrighted.  

Greek and Latin Prefixes, Roots and Suffixes

Text and Lyrics

This section is where you will keep copies of short texts we read together:  poems, essays and articles, examples of writing genres we study, book excerpts from book talks.


Drafts and Assignments

This section is where you keep drafts of writing projects that you are currently or have previously worked on.  Throw nothing away!  Put your name, date, period on everything.


Writer’s Notebooks

I will collect Writer’s Notebooks every two-three weeks.  Students must complete the entries assigned in class.  Students are encouraged to write in these notebooks on a regular basis.  I will assess them using the rubric below.  I have also listed the required entries.

 *****     *****     *****     *****     *****


  1. Ok no offence here but your website or blog is kinda confusing!

    • There is a lot of information packed into this blog. It looks like you found the right place for the vocabulary roots. What would make it easier for you to find things? The tabs across the top organize much of the information.

  2. Mrs.Mcgriff,
    i’m very excited that i have you as my teacher.I’ve always enjoyed reading,and so far english is my favorite class.Plus I’ve always wanted to learn more about stuff like poetry and literature more,but I have never understood it until you started explaining it!Thank You!

  3. Mrs.McGriff,
    I am excited about this year. I don’t like to read a lot, but I have found plenty of books this year that I like. I enjoy having to read at least two books in each genre, it makes me have to explore stuff outside of what I like to read. I have learned a lot about poems this year, and different genres. I enjoy the fact that you let us read the first 15 minutes of class. That helps us reach out 50 books easier. You are good at explaining books in each genre and it gets me interested in each genre. I would have never thought that i would like books in the poetry genre, but like Reaching Sun it has made me think different.

    • I think it’s unfair of teachers to ask students to read and then not give them anytime to actually read in class. I’m excited about reading on Wednesdays, too, in homeroom! If you liked Reaching for Sun, there are many, many novels in verse you can read. All the Broken Pieces is another of my favorites. Not only is it poetry, but it is also historical fiction that focuses on baseball!

  4. I think we should be able to read books we would like, instead of having to read two books in every genre. Writing is one of my favorite things in school though! I can make up a funny story anytime.

    • You can read books you like–and lots of them–but part of my job is to push you to do more. It’s important to understand how different genres work, and the best way to do that is to read in different genres and compare them. I hope you will be surprised to find you enjoy some genres you thought you wouldn’t. I can’t wait to read some of your funny stories!

  5. In the couple weeks we have been in school, I have learned so much about poems and about how to tell what a book is! I Cain’t wait to learn more as the year goes on.

  6. mrs.mcgriff is a good teacher

  7. i think honey is gross now because you told us how it was made.

  8. I enjoy your class you have tought me alot in just a week. I hope to lern more from you in the near future!!!!!!!

  9. I love your blog. It’s easy to follow and very informative. How do you get everything done in a period? I have a block and it flies by. Are you a 1:1 school? We are working towards that, and the students will be getting their laptops after holiday break. We’re very excited about that.

    Have you ever used Edmodo? There is a language arts group that is wonderful. It contains a lot neat ideas from teachers, and what’s even nicer, if you have a question or need help with an idea, you will receive a lot responses.

    I teach 8th grade language arts (which includes reading, writing, speaking, etc.) in Iowa. Thanks for letting me comment.

    • Thanks for stopping by! Our 50 minute periods definitely fly by, too. I never feel like I get it all done, but I keep trying to fit more in and balance that with giving enough time for students to actually absorb what we’re learning. I’m jealous that you are going 1:1. We are a long ways from it, but our principal is very good and increasing our access to technology. The building is going wireless next month, and I basically have a laptop lab (with 32 computers) that I keep in my room. Sometimes I’m forced to share it.

      I have not tried Edmodo yet, but am definitley interested. How do you find the language arts group? Do you use Edmodo with students? Do your students blog?

      Thanks for reading Sydney’s poem! I’ll be sure to let her know on Monday.

      • Thanks for replying. I’m now following you on twitter. If you register for Edmodo and get started, there will be a variety of groups to join. Language arts is just one of them. Let me know if you join Edmodo and I’ll send you a connection link. I love it. Since I teach in blocks, I only have three classes. On Edmodo I created three classes and the students joined their particular class. They don’t need an email just a user name and password. Then, you can set up questions for them to answer, create a quiz (Edmodo corrects it if it’s true/false, multiple choice, etc.) You can ask essay type questions, but of course you have to grade those. So, yes I do Edmodo with my students.

        We do blog. This is my first year blogging. My blog address is and my students’ blogs are on the right sidebar. Maybe we could set up a time for our students to view each others’ blogs.

        That’s great that you have 32 computers in your room. I hope you don’t have more than 32 students in your classes. Have a good week. When is your holiday break? If you tell me your last day of school before the break is the 16th, I think I’ll cry. Our last day isn’t until the 22nd. BOO HOO

        • I found your blog and on twitter. I would love to get our students together on their blogs. Maybe we can plan something for after Christmas break. Don’t cry. Our last day is Dec. 21, and teachers come back Jan. 2.

          I started out with more than 32 students in one class, but I do have a few desktops scattered around. I’ve gotten good at begging and borrowing, too.

          I tried leaving you a comment, but I’ve had trouble lately leaving comments on any blogger blog. It keeps asking me to sign up for blogspot. Errg! I’ll try commenting as a guest instead.

          • I think after the break would be great for our students to blog. I guess I can’t complain about the length of our break because teachers don’t come back until the 4th and students the 5th. We’re involved in quad blogging right now. It’s great for my students to see what others are doing in the world.

            Have a good week.

          • That sounds great. My students are excited about the possibility of “meeting” students from Iowa.

  10. Mrs. McGriff,

    What a lot you have packed into your blog! I’m curious about the way you have organized your Language Arts class. I see that you have Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop, and it appears that you do not use a published textbook. How do you divide up the week? Do you have one day just for writing? Is reading primarily homework? Do you have class discussions about literature that you have all read together? I’ve taught Language Arts for a few years, and every year, I do something a little different. I’m always looking for new ideas.

    • Mrs. Klein-
      Thanks for stopping by. Like you, I do something a little different every year. I try to balance writing and reading workshop each week with three or four days for writing and one or two days for reading. Reading is the primary homework I assign. I use a reading log modeled after one from Kelly Gallagher’s Reading Reasons. Most reading is independent. Students reflect on what they’ve read through projects or writing about books on their blogs. I also have students meet in literature circles at times through out the year. We rarely read an entire book together, but we do read and discuss shorter pieces such as poems or editorials/essays.

  11. I chose the book,”the night of the bats,” because it seemed like a creepy story and it is easy to read.

  12. The book I am reading is “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. It is such a wonderful book! The genre is Science Fiction and Fantasy,my favorite. This book has many harder words which give me a challenge and i like that. Meg is kind of an outcast. Her best friend is her 5 year old brother and as if enough hasnt happened her life is about to get a whole lot harder. Meg, Charles(her little brother), and Calvin(her friend) set out on a journey to save her lost father. Will anything else go wrong? I can’t wait to find out!

    • L’Engle is my all time favorite author. Definitely check out the rest of the series. I think each one is better than the one before. My absolute favorite–An Acceptable Time, where the main character is Meg’s daughter Polly.
      I almost didn’t find you post. You left it on the language arts binder page rather than the post on the home page.

  13. Among the free by Marget Petterson Hattiix

    Length And Read Some other stuff she wrote

  14. I am reading a book called Her Fearful Symmetry by: Audrey Niffenegger. I already knew what the book was about (Knowledge Prior to Book) before I began reading it. I was very interested in the book after my mother told me what it was about and recommended it to me (High-Interest).

  15. The book i am reading is the last song by Nicholas Sparks.This is a great book for me because i loove romance stories. This book is the right length for me and i can relate to it.

  16. i am reading The Outsiders By:S.E.Hinton


  17. The title of the book that i am reading is “The Boy Who Saved Baseball” by John H. Ritter. This book is a good match for me because the genre is related to sports and i love doing sports especially softball. Another reason this book is a good match for me is, i can connect to this book. This book has to do alot with baseball and i can relate to it because i know the game and i play it.

    • IT is a good baseball story. I love it when the underdog team has to come through. Carl Deuker also writes good baseball (and basketball & football) stories.

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