Grade 7: Novel Study Update

Today we had another fantastic discussion with the Grade 7 students. It’s time for us to “begin with the end in mind” and prepare for our future English classes.

Upcoming Schedule:

  1. Read Ch.8 & Ch. 9 by Monday 4/20 (yes…you need to continue reading over the break)
  2. Read Ch. 10 by Wednesday 4/22
  3. Read Ch. 11 & Ch. 12 (finish the book) by Monday 4/27
  4. Complete Character Web Assignment by Friday 5/1

Grades 6-8: Intro to Public Speaking

Today we will discuss public speaking! We will review the different types of speeches (informative, entertaining, and persuasive). Students will receive more information about public speaking (due dates, check-in dates, etc.) after Passover.

Click the links below to access our first public speaking sources:

Intro to Public Speaking Slideshow

PS Topic Brainstorming Graphic Organizer

Task: Students will complete their Brainstorming Graphic Organizer by 4/20 

        • The students must brainstorm 2-5 topics and decide the purpose of their speech for each topic. 

Grade 6: Understanding Theme

As we continue to work on our Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project, our class is focusing on diving deeper into various literary elements that appear in novels. Last week we discussed characterization (direct & indirect), mood, and theme.

Today we are going to continue to explore theme identification. We will complete the first example together as a class. Then students will have time to complete the last two examples independently.

Click here to access the assignment: Identifying the Theme Practice

When trying to identify the theme of a story or novel think about the following:

  • What life lesson/idea is the author trying to teach the reader?
  • How can this lesson/idea from the “small world of the story” be applied to the “real world”?
          • Think about the big picture
  • The theme is not going to be stated directly
          • You will need to make an inference (read between the lines)

Grades 6-8: You Can’t Apparate Out of this Digital Escape Room

Welcome to all wizards, muggles, trolls, and goblins! The Triwizard Tournament might be over, but today competition awaits middle school students at OJCS. A muggle librarian named Sydney Krawiec from McMurray, PA (Pennsylvania) created this adventure. You may keep your wand at the ready, but wait for Professor Washerstein to send you own your way. Which student will emerge victorious from each house (grade) at OJCS? Even Professor Trelawney can’t predict that!

Please do not access the link to this activity prior to receiving the official “Go” in class. 

Click the link below to access a unique journey:

Hogwarts Digital Escape Room

When you have escaped, please report back to the Google Meet to log your time with Professor Washerstein. He will be timing each student as they complete their journey. 

This new online escape room is basically a Harry-Potter themed ...


Grade 7: Outsiders Update

Welcome back to another week of online learning. I have been thoroughly impressed during our novel study discussions thus far. I enjoy hearing the opinions and insight that each member of our classroom community has to offer during these chats.

Please review the following due dates:

  1. First ReadWorks Assignment (Monday 3/30)
  2. Ch. 6 of The Outsiders must be read before class on Tuesday (3/31)
  3. Ch. 7 of The Outsiders must be read before class on Thursday (4/2)
  4. You should be continually working on the Character Web Assignment which will be due upon the completion of the novel.

Grade 7: Sign Up For ReadWorks Today! (First Reading Assignment Due: Monday 3/30)

Good morning! As mentioned in the email that was sent out a few moments ago, please sign up for a ReadWorks account today.

Here are the steps for signing up:

1. Have students go to

2. Students should sign in with their OJCS Google account.

3. Students enter class code: QKK6RB

We will be using this program to complete various reading comprehension exercises. Please note that students will be reading different articles and questions depending on their ZPD and Instructional Reading Level. These will be assigned for homework as we continue to build comprehension skills throughout our distance learning lessons.

Grade 8: Adding a Refutation/Counter Argument

Goal: Compares/contrasts perspectives, considers counterarguments or opposing positions, and draws original and thoughtful conclusions with future implications.

Similar to the debate, understanding the counterargument is beneficial when writing an argumentative research paper.

How can you incorporate this writing style in your paper?

Step 1: Acknowledging a common point made by the opposition (other side)

Step 2: Refuting or arguing why that point is not valid based on research

Step 3: Connecting back to the thesis


Check out these sources for additional help:

Grade 6: Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project (Due: Friday, May 1st, 2020)

Objective: Learning from a distance is great, but reading is exhilarating! The goal of this project is to foster and nurture a passion for reading. You will read a book you’ve never read before, and then create an artifact that connects to that book to show what you’ve learned and understood from the book you read.

Students will be required to spend at least 30 minutes a day reading. 

Choosing a book: Students will have the opportunity to choose their own book for this assignment. Please note that the book you pick should be a book that you have never read before, and that is appropriate for your reading level. Additionally, you want to make sure that you will be able to complete the book by the assigned deadline. 

If you do not have a book at home, you can read an e-book for this assignment (e-books are available to borrow from the Ottawa Public Library). Additionally, students can access audiobooks for additional support while reading. However, I ask that any student who chooses to use an audiobook also follows along with the text while reading. 


Date Task Notes
Monday, March 23 Project is  assigned  Your book must be read by April 20th

You are expected to be working on your artifact as you read your book

Taking notes in the planner document will be essential while reading 

Friday. April 3 Check-in #1 You will meet with Mr. Washerstein to share your reading progress and artifact planning.
Friday. April 20 Check-in #2 You should be finished reading your book for this check-in.

You will meet with Mr. Washerstein to discuss your artifact and receive feedback and suggestions.

Friday, May 1 Final Project Due Your artifact and reflection will be posted to your student blog

As you read your book, you will:

  • Create personal and real-world connections
  • Analyze the following literary components:
    • Theme
    • Plot development
    • Conflict
    • Literary devices
      • Simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole

Click here to access all of the important information: 

Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project Google Slideshow

Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project Instructions and Rubric

Exhilarating Reading Adventure Planner

Grade 8: Individual Conferences Tomorrow

As mentioned in yesterday, tomorrow we will meet in a one-on-one context for English class. This will provide everyone with an opportunity to ask specific questions about their research project. I will call each student individually via Google Hangout Video Chat. You don’t need to worry about opening Google Meet, simply have your Google Hangouts Chat open and wait for my call!


  1. Jayson- 10:45-10:55
  2. Max- 10:57-11:07
  3. Zoe- 11:09-11:19
  4. Jessie- 11:21-11:31
  5. Lior- 11:33-11:43
  6. Talia- 11:45-11:55
  7. Kiera- 11:57-12:07
  8. Ari- 12:09-12:19
  9. Aidan- 12:21-12:31

For Kiera, Ari, and Aidan, I realize this cuts into your lunch time. If you would like we could reschedule your meetings for a period later on during the day.