Mr. Jeff Port
Subject: Principles of Language Arts
School Phone: (440) 572-7070
Voice Mail/Homework: (440) 268-5956
Hello students and parents.
This first section of my web page is where you'll usually find information about subjects we're currently studying, projects we're working on, or important events our team or our whole school is engaged in. The content of other sections will be rather obvious from the headings. I try to keep things updated so the site will be useful to you at home, so check in fairly often to see what's going on. I post almost all the handouts or assignment sheets I give to students in class, so if you forget something at school, you'll most likely be able to print it out at home, or at least figure out what you need to do to complete the assignment.
Take a little time to explore. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to fire off an email to me at email@example.com. I'll see you when I see you--hopefully sometime soon!
WHAT DO WE DO IN LANGUAGE ARTS?
"Language Arts" is an all-inclusive term for everything having to do with the English language--well, almost everything. This year we'll be focusing on the major strands of English that are included in the State of Ohio curriculum for grade 7, including Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Research, and Communication.
Instead of a single English class, there are two classes, called Principles of Language Arts (taught by Mr. Port) and Integrated Language Arts (taught by Mrs. Randall).
First of all, we're excited about the change. As Language Arts teachers, why wouldn't we be? Students will receive twice the instructional time in English, which means that we'll have much more time to focus on the essential skills of reading and writing, while also being able to develop and enrich areas that, in the past, we were barely able to introduce. We believe this change in instructional delivery will help students to develop strong reading and writing skills that will help them to succeed across the curriculum.
Just a word or two, then, about the "division of labor" between the classes. Your son or daughter will receive a separate and distinct grade for the work he or she does in each class. Both classes will take an approach that blends the different elements of English, so one course will not be primarily a "reading" class, or the other mostly "writing." Mrs. Randall and I will be working together to teach the skills and content in the best possible way to promote the greatest possible learning. The honors section of English on the Trailblazers is in the Principles of Language Arts course taught by Mr. Port, but all of the honors students also have Mrs. Randall for a regular (non-honors) section of Integrated Language Arts.
Research shows that there is a very strong link between reading and writing. That is, those people who read more tend to be better writers than those who don't. The message, then, is to read, Read, READ! We'll be working on strategies and skills to improve our reading, in both Language Arts classes.
"Oh, for a book
and a shady nook,
indoors or out."
Parents: keep encouraging your children to read. If they're reluctant, start with material of high interest, then introduce them to new material from time to time that you think will be a challenge, but not too difficult.
Better yet--get out your student's favorite book, or yours, and read it aloud with him or her, a little at a time in the evenings or whenever you have time. It may seem awkward at first, but it will get better, and both of you may start to look forward to your "reading time." Remember those times when your kids were little and you read to them at bedtime? Well, kids are never too old to be read to, and you'll be modeling good reading at the same time that you're enjoying time with your son or daughter. Try it out, and email or call to let me know how it's going! Have fun.
|CURRENT ASSIGNMENTS |
As we read works of literature this year, we'll be focusing on important building blocks of stories. We'll be using these elements of fiction to frame our discussions, our writing, and our notes for the stories. Below are some of these elements: can you define them and give examples of each one from our current reading ?
man (woman) vs.
point of view
Short Story Notetaking Template (for you to use to take notes on the stories)
Plot Diagram Template (a basic plot diagram for you to use to keep track of the story events)
Plot Diagram with Conflict Boxes (this one has boxes in which to write the conflicts, and lines for events)
|Do Hard Things Project|
About five years ago, twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris published a book when they were just 19 years old! It's called Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. We've been using some excerpts from their book to help us consider the effects that low expectations can have on teens, including boredom, complacency, and even more serious consequences like low self-esteem and being unprepared to handle difficult tasks and events later on
Together we considered some remarkable teens from the past. There was George, who, at 17, was the surveyor of the previously uncharted land covering an entire county in northern Virginia; David, who went into service on an American warship at 11 and was given command of a captured British warship when he was 12; and Clara, who, when she was 11, nursed her brother back to health over a two-year stretch after he had fallen from a barn roof, then served as the nurse for much of her New England town when they contracted small pox. (Ask your son or daughter who these amazing kids were, and how they ended up, or get a copy of Do Hard Things and see for yourself on pp. 31-32 and 54-6 (Multnomah, 2008).)
Ask your son or daughter about some of the challenging and inspiring "hard things" that we discovered some much more modern teenagers are doing with their time these days. And then ask him or her about the "hard thing" which he or she is planning to do for our own "Do Hard Things" Project during the next few months. I've already been inspired by many of their thoughtful and lofty goals and projects, and I bet you will be, too!
|My Everest Story|
In our period 12 class, we're reading a very well-written nonfiction book in which a young man tells the story of his quest to climb some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest, before he's even 15 years old!
As we read, we're filling out a two-sided chart. On one side should be the heading "What Mark is Learning/Has Learned;" on the other should be "What I am Learning/Have Learned." These charts can include climbing skills, communication skills, things about himself/yourself, cultural knowledge, and a whole lot more.
This book has the potential to open a whole new world to us! Enjoy!
This year on the Trailblazers team, vocabulary lessons will come from one of two sources: 1) the stories or selections that we are reading in one of the language arts classes, or 2) the Word Wisdom vocabulary workbook which students have purchased as part of the student fees.
For each new lesson, the words we are studying will be posted here on the web page. Be sure to know how to spell the words, as well as how to use them in your own speech and writing. And, don't forget: after each lesson we'll have a Celebration of Learning in order to celebrate all that we've been able to learn about the vocabulary (treats are optional but welcome).
|"THE PIECES OF MY PUZZLING LIFE" WRITING PROJECT|
Over the course of this year, the Trailblazers students will be completing a writing project comprised of 15 assignments covering a wide range of situations, topics, and styles. Below you'll find a link to the assignment log for the project, with a list of the assignments. Don't worry if you don't know what they mean; we'll introduce them one at a time throughout the year.
Right now, we're working on assignment 12 Unbelievable!
If you click on the following link, it should take you to the Pieces of My Puzzling Life page, where you can find all of the individual assignments, as they're assigned.
|ABOUT THE TEACHER |
I have a B.A. in English from Wheaton College, and an M.A. in English Language and Literature from Ohio University. This is my 25th year teaching Language Arts at Albion, but that's all academic. When I'm not teaching, you could probably find me coaching--either 8th grade football or 7th grade girls basketball at Albion, or varsity track at a school outside of Strongsville. You might find me camping or backpacking in the summertime, or working on a deck, or putting siding on someone's house, or running (well, jogging) around the streets of Parma, where I live, or working at a family camp in upstate New York (where I spent the, past three summers).
I would like you to find me hiking on a mountain in Colorado, or canoeing on a lake in the Adirondacks, or lounging in a comfortable chair with a good book. Wherever or whenever you find me, stop and say "hey"--I'd love to talk with you!