Junior High Composition

May 12

Almost finished!  But, not quite.  Your group will perform next week, so study your part so that you can read it smoothly and with expression.  Plus, it would be a good idea for you to practice standing still and holding your script correctly.

Then, do pages 277-278 and pages 288-289 in your grammar book.  We’ll have one more test on grammar/punctuation next time.

Reminder:  Your last class is next Tuesday, May 19.  Go tell your mom.

May 5

One person in your group should be the one to type your Reader’s Theater script, which is due next week.  If that person is also able to make enough copies of it for each member of your group, great; if not, we’ll use the copier in class.

Besides this, work on pages 271-276 in your grammar book.

And, last of all, write one paragraph about anything.  Add all six dress-ups and all five openers to your paragraph. Stuff them in, underline each correctly, label each one so that I know that you know what is what, and put the number of the dress-up in brackets [ ] before each sentence.

April 28

You and your group members are now playwrights! Write a Reader’s Theater script, using a children’s book. Yes, you may change the story. Yes, you may have to add characters, or condense many characters into fewer ones. Whatever you do, remember we have two rules:   YOUR PERFORMANCE CANNOT BE BORING. It also cannot be inappropriate, and if you’re wondering what that means, you’d better ask me.  No homework for this; you will have plenty of time in class next week to work on the script with your group.

But that’s not all, natch.  In Easy Grammar, do pages 264-270.

Then, print out the worksheet below.  Your job is to properly locate and mark openers and dress-ups.  Instructions on the handout!

Dress-Ups and Openers Practice

April 21

Thanks for the final drafts today, people.  If you neglected to turn in your rough draft and/or outlines, bring them next time for credit.

You may write an optional Works Cited page to go along with your report.  This is extra credit.  Follow the format on the handout attached here:

How to Write a Works Cited Page

Practice your [5] openers with the worksheet, here:

Number Five Opener Practice

Lastly, find your favorite children’s book and bring it to class next week for a special activity.

April 14

Let’s be DONE with that report, shall we?  Write the final draft, including introductory paragraph, thesis sentence, three body paragraphs, a thesis reflected sentence, and a conclusion.  Linked below is a guide for dress-ups and openers; checksheet below, too.  NOTE:  You have to include all dress-ups in each paragraph; and [2] and [3] openers in each paragraph.  Opener [4] is optional for extra credit.  The guide below has all of them listed…you don’t have to do [5] or [6].

Checksheet Report 2

Guide to DressUps and Openers

Then, review pronouns for a quiz.  Do pages 253-256 in your grammar book for practice.

April 7

A phone conversation between two friends:

Freddy:  Hello.

Ferdinand:  Hi, is this Freddy?

Freddy:  Yup.

Ferdinand:  How’s it going?  I haven’t talked with you for a while.

Freddy:  Fine.

Ferdinand:  Did you catch that gopher that was eating your garden?

Freddy:  Nope.

Ferdinand:  Too bad!  Hey, I was wondering if you’re going on that field trip next week…

Notice a couple of things  —  Freddy doesn’t have much to say, and Ferd is making small talk before he comes to the real reason for his phone call.  If he were to just barge right in to his reason for calling, Freddy might think he was rude!

An introductory paragraph is a bit like small talk.  Instead of slamming your reader upside the head with your paragraph topics, you’re playing it cool.  You’re hoping to HOOK her with your small talk so that she will be so interested in what you’re about to say that she will read your whole report without becoming bored.

Write an introductory paragraph to your report this week.  Just give it a go — if you have to revise it before the final draft that won’t be a problem.

Oh, and remember that “she” who is your reader?  She is me, folks.  Mrs. B does NOT like to read boring papers.

Do also pages 228-231 in your grammar book.

March 31

Life’s easier when you know the rules.  Grammar ones are gnarly, but you’ll get them eventually.  Read pages 221-227 and do the pages that need doing.

Then, write your fused outline for the report.  It should be a smooshing-together of the important information in your initial outlines, and it will be just a bit longer, like 7-8 lines instead of 4-5.

Write the rough draft, too, and let me see it next time.  Don’t write the final yet, pets.  We have one more new thing to learn before then.

March 17

Dooby-dooby-doo-moo-moo-Cinderella-wears-a-great-big-shoe and YOU all did a fine job today with readers theater.  Bravo!  (Loved the costumes, too).

Before you get all excited and whooped-de-doo-ed do your homework.  Then, you should take a week off…because I am.

Homework:  Report outlines.  Three of them.  Three!  Each with the same paragraph topics, if you please and NO:  Do NOT fuse your outlines yet.  I also need to see your source information for each outline, so write down the title of the book, or article, or URL if you used an online source.

Now, go forth and conquer this assignment before you take spring break.

March 10

Practice your reader’s theater part this week; you will perform next time.  You’ll need a costume of some sort, but it can be very, very minimal (moustache, hat, tie, cow ears, whatever).

Also, spend the rest of your time researching and making outlines for your report.  You’ll need at least three outlines, one from each source.  Make sure that your outlines have the same paragraph topics.  Show me at least one outline next week.

March 3

Time to get serious about your next big report:  on a piece of paper, write the subject of your report.  Then, write three possible paragraph topics.  It might look something like this:

Subject:  Giraffes

Paragraph topics:

I. Giraffe anatomy

II.  Giraffe habitat

III.  Giraffe reproduction

And, it’s time we had a little sentence diagramming test!  You will diagram three types of sentences:  S-V-O, S-LV-C, and S-V-IO-DO.  Linked below is a handy-dandy study sheet and some practice sentences to work on this week.  For more practice, use pages 102, 103, 104, 57, 58, 35, and 70.  (No, these aren’t due for homework!)

Diagramming Test practice

February 24

I think some of you realized what you had done wrong on the “ears” outlines, which is good!  If you know how to fix your mistakes and want to turn them in next week for a better grade, be my guest.

Otherwise (and besides), your job this week is to FUSE those three outlines into one working outline.  Remember to pick and choose the details you like and want to keep, and ignore the rest.  Your fused outline will have those very same paragraph topics, though:  outer ear, middle ear, inner ear.  You may have 5-8 lines of details for each paragraph topic.

Then, turn to page 101-104 in your grammar book and follow the directions for those pages.  When you are finished, choose any 5 sentences and diagram them on a separate sheet of paper.

February 17

We’re diving into “multiple source reports” this week, and today we outlined one article on “ears”.  KEEP THAT OUTLINE.

Recall that we decided on three paragraph topics:

I.  The outer ear

II.  The middle ear

III.  The inner ear

And we filled in the details on those paragraph topics using the handout I gave you in class.

This week, you are to outline SEPARATELY each of the two articles on “ears” that are linked below.  Use the same paragraph topics.  This is so important that I am going to write it again —

USE THE SAME PARAGRAPH TOPICS.   Even if these articles give you different ideas for paragraphs, you cannot change the paragraph topics.  Okay?

Here are the articles:

Ears #2

Ear Article 3

Then, work on sentence diagramming a little bit using this handout:

Diagramming Patterns

February 10

Need help with diagramming?  See the link below!

Diagramming Help Sheet


Dear Cup of Coffee,

I love you.  You are the one I wake for, the one I greet first thing each morning, the one I bring to my office when no one else will do.  Your deep, brown granules dissolve rapidly in steaming water, filling my mug with bitter liquid.  Your pungent, nutty aroma wafts to my nostrils, causing me to inhale deeply.  Your rich, earthy taste — tempered by a spoon of sugary, white, sweetness and a dollop of cream — slides smoothly down my throat.  You are more lovely than lemon water.  You are more satisfying than chamomile.  You are more pleasing than cow juice alone, for what is milk without you?  Not worth my time, certainly.  It is you, and you only, I desire when the sun rises from its sleep and work hollers from my desk.  Stay with me, cup of coffee, for you are my love.

Affectionately yours,


Ahem.  That was a love letter to my cup of coffee.  Yours, to your favorite food or drink, is due next week in similar flowery praise language, complete with all six dress-ups.  Ham it up, poppets, just like you did with Shakespearean flattery today!

For grammar, try to diagram these sentences on your on notebook paper:

1. Chocolate tastes sweet and delicious.

2. Martin wrote a silly Valentine for his dog.

3. Sweetarts and lollipops are sugary, tasty treats on Valentine’s day.

4.  You are the apple of my eye.

5.  You are the cherry in my chocolate.

6.  Send a bunch of red roses to your mom.

7.  Mom would probably like rich, dark chocolate better.

February 3

Can you believe that it’s February already? No? Well, February means several things to us – a little bit of a break before we dive into writing a major report (which will double as your science fair report if you are a scientist), more weeks to practice and perfect your reader’s theater skills, and chocolate. (My darling daughter just walked in the door and handed me a Cadbury egg.  Yum.)

For next week, please enjoy sentence diagramming with the sentences on pages 202 and 223. This means that you should first follow the directions at the top of those pages, and then choose 10 sentences (any ten will do) and diagram them on your own paper.

Then, practice reading aloud! You may either practice with your Reader’s Theater part, OR go find a children’s book and read to a child, or a dog, or your goldfish. Practice these things —

  1. Speak clearly without mumbling or speaking too fast.
  2. Speak with emotion! Show the character with your voice.
  3. Speak to your audience by knowing your part so well that you don’t need to look down at the words too often.


January 27

Time to go for it and write your final draft!  Yay.  Be sure to do these:

1.  All 6 dress-ups in each paragraph.

2. Have a topic-clincher relationship by 2-3 words.

3.  Clinch your last sentence to your title.

Checksheet here ——————–Report 1 Checksheet

Grammar test on adverbs next time, so review pages 210-212 and 214.

Practice reading your Readers Theater part fluently and with expression!

January 20

Now that you have an outline written for your “famous person of WW II” report, you may proceed with the rough draft.  So, write the rough draft and include all 6 dress-ups in each paragraph.  Then, make sure that you have a topic-clincher relationship of 2-3 words which repeat or reflect.  Remember how that goes?

Let’s say you have this topic sentence:

“Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in a small town called Otowock, which is in Poland.”  Your clincher sentence could be:  “Though she was born in a tiny village, she had big plans ahead of her.”  See the underlined words and how they “repeat/reflect”?  Do this with each paragraph.

Rough draft only, please!

For grammar, do pages 195-202.

Practice your Readers Theater part.  Don’t forget your script next week!

January 13

Two big, new projects — that’s what we’re working on for the next months!  One is “readers theater”, and we worked on that a bit and will work on it a lot more soon.  The other is report writing, which we worked on today.

Here’s the scoop for the week:

1. Grammar, pages 189 – 194.

2. Our last dress-up, wwwasia.  Worksheet attached here to practice where, while, when, as, since, if, although.

wwwasia practice

3. Report writing using one source.  You will write a report on a famous person of WW II, using only the information Johanna and I are providing, below.  We have chosen some “less well-known but still famous” people from the WWII era, and gathered information about each one.  Look over the linked lists and choose one.

Raoul Wallenberg

Chiune Sugihara

Jack Werber

Feng Shan Ho

Giorgio Perlasca

Irena Sendler

4.  Write an outline for your report.  Your outline will have three paragraphs — I, II, and III.  Paragraph I must have information about the person’s background; Paragraph II is about what made the person famous; and Paragraph III is about his/her death and why this person is important as a hero of WWII.

5.  You may write the rough draft if you wish…but you don’t have to.  Only the outline is due next week.

January 6

Yay for a new YEAR! A clean slate! A new focus!

We’re diving back into writing class with a three-fold assignment. Here ‘tis.

  1. Grammar: Go to pages 77-80 and follow the directions. You will be crossing out prepositional phrases, underlining the verb twice and the subject once. This should be easy-peasy, but if it’s not, then you need to work hard on relearning or understanding these terms. (I know, a very few of you have already done these pages. If so, check your work a bit and then be done.)
  2. Readers Theater: You have a script entitled “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, and a part to read. Practice your part this week so that you can read it fluently (without mistakes) and with expression. You who are “Tom” need to show in your voice how a bored brat would speak those lines. Same with the rest of you – think about what the character is like, and try to express his/her personality with your voice.
  3. Writing Warm-Up: It’s been a while, so let’s practice dressing-up a paragraph. Linked here is a paragraph; your job is to rewrite it and insert dress-ups. They are strong verb, ly, quality adjective, because, who/which and if you know how, you can add the wwwasia. When you rewrite the paragraph, remember to double-space, but this time you just need to write a final draft.

Writing WarmUp

November 25

Yay, we’re finished!  Enjoy your turkey and your mashed potatoes, and if you want to, you may earn some extra credit by reciting a poem at your Thanksgiving celebration!  Here’s how this works:

Below is a link to three Thanksgiving poems (and two Shakespeare-Inspired pop songs which you may ignore).

Thanksgiving Dinner Poems

Choose a poem.  Practice a bit.  Read it aloud to your gathering on Thanksgiving.  If you have a brother or sister in JHC or one in high school English, the two or three of you may read a poem in unison.

Then, ask one of your parents (or another adult who heard you recite) to email me by Monday, December 1, and tell me that you did it.

For your trouble, I shall award you ONE HUNDRED extra credit points.  Such a deal.

Good Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!  See you January 6.

November 18

You have only ONE assignment this week.  Although it is a rather long one, it’s not impossible!

Write the KWO for the new picture you received today.

Write the rough draft.

Insert dress-ups (who/which, quality adjective, because, ly, and the new one — strong verb).

Edit your rough draft.

Write the final draft.

Turn in the KWO, the rough, the final, and the picture next week.  (Hey — would you like to color the picture?  Do it!)

No grammar this week after all.  (You’re welcome.)

Picture 2 Check Sheet

November 11

Write the final draft of your Viking-guy-on-the-beach story.  Be sure to include dress-ups:  ly, quality adjective, who/which and because.

Viking Guy Picture Check Sheet

November 4

Jingle bells, helping verbs, grammar all the way…ahem.  If you have not yet entertained us with your singing of “helping verbs jingle” you may want to get to that soon.  Else, maybe you would be the only one standing in front of the class, singing amisarewasandwerebeingbeenandbe!  Ya know?

Isn’t picture writing a blast?  I think so.  You have so much freedom to be all artistic and ingenious!  Imagine what the character is doing!  What happened before this time!  What is he feeling!  What is he thinking!  Why is he lying on the beach!  I don’t have a clue!  But you do!

Linked here is “The Nonsensical Boar”, which we used to insert lots and lots of ridiculous prepositional phrases AND I bet you didn’t even realize it was a picture writing example…did you?  Well, it is.  Go ahead and read it, right now.  Then come back.

The Nonsensical Boar

Did you?  Good.  Now, finish writing the outline we started in class about the Viking guy on the beach.  Yes, yes, yes…you are quite welcome to change it up if you didn’t like the direction we were heading with it in class today.  Have fun.

After you write the outline, write a rough draft.  Work on inserting quality adjective, who/which, because and a new one — “ly” into each paragraph.  (For “ly”, think of words that end in “ly”, like “cautiously”, “normally”, “deliciously”, etc.)

Lastly, work on prepositional phrases, doing pages 19 – 25 for practice.  Test next week!

October 28

The key to writing a good narrative summary is to remember that each paragraph has a purpose, and the trickiest paragraph to write is the first one.  If you can remember to write only about characters and setting in the first paragraph, you’ll be doing great.  Great!

Remember that we discussed the story of Jonah today in class?  Our outline looked something like this:

I. Jonah, prophet, fearful

1. Disobedient, man of God

2. ship, sea, stormy

3. Bible times, Nineveh, Tarshish

See?  Character and setting information — nothing about the big fish, or the other sailors tossing him into the drink, or that the nasty Ninevites repented!  That information you save for the second and third paragraphs.

Write your final draft.  Include a quality adjective, a who/which clause, and a because clause in each paragraph.

Check Sheet Bible Story

For grammar, begin memorizing the 23 helping verbs on page 10, and then continue to practice prepositions on pages 11-18.  The link to the “Helping Verbs Jingle” is below.  (Yes.  You will have to sing this before we break for Christmas.)

Helping Verbs Jingle

October 21

Autumn cavorts in the breeze this time of year, yes? Can you smell it? Can you taste it? Spring tastes like grass, summer like watermelon juice and winter like peppermint, but autumn? Cinnamon-ey beverages, pungent pies, and crunchy, crimson apples inspire me to take deep breaths and saunter through sun burnt leaves. I can’t get enough of autumn.

Today we created a chart of autumn nouns and quality adjectives that describe them. We focused on “orange” and “pumpkin”, but there are many more autumn items and colors. I gave you a handout on autumn color synonyms that we will be using in the near future…so don’t lose it!

Next week bring an autumn item for extra credit points and we’ll do some more quality describing work.

Your homework is –

  1. Prepositions! Do pages 1-9 in your grammar book.
  2. Another narrative summary writing assignment, using a Bible story. Write a KWO for the story of Moses and Pharaoh, Noah, Jonah, David and Goliath,  OR any other story you like in either the New or Old Testament. Be sure to choose a story that is complete in just a few paragraphs or chapters, though.
  3. Write the rough draft for your story, inserting a quality adjective, who/which, and the new ‘because clause.’
  4. Complete the linked handout here on the “because” clause.  Because practice
  5. Bring an “autumn item” for extra credit!

October 14

This week your job is to write the final narrative summary of “The Shepherd and the Lion.” But…I think some of you might have to redo your rough draft a bit to make sure it is in the proper form. Remember that we discussed how a narrative summary is NOT retelling the story. NOT once upon a time…NOT there was once a little old lady who…NOT anything like that at all. Instead, write each paragraph according to its purpose.

The purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce the characters and the setting.

The purpose of the second paragraph is to introduce the problem of the story, also called the “conflict.”

The purpose of the third paragraph is to explain how the problem was solved; the resolution to the story. Include the moral here.

We did this with “The Gingerbread Man” in class today, and I’ve linked it below for you to use.

The Gingerbread Man

Check Sheet Lion and Shepherd

No grammar this week.

October 7

We began a new writing unit today called “summarizing narrative stories.” This type of writing requires you to make a different kind of KWO using the Story Sequence Model. We practiced with this in class with “The Shepherd and the Lion”, and you should have the KWO we wrote on the white board.


For the MOST group, which is most of you, your assignment is to take the KWO and use it to write a rough draft. (The other group, which I’m calling the SOME group, has a different assignment. I will explain that below.) Your rough draft must have three paragraphs — these correspond to the Roman numerals in your KWO.  Edit your rough draft to correct your boo-boos AND to insert one quality adjective and one who/which clause to each paragraph. Do not write your final draft yet.


Here is a Who/Which Practice sheet for you to…practice who/which clauses! Such a deal.

who which practice

Study for an adjectives test, which we will have next week. (Did you notice that w/w clause there?) Use your grammar book to review adjectives on pages 163, 170-172. Yes, we skipped the pages on “degrees of adjectives” for now.

For the SOME group – you know who you are – your writing assignment is a bit different. Instead of writing “The Shepherd and the Lion” as it is, you have to change it up! Different characters, different setting, same moral-of-the-story, though. Write a KWO for it, and then a rough draft.  NO final draft yet, but be sure to edit your rough for boo-boos, quality adjectives, and a who/which clause in each paragraph.


Let’s review:

  1. Adjectives test.
  2. Who/which practice sheet.
  3. KWO for story.
  4. Rough draft.

Got it?

September 30

In a very famous play called “Hamlet” by Shakespeare, Polonius finds Prince Hamlet in the library and he asks, “What do you read, my lord?”

“Words, words, words,” answers Hamlet.

“What is the matter, my lord?” inquires Polonius, wanting to know what Hamlet is reading.  (Matter refers to stuff, not like there was something wrong.  There is, but the problem is way too complicated to get into right now.  Read the play someday.)

Hamlet replies in a snarky voice, “It says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit…” He goes on to say further snarky things about Polonius, but my point is that WORDS, WORDS, WORDS are a writer’s best tool!  Shakespeare knew this!  And now, so do you!

Okay, now for homework.

Linked below is a handout entitled “A Donkey and His Driver”.  Write a KWO for it, write a rough draft, edit the draft with red ink and insert quality adjectives (as many as you want — use your Quality Adjective packet) and a who/which clause.

Write the final draft, and bring the whole shebang to class next week.  Here’s a check sheet, too.

A Donkey and His Driver

A Donkey Check Sheet

(If you’re unsure of how to do who/which clauses, try your best this week.  We’ll talk about them more next time.)

For grammar, apprentices do p. 152-160 and experts do p. 155-169.


September 23

All righty, then. We have divided you (temporarily) into two adjective groups: the experts and the apprentices. (Mrs. B had the experts; Johanna had the apprentices this week.) Make sure you do the assignment for your group:

Apprentices, do pages 151-154 in your grammar book. Read the explanations and do any exercises on those pages.

Experts, do pages 151-157 in your grammar book. Read the explanations and do any exercises there.

All of you will do another paragraph summary assignment. Below is a link to a handout called “An Accident on the Mayflower.” Your job is to write a KWO for the article, write a rough draft, edit it, stuff it full of quality adjectives, and then write the final draft.

An Accident on the Mayflower

Notice I said “stuff”? Yes. This time I want you to use a ridiculous amount of adjectives, a copious amount of adjectives, a Thanksgiving-dinner-at-grandma’s-house amount of adjectives in each paragraph! Your writing will sound senseless, but no matter. Have some fun – BUT make sure they are quality adjectives.

You old-timers are welcome to stuff it full of other dress-ups, too.

September 16

Revise. You know you want to.

Revising is editing, and editing is part of spritzing up a rough draft so that it is free from boo-boos and lookin’ good! This week you get to practice writing a rough draft, editing it with your brand new red pen that I gave you today, adding some quality adjectives (yay!) and FINALLY writing a final draft.

American Bison article for outlining

All righty, then. Do this, in order:

  1. Finish the KWO for “American Bison” We did the first paragraph in class, you started the second paragraph, so finish all three paragraphs.
  2. Using your KWO, write a rough draft of all three paragraphs. You may look at your KWO, but please avoid looking back at the article itself.
  3. The next day (NOT the day you wrote the rough draft), edit your draft for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. You may ask your mom or dad to help you (with the red pen).
  4. Add at least one quality adjective to each paragraph – so three quality adjectives in all.
  5. Underline your quality adjective (because it doesn’t count unless you do).
  6. I know, I know.  You old-timers are going to want to add more dress-ups, aren’t you?  Go right ahead!  The check sheet shows how they will count as extra points.
  7. The next day (NOT the same day you did the editing) write the final draft. Be sure to double-space if you are using the computer, or if you are writing it out by hand. Either way is just fine with me.
  8. Staple the final draft on top, then the rough draft, and finally the KWO we made in class. These are all due next week, September 23.

American Bison Check Sheet

Bring your Easy Grammar workbook to class next week. That’s all!

September 9

Today we began our year by writing a Key Word Outline (KWO) for a paragraph entitled “The Sea Wasp”.  For some, this was review; for others, I’m sure this was your first experience with the KWO.  We will use the KWO a lot this year, so it’s a good idea to become proficient in writing one.

This week you will practice writing a KWO on a new paragraph, which I have linked below.  Write your outline just like we did in class, with the Roman numeral to start and then Arabic numerals after.  Remember that you are allowed no more than 4 words per line, but that symbols are okay.

Here is the paragraph:

Cephalopod Abilities

Besides the KWO, please write a letter to me.  Begin “Dear Mrs. Baumgaertel” (please spell my name correctly!) and write two paragraphs.  In the first one, introduce yourself and your family to me. In the second paragraph, tell me about ONE special happening that occurred in your life this summer.  (Normally I would require that you write a rough draft, and then a final draft, and that you would double-space your papers.  I didn’t talk about that today, so you do NOT have to write a rough draft first or double-space this time — but only this time!)

Have a good week, and bring your grammar book to class next time.

August 15, 2014

Junior high writers — I am excited to begin our year together on Tuesday, September 9, at 10 a.m.  Yay!  Bring your grammar book:  Easy Grammar Plus Student Workbook by Wanda Phillips, and notebook paper, pen/pencil.

See you soon!

Mrs. B