Posts Tagged ‘tips & directions’

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

We have almost arrived at the end of the school year.  It’s a perfect time to look back on what you have accomplished and to look ahead at what you still can do.  Write a blog post in two paragraphs that celebrates what you have done and that plans for the future.

In the first paragraph, celebrate all you have accomplished this year.  How have you grown as a reader and/or writer?  How many books have you read?  What new topics, authors, genres, or series have you discovered that you love?  Where do you find good books to read?  What book would you recommend that everyone should read?  What have you written this year that you are proud of?

In the second paragraph, plan for the future?  What are five books that you would like to read?  Since I have to pack up my classroom for the summer, where will you find books to read?  How will you connect with other readers?  Check out sites like Goodreads or give reviews on Amazon.  Drop by my blog to let me know what you are reading this summer.  I’ll be posting reviews of the books I read.  If you read them, too, let me know what you think.

If you want to continue blogging on your own, you will need to set up your own blog.  You will need parent permission and an email address.  First, choose your blogging platform.  Edublogs allows students to create their own blogs.  You can also choose from Blogger (convenient if you have a gmail account).  Go to the website of your choice and sign up.  For an Edublogs blog, click the Sign Up button in the top right corner.  Fill in all the required information.  Remember that your username and domain name must be unique!  That means you cannot use your username from our class blog.

Let’s stay in touch

I meant it today in class when I said it would be much easier for you to just do your work and turn it in on time.  Choosing to take a zero is just not an option.  I will do everything I can to help you do your work and turn it in.  I want you to succeed, and you cannot succeed if you choose not to do.  So whether it is giving a friendly reminder phone call or haunting your worst nightmares, I’m going to prod and prompt you to succeed.

Here’s one more way I can help you.  I just signed up for Remind101.  All you have to do is subscribe through texting or email.  I will send you friendly reminders about what is due when in my class.  Remind101 is a one-way text messaging/email system.  I won’t see your number, and you won’t see mine.  All information is confidential.  There are two ways to sign up.  Be sure to send the code (text message or email address) for the correct class period.

1st Period:

2nd Period:

3rd Period:

4th Period:

6th Period:

7th Period:

What do I need for class?

First of all, you need your brain.  Be sure to take it out of park and put it in gear, too.  The second thing you need is attitude–the  one that is ready to work and learn and try anything.  Besides that, there are a few tools that will make your life much easier:

  • a three-ring binder (1 1/2 or 2 inches is best) with
  • five dividers,
  • lots of paper,
  • pens and pencils (any color as long as it’s dark enough for my tired, old eyes to read),
  • colored pens for editing (again, any color as long as it’s dark).

In a short while you will also need a writer’s notebook.   Any notebook will do as long as you have plenty of pages and space to write.  You can grab one now or wait until we talk about them in class.

Blog Buddies

Part of the fun of blogging is interacting with other bloggers.  To help you get started, I’ve set up blog buddies for you.  You may not know all your blog buddies yet, but you will get to know them as you share your reading and writing.  All of them are students in my afternoon language arts classes.  (Don’t worry, my morning classes will get their own blog buddies later.)

Here’s how to add links to you blog to those of your blog buddies:

  1. Copy the URL address for one of your blog buddies (given below).
  2. Log into your blog and go to YOUR dashboard.
  3. From the gray bar across the top, choose +New – Link.
  4. Type your blog buddy’s first name in the NAME box. Please use correct capital letters and spelling.
  5. Paste the URL address in the WEB ADDRESS box.
  6. Click the blue button that says ADD LINK (on the right hand side).
  7. Repeat steps 1 – 6 for each of your blog buddies.

Here are your Blog Buddies!

Group 1

  • Ashley G (5) –
  • Juanita B (5)-
  • Nicole R (7) –
  • Renae D (7) –
  • Seairra F (6) –
  • Victoria B (6) –

Group 2

  • Arlena D (6) –
  • Chris M (6) –
  • Dakota S (7) –
  • Frank B (7) –
  • Haley G –
  • Jake M (5) –
  • Katy C (5) –

Group 3

  • Brendan s (5) –
  • Kayla R (7) –
  • Lance D (5) –
  • Mckenzie R (7) –
  • Meranda M (6) –
  • Skyann L (6) –
  • Danzic P (6) –

Group 4

  • Andrew P (5) –
  • Dylan D (6) –
  • Henry S (5) –
  • Jacob B (6) –
  • Justina W (6) –
  • Kameron (5) –
  • Megan M (6) –

Group 5

  • Ben A (6) –
  • Darius S (7) –
  • Devin L (6) –
  • Jayson F (5) –
  • Jaylon D (5) –
  • Jonny S (5) –
  • Shawn V (7) –

Group 6

  • Haysanna C (6) –
  • Klayton B (7) –
  • Logan E (6) –
  • Luis S (5) –
  • Luke M (6) –
  • Maisie J (5) –
  • Taylor W (5) –

Group 7

  • Austin K (7) –
  • Bruce C (7) –
  • Cory H (7) –
  • James S (5) –
  • Lance A (7) –
  • Noah G (7) –
  • Wayne K (5) –

Group 8

  • Cody B (6) –
  • Derek H (7) –
  • Jacob M (7) –
  • Michael M –
  • Robert Y (5) –
  • Sam W (5) –
  • Tylor B (6) –

Group 9

  • Brooke V (5) –
  • Daneila F (5) –
  • Diana B (7) –
  • Emily B (6) –
  • Emma H (6) –
  • Santana T (5) –
  • Tori S (7) –

Group 10

  • Brooke M (6) –
  • Danielle G (7) –
  • Elora P (5) –
  • Kourtney G (6) –
  • Molly S (5) –
  • Payton G (7) –

Group 11

  • Auston P (5) –
  • Carl H (5) –
  • Dalton C (7) –
  • Dalton W (6) –
  • Jaden M (5) –
  • Jarred B (7) –
  • Michael B (7) –

Group 12

  • Anthony S (7) –
  • Austin M (6) –
  • Joe L (6) –
  • Kasen R (7) –
  • Peyton D (7) –
  • Travis T (5) –

Group 13

  • Ally H (6) –
  • Haley H (6) –
  • Hannah J (6) –
  • Katie H (5) –
  • Makayla S (7) –
  • Pateince V (5) –

Playing with Time

Did you know that writers have the power to control time?  They do, and so do you, as you are writing your memoirs.  In his book After the End:  Teaching and Learning Creative Revision, Barry Lane discusses how writers can explode a moment or shrink a century.

After looking at the drafts you typed yesterday, I think we need to explode some moments.  What is the important moment in your memoir?  That is the moment you want to explode.  How do you do it?  Writers explode those big moments by adding in details, details, details.  Movies do it, too.  Here is the BIG scene from The Natural, starring Robert Redford.  (If you love baseball and haven’t watched it, go rent if over fall break.)  Notice how the action slows down.  What are the details that the camera focuses on to create and prolong the tension of the moment?

Now go and help each other explode the big moment in your memoir.  During your peer conference, ask the writer at least five questions that will help him or her add details to the big moment.  Use the “Sensory Words” and “Juicy Color Words” handouts to help you think of just the right words.

If you want to keep your blog….

I have enjoyed reading your blogs this year.  I hope you have enjoyed writing for them and reading each others’ blogs as well.   If you don’t want to keep your blog, don’t need to do anything.  I will delete it over the summer.  If you want to keep your blog, there are some steps you need to follow because I can’t keep up with them any more–especially after I start a 130+ more blogs for next year’s students!  You must complete these steps by May 31, 2012.  I will start deleting blogs in June.  You need to remove me from your blog and change your email.

Remove me from your blog.

  1. From your blog dashboard, go to Users > All Users.
  2. Click the check box by my user name:  kaymcgriff
  3. Click on the arrow next the the box that says Bulk Actions.
  4. Choose Remove from the drop down menu.
  5. Click on the button that says Apply.  My name should disappear.  You are now on your own and in control of your blog!
Change your email.  
  1. From your dashboard, go to Users > Your Profile.
  2. Scroll down until you get to Contact Info.
  3. Type in your own email address and click Update Profile (all the way at the bottom of the page).
  4. An email will be sent to your new email address.  It will ask you to click on the link to confirm the change in email address.
  5. If you don’t click on this link, your email address won’t change, and I will still get all the email from your blog.
  1. From your dashboard, go to Settings > General.
  2. If your email address did not change, type in your new email address again here.
  3. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
  4. An email will be sent to your new email address.  It will ask you to click on the link to confirm the change in email address.
  5. If you don’t click on this link, your email address won’t change, and I will still get all the email from your blog.

It’s on the Internet….it must be true

Right?  Can’t you believe everything on the Internet?  If you answer yes to this question, I have some websites for you!  Check out the latest news on the newest way to travel to outer space.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?  I’d love to go.  I think my students should take up a collection and book me a ride for the end of the year.  What?  Do you really think the space elevator is real?  These websites look pretty slick.  They even have pictures.  You can even find information about the space elevator project on Wikipedia.  Just click and see.

Why can’t you trust Wikipedia?  even with footnotes?  If you’re still not sure, check out this Wikipedia entry about Hayden written by our very own FABULOUS librarian, Miss Bowman–at least the addtion to the notable residents.  Then check out the footnoot in the references.  Who wrote the article? (Hint:  Miss Hamilton got her information from an article written and submitted by…..Miss Bowman.)  Is it even about Hayden?

So, where can I go for information?  Our school has subscriptions to several online services that can help you out.  I have conveniently made links in this post and on the sidebar to the right (under Researching Authors).  You can also find links on the library page of our school website.

  • Grolier ( is an online encyclopedia.  It’s a great place to start for background information.  In addition to articles, it has videos and images that you can use.  Your username is jcsc and your password is home.  Once you log in, type your author’s name in the search box.
  • Inspire ( is an excellent resource for Indiana residents.  Click on the Student Research Center to get information written for students.  Type in your author’s name (spell it correctly!) and clilck search. You can narrow your search by clicking on the links to the left.  The icons across the top narrow your search to type of publication.  You can read the abstract to help you find the best resources.  Once you find the information you want, you can even find the information to include in your citation.  Just copy and paste it into Citation Maker.

You will also need to do a Google search.  Remember:  GOOGLE IS NOT A SOURCE.  It is search engine that leads you to sources. Here are some tips to help you refine your search.  You do need to spell your author’s name correctly.

  • Put quotation marks around the name to rule out people who share parts of their name.
  • Use + or – signs to narrow your search results.  The video below tells you how.
  • You can even go behind the scene to ADVANCED search for even more choices.

All about me

Do you know the difference between posts and pages on your blog?  Posts are frequently updated and show up on your home page in reverse chronological order.  Pages stay mostly the same, though you can edit them from time to time.  Check out the pages on my blog.  In addition to my home page, I have these pages:  About Me, Language Arts Binder, and Parents Guide to Blogging.  I also have tabs for two categories of posts:  Class Assignments (for assignments by class period) and Mrs. McGriff (for all my posts, mostly book reviews).

Over the next two days, you are going to create an About Me page.  Check out these About Me pages from students around the country.  Decide what you want on your About Me page, and get writing.  Remember not to put information that could identify you too much.

When you are ready to create your About Me page, follow these steps:

  1. Click on PAGES on the left hand side of your dashboard.  Then click on ALL PAGES.
  2. Under “Sample Page,” click on edit.  This will bring up the page for you to edit.
  3. Change the title to “About Me” or something similar.
  4. Write a list or paragraph, telling your readers all about you!
  5. When you are done, proofread and then click UPDATE on the little blue button on the right.
  6. Visit your blog buddies and check out their ABOUT ME pages.  Leave a quality comment!



Blog Buddies

What are blog buddies?  They are a group of students from different classes who link to each others’ blogs and then take time to read and comment on each others’ posts.  Blogging is all about building community, so this is your chance to get started.

You may not know your blog buddies, but trust me, they have some great reading and writing to share.  Find your group and add links to your website for your blog buddies.  Then go visit their blogs and leave some quality comments.

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6


Group 8

Group 9

Group 10

Group 11

Group 12

Group 13

Group 14

Group 15

Group 16

Group 17

Group 18

Group 19

Group 20

Group 21


Copying text into a blog post

Here are the steps for copying text from a document and inserting it into your new blog post.

First, you need to ready the text in your file:

  1. Open your file.
  2. Make sure it is single-spaced  (Select text by highlighting or Edit – Select all; then click single space button.) and size 12 font.
  3. Select text by highlighting or Edit – Select all. 
  4. Right click the mouse and choose “copy.”

Go to your blog and log in.

  1. Choose Add New – Blog Post
  2. If there are not two rows of buttons showing at the top of your text box, click the last button on the right (Show/Hide Kitchen Sink) to reveal the second row.
  3. On the second row, click the button with a clipboard and “W” (Copy from Word).  This will open a dialogue box.
  4. Follow the directions to “Use Control+V on your keyboard to paste the text into the window.
  5. Click “Insert” at the bottom right of the box.
  6. Your text should be inserted into your blog post.  Double check that everything is correct and click “Publish.”

1 2 3 6