Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 8, 2013

Dear Parents and Guardians,

            I hope everyone had a restful break.  The second semester of school speeds by and I hope everyone is ready!

            I want to remind students and parents that reading logs are due every two weeks, the first for this semester will be handed out today and is due back, with a parent signature on January 22.  Students should log their reading and jot down notes, questions, or connections they’ve made while reading.  Parents are encouraged to discuss reading with students; this helps students make deeper more meaningful connections to reading, build comprehension, critical thinking and analytical skills.  These benefits will be reflected in grades and STAAR testing.

            Students also complete a journal/warm up activity during the first few minutes of class.  Every two weeks journals are collected and graded based on participation.  Students are not accountable for these warm ups when absent, because of this grades for journals cannot be made up. 

            Students can expect homework in English class two to three nights a week, please check with your student and use the database to see when homework is assigned and due.  In some cases students will need to take their text book home to complete work. 

State assessment is also around the corner, students will begin taking STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) in early April.  The rigor of in class instruction and homework will increase to help students prepare for testing. 

Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached by email at or by phone at (210) 543-1111 ext. 140.  Please have your student return the bottom portion of this letter with any updated contact information for a participation grade. 

I look forward to a successful and enriching semester with your student.


Amanda Diaz
Seventh & Eighth Grade ELAR
English Department Chair

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For a participation grade please have parents sign and detach.  Return by Friday, January 11, 2013.
Student’s Name:________________________________ grade/section:_________
Parent/Guardian Name/s:___________________________________________________________________

I have read the above letter and understand its contents in full.  My contact information has:
___ Not changed since the beginning of the year.

___ Has changed.  My new number is __________________________ and my new email is __________________________.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Second Annual Poetry Night!

Next week, on Thursday, December 13th, the ELA department will be hosting our Second Annual Poetry Night.  Last year’s event was a tremendous success and we hope to top it this year.

Students and families are invited to come out and watch as third through eighth graders read original and favorite works of poetry.

If your child attends poetry night then he or she will receive extra credit in English class, however even more credit will go to students who read a poem.  Students who read a poem will need to submit their poem for approval by Monday, December 10th.

I thank you in advance for supporting this event and look forward to seeing everyone there!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 16th: Early Release and Parent/Teacher Conferences

Next Friday, November 16th, is an early release day for students.  Students will be released at 12:30.  Teachers will be available to meet with parents from 1-4:30 in 15 minute increments.  Parents may sign up for a slot in advanced, or come by when available.  I have a meeting at 3:30 so my last conference will be at 3:15.  If you'd like to book a specific time please email me directly at

I look forward to seeing everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We're getting in the swing of things!  Right now seventh grade is reading and analyzing myths while eighth grade reads poetry and prose pieces focusing around journeys.
Both grades have impending vocabulary quizzes, additional information can be viewed through the school database.
Tomorrow students will receive a print out of their reading levels according to STAR Reading, the software the school uses to measure reading growth.  This print out will have students' Grade Equivalent (GE) as well as a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).  The GE will read as a a whole number followed by a decimal, such as 9.3.  A student with this GE has a reading level comparable to a ninth grader in the third month of school.  The ZPD is a range of numbers which suggest book levels for students to read with in.  A student with a GE of 9.3 will have a ZPD of 4.7-9.3, this means the books with reading levels between 4.7-9.3 are ideal for this student.
If you have questions about a student reading results please let me know-these test aren't always exact and students can re-test or another assessment can be given.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School!

Holy Cow-summer is over already and we’re in the second week of school!  It seems like May was just yesterday.  Our school year is off to a wonderful start.  Students are coming in ready to learn and on wonderful behavior. 
My seventh grade class, 7B, is a wonderful quick bunch.  I of’ course also adore the eighth grade class.  I’ve had the privilege of teaching them since sixth graders, and though we’ve lost and gained some students they’re still a stellar group of kids.  I’m excited to see them grow and learn, but I’m already dreading saying goodbye to them at the end of the year.

I look forward to a positive and productive year.  Please email me directly ( or call me (210-543-111 ext 140) if you have any questions, concerns or comments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eighth Grade Spring 2012 Final Review

Know the following terms and be able to identify and define them:

·         Haiku
·         Narrative poem
·         Sonnet
·         Rhyme
·         Internal rhyme
·         Personification
·         Metaphor
·         Simile
·         alliteration
·         hyperbole
·         idiom
·         stanza
·         repetition
·         refrain

Grammar & Writing:
·         verb tense: present, past, perfect (progressive & perfect)
·         participles and participial phrases
·         Know all the steps and purposes of the writing process
·         Claim
·         Support
·         Counter argument
·         Persuasive techniques
·         Emotional appeal
·         Ethical appeal
·         Rhetorical fallacy
·         Logical fallacy
·         Loaded terms
·         Leading questions
·         Caricatures
·         stereotype
·         cause
·         effect
·         rhetorical question
·         repetition
·         speech
·         factual claims
·         opinions
·         common place assertions

Be familiar with the following works:

“The Weak Shall Inherit the Gym” by Rick Reilly
“The Sanctuary of School” by Lynda Barry
“Educating Sons” speech given by Chief Canasatego
“The First Americans” letter by The Grand Council Fire of American Indians
“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Fredrick Douglass

·         myths
·         folktales
·         setting
·         plot
·         conflict types
·         “The Pearl”-be familiar with plot, character motivation, and symbolism

·         Know what media is
·         Digital media
·         Assessing formality of media
·         Know how to assess the role of media
Sound & visual techniques

Seventh Grade Spring 2012 Final Review

Know the following:
·         Know the traits of myths
·         “Orpheus and Eurydice”
·         “Icarus and Deadalus”
·         “Phatheon, Son of Apollo”
Epic Tales:
·         Know traits of epic tales
·         “Beowulf”

·         What is fiction
·         “The Last Dog”
·         “The Three Century Woman”
·         “Charles”
·         Setting
·         Plot sequence
·         Conflicts
·         Character motivation
·         “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”
·         Dialogue
·         Stage directions
·         Cast of characters
·         “Clara Barton: Battlefield Nurse”

Grammar and writing:
·         They’re, there, their
·         Adverbs
·         How to write an effective summary
·         How to eliminate “to be-verbs”
·         Correct use of apostrophes
·         Proper nouns and titles
·         Steps in the writing process

Know the following terms:
·         Logical fallacy
·         Bandwagon
·         Factual Claim
·         Common place assertion
·         Loaded language
·         Claim
·         Opinion
·         Support
·         Rhetorical fallacy
·         Ad hominem
·         stereotyping
·         Exaggeration
·         Categorical claim
·         Testimonial
·         argument
·         Counter arguments
·         According to Aristotle, what are three fundamental appeals to convince a person?
·         Emotional fallacy
·         Ethical fallacy
·         Policy Speech
·         Kennedy’s speech

Poetry and literary language
Know the definitions and be able to find examples of the following:
·         Idiom
·         Hyperbole
·         Repetition
·         Refrain
·         Personification
·         Simile
·         Metaphor
·         Literal language
·         Figurative language