Friday, September 30, 2016

Student Book Review Example

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Imagine a life where books were illegal, a life where everything was controlled, and if you were different, the odds of survival were not on your side. Montag, the main character in Fahrenheit 451, faces these unique characteristics of change and being different. He wants to take action and be the change. Fahrenheit 451 is a high impact, adventurous book about how with some beliefs and ideas you can be the change you want to see in the world.

Fahrenheit 451 is about a guy named Guy Montag who is a firefighter for a living, but unlike today, Montag burns books instead of putting out fires. In Montag’s world, books are illegal because they brought curiosity, uniqueness, and were not appealing to many people; therefore, firemen were given the job of burning books. Montag is one of those firemen, but unlike the rest of them, Montag experiences change in his mindset, and wants to do something about it. Throughout the book, Montag sets out to take action and set an example of what is truly right. Montag sets out to show people the power and greatness of books.

From the beginning of the book, Montag was an average guy, simply one of us, a fish following the flow of things, but then he changes. What caused him to change? Simply looking back and putting himself in other’s shoes, and then eventually taking a chance, taking a risk.

Montag is a unique character, but is also like everyone else. Like us, he has ideas, but unlike a lot of us, he acts on his ideas. Fahrenheit 451 shows us what our world may be coming to be, a bunch of people governed by law, but idea-less. Montag shows us what we should be: independent, faithful, adventurous, and brave. This book shows us that even when the entire world is against us, we should stanf up for what we believe in.

Fahrenheit 451 is a great book for young adults. It reveals how we must act even when the odds are not in our favor. This book helps readers understand all those unique people and lets us know that even though people’s ideas differ from ours, it doesn’t make them wrong. This book shows us that we should be the change we want to see in the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Reviews

Independent Reading/Book Reviews

Students are required to read two books per grading period (every six weeks).
The books are free choice, though it should be a quality book appropriate for school reading.

When a student finishes the book he or she should write a review.  See the chart at right.  This is an example of a pretty good review by one of my former students.

Other Student Book Review Examples:

Timed Writing Task: Write a review of your recent Independent Reading Book.

Characteristics of Effective Book Reviews
§  Engaging hook/lead-in
§  Plot summary (for fiction)
§  Context and background information)
§  Character analysis
§  Reader commentary
§  Discussion of thematic ideas
§  Connections (text, self, world)
§  Concluding remarks

Holistic Scoring
4 = “A” Advanced – 95% or 100% Based on Quality
3 = “B” Proficient – 85%
2 = “C” Partial Evidence of Proficiency – 75%
1 = “D” Incomplete or Containing Serious Errors – 65%

*A response may be graded “in between” two scores. For example, a paper marked “2/3” means the student is between a “2” and a “3,” and they will receive an 80%.

Student Example Scored 2

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It is a very sad book about a boy where he gets treated badly. He gets treated like a maid. He always has to clean and he has to take care of his baby brother. His mom sometimes didn’t even feed him. He was kind of like a homeless person even though he had a home. His dad didn’t even care about him either. He was mostly never there.

            One day when his mom was changing his baby brother he said he was hungry and so his mom made him eat his little brother’s poop out of the diaper. That was really messed up. It made me feel sad. I am happy that I have a family that at least feeds me and loves me. It pretty much made me value my family more.

            But then when he got older he became something and then he wrote this book A Child Called It, which was really sad but interesting. The good thing was he became someone in life. I wonder why his mom treated him like that. He never did anything to her. Even most teenage moms treat their kids better.

            If she knew she was going to treat him bad she should’ve never even had him. The kid should’ve done something too, like tell a social worker or something so he and his brother could’ve been taken from her and taken to a better home. The dad too. He didn’t care about them either. He should’ve thought twice before having a child.

Student Example Scored 3

Angel by James Patterson

There seems to never be an end to Max’s destiny to save the world. In James Patterson’s seventh book in the Maximum Ride series it all turns bad. Angel is about a time in Max’s life where not only does she have to deal with saving the world, she also has to deal with normal everyday things that humans have to deal with.

Max was told by her father Jeb that she has to lead a group of millions of genetically enhanced kids. You could say that is a pretty big task but being a teenage girl she has other problems too. The love of her life Fang has left her and the Flock because he thought he was bringing them danger. On top of that someone has come in Fang’s place who Max thinks she likes but doesn’t want to betray Fang. 

The rest of the Flock also has their own problems. As of now Iggy and Ella are hypnotized by some villain into thinking he is the leader and can save the world. Gazzy and Nudge has some virus and Max can’t quite figure it out. The only normal people are Max and Angel. They need to save the Flock before it’s too late.

While the Flock is worrying about that stuff Fang is on his own searching for his own team. He is trying to recruit other genetically enhanced kids for a team he is trying to assemble. So far he has gotten a group of four other people that have raptor vision, super speed, and super strength. His plan is to turn everyone on his side and defeat whoever is trying to take over and destroy the world.

James Patterson really went off on this book. He made many different groups all trying to do the same thing, which is saving the world. His style seems to be making everything very intense and hectic to keep you on the edge and make you want to finish every last page. He accomplishes this by letting you get to know the characters and then putting them in harm and bone breaking battles. He writes about characters in such a way that lets you relate to them and feel their pain. James Patterson did not let me down on this book. This really turned out great and I can’t wait to read the last book in the series.

Student Example Scored 4

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

            Life for a teen can be hard and very confusing. There are the struggles to be outgoing and participate in life, as well as the challenges of growing up and finding friends that love you at your best and at your worst. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Charlie must face all these challenges and even more.

            The story is written by Charlie himself, in the form of letters. He always begins with “Dear Friend” and ends with “Love Always, Charlie.” By the end of the novel, Charlie doesn’t say who he is writing to. He writes about starting high school, making friends, going to parties, but he also writes about some very intimate moments. He writes about his friend Sam, who he thinks is the most beautiful girl in the entire school. He talks about his family and how they don’t understand him.

            Charlie is a strange boy. From the beginning of the novel he is a loner, even in his own family. He has a very short temper. For example, when his friend Patrick gets beat up for being gay, Charlie fights the attackers and seriously injures two of them. I believe that Charlie has had a rough life as it is. Before starting high school, his best friend Michael committed suicide. Then after that Charlie becomes severely depressed. This is the reason why Charlie is so emotional and quick-tempered.
            Charlie’s life revolves around his school, his friends, and his family. In parts of the book Charlie is on the edge of sadness and depression. Sometimes Charlie’s friends are the ones that bring him into situations that end up making him more depressed than he was before but they also pick him up when he is in a dark place. The help shape him into the man he is now.

            Charlie’s family is not really “there” for him. They love him and want the best for him, but they never know the right way to deal with him and help him through his struggles. This shows how family may want to help you, but they may not fully understand you.

            The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a wonderful book for young adults. It reveals the life of a teen through Charlie’s words. This book could help adults better understand the inner life of teenagers. Recently, the book was adapted into a movie that has been praised in several newspapers and magazines and attracted greater attention to the novel.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Writing Groups: Complete your memoir draft, including dialog, reflection, and sensory details

Rough Draft Due Tomorrow,  9/29 and Final Draft Due Fri, 9/30

StructureStructure: An interesting introduction captures attention. The main event in the narrative (story) is logically organized and clearly described.
LanguageLanguage: Strong dialogue or description draws the reader into the story. The writer includes sensory details, figurative language, and strong verbs.
ReflectionReflection: The writer acknowledges the significance of the incident directly or indirectly.
Grammar and mechanicsWritten consistently in the first person. Is free from grammar/spelling errors.
Word CountMemoir is 700-800 words in length

2nd Rough Draft Due Tomorrow, 9/29 and Final Draft Due Fri, 9/30

StructureStructure: An interesting introduction captures attention. The main event in the narrative (story) is logically organized and clearly described.
LanguageLanguage: Strong dialogue or description draws the reader into the story. The writer includes sensory details, figurative language, and strong verbs.
ReflectionReflection: The writer acknowledges the significance of the incident directly or indirectly.
Grammar and mechanicsWritten consistently in the first person. Is free from grammar/spelling errors.
Word CountMemoir is 700-800 words in length

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Writing Groups; Sharing Your Memoir For Revisions

Writing Groups

Goal: Writing groups

Writing Group Procedures
Writing Groups

Writing Groups: 
  • Sharing your writing with a group will help you improve your writing and learn what a reader might think while reading your work. 
  • Follow the procedures in the chart or on THIS PAGE with your group. 
Read! (Really not kidding about that.)
Memoir draft grade 9/27 TUESDAY.
Memoir final drafts due 9/28. WEDNESDAY. 
Open house is Thursday 10/6. 

Monday, September 26, 2016


Add Significance:  How did your experience impact your life as a whole
(emotionally, mentally, physically, etc)?
What did you learn about yourself and/or others through your experience?

Elaborate on what you learned about yourself through this experience
and how it influenced your life today.

Share memoir through Google Docs with a classmate
to proofread, edit and make suggestions.
Share your memoir with a parent 
(they can edit, make comments, etc through viewing it in your school account).

*This will be included in your overall memoir grade



Set up a time to meet; Email:

Using Sensory Details In Our memoirs

Goal:  Using Sensory Details to make stronger memoirs.

Using Sensory Details:
  • Smell - and the water smelled like lemons and a heated swimming pool in the summertime, all rolled into one." (description of a toilet!)
  • Sound - Trash cans rattle outside restaurants. Metallic jaws on sanitation trucks gulp and masticate the residue of daily living, then digest it with a satisfied grind of gears. 
  • Physical Sensation - A burning drop of sweat raced down the side of my face. I could feel a vein that I previously didn't know existed popping out of my forehead.
  • Taste - and once they are in your mouth, they dance around like crazy gypsies setting fire to anything they touch. Miguel started to run. His tongue was blazing, tears poured from his eyes, and he yelped in pain. 
  • Sight - The spear moved forward inch by inch ….Then Jack grabbed Maurice and rubbed the stuff [blood] over his cheeks . . 
Writing Time: 
  • I want to give you as much time today as possible to do the work of writing and adding to your memoir. Many of you still need more dialog. Some of you need to add more reflection. And almost all of you could use more sensory details. Let's go.