No More He Said, She Said

As we  continue to work on your stories, I am noticing that many of you are only using the world SAID when you write dialogue. This can get really boring quickly for both you and your readers. I wanted to share with you some resources to help you find new words to use instead.

There are many sites on the Internet with lists of alternatives to using the word SAID. You can start here or here, or just google the phrase “Alternatives to Said” and see what you find.

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I have taken many of these words and put them on the wall in the classroom as well, but if you want a shortcut you can always print this list out for your room.

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Looking forward to reading your exciting new dialogue!

Grade 8 Assessment Overview- Power of Words

In order to save trees and become as paperless as we can, I will be posting your Assessment Overviews here on the blog. You can read it below, print it if you need it, or download it to your computer.

Grade 8 ESL Cover Sheet- Power of Words Copy

They will all be stored under the Category Assessment Overview 6, 7, or 8 depending on which grade you are in.

Grade 6 and 7 Unit Overview- Spoken Words

In order to save trees and become as paperless as we can, I will be posting your Assessment Overviews here on the blog. You can read it below, print it if you need it, or download it to your computer.

Grade 6 ESL Cover Sheet- Spoken Words

They will all be stored under the Category Assessment Overview 6, 7, or 8 depending on which grade you are in.


Hello Grade 8s!

Now that you have completed the tasks I asked you to complete, let’s think about words, advertising, and persuasion.

I know you have been talking about these ideas in Language A, so feel free to use what you have learned in your English class to further explore persuasion.

In class you were asked to think about some Ads that you feel “work.” Ads that you connect with and understand. Ads that make you want to buy what they are selling. You shared why you chose those ads. You also made a list of words these ads used that helped make them more persuasive.
You created a word bank of language. You grouped the words into themes and categories: Happy, Sad, etc…Now find an image that matches a group of words. Create a slide that matches the words with the image.

Why Do We Tell Stories?

Hello everyone! I am still  in Shanghai, but I want  for you to start thinking about our upcoming unit. This post is for grades six and seven. Today in class you discussed what makes stories great. You heard a few exciting stories and some others that were a bit dull. You thought about what made the stories fun and what made them boring.

Now watch this video about story telling:

I want you to think about why  we tell stories.
Write a thoughtful paragraph about everything you have been thinking about in class. Use the questions below to guide your writing:

You shared some of your favorite fairy tales, stories from your culture, or movies. Think about:

Why do you like them?
Which ones does everybody know?
What is it about these stories that make them so fun to listen to?

Please cut and paste your paragraph and leave it as a comment on this post. If you are having trouble adding a comment, please email me or ask a friend.

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to you, my new students in Jakarta. It has taken a long time to get these classes finalized and sorted, and now that we have done that, I have up and flown to Shanghai. I am sorry for that. Please watch the video below to hear my explanation:

Fear not, I have several tasks I would like you to complete before I return, so let’s take a group breath and get to work.

1. The first thing I would like you to do is set up a Gmail account. You can get started by clicking here or just goggle Gmail. I hope you can figure it out on your own. If you are having problems you can watch this video.

2. Once you have done that, please email me your new address to I will create a group for you and send you a quick response.

3. After you have done that, see if you can leave a comment on this blog. Simply click to the bottom of this post and click on comment. Leave a line or two that says hello. Use your first name only and which class you are in! Tell us about what you like to do in your free time.

4. I am sure many of you use Facebook! I would love to be able to send you information about our class, but to do so you have to like” my page. Don’t worry I won’t see your profile and you won’t see mine. You will just receive class updates and other cool things in your feed. Click here.

5. Please follow this link to take a survey on technology.

That should keep you busy for a few sessions. If you have any problems please, ask the teacher in the room, your classmates or  email me at and I will help you sort things out. There will be new tasks soon, so please stay tuned here at Community of Learners.

Oh Me! Oh Life!

Dear Compass Students,

I am at home alone with soft music playing as I think of the year we just completed. This time of year is always an uncomfortable mixture of excitement and sadness. It doesn’t help that I may never see many of you again. Separation and moving on is the nature of this game I suppose. We dance in and out of each other’s lives and hopefully we will leave behind something memorable.

Looking back on our year there is no doubt in mind  that you have been a special group. The whole idea of a tiny pioneer school was very exciting and important to me. You have made it memorable.  I want to say thank you for working so hard and being so motivated. There were many times when you could have complained, but instead you carried on.

I know I tend to dwell on the doom and gloom. It may appear that I only see the worst in people. Our class discussions tended to focus on the morbid and the problems of the world. I must not have painted a pretty picture of your world or your future. I am sorry for this. I focused on the global issues you face because we need your help to start turning things around. Business as usual is leading us down a very dark path, and I for one am ready to turn around. This sense of disaster, however, is not the taste I have wanted to leave in your mouth. I wanted to show you the ugly, so you could appreciate the beautiful. The world is an astounding place. It is filled such wonder that you have not even begun to experience  yet. You may not be able to contemplate this wonder at your age yet, but someday you will be have a moment of utter joy, I hope you will be able to look back at this time in your life and remember the things I taught you. All those long afternoons discussing community, identity, and love. The role of the individual, the common good, teh power of a garden. The power of art. The power of you!

I know it feels like we may have abandoned this blog, but there is no reason why we can’t stay in touch in this space. I would love to read your writing and have you read mine. I will continue to use this blog with my students next year, and I hope we can use it as a way to communicate with each other.  Drop by now and then to see what we are doing. If you continue to write I will do the same. I promise.

If you haven’t done so already you can also join the Facebook fan page for updates. Try to make that a two way line of communication. Send me notes, links, photos. I am not done teaching you yet. I hope you are not done learning. With the Internet and the tools I have taught you to use, there is no reason why we cannot continue to learn from each other for years into the future.

Thank you for a great year and remember that words and ideas can change the world.

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;  Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;

The Question: O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;  That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

What will your verse be…