Grades 6-8: Upcoming Due Dates for English

Grade 8

    • Finalize public speaking topic and email Mr. Washerstein by Friday (4/24)
    • Read and annotate Ch. 1 of The Great Gatsby by Monday (4/27)
          • Remember to fill out the characterization chart as you read
    • Public speaking speech planner graphic organizer due Friday (5/1)


Grade 7

    • Finalize public speaking topic and email Mr. Washerstein by Friday (4/24)
    • Finish reading The Outsiders (Ch. 11 and Ch. 12) by Monday (4/27)
    • The Outsiders Character Web Assignment due Friday (5/1)
    • Public speaking speech planner graphic organizer due Friday (5/1)
    • The Outsiders Culminating Activity due Monday (5/11)


Grade 6

    • Finalize public speaking topic and email Mr. Washerstein by Friday (4/24)
    • Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project (artifact and blog post) due by Friday (5/1)
    • Public speaking speech planner graphic organizer due Friday (5/1)

Grade 6: Exhilarating Reading Adventure Project (Due: 5/1) Update

Yesterday we finished our second set of check-ins. Everyone in the class has finished reading their novels! The next step in the process is creating your artifact. Remember that the presentation of this project will be via blog post. If you created an artifact by hand you will be responsible for posting pictures of the artifact on your blog. Be sure you include all of the necessary pieces of the blog post.

Artifact/Blog Post Due: Friday, May 1st, 2020


1. Create your artifact

2. Edit written work

3. Look over the rubric and use it to grade your artifact

    • How can you improve your artifact to get a better grade?
    • Grade yourself and make changes to your project

4. Write a blog post to display your artifact and be sure to include the following

  A. Explain why you chose your specific artifact type to connect to your book

  B. Explain why you chose the elements from your book that you included in your artifact

  C. Reflect upon what you would change if you were going through this process again

      • How could you prepare differently?
      • What did you learn?


Grades 6-8 The Official Kickoff to Public Speaking!

This post contains all of the essential information for public speaking

Welcome to this year’s public speaking contest for grades 6-8.  Expressing ideas aloud in a clear and effective way is an important life skill! Students will have the opportunity to plan, develop, and deliver a speech to showcase these skills. Students will be spending the upcoming weeks working towards preparing a 4-5 minute speech. Additionally, we will be spending time in class practicing various oral communication skills (eye contact, inflection, effective use of gestures, etc.)

Important Due Dates

  • Topic Brainstorming Sheet Due: Monday 4/20
    • Choose topic + fill out topic brainstorming sheet (email your teacher with your choice by the end of the day)
  • Speech planner/Graphic Organizer Due: Friday 5/1
  • Introduction Paragraph Due: Friday 5/8
    • I will be providing students with feedback on each paragraph throughout the speech writing process
    • If students complete paragraphs early they can always move ahead and work on the next step in the process
  • Body Paragraph 1 Due: Wednesday 5/13
  • Body Paragraph 2 Due: Tuesday 5/19
  • Body Paragraph 3 Due: Friday 5/22
  • Conclusion Due: Wednesday 5/27
  • Class Presentations Begin: Tuesday 6/2
  • Self-Assessment/Reflection Due: 6/12
  • The date of the Public Speaking Finals has yet to be determined (TBD)

Click the links below to access important public speaking documents: 

2020 Public Speaking Student Package

      • This contains the public speaking writing process, tips, and requirements

2020 Public Speaking Due Dates Checklist

2020 Public Speaking Speech Planner Graphic Organizer

2020 Public Speaking Rubric

2020 Public Speaking Self-Reflection


Beneficial Resources:


Grades 6-8: I Can’t Decide on a Topic!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Passover break. A few students have reached out and asked for some resources/websites that could provide a spark for a public speaking topic.

Reminder that students have been asked to complete the PS Topic Brainstorming Graphic Organizer by Monday, April 20th, 2020. The students must brainstorm 2-5 topics and decide the purpose of their speech for each topic. Once completed, this graphic organizer should be shared with Mr. Washerstein

Check out these public speaking topic brainstorming resources:

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 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 6: First Live Meeting (Virtually)

Good morning! I look forward to holding our first live session together from 12:45PM-2:00PM. Please remember to mute yourself upon entering the Google Meet platform. You will find the link for our Google Meet session in your Grade 6 Google Calendar.

Agenda for Today’s Class

1. Have students go to

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

             3. Students enter class code L26FEX

  • Independent Reading Project Preview


Grades 6-8: Vocabulary and E-Learning Update

Good morning middle school students! As many of you know, we are moving to a new learning platform via the internet. We will continue to develop our reading, writing, oral communication, and media literacy skills.

The vocabulary homework practice packet that is due tomorrow can be submitted digitally. I will ask you to take pictures of your completed pages and email them to me (in one email). You will still receive points for completing this assignment. 

As for the vocabulary test, at this point I am unsure how and when we will proceed with these assessments. I am researching different ways to administer tests online. I will update you when I have come to a viable conclusion. For now, we will be putting a pause on the vocabulary tests.

I look forward to meeting with you next week in a digital context. Please keep an open and positive mindset as you begin a new learning adventure.