Making a Change to Blogger

I’ve resisted long enough. I now work in a school district that relies on Google. It only makes sense to move to a Blogger account, since that is what all of my students will use.

I’m sad to say goodbye. You’ve been good to me Edublogs.

The new blog I’ll write beside my students, posting models of writing tasks, and more I’ve named Challenge Accepted.

I think there’s something to that.

Checklist for your End-of-Year Writing Project

Hello, Students,

For this end-of-year writing project, you should do your absolute best work to show that you have grown into an accomplished, effective, and passionate writer. You chose your own topic, and you have many opportunities to get feedback from me on this work. Some of you took advantage of my expertise, and your improvement is noticeable. The rest of you? I don’t know what you are thinking….that might be a problem, but I hope you’re able to pull it through.

Here’s a checklist of objectives that you must be sure you complete. You will post your finished writing BEFORE school on Friday, May 29, which is the DUE DATE of the project.

If you have published a blog series about your topic, you should have 4 – 8 different blog posts published back to back about some aspect of the same topic. Each post should show

1) an interesting title,

2) effective formatting and use of white space,

3) your ability to use a variety of modes of writing, including effective use of rhetorical strategies and devices, higher-level vocabulary,

4) your ability to use a variety of visual modes, including photos, videos, info graphics, etc

5) evidence of research where you have learned something you did not know; all sources for text and images must be cited within your online document — hyperlinked, not with the URL dropped in it

6) when read together, a complete and convincing argument or informative piece that accomplishes the specific purpose your outlined on your plan. Remember, the page count, without images, should be 5 to 10 pages.

7) evidence of proofreading and polishing before you publish.

If you are publishing your work as one major piece (like a feature article), your work should show all of the above, except you will only have one blog post that is long and includes all of your work.

Remember, one of the requirements was to meet with me for TWO writing conferences. Next Thursday is the last day you have to meet this requirement.

AP Exam Scoring Calculator and Study Tips


Of the 39 of you who signed up for the AP Language exam, 19 of you gave up a Wednesday afternoon to practice a full-length exam (okay, well, almost a full-length exam). Two hours is a long time to stay after school just because you want more practice.

I am proud of you!

I thought you might like to know how to calculate your projected score. AP Pass has links to three different sites that offer AP English Language exam tips. You might want to spend some time there before May 13. You may glean some different ideas than I’ve shared with you throughout the year.

AP Pass also has this handy scoring calculator.

When you and I meet to talk about the essays you wrote today, we will plug your numbers into this calculator. Be sure you give yourself one hour this weekend, sit in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted, and take the multiple choice part. Be sure to mark the scan tran with pencil and return it to me Monday. I will schedule conference times to talk with you about your result as soon as I have time to score everything.

Remember to spend some time studying rhetorical devices and their names and functions on your own time. Most especially, work on applying some of the devices you’ve learned into your own writing projects. The best practice for writing is writing.

You will also want to watch the national news every night leading up to the exam. The more you know the more you know what to write. Fill the thinking tank.

Oh, and brush up on your tone vocabulary while you are doing all this studying. The more higher-level adjectives you know the better.

As always, I am available to help you during Tuesday and Friday block lunch and every afternoon until at least 4:30. If you want to meet in the morning before school,  we can. You just need to schedule it with me, and I will get here early.

If you have questions — ask. If you are nervous about this exam — stop. A test on one day of the year in no way shows what you are truly capable of. Besides, if you do not score as well as you like, you may choose to take it again next year. Easy peasy.

Best to you,

Mrs. Rasmussen

Rhetorical Devices for You to Review and Know

Many of you asked for more review and practice with rhetorical devices. I’ve got some for you!

You will find flashcards to study, practice questions to help you learn, games to play, and a test to see if you know the terms — all at this Quizlet site — Rhetorical Devices. 

You may practice as much as you like. And you should. The more time you invest the better your learning outcome.

You know that.

Our Next Book Clubs — Get your book!

Students, we begin our next Book Clubs right after spring break. In class, we reviewed each title.

Here’s the slideshow, if you need a reminder.

I gave you a sticky note with the book you chose and who in your class will be in your Book Club. Be sure to get your book ASAP and read 25 pages before the first day of class when we return from break.

I’ve called Barnes & Noble at Vista Ridge and asked that they order extra copies. Be sure to ask a clerk if you cannot find the title you are looking for. Half Price Books might also have some of these titles. Amazon does. Order a paper back or download the e-book. No excuses.

This time, we are going to meet once a week to discuss our reading. You will also be practicing rhetorical analysis, so as you read, annotate pages that you find numerous rhetorical devices and literary elements. You will also think about what kind of service learning you can do with your Book Club as an extension of your reading.

Enjoy Spring Break. Make good choices. I love you guys and want to see you back safely.

Mrs. Rasmussen

Practicing Our Writing about Literature

Change in plans due to changes in plans.

For the assessment for your last book club reading, you will complete TWO parts for a major grade assignment:

Part 1. HexagonalWritingAssessment. We read over the handout in class, and I asked you to take notes as I clarified a few things within the instructions. Take some time and READ the sample responses — all six paragraphs. These show you exactly how to complete this part of the assignment. You are to write thoughtful, insightful, detailed paragraphs about the novel that you read — in the order of the instructions.

Use text evidence where appropriate. This always makes for stronger writing.

Analyze as necessary per the instructions.

Cite the page numbers at the end of each sentence where you refer explicitly or implicitly to the content of the book (19). [See what I did right there? That is how you cite the page numbers.]

You may talk to your peers that read the same book that you did. Share ideas. Discuss important points about your book:  the characters, the conflict, the theme — all those things that make for rich literature. However, you must write up your paragraphs on your own. Your writing should look like your writing not like anyone else’s.

Typed. Make your assignment look just like the sample I gave you, except add a heading in MLA format, AND cite your page numbers appropriately.

This part of the assignment is due Wednesday (A group) or Thursday (B group) at the beginning of class. Late penalty is 10 points per day late.

Part 2. APLiteraturePromptstoPractice. You will write a timed writing in response to one of the AP Lit prompts in class next Wednesday (A group) or Thursday (B group).

You should review the annotations you made in your books as you read.

You should choose which prompt you are going to write about prior to next Wednesday or Thursday.

You should make a plan — you may bring one notecard with notes AND your annotated book with you to use as you write this essay.

If you are absent, you have one day per day/s you miss to make up this work. Block lunch on Friday or after school will be the best options.

Come for tutorials before next Wednesday if you have questions or need help. You are closer to your senior year, thus, closer to college — many of you need to step it up!

My Creed Poem by Mrs. Rasmussen

June 2014

Like you, I am always nervous when share my work, especially poems. I am still learning to trust myself as a poet.  I wrote a version of this poem last summer when I attended The Conference on Poetry and Teaching at The Frost Place last summer in Franconia, NH. I shared it at a poetry reading the last night of the conference. Now, that was nerve wracking.

Today, I did a bit more with revision, and I like this version of my poem better. Please read it and leave a comment.

I believe in heaven and hell

although hell seems easier to believe in. I believe

writing is the key to knowledge

carved with paper and pen. I believe peanut M&Ms

are good for stress. I believe I am a petite

in a full-sized dress,

which does not make me weak, indulgent, brazen, or fat.

I believe “Mother” is the greatest name

on the planet; I believe my hands

have the power to heal although words may

soothe wounds much swifter. I believe in

sleeping, I believe in email, I believe in knock on wood, we

make our own luck,

and if I finally have the perfect hair day —

dang the rain. Not because I am vain, but

because life is sometimes a pain.

I believe in pain: wrecked bikes, kidney stones,

crying — push, push, push, wah, wah.

I believe in the wrapped up hugs

of my friend Kenny. I’ve been wrapped up in

myself more than once, and it’s a good idea

not to nurture those notions. Holding grandbabies

is a blessing of the good life,

unless they live too far away.

I believe in God, and if you allow me to love

you and teach you to write, I’ll be sure to

help you reach high. How high do you want?

Do you believe in hope? I believe the day

my mother died her mom and dad

were there to meet her, and

when I felt her squeeze my shoulder

from an earthlife away, I knew

the spirit goes on living. We never got to say goodbye.

The disease robbed much more than her words.

I believe that’s why I have this ache in my heart:

Sometimes it’s a chilling breeze. Sometimes it’s a tornado.

I believe I will miss my mother

every day of my life. I believe that holy scripture

is the best kind of poetry. I believe good teachers

plan, great teachers inspire, and if I’d only stop

trying to control everything I’d need less massage. I believe

fathers should be present. I believe plants make better

presents than flowers. I believe milk should be pink on

Valentine’s Day, and “There’s a right way to live and

be happy.” Cowboy Stadium could have bought a

billion books for classroom libraries, and the best frozen custard

is in St. Louis. I believe in action movies,

White Christmas –caring, sharing, every little thing that we are wearing–

Reading Makes You Smarter, and writing well can

change your life. Literacy opens doors that life locks

tight. I believe if students will take the time they can

turn keys and beat odds. I believe in odds, underdogs,

and family-owned restaurants, I believe that Jesus Christ

saves and that if you hold His hand He makes

everything easier, and if you touch me

right here, right here at my heart, you’ll fill the

longing of a daughter and the yearning of a mom.


Blog Post #3: Mirror the Moves of a Poet

In this post, you will write your own creed poem, Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.52.02 AMafter you read, study, and analyze the moves of the poet Meg Kearney in her poem “Creed.” At The Writer’s Almanac, you can hear the poem read to you again. (I read it to you on Mon, Feb 17.)

Carefully, look at the words Kearney uses — the repetition of words and phrase. Think about the juxtapositions she crafts that add the contrasts and the contradictions. Notice the tiny story she inserts about her father. Notice the questions.

You will craft your own creed poem, mirroring the moves that Kearney makes in hers. Here is the assignment sheet again. (If you are logged into your go.LISD account, you’ll be able to open it.) Read through the instructions carefully. When you write, be thoughtful in your own moves as a writer. Revise extensively.

This is a test grade. Incorporate what you’ve learned from studying the poetry of Jimmy Santiago Baca. Apply your understanding of rhetorical and literary devices. Use words from your personal dictionary.

Regular blogging due dates apply.

Writing conferences with me are strongly suggested.

Write on!

“As Life Was Five” Poem Commentary

Jimmy Santiago Baca, an American poet who writes about his culture and the experiences that have shaped him, wrote the poem “As Life Was Five” about a life-changing moment he had with his grandfather. The poem details the first moment that Baca saw the effects and the learned the meaning of racism. The poem is two pages long and tells this heart-wrenching story of humiliation for the grandfather and a loss of innocence for the boy.

Some of the lines hold powerful emotion. Baca uses language that shows the pain of the experience. He says that English is “the invader’s sword/the oppressor’s language,” and “that moment/cut me in two tortuous pieces.” He “screams” as he feels his grandpa’s pain as the request for a loan to save his farm is declined.

I have never experienced anything quite like this small boy and his grandfather do. I have never been denied the ability to provide for my family. However, I know event like this happen, and that people’s lives are ruined because of the actions of others, “rude beast[s]” like Baca says.

The line that breaks my heart is the moment that Baca “knew Grandfather’s heart was going to die.” So many young children see and hear and experience things that they should never have to see and hear and experience. Just last evening I made this comments to my family as they watched a movie where children saw people getting killed with high-powered rifles. The lives of those children will never be the same because of the horror they have seen. As Baca says, “open wounds” have been created in their hearts.

photo credit: filipmije

The poem is a reminder of the harm we do to one another when we are racist, discriminate, and cruel. This is not the world I want to live in. I want to live in one that celebrates the diversity of each and every individual. That world would be a much more joyful one.

Blog Post #2: Write a Response to a Poem

Note:  Group B will post Thursday, Feb. 12, and Group A will post Wednesday, Feb. 18. 11 pm deadline

In class we read Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem “As Life Was Five.” We wrote in our

An apricot tree in full-bloom; all of those blossoms will become fruit. Interesting to think about this image Baca uses to describe his grandfather.
photo credite:

notebooks about our initial response, the emotions the poem made us feel. In most classes, we spoke briefly about the meaning of the poem. Now, you will do some deeper thinking about the message, and the emotional impact of the language:

Writing a response essay is different than writing an analytical one, although some of the components are the same; namely, a thesis statement, organization, and text evidence.

For a step-by-step guide on how to write a response essay click here. You’ll notice that when you click on the highlighted work “response” in that document, you will go to a page of responses written to a variety of different texts. This is a writing task that is used a great deal outside of school. It is a useful mode of writing to know how to do well. (This type of response is Option 1.)

(Option 2.) If you would like to be more creative, feel free to use Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem for your own inspiration. Lift a line and write an original short story or poem of your own. Or, follow his model for line length, word choice, tone, etc, and write your own poem about a specific scene that is emblazoned on your soul like our poet writes about this experience with his grandfather. You decide what creative mode you want to show your emotional response to this poem.

Both options:  Whatever you decide, you must show, as always, quality and evidence of thinking. Remember to put the title of the poem, in quotation marks, and the name of the author, spelled correctly, in your own post.

So, re-read the poem. Let the language wash over you. Let the emotions inspire your thoughts. Then organize your thinking and pen them on the page. Once you have written what you think is a thorough and insightful response, and you would like some feedback before you post to your blog, come to tutorials. (B group Friday block lunch or block lunch next Tuesday. A group the same times the week after that.)

By now you should know that the more you think about your writing, the more time you spend revising your writing, the more you show sincere effort in your writing, the better your writing becomes.

I will write an example and post it soon.