Mr. Ken Malatesta's Classroom News

01/18/2019 | January 18, 2019
With shortened classes for NWEA testing, we devoted most of the week to our in-class argumentative assessment. I had students review the essay (Regarding “Shut down your screen week”) they wrote at the beginning of the trimester. This revision is intended to reinforce the skills we have been discussing the past months.
Students should have completed and submitted their argumentative essays last week! Please submit if you have not already done so.
We will continue to discuss expository writing techniques and sentence structures next week when we begin our feature story. This assignment will entail an interview and I will be reinforcing many of the strategies we used during the argumentative unit.

Don't forget the vocabulary test next week! (Tuesday, January 22 for Blocks 1 & 2 and Wednesday, January 23 for Blocks 3, 4, & 5). As always materials for list #6 can be found on Schoology. One of the words, “stint”, is attached (accidentally) to the activities and is not found with the rest of the list. Be sure not to forget it!!
Have a great weekend!
01/11/2019 | January 11, 2019
Happy New Year!!! And welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a restful break!
We jumped back into our routine this week and discussed ways to conclude essays as well as the proper MLA bibliographic format. As always these resources are available on Schoology.
We also analyzed student samples and used the argumentative checklist to assess them. Lively discussions tend to follow this process, and it is invaluable for helping students internalize the expectations of the genre.
Please be sure your child has submitted their final argumentative essay (due Friday, 1/11 3p.m). Late submissions will be penalized 20%.
As a review, we will be starting next week with an in-class argumentative essay. There is no need to study or prepare for this assessment other than what we have been discussing in class over the past few months.
12/21/2018 | December 21, 2018

I hope my thank you notes found their way home to you! Thank you so much for your generosity during the holidays! 

We spent the week reviewing complex sentences and how to combine sentences to reduce redundancy. While the test will be identification, understanding how to apply the knowledge of sentence types in writing will be vital moving forward in my class.
We also essay leads and tips for how to maintain a formal voice. All of these resources are available for review on Schoology.
As always, I reserved as much time as possible for students to work on their essays and conference if necessary. When we return from the break we will discuss essay conclusions and how to properly cite sources. As I mentioned in previous weeks, I do not expect students to work on their essays over the break unless they feel compelled to. The final draft will be due the Friday we return from the break (January 11).
We will be picking up with vocabulary list #6 when we return as well. The most recent test had mixed results, so I am strongly encouraging students to work with the activities (on Schoology) to prepare for these tests.  They should also start to review all of the lists to prepare for the comprehensive test at the end of the year.

12/14/2018 | December 14, 2018

We continued the peer revision workshop this week, and I continue to present mini-lessons and tips related to argumentative writing. We discussed how to use statistics and anecdotes as secondary support and I also introduced the four sentence types (simple, compound, complex, complex-compound). While students should know how to identify and distinguish between these sentence types, my goal is to teach them how to apply their understanding of these constructions to make them better writers. So this week we discussed how counter-arguments typically hinge on a “signal” word and those words are, more often than not, conjunctions (both coordinating and subordinating). Understanding sentence types and how to combine information will also be vital to reducing redundancy and varying sentence length to make writing rhythmic. There will be an identification test some time after the break, so be sure to check the homework site for updates on exact dates.

Next week will conclude peer revision workshop and I will discuss formal voice, leads, and conclusions. Again, I do not expect students to work on their essays over the break, but if they are not far enough along by the end of next week, they may have to. I will continue to provide work time in class, and will also be available for conferences if students did not understand my feedback.

12/07/2018 | December 7, 2018

This week we discussed ethos, pathos, and logos, and tactics used in persuasion. Students identified some of these tactics, as well as organizational techniques, in both strong and weak student samples. I shared my latest essay as well, and, in preparation for the workshop, had students practice how to provide and frame their feedback.
We did one round of feedback this week. Like the narrative assignment, all students will be getting individualized feedback from me at the time of their workshop. I sent the workshop dates out last week, but students should have their essays in the shared Google folder the day before their workshop session. Be sure to include two things that are going well and two things that are not going well! This is an important aspect of the learning process and gives me and peer readers a focus when providing feedback.
Due to the workshop overlap I have pushed the vocabulary test #5 until December 18 for Blocks 1, 2, 3 & 4 and December 19 for Block 5. As always, students should prepare for this test in advance. 
Next week we will continue our peer revision workshops, and I will follow up with brief mini-lessons regarding how to use statistics, domain specific vocabulary, and establish a formal tone. I plan to address counterarguments, quote integration, leads, conclusions, and bibliographies before the break.
11/30/2018 | November 30, 2018
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving (and additional day off)! Due to the snow day I did have to shuffle our workshop dates, and after checking in with the students I have extended the timeline for our argumentative essay unit. Since we will be using this structure later on with academic essays, I did not want to rush through the basics.  I sent home new workshop dates and the final essay will now be due Friday, January 11.

I have been modeling my own pre-writing and drafting strategies in class for the students and most have begun outlining their essays with a simple “working” thesis and three reasons/arguments to support it. Most of the week was spent researching but we also discussed the expository paragraph structure and the importance of cohesion within body paragraphs and essays as a whole. In the coming weeks we will be discussing domain specific vocabulary, formal voice, how to introduce quotes, counter-arguing, and a variety of other techniques integral to this genre. I will be looking at each student’s rough draft and supplying individualized feedback as well. As always there are a variety of samples and resources available on Schoology.