Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rick Riordan Coming to Olympia!

The author of The Lightning Thief and other popular titles will be the guest of honor at Poseidon's Fish Market, which will take place at the Port Plaza in downtown Olympia between 2:00 and 5:00 on Sunday, October 9.  It will be an extravaganza with booths, activities, and books for sale.  There is no admission charge and tickets are not required.  You can just show up.  However, Mr. Riordan will be signing books, and for this you will need a ticket.  Tickets can be picked up at Tumwater Timberland Library.  If you're a fan of Mr. Riordan, come check out this event.  It's going to be quite the spectacle.

Read more about the event here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Event, Part I: Description

We are going to start the year in Language Arts studying Realistic Fiction. You’ll be reading Realistic Fiction and writing your own Realistic Fiction pieces. Later we’ll contrast Realistic Fiction with Fantasy. Later in the year we’ll study the genres of Mystery and Science Fiction literature.

For your first piece of Realistic Fiction, you are going to create a piece in which two characters watch an event. The event can be a sporting event, a celebration, a performance, a spectacle, a festival…I’m being broad because I want you to think of something you’d be interested in describing. You will describe the event the characters are watching. You can invent what happens during the event, but you should probably choose something you know something about, so that you can describe it accurately. The event doesn’t have to be The Greatest Event in the History of Mankind. It can be a normal event in which normal things happen. Your goal is to write a descriptive piece, not necessarily a suspenseful piece (though you can add suspense to your piece at your discretion).

You are telling a story in your Realistic Fiction piece, however. Think of yourself as a storyteller describing these two characters, where they are, and what they see.

You will describe three things in your piece:

1. The characters. Describe the appearance of the characters. Describe what is noticeable about them.

You are creating realistic characters. Give them realistic names and realistic appearances. You can base your characters on people you know. Make your characters fictional, however.

2. Describe where your characters are as they’re watching the event. Describe the venue, the weather, the crowd…anything applicable to the event.

3. Describe the event itself. What is happening? What do your characters see? The event should be somewhat prolonged so that the characters can watch it. It should not be over in an instant.

Your descriptions should happen in the past tense, as if the events have already happened.

Your description should be narrated from a third person perspective. This means that neither of the characters is narrating the description. It is the author, in effect, who is narrating the description.

Do not use any dialogue in your descriptions. You will be adding dialogue to your piece for Realistic Fiction: The Event, Part II: Dialogue.

Your weekend homework is to brainstorm ideas for your two characters, the venue in which they will be watching the event, and the idea itself. The brainstorming sheet will be due Tuesday, September 27.

The finished piece should be at least a full page in length, but no more than 3 pages. It can be typed or hand-written. If you type your piece, please double space and use a normal font.

We will be working on our pieces in class all of next week. You’re welcome to work on this over the weekend, but make sure you bring your work to class with you on Monday

The actual piece will be due Thursday, September 29.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 9-14, 2011

ELOTD #2: there/their/they're
ELOTD #3: 3 types of end punctuation
ELOTD #4: sp: always

GQOTD #2: What is the newest country in the world?
GQOTD #3: What is the most populous city in California?

Western States Quiz & North African Countries Pre-Quiz Friday, Sept. 23.

Sixth Grade Student Council Election

The Nova Student Council consists of student body representatives. It includes three 8th grade reps, two 7th grade reps, and two 6th grade reps. Student Council generally meets once a week, usually on Mondays during lunch. Mr. Fleming is the faculty adviser to the student council.

The Nova Student Council is made up of leaders at Nova. You will take on a definite leadership role on the council. You will be involved in decision-making, you will take an active role in assemblies, and you will be expected to take part in extra-curricular functions. You will need to listen to your classmates’ ideas and concerns. You will be expected to advocate for your classmates at student council meetings.

You need to be positive and hard-working. You need to be confident when speaking in public. Most of all, you need to want to do the very best work that you can do in this role.

6th Grade Student Council Campaign Week will run September 19-23. Starting on Monday, September 19, you may put up 3 campaign posters measuring no larger than 8 ½ by 11 inches. You may put a poster up on your locker door. You may put a poster on a classmate’s locker door with their permission. Anywhere else in the building, you must first get faculty permission before hanging a poster. Please use Scotch Tape only for hanging posters.

It is your job during Campaign Week to let people know you are running for Council. Talk to your classmates. Advocate for yourself. Tell them why you would make a good representative.

You may not offer any gifts in exchange for votes. No candy, Pokemon cards, $100 bills, etc.

Each candidate for Student Council will give a speech on Friday, Sept. 23 during Social/Emotional Health. The maximum length for each speech is 5 minutes. There is no minimum length.

You want to make your speech memorable but substantive. You need to address the following points in your speech:

a) What qualities or attributes do you possess which make you an effective leader?

b) What experiences have you had which have allowed you to demonstrate leadership in your recent past?

c) Why do you want to be on Nova Student Council? What do you most want to accomplish on the council?

d) What would you like the other sixth graders to know about you which they might not already know?

Don’t be afraid to make your speech entertaining. Be humorous, but let your classmates know you’re serious. Tell a joke. Sing a song. Do a dance. Create a slogan. Above all, you want to stand out. Give your classmates a reason to vote for you.

Practice your speech in front of an audience. Preparation leads to success.

It is an honor to be elected to Student Council. If this job appeals to you, you should strongly consider throwing your hat in the ring. Go for it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Silent Reading Subgenre Project

During the Fall Trimester of Silent Reading this year, you will choose a specific literary subgenre as a focus for your reading. You will then read 2-3 books over the course of the trimester within this subgenre. If you finish 3 books within your subgenre you can then read whatever you’d like for the remainder of the trimester.

You will need to choose a subgenre which holds a lot of interest for you. You will become a bit of an expert in this subgenre so you will want to choose wisely. Only works of fiction are eligible for this project. To insure that you really consider your options, you will actually identify 3 books in the 3 different subgenres which would interest you. You will turn in a worksheet with this information during your first Silent Reading class the week of September 19-23. Once you get your selection checked off, you may begin your reading.

There will be no homework component in Silent Reading this trimester. There is also no minimum reading amount. If you spend the entire trimester reading just two books and that is all you finish, that is fine, so long as you bring the correct books to class and are engaged in your reading. You can of course read your subgenre books outside of class. For in-class reading, however, you have to finish 3 books in the same subgenre before you move on to other genres and subgenres.

Books you have already read and books in a series from which you have read other books are not eligible for this project.

Your effort will determine your grade for this class.  You have a chance to earn 5 effort points each class in Silent Reading.  Here is the daily effort scale:

5: Subgenre book present, completely engaged in reading

4: Subgenre book present, engaged in reading with one minor lapse

3: Subgenre book present, with partial engagement in reading

2: Subgenre book not present OR little engagement in reading

1: No engagement in reading

Here are some examples of subgenres within wider genres of fiction:

Family: adoption, loss of parent, loss of sibling

Multi-Cultural: North American, Indian, Jewish, African American

Middle School: Bullies, cliques, misfits, gifted, friendship

High School: GLBT, Mean Girls, Substance Abuse, Romance

Historical: Salem Witch Trials, Civil War, World War II

Sports: baseball, swimming, gymnastics

Fantasy: anthropomorphic animals, re-told fairy tales, parallel worlds

Science Fiction: dystopia, interplanetary, alternate history, Steampunk

Supernatural: ghosts, fairies, zombies

Mystery: kidnapping, murder, private eye

Just about the only subgenre I will not allow is High Fantasy.  High Fantasy is a subgenre of Fantasy, but it is actually what most people think of when they think of Fantasy.  High Fantasy derives from Tolkien and usually concerns a hero who must learn to wield magic to go on a quest to defeat a great evil.  Think Eragon, basically.

September 8, 2011

ELOTD #1: SP: definitely
GQOTD #1: What is the smallest continent?

LA: Reviewed summer reading assignment.  Assignment is due when complete, no later than September 26.
Geo: Continents and Oceans Pre-Quiz.  Geo Quiz #1 assigned for Tues, Sept. 13.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Discussion Group at Olympia Timberland Library

Photo: Olympia Timberland Library
Do you like to read? Do you like to talk about books with fellow book enthusiasts? If so, you might be interested to know that the Olympia branch of the Timberland Library System will be hosting book discussion groups. If you're interested you simply bring the books you've read and enjoyed recently down to the library and you discuss them with other kids. The program is open to kids in grades 6, 7, and 8. Did I mention there would be food? There you go. Did I mention the fact that the first 10 kids who sign up get a free book? I just got the info today so if you sign up soon I'd say your chances of getting a book are pretty good.

Meetings will be held on Saturdays from 2:30 to 3:30. Here are the dates of the meetings:

September 24th, 
October 29th,
November 19th, 
December 17th

You can register by calling the library at 352-0595 and asking to sign up for the Middle School Book Club. If you have questions I can't answer, ask for Youth Services Librarian Sara Lachman. Registration is not required. You can simply show up on a whim if you'd like.

Hope some of you can make it!

Happy First Day of School!

We had a great first day of school at Nova.  Thanks to Mo for planning the day, Flem for planning the So-Emo activity, all the students for being awesome, amd all the teachers and staff for being great colleagues.  Oh, and the weather was beautiful, too.

Tomorrow all students need to turn in a rough sketch for their Photo I.D.  Sixth graders need to bring with them to Language Arts their summer reading assignment.  If it is complete you will be able to turn it in tomorrow.  If you are missing something, you will have the weekend to finish it.  If you haven't started the assignment you will have as much time as you need to finish it.  You can ask me any questions tomorrow in class.

Tomorrow actual classes begin! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tavi Gevinson, Teenage Fashion Blogger

I first read about Tavi Gevinson in The New Yorker last year.  She was a fourteen-year-old fashion blogger from subarban Chicago who made a name for herself through her blog and got to attend big fashion shows and hobnob with top designers.  She started her blog while she was in middle school.  Now she's in high school and is starting up an on-line magazine.  Her inspiration is Sassy Magazine, which in the nineties was a hipper and, well, sassier version of Seventeen.  I associate the magazine with Kurt Cobain (he was a fan) and My So-Called Life (great show) but I was never actually a subscriber.  Tavi's blog is called Style Rookie and her magazine is called Rookie.  It's pretty amazing how much media attention Tavi has attracted.  I mean what fifteen year old wouldn't want to hang out with Ira Glass?

You can read the profile on Tavi from this Sunday's New York Times Magazine here.

You can read the first issue of Rookie here.