Language Arts Fun

Today, in the middle school Language Arts classes, we decided to do the #mannequinchallenge, except writing style! (The mannequin challenge is just as it sounds: a video of a group of people frozen in an action.)

6th Grade Mannequin Challenge

7th and 8th Grade Mannequin Challenge

In the middle school, we are working to edit, revise, and polish the students’ personal narratives. I always enjoy reading student narratives as each gives me new perspective into my students.

I am so thankful to get the opportunity to be a teacher, and the students of The Summit are each a blessing to me. Happy Thanksgiving to each of your families.

Mrs. Maddox

What’s going on in Language Arts?

I cannot believe that it is almost November, but based on the date on my calendar, there isn’t much denying that fact. I just wanted to take a few minutes and check-in with parents to give you a quick overview of what we are working on in Language Arts.

6th Grade:

  • We are establishing a routine for our spelling and vocabulary list. Our words are on a two week schedule which should give students plenty of time to practice and prepare. In class, we will do practice activities every Monday, but it would be greatly beneficial for students to practice outside of class. The test for the current list is this Thursday.
  • Writing: Along with their journaling, we worked on effective paragraphing and practical editing skills. We even had the opportunity to pair with the fifth grade and utilize our editing skills to help the fifth graders edit and revise their explorer essays.
  • Reading: Although we will continue to read a variety of texts over this school year, we will having book discussions over a class book each month. The 6th graders are starting out with The Giver, and we will be having our first book discussion tomorrow. Students will be responsible for completing their reading outside of class; that being said, the 6th grade does have some built in reading time as we have 30 minutes after lunch, two days a week that is not part of the daily Language Arts instruction.

7th/8th Grade:

  • Writing: We are working to see writing as a process and acknowledge the need to edit and revise. As a class, we discussed the qualities of a rich, effective paragraph and discussed the importance of providing examples and explanation within each paragraph. The students utilized highlighting in order to evaluate the structure of their paragraphs, as well as looking at word frequency to aid in our revision process. Next, we will be utilizing our effective paragraphing in three-point essays.
  • Reading and Analysis: Last week, we reviewed plot structure and its purpose in a story. Why do we need to understand it? What purpose does it serve? In order to gauge students’ understanding of plot, the students prepared a story from their own experience that followed the traditional plot structure. Students provided feedback to their peers as they practiced. On the day the students presented, Mr. Gronniger joined us and even felt inspired to share his own story. The students provided him with feedback and analyzed the structure of his story. Starting next Tuesday, we will be having book discussions. Students will need to be in charge of completing their reading outside of class time. Our first book is What Elephants Know, and students will need to have read Part I in time for next Tuesday’s discussion.
  • Vocabulary: We have started bi-weekly vocabulary words. I will introduce new words on the first Monday. We will practice and do activities for retention on the second Monday. Then at the end of the second week, Thursdays most weeks, we will have a vocabulary quiz. Students should be reviewing these words outside of class. If the only practice they have is in class, their long-term retention will suffer.

9th Grade:

  • We are wrapping up our short story project. Each student became the expert on one story, the author of that story, and the historical context in which the story was written. The students presented their story and lead the discussion. The students did a phenomenal job breaking down each story and making connections between the story and the historical/biographical information.
  • Students have just been assigned an essay where he/she will compare/contrast/analyze components from two of the short stories. Students should be working on their drafts, and I will conference with each student to take an in depth look at the structure, content, and analysis.
  • We will be moving on to To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. We will move through T.K.A.M. rather quickly as many of my students have read it before, but I am a firm believer that some books are meant to be read more than once. Also, I see something new every time I read this book. It will be fun to take a look at it with this group. As we read Go Set a Watchman, we will gather in current events as well as historical events to add further value to our discussion.

11th/12th Grade:

  • We have finished Beowulf. Each student lead the discussion of a selection; the students did a fine job helping to select important passages, analyzing the events and words of the characters, and engaging in high quality discussion.
  • Rhetorical analysis is a form of writing where the writing analyzes the effect of the authors words to convey meaning. This form is used extensively in A.P. Language and A.P. Literature; when they go on to college, many of their peers will have experience in this form of writing., so our goal is to practice and develop this skill. Each student developed their own topic for their rhetorical analysis of Beowulf, and I am working with the students to revise and edit.
  • It is my goal to help each student grow as a writer. The ability to critically look at your own writing and be able to change it, constructively consider its effect, and shape it further is a skill that will pay off considerably in college. As the students in the upper grades have less time with me, I have dedicated extra time to working one on one with each of them: modeling and practicing the art of revision and editing.

Thank you for all for your support! Please feel free to contact me with questions or even if you just want to check in on your students progress.

6th through 8th Grade Reader’s Discussion

In 6th and 7th/8th grade, we have been looking at the interplay of characters and conflict in the plot of a story. Last week, students wrote a scene for a character which they based on an assigned classmate. This week, we have specifically looked at conflict. We discussed the transition from the terminology “man vs. man conflict” to the terminology “ego vs. ego conflict.” Why is this significant? How does it better reflect conflict in a plot line?


The students will be taking control of the discussion tomorrow, Friday September 23; we will discuss the conflict, resolution, and character development of “A Retrieved Reformation.” In order to be prepared for their conversation, the middle school students will need to have finished reading the story outside of class.

Also, your students are writing almost daily in their Writer’s Notebooks. Their notebooks are an opportunity for the students to write about a broad range of topics. I collect them periodically to read and provide feedback. I will use my feedback to challenge the students to think deeper or develop something that was going well. In the next few weeks, I will be working one on one with each of my student writer’s to look critically at a piece of writing of their choice.

As I have read and responded to their Writer’s Notebook for the first time, I have a better view of their grammar/usage needs. I will utilize mini-lesson and one-on-one conferences to refine their skills. I have determined the skills at the top of my list for the middle school students: variety of sentence structure, run-on and fragment sentences, and when to use a comma with a conjunction. We will work on these through their writing over the coming weeks.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I will provide the link for the story below. A) Your student needs to be ready to discuss tomorrow. B) Feel free to read the story yourself. I love discussing the choices that Jimmy/Ralph makes and find the twist ending very satisfying.

“A Retrieved Reformation”

The Work of a Reader

In Language Arts this week, I have been working with the students to dig into the meaning of what they are reading. Each class has found some way to break down the text and work backwards from our inferences to find text evidence.

Faithfully, I have been updating the embedded documents with the daily agenda for each class.  You can find the specifics of their assignments and even helpful information to guide their work. (Helpful Hint for 7th/8th graders: I provided a small excerpt of a bad example and a better example of what their interview scene might look like. Of course, my sample is not long enough, but it is long enough that you can realize what qualities I want in the writing.)


The Juniors and Seniors worked to break down the first section of Beowulf. We wrote on a copy of the text defining words, adding our thoughts, and digging into the Old English text. The students also practiced breaking down and creating kennings. Each of them created their own, and some of the students wrote a poem using their kennings. It was fun to see those objects through the lense of their kennings.

The Freshman have been reading The Outsiders and breaking down the actions of the characters in order to better understand the theme of the novel and the thoughts of the author. Today, we took some time to update our character descriptions and discuss the connections between the characters.


I am the worst at remembering to get my camera out and take pictures while the work is going on in class! Truly, I get wrapped up in the discussion and process, but I will try to get better about this.

Final thoughts:

  1. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students all have a writing assignment that they should be working on! Further information on those assignments may be found in their respective grade level document.
  2. The high school students are preparing for discussion through their reading.
  3. Summit students make Language Arts so much fun! I love getting to talk about reading and writing with them because they are thinkers; when someone is willing to think about what they have read, that can bring on some wonderful discussion and discoveries. Thank you for sharing your students with me.


Young Writers at Work

e2faf782bcece3ebf9ecf8aa65b94f3dDuring the first weeks of class, I am working to establish an understanding of my students’ abilities as writers and readers. We’ve read some intriguing stories; I hope they have shared some of them with you. In writing, the students have utilized a variety of prompts: responding to literature, quick writes, writing territories journal topics, inspiration from mentor texts. To go along with their writing, we have been sharing our drafts in order to create a community of writers who honor each others’ craft.

As adolescents, students are constantly developing his/her own perception of self. In my years as a teacher, I have heard many students say, “I am not a writer, Mrs. Maddox.”

My goal is to create the culture in Language Arts that EVERYONE is a writer. All you have to do to be a writer is write. As the students write, they will build their individual confidence and recognize that writing is a process that can be a fun challenge. From the students’ confidence will come the courage to evaluate critically the writing and grow into stronger writers.


Please check out your students grade level page for Language Arts.

6th grade:

7th grade:

High School:

On each of these pages, you will find a document that has an agenda for each day I meet with that class. The students are practicing their note-taking skills to keep an agenda for the class. After class, I check their notes and add any additional information necessary.


Please communicate with me if you are having difficulty finding your students information. There are so many great things going on in English class! Follow the link, read all about it, and then feel free to ask your students about their experiences.

Grade Level Information

We’re on day five of the school, and I feel like I have learned quite a bit about my students. One of the things that they all seem to really enjoy is solving riddles. If I need to calm them down, a riddle is a sure way to go!

Here is one, just for fun.

A cowboy rode into town on Friday.  He stayed in town for three days and rode out on Friday.  How was that possible?

(I’ll post the answer tomorrow.)

If you have not read through the main page on your students respective Language Arts grade level webpage, I want to share again that there is an embedded document on that page where the classes will be keeping information about each class session.

We have distinguished five areas that we will gather information each day.

  • Agenda (General outline of what we accomplished in class)
  • Documents (Links to the text and any documents provided by Mrs. Maddox)
  • Resources (The slide presentation for class and any online resources that would be helpful)
  • Reminders (Due dates, upcoming events, etc.)
  • Questions (This space will be left blank during class, but students may access the document and ask questions that crop up outside of class.

I will post on the main blog periodically when it benefits the upper school as a whole, but for grade-level specific information, look for the embedded document as it will be updated every day that the students meet for Language Arts (or as we have been calling it, Language smArts).

As always, if you have questions or concerns, I am more than happy to connect with you. I try to be out in the pick-up line every afternoon, and I am available via email and phone. Have a great Wednesday!

The First Day

Today was a whirlwind!

It was so fun to FINALLY get to put into action all the anticipation and planning that we have been pouring into this school year. So many hours have been dedicated to making this year awesome, but now we are finally moving forward.

Students in each of the grade levels spent time in “Language (sm)Arts” today. As we move into the year, the students will take on the job of recording the happenings of class each day, but I’ll give you the run-down until we can implement that classroom habit.

All classes:

  • Learned a little about Mrs. Maddox
  • Each student shared about their interests and ideas.
  • Went over the Mrs. Maddox’s classroom expectations
  • We discussed the power of words.

6th grade:

  • Discussed the idea of identity and the positive and negative effect of words.
  • Students were given a choice of two writing prompts: Poem – “Hello, my name is…” or “The History of my Name”

7th/8th Grade:

  • Watched Maya Angelou share her thoughts on the “Power of Words”
  • Discussed our thoughts and opinions on her words.
  • Students were given a choice of two writing prompts: Poem – “Hello, my name is…” or “The History of my Name”

High School:

  • Watched Maya Angelou share her thoughts on the “Power of Words”
  • Discussion and analysis of “Power of Words.”
  • The discussion led to a quick mini-lesson on connotation/denotation, amelioration/pejoration of words.
  • Students were given the choice of two prompts: Share a time in your life where the words that were spoken or written had a profound influence on your life. Explore the effects, consequences, results of the words. Consider the root. OR Write your philosophy of words. Take a stance, as Maya Angelou did, and develop your thoughts on the role of words in life. Feel free to dig deeper and think wider.
  • I started conferencing with students on goals, reading lists, and independent interests related to writing and reading.

Students from 6th grade through 12th grade carried themselves well, treated others with kindness, and participated in the learning. The caption on my presentation today read, “Day One: So much pressure!” I have high expectations of each of my students, and even though I felt a lot of pressure to make things just right today, the students made the day great–relieving some of that pressure.

Please feel free to email or call if you have any questions. (Hopefully, I will get in the habit of documenting the students in their learning; that would help brighten my posts.) I will leave this picture as my final remark.

What I love most about my CLASSROOM is who I share it with it - teacher gift, 11" x 11" wood sign, classroom wall decor

Goodnight and good grammar.

Mrs. Maddox


Hello, students and parents.


Here are a few tips for navigating the Language Arts page.

  1. Utilize the menu to get to the information for your class.
  2. The main page for each grade will display the daily agenda and notes. This will be updated on a daily basis by a member of class.
    1. Students and parents may consult this information in case of absences or for review.
    2. Students may record questions and ideas in this document for our next class meeting. This will provide direction for class for the next day.
    3. When we finish a unit of study, I will archive the log and start a fresh document. The archived daily agenda logs will be placed on the Course Documents page for that grade level.
  3. The blog is simple but very student centered. It will grow and deepen over time. Students will learn how to record the events of the class period, as well as the resources and links that support the learning and discussion for the day.

I am a firm believer in making things useful and manageable. I don’t want to create something that I can’t maintain. Likewise, I don’t want to spend valuable time to create something that isn’t useful. By having the students take charge of recording the daily agenda for class, they are gaining organizational skills and taking charge of their learning. That independence will prove valuable later in life!