To do today – Tues 5/23.

Doc is sick and heading home. 😦 Here’s what to do today with your substitute teacher.

  1. Free read/write for 10-15 minutes!
  2. Kahoot for Vocab Lists #1-3!
  3. Work on To Reflect on Mockingbird essay. Read through instructions very carefully. Copies of Writing Non-Negotiables on back table – bright pink paper.
  4. Work on readings for Memorial Day.
  5. Hand back anything in the returned work folder. Hexagonal thinking papers on back table – you can recycle if you don’t want to keep.

Memorial Day Reading



This week and weekend as we celebrate Memorial Day and complete our March to the Memorials service learning project, please take the time to read one or more of these important stories of the Vietnam War Era. You can find more context for each of these stories here.

On the creation of the “The Wall,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall —

Jan Scruggs and Joel L. Swerdlow’s To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial 

adapted by Swerdlow into an article for Syracuse University Magazine in 1985

On one of the worst ambushes of American troops in the war —

Death in the Ia Drang Valley, November 13-18, 1965

by Private 1st Class Jack P. Smith, published in The Saturday Evening Post on January 28, 1967

Note: Jack P. Smith is NOT the USM alumnus whose name appears on The Wall.

On protesting the Vietnam War —

Born on the Fourth of July 

by Ron Kovic

To Reflect on Mockingbird

Learning Targets:

  • Make connections between and draw conclusions about a text and the social and cultural situation of the time in which it was written and published.
  • Make connections between and draw conclusions about a text and the social and cultural situation of the time in which it is currently being read.
  • Use and cite specific evidence and examples to support my ideas.
  • Apply vocabulary words to my own writing, demonstrating my knowledge of the nuances in word meanings.
  • Adhere to the 8th grade American Studies writing non-negotiables. (Dr. Walczak will not read and evaluate essays that do not meet the writing non-negotiables. Your essay will simply be returned to you, and you will not receive credit for any of the learning targets.)

NOTE: Because we are so close to the end of the school year…

  1. Late work will not be accepted.
  2. You will NOT have the opportunity to reassess this work. Ensure that you hit the learning targets on the draft you submit for evaluation.

Now that you have closely read and analyzed power passages in To Kill a Mockingbird and extensively explored the Civil Rights Movement, it’s time to merge these units of study together.

Your last learning experience for To Kill a Mockingbird is to write a short essay that addresses the following questions. To practice brevity, your essay must be succinct, making a clear claim and supporting the claim with evidence in no more than two typed pages (12 pt TNR font; double-spaced). Your essay should have a clear introduction and conclusion. Each paragraph should have a distinct topic sentence and should flow into the next paragraph with a definite transition.


  • How does To Kill a Mockingbird relate to and reflect the social and cultural situation of the time in which it was written and published, meaning the Civil Rights Era? To Kill a Mockingbird has often been referred to as “the right book at the right time.” What do you think of that description? Was Mockingbird the right book to be published in 1960, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and made into an Academy Award winning film in 1962? Why or why not?
  • Why should we continue to read this novel today, well over 50 years after its publication? How does this novel relate and reflect the social and cultural situation of the time in which we are currently reading it? How does it speak to us, our lives, our communities, and our country today?

Support your ideas with specific evidence and examples. If you use outside sources, be sure to create a Works Cited page in MLA format. Use NoodleTools. Use credible, unbiased sources only.

Because this is reflective writing, your voice may be more conversational and less academic. However, your writing skills, mechanics, and conventions must still be solid. See the Conventions webpage for help and be sure to ask questions!

Finally, within your essay, please use at the very minimum ten vocabulary words from this year. Please note — your vocabulary word usage needs to be seamless and successful. Use the words because they mean what you are attempting to communicate. Do not “force” words into sentences where they don’t truly work or make sense. Bold, highlight, or underline vocabulary words, please.

Submit only a GoogleDoc on GoogleClassroom. Do not submit any other format (Word, Pages, pdf, etc.)

Click here for the GoogleDoc of this learning experience.

Due: Tuesday, May 30 for ALL sections.

Power Line/Words of the Wiser Poster

Choose a power line or Words of the Wiser quote from To Kill a Mockingbird to turn into your final locker poster of the year. Choose what you want to share with your classmates and Middle School teachers and students who walk the hallway every day. 

Your poster should be an interesting, intriguing, eye-catching, and thought-provoking artistic representation of the quote. Be sure to choose the best font, images, size, and so on. Think Pinterest. Think Canva. Think Photoshop. You can of course create by hand or online.

Print and hang a hard-copy of your poster on your locker. Upload your poster to GoogleClassroom (that’s where I’ll evaluate them). If you create your poster by hand, take a photo of it and upload it to GoogleClassroom. Due: Monday 4/22 for all sections.

Vocabulary Final Exam

Every student will have American Studies English on Monday, June 5th and will take the final vocabulary exam on that day. The exam will be timed; at the end of 70 minutes, you must turn in your test, whether you are completely done or not (unless you have made necessary prior arrangements with me).

Begin studying immediately. Study progressively; review a little bit every day.

Know everything — word, part(s) of speech, definition, synonyms, antonyms, spelling, and even pronunciation. If you’re not sure about any of these things, please ask!

Please ask if you have any questions.

All word lists can be found on the Vocabulary page. Please share study tools with one another!