Old School (Literally)

My yearbook staff was looking through some old yearbooks when they came across this fly-over picture in the ’86-87 yearbook.

They were amazed to the point that some of them could hardly believe it was the same building.

“That must have been a long, long time ago!” one of them said.

“It hasn’t been that long ago,” I started to say–and then I did the math: It’s been over twenty-five years!

This is what the school looked like when I was in second grade. I guess I must be getting old. 🙂

Anthem Essay Contest

The basic info for the contest is below. Click here to see full contest details.

Eligibility: 8th, 9th and 10th Graders

Entry Deadline: March 20, 2013


Select ONE of the following three topics:

  1. Equality understands that his invention will benefit mankind greatly; however, this was not his main motivation in conducting his experiments, and it is not the primary source of the great joy he experiences. Discuss.
  2. Compare the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden with the story of Equality 7-2521. For what “sins” were each condemned? In what ways are Equality 7-2521 and Adam simi­lar? How do they differ?
  3. Equality reaches the important realization that “To be free, a man must be free of his brothers”. Explain what Equality means by this, citing examples from Anthem.

Death by PowerPoint

Death by PowerPoint is a short presentation that changed the way I think about PowerPoint presentations.Stop putting your students or classmates to sleep and check this out!

If Slideshare is blocked for your network, as it is for students at our high school, you can download the pdf here.

Here are a couple more tutorials you may find helpful:

How to Create a Text Box Overlay in PowerPoint

How to Include Animated Images in PowerPoint



Get a Head Start on Next Year’s Vocabulary!

And now for an announcement that could only be exciting to an English teacher:

Next year’s vocabulary words for the weekly quizzes will come from the Top 1000 Vocabulary List at Vocabulary.com

It is my intention to have vocabulary quizzes in every class next year.

About the List

From Vocabulary.com:

The Top 1,000 Vocabulary words have been carefully chosen to represent difficult but common words that appear in everyday academic and business writing. These words are also the most likely to appear on the SAT, ACT, GRE, and ToEFL.

To create this list, we started with the words that give our users the most trouble and then ranked them by how frequently they appear in our corpus of billions of words from edited sources. If you only have time to study one list of words, this is the list.

Why It’s Better Online

The list being online has several distinct advantages:

First, you will have access to the entire list beginning right now, so if you want to get a head start, you can.

Second, the site is interactive so you can create a free login, take practice quizzes, and monitor your progress. Plus when you get an answer wrong it gives you a detailed explanation of the word’s meaning, how it should be used, etymology, etc.

Third, it is based on a formula that identifies words that are commonly used , but often not known. (See “About the List.”)

How Am I Supposed to Learn 1000 Words?!

The vocabulary words for next year’s lists will be drawn from this list, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be quizzed on all 1000 words the first week. You will be introduced to them in smaller groups of about 25 words a week.

Get Started!

I hope that several of you will take advantage of your summer break to get a head start!

Why Would I Want to Learn These Words Anyway?! (And some bonus!)

That’s an excellent question. I can think of at least a half dozen reasons, but let’s see what you can come up with.

Leave your reason in the comments to this post and if it is a good reason and you are the first one to post it, I’ll give you 5 bonus points!*

Here’s what you’ve said so far:

  • These are words you might see in college or in a future career.
  • Having a small vocabulary might make you seem uneducated.
  • A powerful vocabulary can make you and your writing more memorable.
  • It will improve your reading comprehension.
  • Doing well on the quizzes will help you pass the class.

*Bonus points only for English II, English III, and Creative Writing. Must be posted before final grades are due.

Language Arts Awards, Extended Version

Lindsey & Faith Redux

Last night at the annual academic awards ceremony, I had the opportunity to recognize two of my hardest working students: senior Lindsey Bilyeu and sophomore Faith Wheelock.

As I said last night, Lindsey not only wants to get everything just right, she is willing to put out the effort to make sure it gets done right–even if that means driving me crazy with a hundred questions about an assignment. 😉 She was the only student in my dual credit English class who had an A going into the final.

Faith is just as dedicated. While her classmates typically stick pretty close to the minimum five-sentence requirement for responses, she often turns out paragraphs a full page long. She is always willing to go the extra mile, often volunteering for extra work or taking on tasks that make others groan. And she always does it with a great big smile. 😀

The Extended Version

Teachers are asked to select only 2-3 students to recognize at the award ceremony, but I am very appreciative of all the students who worked hard for me this school year. I would like to take the time to acknowledge a few additional students for their accomplishments:

English II

The English II class is full of hard-working students, but a few of them stand out for their consistently high achievement:  Kallie Bilyeu, Katie Brill, and Zena Hicks.

English III

Chelsie Brill and Mahala Overby are dedicated students in English III and never let me down. They deserve to be recognized for their creativity and effort. However, the high score in the class for the fourth quarter belongs to Kaylee Swindle, who is this year’s most improved student in my classes. Good job, Kaylee!

In addition, Mahala Overby was a finalist for the White River Valley Electric Coop.’s annual essay contest. Her essay was very well crafted, and I was very proud to be her sponsoring teacher.

English IV

All the students in my English IV class deserve to be recognized for their hard work. Over the course of the year they earned six hours of college credit, writing nearly fifty essays of varying length in the process.

Mass Media

In Mass Media, Shannon Lair set an excellent example for incoming staff members, working very hard to make sure we covered events and met deadlines.

Creative Writing

Though many students have shown a lot of growth in their creativity and writing ability throughout the year, senior Jamie Hale was the only student in Creative Writing to end the class with a perfect 100%.

Tech Explore

Starting out the year in Tech Explore, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no training to teach a technology class and wasn’t certified to teach junior high school. At first I found the unfocused energy of the junior high students a bit daunting, but by the end of the year I learned to love tolerate my seventh hour class. 😉  I had a new group of students each quarter and each group had students who stood out academically. I’d like to recognize just a few here:

Best Overall Project: Haley Farris and Katelynn Owens

Techiest Tech Explorer: Drew “The Cow Goes Shazoo” DeWitt

Hardest Workers: Sarah Overby, Kelsey Walker, and Evan Davis

A special thanks goes to my A+ tutor and copilot in the Tech Explore experiment, senior Michael “The Enforcer” Sutcliffe, for providing just the right blend of support and sarcasm.


Chadwick Alumni All-Star Basketball Game

The 1st Annual Chadwick Alumni All-Star Basketball Game was a huge success. The sophomore class raised almost $600, and I think everyone had a great time.

Zach Daugherty and Colton Jones led the red team to a 53-40 victory with 15 and 13 points respectively. Lee Youngman dominated the boards on both ends, and Jessi Little contributed a pair of three pointers.

For the white team, Bub Payne and Patrick Holt contributed 15 and 14 points apiece.

Jansen Billingsly won the 3-point shoot out, nailing three in a row, and Jamie Hale won the free throw contest after a hard fought battle against alumnus Brittany (Bilyeu) Garrison.

On behalf of the Class of 2014, I’d like to thank everyone who was involved, including

  • Kit Grimes for donating money for t-shirts for all the players
  • Tony Rains and Jeff Hampton for refereeing
  • Tonya Rains and Mike Massey for running the clock and keeping score
  • Bub Payne and Jessi Peirce for serving as team captains
  • all the alumni all-stars for putting on a great show
  • Casey’s General Store for cutting us a great deal on pizza
  • and everybody who came out to watch the game!


BACK: Bub Payne, Patrick Holt, Travis Bilyeu, Lee Youngman, Chris Garison, Andrew House, Zach Daugherty, Chris Little, Colten Jones, Dylan Coffer 

FRONT: Ashley Peirce, Brittney Dalton, Shelby Jones, Erika Davis, Jessi Peirce, Courtney Jones, Melissa Goetz, Alysia Youngman


Should school libraries ban The Hunger Games?

“Suzanne Collins’ hit trilogy ranks third on the just-released list of U.S. library books that drew the most complaints last year, according to the American Library Association. The Hunger Games focuses on a 16-year-old girl from a dystopian country who is drafted to fight other teenagers to the death in a government-sponsored reality TV competition. In 2010, The Hunger Games ranked No. 5 on the list, but with the film boosting the trilogy’s profile, complaints have skyrocketed and grown more varied: “Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence,” to name a few. Do these complaints justify the books being removed from library shelves?”

via Should school libraries ban The Hunger Games? – The Week

You can check out a review of the book’s content at CommonSenseMedia.org. They recommend–and I think they are on target here–that the book is appropriate for junior high school and up.

I’m not a fan of censorship in general, but schools who house K-12 libraries (like ours at Chadwick) have some tough decisions to make about which titles should be kept on the shelves and how to keep certain books in the hands of the students for whom they are the most appropriate.

If you’ve read books from this series, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Newspaper Blackout Poetry

Congrats to Riley for winning the blackout poetry contest in English II!

The assignment was inspired by Austin Kleon’s newspaper blackout poems. Essentially, students started with a random newspaper article and then marked out some words, leaving others behind to form a poem. Students from English III served as the contest judges.

Here’s Riley’s poem:



my friend

it was


breaking loose

far away


feeling close to

the earth


I am all for