I teach 8th grade language arts in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I have survived twenty years of teaching, National Board certification, marriage, motherhood, and grandmotherhood. I love them all. This is a place for thoughts about books, writing, and life. Feel free to drop your thinking here.


6 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hey – I love your post about opinion journals – it has inspired me to do this with my 8th graders this year. I have just one question – do you use one set of opinion journals with all your classes – or do you use one set per class? Thanks so much! -deb

    1. I use just one set. I didn’t do this as a daily assignment – I pulled them out occasionally. This one set was used from year to year. They only write paragraphs, some longer than others, so really would you need that many? And they don’t each use a new page; we filled in each page by skipping a line or two after signatures/dates. I suggest you start with one set and see how long they last. I suspect if you use them too often, the kids will get tired of them. I would not plan to use them every week.

  2. I love the post on opinion journals and vocabulary. Can you please email a list of all the subjects or topics you placed on the individual opinion notebooks? Also if I chose to use the opinion journals bi weekly and pass them out randomly, how do you handle if a student gets the same journal two times in a row. My 6 th graders may say , “ I wrote in this journal last time”. Lastly do you ever read the opinion journals or how do you ensure that students wrote a response? Some students may just read others responses and not write . Is this acceptable in your classroom?

    1. I don’t have a list and I tossed the journals when I cleaned out my room, so I just went with my memory in a couple of previous replies. Really, anything works for a topic. Think about your sixth graders – what do they have opinions about? I wouldn’t use sex with them, but any of the others I listed would work. Maybe not driver’s licenses. Google a list of persuasive writing prompts and steal some of those topics for your journals.

      If the student has already written in one, they could surely switch with someone else. I had more journals than students, so I just substituted one not in use that day.

      I watch them. I walk around the room. peeking over their shoulders. Some hand me one to read. You could call on students randomly or by volunteering to share theirs aloud. This was such a fun activity that I didn’t have non-participation. Make it fun – not a serious writing assignment. They will play along.

  3. This is what I wrote to someone else who asked for a list of topics. Hope this helps a little.Gosh. I will try to remember some…shoes (boys love writing about their shoes), pets, embarrassed by…, summer, holidays, sleep, parents, love, the future, dance, friends, family, teachers, dating age, driving, books, movies, proud of…, rules, video games, scared of…, grades, clothes. Most are really broad topics. I want them to wander wherever their brains want to. I stay away from some hot button issues because I’m a big chicken. This writing is ungraded and intended for THEM to read, not me. If I have guns or rape or suicide, I would have to read them to see if there was anything I was required to report. If you are the cool teacher where current news is talked about a lot, you might go with some of the news. How about ‘in the news’? Pet peeves might be a fun one. Yes, for sure I would add both of those. Probably take out movies. Not books. ALWAYS books!

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