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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The First Day of Summer Vacation

     I made a list of things I needed to do yesterday and kept telling myself I didn’t have to grade any papers. I took the day off. So today I decided I should begin the “blog”.

     I was trying to decide how to maneuver through this. Should there be a daily theme?  Should I discuss grammar one day, writing the next, then vocabulary, and end up with literature? I’m not sure.  So since this is SUMMER VACATION, I will let it evolve.

WORD FOR THE DAY: prognosticate – verb; to foretell, predict, or foreshadow – A British scientist has prognosticated that in the next ten years every home will have a personal robot.

GRAMMAR: What is the difference between a phrase and a clause?  ***** I’ll explain at the end of this entry.

WRITING FICTION: Thinking about beginning to write a short story? Why not begin with a character sketch of your main character. We shall call this “Portrait Sketches” as if we were painters or photographers trying to catch the essence of our main character. Remember, this isn’t the beginning of our story. This is just a description. Choose a couple of the ideas that follow:

1. Describe your character looking into a mirror.  What do they see?                                                                        2. Describe someone’s eyes at the beginning of the day, at lunch time, and at the end of the day.  Is your character an early riser or a “moon baby” (someone who likes to stay up late)?                                                                                            3. Describe your character’s face from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top.                                                  4. Describe your character’s favorite shoes.                                                                                              5. Describe your character’s best friend.

Think about that character, and next time will put the protagonist into a setting.

LITERATURE: I’ve got a couple of books I would like to start reading. One book is about a student whose teacher is “forcing” them to read Shakespeare.  Any of my 8th grade students will gladly tell you I’ve never forced them to read Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth.  I just encourage.  The other book is about learning dragon language.  I’ll write reviews when I’ve finished.

POETRY: I’ve got a few thoughts I would like to leave you with about poetry. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines poetry as “the art, theory, or structure of poems.” It defines a poem as “an arrangement of words written or spoken, traditionally a rhythmical or metrical composition, sometimes rhymed.” However, I prefer the definition of a poet - “one who expresses himself with beauty of thought and language.”  William Shakespeare never considered himself a dramatist.  He said he was a poet. I think that would be a compliment of the highest order.  Some people say they don’t like poetry or don’t understand it. I’ve always felt that meant they didn’t give it a chance. Emily Dickinson wrote, 

If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.

That is poetry. Here is one from a different angle.

“Forgotten Language” by Shel Silverstein

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

And, I shall return to Shakespeare with my final thought about poets. At the end of the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck addresses the audience. Even though most people assume this is about the actors and their audience, I like to believe that Shakespeare was still talking about his poetry.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Poetry is an expression of beauty of thought and language. May we all find some way to communicate that.

****The difference between a phrase and a clause: A PHRASE is simply a group of words – like a prepositional phrase. A CLAUSE is a group of words that contain a subject and a verb. It is not always a sentence because it could be a dependent clause or an independent clause. Some sources like to say subordinate clause or main clause. I’ve never really understood why.  Maybe it’s dependent upon the part of the country. We’ll save nonessential relative clauses for another day.

Until the next adventure….

Kind regards,

Mrs. Watson


  1. I like the word of the day. "My vocabulary is infinitely expanding!"

  2. I will try to add some new words on a regular basis..."infinitely" is a good word, too!

  3. hey mrs watson if u get this i would like to know ur email mine is thanks i know this is going to be a great and fun year all thanks to u

  4. I really liked the poem that Emily Dickinson wrote. When I was born, Mrs. Gordon gave my mom a book of poems by Emily Dickinson. It said from one Emily to another.

  5. Hi Olivia,

    My school e-mail is
    I'm looking forward to my new 6th grade, too!

    I played Emily Dickinson in a one-woman play called, The Belle of Amherst. She is one of my very favorite poets.

  6. Hi Mrs.Watson!

    I am really excited for 6th grade!!! I am looking forwad to a fun and educational year!



The Pond

The Pond
By the Reader's Grove

Communication is sharing meaning. It's elementary my dear Watson!

Communication: giving or exchanging information through speaking, writing, or movement.