Weak or Strong: You decide!

Hi 8th graders,

According to LeBeau, Harrington, Lubetsky (2000), a strong reason in a debate has the following qualities:

  • it logically supports the opinion.
  • it is specific and states the idea clearly.
  • it is convincing to a majority of people.

Instructions for your homework (Halley’s class):

  1. Read the reasons for the resolution below.
  2. Judge the strength or weakness of each reason based on the criteria from LeBeau, Harrington, Lubetsky (2000).
  3. For each reason, complete the sentence frame below.
  4. Email me what you think is your best sentence (your best defense of your opinion). 

Resolution: Smoking should be banned in public places because…

  • it is bad.
  • it gives people bad breath and makes their teeth yellow.
  • secondhand smoke is harmful for nonsmokers.

Respected classmates, ______________ is a weak/strong reason for this resolution because ______________________________.

“An Origin Story” Analysis

Dear 8th graders,

Welcome back from Spring Break! For tonight’s homework you need to do three things (steps 2 and 3 are below the video):

  1. Watch “An Origin Story” by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye (video is posted below steps 2 and 3)
  2. Using brackets on your paper copy, identify which parts of the poem have a serious tone and which have a funny tone ( [ = serious and { = funny).
  3. Explain how the poets demonstrated the different tones at different places – physical movements? Eye contact? Tone of voice? Abrupt changes? Something else?

We will use your annotated poems in class tomorrow. Please contact me with any questions!


Apology Letter

Dear 7th graders,

Making a bad choice does not define who we are as individuals; it is our actions afterwards that demonstrate our true character.

In order to grow, you need to acknowledge the mistakes you have made. This apology letter is an opportunity to reflect on your choices, grow in your moral development, and build the courage to act for the common good.

Please review the assignment sheet for the Formal Apology Letter. After you have written and reviewed your apology letter, make sure your parents read and sign it.

Your letter is due on Thursday, March 29th, 2018. It is worth 10 points in Language Arts.

Please contact Ms. Rzegocki with any questions.


Ms. Rzegocki and Mr. Tice


The Sandwich Swap Read Aloud

Remember to include the following in your assignment:

  1. Write a one-sentence summary of The Sandwich Swap.
  2. Rough draft three theme statements from The Sandwich Swap with your strongest theme circled.
  3. Re-write a clean copy of your theme (without “The author believes that…”).
  4. Write a specific piece of text evidence from the story that supports your theme AND explain how the evidence supports your theme. (Repeat 3 times)

Have fun!

Themes in Calvin Can’t Fly

Dear 7th graders,

Looking for specific text evidence to support your theme from Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie? Look no further! Watch the read aloud below:

Remember, you need to include the following elements in your homework:

  • SummaryOne sentence summary of Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie
  • ThemeOne sentence theme that you pulled out of the source material
  • Three pieces of specific textual evidence to support your theme. After each piece, explain how your chosen evidence supports your theme (“This evidence supports my theme because…”).

This is due Friday, January 26th, 2018.

Video for “The Highwayman”

Hey 7th Graders,

Watch the animated version of “The Highwayman” below, and then answer the questions in the comment box below.  This is due Friday, December 15th, 2016.

Answer the following questions in the comment box below:

  • How do the illustrations add to the meaning or mood of the poem?  
  • Why do you think the artist chose this style of art (flowing, dreamy, less defined) rather than more precise images?  
  • Is there anything you would have changed about this vision of the poem?

“Let Me In”

Hello 8th grade,

Please review the video “Let Me In” and answer the following questions in complete sentences using evidence to support your position:

Is this a powerful short story? Why or why not? 

Problem solving! Technology! Greek roots! And more!

Dear 7th and 8th graders (and anyone else in grades 6 through 12),

Are you looking for something to do during the holiday weekend in November? Do you want to solve some real world problems using technology, creative problem solving, and your friends? Do you want free food?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of the questions above, you should check out the 3rd Annual Techathon presented by TeenTechWA. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, flex your intellectual muscles, and grow as an individual. And, there’s free food!

The event is free and takes place on November 10th, 2017. Please visit the link above for more information and to register.

The Lottery

Hi 8th graders,

If you need to review the story or the film of “The Lottery” while writing your analysis, look no further! Remember to include a full heading and follow the “No Excuses” list for a word-processed assignment. This is due tomorrow morning, Thursday, October 12, 2017, before you leave for your field trip.

You can download your own copy of the story here and the film version is just below:

Washington State Trip Homework

Dear parents and guardians of St. John School 7th graders,

Yes, it’s true – I have assigned parent homework! I promise both parts are simple and straightforward; fill out and return the trip registration form and complete a short survey towards the bottom of this post. There is even a prize for completing your work!

If you have lost, or never received, any forms or informational packets regarding the trip, you will find a list of links for all available forms and information at the bottom of this post.

Part 1: Registration Form

At Curriculum Night, I introduced the Washington State History Trip and gave you the registration forms to take home and complete. If you were not at Curriculum Night or you have misplaced the forms, you can download a brand new copy of the registration form here.

Completed registration forms and a $50 deposit (online or with form) are due on Thursday, October 12, 2017. That is this coming Thursday.

If you are concerned about the cost of the trip, please contact me (grzegocki@st-johnschool.org) for more information,

Part 2: Complete the short (3 question) survey!

Please complete the short, three-question survey below and then hit the submit button. The survey needs to be completed by Friday, October 13, 2017. Read below for more info, or skip right to the survey!

This is an amazing trip and we will be taking 5 lucky parents with us! You’re all reasonable people, so you might be wondering, “How lucky can I be if I’m rolling around Washington state with over 50 middle school students for 4 days and 3 nights?” After you read the itinerary, review the presentation from Curriculum Night, and chat with chaperones from last year’s trip, you will know the definitive answer: incredibly lucky.

By now, I know you are all desperate to secure your space on the team. Great news – the first step is to fill out the short, 3 question survey below. Please know that chaperones have a prorated cost for the trip.

Whether you are interested or not, we still ask that you complete the survey so we know that everyone is aware of this fabulous opportunity. Also, candy prizes will be handed out at Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences to all the parents who complete the survey by this Thursday, October 12, 2017.

Chaperones for 2018 Washington State History Trip

All available forms and information for 2018 WA State History Trip:

Registration and Payment information

2018 Trip Registration Form

2018 Trip Itinerary

Informational presentation from Curriculum Night (with pictures!)