Monday, November 21, 2011

Finally...Introducing Six Word Memoirs from the 7th Grade!


Your Six Word Memoir videos are finally here (with the help of several student video-editors - thank you!).  After you watch and enjoy each class' final videos, please respond to the questions below.  This week's blog commentary has three parts:

1)  Type your Six Word Memoir using quotation marks, just like this: "To Make Fire: Fuel, Friction, Faith."

2)  Is there a story behind your Six Word Memoir?  If so, tell it using details and description that support your memoir.  If your memoir is more of a personal motto, then finish this prompt: I am someone who... 

  • Who are you?  
  • What are you passionate about?  
  • What can't you live without?  

Your response can be unrelated to your memoir if you like.  For this week's post, please be honest, personal, and creative!

3)  Shout outs: which memoir  (other than your own) stands out to you and why?  What do you like about it?  You may choose a memoir from your class or from another class to shout out.

Tr. Lacey's example:

1.  "To Make Fire: Fuel, Friction, Faith."

2.  I am someone who believes that our failures often teach us more than our successes.  When I was twenty-four-years-old I went to live and work in the Utah desert as a wilderness instructor for "troubled teens."  Although I was already an experienced backpacker, I was required to learn many additional skills that were new and unfamiliar to me, so I could then in a few weeks time turn around and teach them to my new students, many of whom who had never spent any time outdoors.  One such skill included making a fire without matches.  During our week-long training our teachers showed us how it was done.  We were given knives and saws to harvest the desert materials necessary.  Making each tool took a great deal of energy, effort, and patience.  I used a branch from a juniper tree with a natural curve to make my bow, while wood from a cottonwood tree provided the raw material for my pencil-shaped spindle and the fire board upon which everything would perch when I was finally finished.  While hiking I found a rock that was porous enough to make a top socket, the key component that would allow my spindle, with the right down-pressure from me, to spin and hopefully create a spark.

Alongside my fellow interns, over the next couple of days I tried my best to make a bow drill fire.  Each time one of my fellow interns created a spark that they then gently blew into a fire, it felt as though I was witnessing a miracle.  However, try as I might to replicate everything I had been taught, I simply couldn't create a spark.  My arms cramped, my spindle spun down to a stub, the cord of my bow snapped, and each time all I got was smoke: no fire.  My fire making failure rocked me to the core.  How on earth was I supposed to teach these teenagers anything if I couldn't master this basic skill that everyone else had gotten before me?  I felt like a fraud and I feared that I would never get it.

I started my internship in earnest, working in the field for the first time with students, without having mastered this skill.  While everyone else, including my students, worked on their own bow drill fires, I avoided my own set by "helping" others.  I helped my students harvest and make their materials and helped them apply down pressure, hand atop hand, until we saw the tiny glowing ember ignite.  I tried to ignore the pit in my stomach that reminded me that I could never do what everyone else around me seemed to do with such ease.  It was a little thing: fire making, but it tore away at my own view of myself and my confidence as an instructor.  Finally, after three weeks working in the field, I was working a double shift during Thanksgiving.  There was a certain camaraderie in the group among both students and leaders as we were all away from our families, surrounded by desert snow, creating an entirely new version of the holiday that we were all missing back home.  At some point, I shared with my students who I had come to care quite a bit about that I had not yet made a fire with my bow drill.  Some of them had been in the program a lot longer than me and were shocked, immediately springing into action.  Without a thought they gathered around me and demanded that I get out my fire set.  For the first time in weeks, I set up my materials as my students talked me through each step.  As usual, my arms hurt from the down pressure and my spindle threatened to spin away out of control, but something happened as my students watched me expectantly.  I understood then that I was not alone, and that if nothing else, if I didn't believe in myself, I could put my faith in them.  I spun the spindle against the fire board far longer than I ever had as they stood by chanting words of encouragement.  Before long smoke began to curl up, and it wasn't much longer when a spark flickered as if by magic.  My heart almost burst from happiness and relief as I carefully blew the spark into a flame, and then a fire.  This experience taught me that sometimes the best lessons grow out of the spaces where we are truly challenged, where the only thing we can do to move forward and grow is have faith.  I will never forget that Thanksgiving in the desert, making my first fire, achieving something I never thought possible.

3.  I will save my praises for my grades and comments for all of you.  But I will say this, all of your memoirs are incredibly powerful!

7D Six Word Memoir 2011 from lacey boland on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Should states ban the sale of shark fins?


For this week's blog post, please read the assigned TeenBiz3000 article: "Shark Fins Off The Table?" about a state's controversial move to ban the sale of shark fins used in the cooking of a traditional Chinese-American soup.  After you read the article, complete the activity and then explain which side of the controversy you support and why.  Should Chinese-Americans have the right to sip shark fin soup?  Explain your answer using relevant details and examples.

As always, make sure to proofread your work for CUPS (Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation, Spelling) before submitting, and make sure to click "Include In Your Answer" on the Thought Question to make sure you've completed all aspects of the assignment.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Seventh graders,

For the past couple of weeks, you have been researching Nicaragua's history, politics, environment, culture, and social and economic challenges.  For this week's blog post, please include a summary of your research below.  Your commentary will be graded as your third and final draft of your research notes, so make sure that it is carefully revised and proofread before publishing.  As you type, be careful to observe typing conventions (spacing between punctuation and capitalization).  Most importantly, show us what you know.

For this week's assignment, please also read and respond to at least one of your classmates' comments.  Tell us what surprised you and what questions still remain for you as you learn about Nicaragua.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thing That Go Bump In The Night


This week's blog prompt is in honor of Halloween.  Choose one of the following prompts below and add your scary story in the comments section.  Try to add sensory details to your stories that will send shivers down the spine of your readers, and provide a beginning, middle, and end!

Story starters courtesy of:

  1. Daylight, dense fog, muffled sound. You go for noon walk anyway. Describe your walk, and what happens when a dark shape suddenly looms before you.
  2. Late at night, flat tire, country road. What do you hear? How do you feel? Do you trust the man who pulls up in a pickup truck?
  3. Children are in bed, you’re reading a book in the living room.  You suddenly feel a prickle of skin – someone is watching you. What happens next?
  4. Turn several lights on in hotel room, put wallet on dresser and use bathroom.  When you come out, wallet is on the bed and two lights are turned off. What do you do? How do you feel?
  5. Dusk, walk through autumn woods with dog, listen to birds. Dog whines. Birds silent. Describe how it feels.  What’s happening?
  6. Strange noises come from abandoned house at end of lane. What do you hear? Do you go in?