Jack Smith & Bill McCloud

Part I: Jack Smith

As you know, you are to read Jack Smith‘s story and practice your note-taking skills. We discussed the format for notes in class: one column for Notes, and one column for Comments & Questions. If you were not in class when we discussed how to set up notes for this reading, please ask a classmate!


Part II: The Poetry of Bill McCloud

Read and annotate your Vietnam poetry packet (handed out in class – a few extra copies in bins right inside door, next to crate where I return papers – or print yourself a copy from link). As you read, please annotate for the following:

Reactions and Responses

  • What does the poem make you think or feel?
  • How does the poem relate to what we’ve learned about in American Studies?
  • How do the poems relate to one another?
  • What do you like or find interesting about the poem? What do you dislike about it?
  • What surprised you, confused you, made you stop and think, made you see from a different perspective?


  • Contrasts & Contradictions: Why is the character doing that?
  • Aha Moment: How might this change things?
  • Tough Questions: What does this question make ME wonder about?
  • Words of the Wiser: What’s the life lesson and how might it affect the character?
  • Again & Again: Why does this keep happening or coming up?
  • Memory Moment: Why might this memory be important?

Word Gaps

  • Look up words or abbreviations you don’t know.


  • What questions do you have for the poet, Professor Bill McCloud? As you know, we will Skype with Professor McCloud on Monday, June 4th!



Summer Reading!

If you are headed into 9th grade at USM, then you and your parents need to choose and order your summer reading book! The choices are listed below. You’ll have two, one required for everyone plus one choice from the list below.

Here is the order form.

Summer Reading
All current 8th grade students are required to read our All School Read, Run by Anne Patchett.
In addition, students will read at least one of the departmental selections listed below.
Departmental Selections
Science – Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Art – Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley
Math – Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki
English – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
History – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
World Language – Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Physical Education – The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

Again, here is the order form.

Reading Without Walls Challenge

RWW Facebook_instagram 1Let’s end the year and the 40 Book Challenge with Gene Luen Yang’s Reading Without Walls Challenge!

From Gene Luen Yang’s blog, entry written May 13th, 2016:

So this crazy thing happened this past January.  The Library of CongressChildren’s Book Council, and Every Child A Reader appointed me the fifth National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature!

Every National Ambassador picks a platform.  Mine is Reading Without Walls.  I want every kid — every reader, really — to explore the world through books.  Books have played a vital role in getting me outside of my comfort zone.  I believe they can do the same for you.

As National Ambassador, I issue you a challenge!  I challenge you to read without walls in one of three ways:

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.

3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

If you really want to go for the gold star, read a book that fits all three criteria!

Read, read, read, this coming month — inspired by Gene Luen Yang’s challenge! Go to it!

Learn more about Yang’s experiences as #NatAmb and #ReadingWithoutWalls here.

The Most Important Stuff

On your Words of the Wiser Collector (light green sheet; has an owl on it), take notes from the anchor charts on what you think is the most important stuff from this entire novel.

  • Key passages
  • Words of the Wiser
  • Themes
  • Again and Agains
  • Relationships, connections, patterns
  • Symbols
  • Changes in characters
  • Contrasts and Contradictions
  • Aha Moments
  • Anything you think we need to take away from this story

You can abbreviate or copy down just a few words of a quote, but be sure to note page numbers.

You will be able to utilize these notes on our major assessment on To Kill a Mockingbird.

Close Reading & Analysis Anchor Charts

Click here for the assignment GoogleDoc.

Learning Targets — I can…

  • Read closely and critically to analyze and determine the meaning of passages in the novel, not just literal meaning but more metaphorical and symbolic meaning.
  • Make connections among and draw conclusions about seemingly separate or very different passages of a novel.
  • Use and cite specific evidence and examples to support my analysis.

What is an anchor chart?

According to the website We Are Teachers, “Anchor charts are a great way to make thinking visible as you record strategies, processes, cues, guidelines and other content during the learning process.” Since each class thought about, closely read, and analyzed separate topics in To Kill a Mockingbird, we are all going to create anchor charts to make our work visible to the other sections. Think of an anchor chart as a kind of handmade infographic.

Close Reading and Analysis Anchor Charts

The ultimate goal of your anchor chart is to answer the essential questions listed for your section on my website (in bold at the top of your section’s post). Use your notes from your Close Reading and Analysis forms to determine what needs to go on your anchor chart.

Include both images and words and use artistic and design elements such as color and lettering to create a comprehensive anchor chart that helps the other sections understand your section’s essential questions.

Use specific evidence and always cite page numbers!

While anchor charts may seem Lower School, really, the close reading and analysis you’re presenting in this medium is very tough stuff — Upper School level stuff! Double- and triple-check that you’re hitting the learning targets.