MS English A

Click here to view/print the UPDATED list of class assignments.

Thursday, September 16

Today we talked about two types of stakes and how crucial they both are to a good story. We also covered a little ground with adjectives and adverbs. Be sure to log into your Quill account to see what activities have been assigned to you regarding grammar work.

Great job on muscling through your first paper. We’ll start on the second paper soon! As I explained in class, it is to your benefit to take notes while you read Esperanza Rising. You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to start the Compare/Contrast essay after fall break.

Homework Due by Wednesday, September 22

Read pgs. 1-139 in Esperanza Rising. As you read, jot down information you think is important about the main character, Esperanza. For example, what is her personality like? What is her family like, and how does she interact with each member of her family? What is the setting of her early childhood? What are some big events that shape who she’s becoming? When you answer questions like these, write down the page number for scenes or dialogue that you’ll want to reference later.

When you’re finished reading, click here to take the quiz.

Bring your notes on Esperanza to class next week 🙂

Thursday, September 9

I am pleased with everyone’s rough drafts! I can tell you’re working hard to get them in the best possible shape. Look over the comments I made on your Google Docs and let me know if you have questions. Some of you a bit more writing to do, but others only have a few things to fix. Well done, everyone!

Today we went over some grammar basics and talked more about varying sentence structure in academic writing. The activity we did in class should be finished for homework (and typed!).

Homework Due by Wednesday, September 15

  1. Edit your rough drafts. When your paper is completed, print it out and bring it to me on Thursday. Don’t forget the Works Cited page!
  2. Finish working on the sentence structure worksheet we started in class. Type your polished paragraphs and bring them to class next week too. Remember to put the text in the correct format (Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced…)
  3. If you haven’t signed into your Quill account, please do so this week to see what grammar activities have been assigned to you. Some of you have more work to do than others, so don’t drag your feet 🙂

Be sure you have a copy of Esperanza Rising by next Thursday!

Thursday, September 2

Today we reviewed the major plot points of Stay Where You Are and Then Leave – all the scenes and scenarios that pushed Alfie’s story forward. Remember, you aren’t writing a paper on Exposition or Resolution. Whatever you decide to write about needs to fall between the Inciting Incident (Georgie coming home in a soldier’s uniform) and the Falling Action (Joe Patience comes to tell everyone that Georgie is in his living room). There are a lot of options in between those two events.

I showed you the process of taking an overall topic (major turning points in the story) and creating three arguable claims that Alfie’s risk-taking resulted in expectations meeting reality. I hope that exercise is helpful to you as you write your rough draft.

If you are still unsure about where or how to start, please reach out to me sooner than later. I can help you brainstorm. Here are some suggestions to help get you going:

  • the ongoing tension/conflict between Margie and Alfie (there are plenty of scenes you can use to prove how their secret keeping and inability to communicate added tension to the rising action)
  • Alfie’s limited knowledge of Georgie’s situation (again, there are a number of scenes you can use to prove how Alfie’s ignorance about PTSD/Shell Shock created more tension in the rising action and created an explosive climax – “I lost him!” pg. 228)
  • the author’s use of high-stress scenarios to drive home how serious Georgie’s situation was (the hospital setting, meeting the soldier on the train, the train station incident – all of this contributed to the tension right before the climax)

Homework Due by TUESDAY, September 7

Use your notes and the information I’ve given you thus far to write a rough draft that connects major plot points to the inciting incident, rising action, climax, or falling action as those things are defined. Remember the following guidelines:

  • Aim for 500-600 words
  • Follow MLA format for font, size, and spacing
  • Refer to the Basic Outline of a Five Paragraph Essay when it comes to the hook, thesis statement, topic sentences, and other elements of an academic paper
  • Be sure to QUOTE scenes from the book and site them properly (Check this handout again, if needed)
  • Don’t forget the Works Cited page!

Email your rough draft by TUESDAY night, if you’re able. If you need more time, please email me beforehand and I’ll give you an extension.

DO NOT STRESS. 🙂 Your rough draft isn’t graded. Just do your best work and I’ll help you morph it into a final, polished paper.

Thursday, August 26

Great job today, everyone! I know the tedious work of learning how to structure a paper can be confusing. Take heart! We will go through every step together.

Be sure to bring the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook with you to class next week.

Homework Due by Wednesday, September 1

  1. Finish reading Stay Where You Are and Then Leave. Then click here to take the reading quiz.
  2. Print this example of a Basic Outline of a Five Paragraph Essay and this worksheet on paper structure. Use the outline to fill in the blanks on the worksheet. Bring BOTH to class next Thursday.
  3. Create a Works Cited page using Stay Where You Are and Then Leave as your source listed. This isn’t a graded assignment, but please do your best to figure out what the entry will look like (in proper font and format). Bring it with you to class next week as well.
  4. If you haven’t taken the assessments on Quill yet, please do so. Instructions are in the Introduction post below.

Thursday, August 19

Welcome to a new school year! I hope you will find some enjoyable parts about Middle School English A. As you get started on the work this week, remember that you can reach out to me any time you need extra help.

If you want to print off the list of assignments for the semester, click here.

Hopefully you have an understanding of Freytag’s Pyramid – the basic five-act plot structure. We’ll definitely talk about it more throughout the semester, so if you’re still fuzzy on a few parts, no worries.

Please make sure you have a gmail/Google Drive account set up!

Homework Due by Wednesday, August 25

  1. Read Ch. 1-6 in Stay Where You Are and Then LeaveClick here to take the reading quiz.
  2. If you haven’t joined the Quill classroom yet, please do so (class code: match-pie). I have assigned two grammar diagnostic assessments to see where everyone is grammar-wise. These are not graded, so don’t stress! Just do your best. 🙂
  3. Make sure you pack your MLA Handbook for next week!


This class is designed to help 6th through 8th graders identify literary elements in novels, analyze plot details, and write academic essays in MLA format.  There will be weekly reading assignments and quizzes, several essays throughout both semesters, and several tests. We’ll also work on grammar in class and through on a regular basis. The class is on a two-year rotation with books, so students are welcome to take MS English A in back-to-back years.

Please get a copy of the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook. Students will need to use them both in class and at home.

Books are listed in the order we’ll read them:

Fall 2021
Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer

Spring 2022
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Call it Courage by Amrstrong Sperry
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

*Short stories will be provided

Students need access to Google Docs and a gmail account, either their own or access to a parent’s, so they can submit rough drafts to me and receive feedback in a timely manner.

They also need to join my classroom online by the first week of class (class code: match-pie). Students will take a diagnostic assessment first so I can see where everyone is grammar-wise, then they’ll have assignments to complete throughout the semester.

See everyone on Thursday, August 19!