Revising the Personal Essay

Posted on October 18, 2013. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: |

Hi Everyone. Happy Friday!

Today, after you hand in your RN and your WN, you will work on revising your personal essay.

Remember, that the essay should sound like YOU. If you need to work on revising the essay to sound conversational or try these resources:
Tips for making your personal essay more personal
Voice (for sounding more conversational)

For more mentor texts related to your own them, check out this link to NPR and “This I Believe” essays:

~Ms. Morris

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Publication Celebration for the Personal Essay!

Posted on December 13, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: , |

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Printing Your Personal Essay

Posted on November 14, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: |

In class today, you will print your final draft of your personal essay.

Before printing your essay, make sure your essay meets the following requirements:

  • You have made all revisions.
  • You have addressed all of the comments left for you by making appropriate revisions to your essay and by clicking  “resolve” for those comments.
  • You have edited your essay for spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and typing errors.
  • You have reviewed the rubric and understand how your essay will be scored. 
  • Essay has a heading in the top right corner (with your name, class and assignment, date).
  • Essay has a title, centered on the page.  (Not underlined.)
  • Essay is double spaced.

Now, you may print the essay.  Print two copies.  Then make sure that:

  • Essays that are multiple pages are stapled together.  (Don’t staple more than one draft at a time.)
  • One copy must remain clean.  
  • On the second copy, you will:  
    • underline thesis statement (and where it is restated in the conclusion) in blue
    • underline anecdotes in pink
    • underline transitional phrases in red
    • underline examples of casual tone in green
  • Underlined copy will be placed on top of the blank copy.
  • Both copies will be placed on top of all old drafts.
  • All papers will be submitted on the right side of the writing folder.
  • Writing folders will be submitted in the black bins.

Congratulations!  You have officially submitted your personal essay!

With the remaining time left this period, you may work on your portfolio.  Remember tovisit this post for more information about portfolio requirements and resources.

~Ms. Morris 🙂

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Portfolios and Portfolio Presentations (for Personal Essay Unit)

Posted on November 10, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: , , |

Now that we are almost finished with the the personal essay, we can focus more on the portfolios and the presentations for this unit of study.

Your portfolio (created in Google Sites) must include items from the following checklist:

  • Purpose of the Unit – in your own words and connected to the real world
  • Process work – thorough evidence of your drafts, revisions, and edits
  • Published pieces – the final, published essay clear of revision notes and any errors
  • Reflection entries – written during (and/or about) various stages of the unit that show where you got your ideas, the new things you learned or tried, where you may have struggled the most and how you overcame it, the goals you set, and how you are attempted to reach those goals

You may also add additional items, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Images, videos, or music that inspired you during this unit
  • Related links and resources
  • Mentor texts that you found helpful
  • Audio or video recordings of yourself explaining your work
  • Scans of notebook pages

HOW you get these items into your portfolio is entirely up to you.  You are in control of the design. 🙂

Be creative and practical as you problem-solve and self-direct yourself through ways to get these items in your portfolio.  Use your information literate research skills to guide you.  Consider how you can best effectively communicate your ideas.  

In conjunction with preparing the contents and artifacts in the portfolio, you will will also present your work during this unit for a separate grade.  This presentation will require that you verbally articulate and show evidence of:

  • an understanding of the problem/purpose for the unit of study
  • growth and progress (the steps taken by the student to grow) during the unit
  • a big “take-away” from the unit and how it connects with the real world
  • SMART goals set during the units and revised SMART goals for future work
  • all required artifacts from the portfolio checklist
  • any other self-initiated artifacts in the portfolio

When you prepare to present your work, remember that this work is meant to connect to the real world and to global concerns.  The skills you gain during the unit, and those you use to present your work, will help you to be an effective and valuable team member when working with others in the future.

We will be in the computer lab on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but please do not wait to work on your portfolios until then.  You may work on them from home.  See this link for more information about adding to the portfolio, the presentation, and for the rubric.  Also, the handout is embedded below:

~Ms. Morris 🙂

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Make Your Personal Essay More PERSONAL…

Posted on October 22, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: |

I thought this would be a good resource for finding ways to make the personal essays read a little more personal.  See if you can find any phrases from this handout below to incorporate in your drafts.

If you find one that you are going to use, or if you come up with a good phrase of your own…leave a comment here and share your idea with the rest of us!

NOTE:  The 1st draft will now be due at the END of the class on Wednesday, not the beginning.  🙂  The 2nd draft will still be due at the end of class on Friday.

~Ms. Morris

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Week at a glance ~ 10/22/12 to 10/26/12

Posted on October 20, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: , , |

We’re drafting the personal essay this week!  Draft 1 will be due in class on Wednesday and draft  2 will be due at the end of class on Friday.  To read (and listen to) some more mentor texts and get ideas for your own essays, visit the This I Believe site for tons and tons of excellent essays. The site is certainly not devoid of options.

I’m really pleased with the reading response work that you bestowed upon me.  I was not aghast at all on Friday when I read them.  (See this comic I made on Bitstrips about it!)  When you get your rubrics back, please look at them carefully and muse over the things you will need to work on most for next time.  If you want to sign up for a mini lesson on incorporating more evidence in your reflections, citing sources, setting SMART goals, etc. please sign up for a mini lesson (on the small black bulletin board) and we’ll meet!

We’ll have a short grammar quiz this friday on subjects and predicates as well as subject and object pronouns.  To prepare, watch the BrainPOP videos for Subject and Predicate and the one for Personal Pronouns.

DIRECTIONS:  I hope you will heed this admonition; do not log in to BrainPOP.  Instead, log in through your Google account, and then when you see the black bar up at the top of the Google screen, click “more.”  That will bring down a menu and you will see an option for “BrainPOP.”  IF you don’t see the BrainPOP option right away, click into your “drive” first and then click “more” and you should see it.)  Click it, and it will take you to the BrainPOP site.  Once there, search for “Subject and Predicate” and “Personal Pronouns”, then watch the short videos.  Take the quizzes after each video and make sure you have the results sent to a spreadsheet (the 4th option in the list) by entering my email address.  I’ll get a notification that you took the quiz!  (These will be due by Friday.)

Check out this presentation for some additional help:

If you are unable to watch the videos and take the quizzes at home, I have headphones at the back computer in our classroom.  Be sure to get a pass from me and you can come watch the videos during Flex.

The next Wordly Wise assessment is a week from Wednesday.  I’ve used several words from list #3 in this blog post…can you find them all???  Most I used intentionally, but there was even one that I used unwittingly!


  • Personal essay draft 1 is due (end of class) on 10/24
  • Personal essay draft 2 is due (end of class) on 10/26
  • BrainPOP quizzes due by 10/26
  • Wordly Wise 3 study guide, proof of study and assessment on 10/31
  • Independent Reading Response #5 (IRR5) is due on 11/2
  • Flex will follow the regular rotation this week:
    • Monday – Period 3
    • Tuesday – Period 4
    • Wednesday – Period 5
    • Thursday – Period 8
    • Friday – Period 5

~Ms. Morris 🙂

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Week at a glance ~ 10/8/12 to 10/12/12

Posted on October 7, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: , , , |

GRAMMAR is back!
This week, after taking a break from grammar to address the selected quotes for the Week of Respect, we will resume our grammar DO NOWs.  We are going to take a look at what makes up a sentence and identify subjects and predicates.

Here is a good online resource to explore and practice subjects and predicates:  Subject Predicate Lesson.  We’ll then break those down into simple subjects and simple predicates.  Later in the week, we will go back to our work with pronouns and start to classify them, so we can better understand the types of pronouns, including subjective pronouns and objective pronouns.  (This explains the rules behind when we should use “me” and when we should use “I” in a sentence.)

This fun Schoolhouse Rock video is a good introduction to subjects and predicates:

We’re still WRITING our personal essays…
This week, we’ll continue gathering and nurturing ideas for our personal essay unit.  We’ll also take a look at a few more mentor texts to give us other examples of the many ways a personal essay can be written.  Please bring in some photographs to help generate ideas for personal essay topics this week.  (If you bring family photos, make sure they are copies you are allowed to bring to school first!)

Reading response work is due next on 10/19.  Please come see me early this week if you have any questions about setting up your response work for a two-week period.


  • We will go to the book fair on Thursday, 10/11.
  • All assignments submitted to me by the end of the school day on Friday have been updated in Infinite Campus.
  • Flex will be:
    • Monday – 3rd period
    • Tuesday – 4th period
    • Wednesday – 5th period
    • Thursday – 8th period
    • Friday – 4th period

~Ms. Morris 🙂

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Week at a glance ~ 10/1/12 to 10/5/12

Posted on September 30, 2012. Filed under: IRLA Class | Tags: , , , , |

Muhammad Ali (photo from

This week, we’ll be jumping into our Personal Essay unit.  The work we did last week, with writing personal narrative entries, will help us to generate ideas for our essays.

The three entries that I will be checking your Writer’s Notebooks for on Wednesday are:   1) A story about a small moment in your life that you want to share with others, 2) a story about a significant memory you relate to a person, place, or thing, and 3) the “If not me, then who?” entry.

We’ll be taking a look at some mentor texts of essays submitted to NPR’s “This I Believe” series, including one by Amy Tan and one by Muhammad Ali.  You may click on the links ahead of time to read and/or listen to the texts that we will review in class.  In class, we will practice annotating the text with print copies of the essays.  Also, feel free to read any of the other “This I Believe” essays on the NPR site on your own; there are tons of great essays there!  (If you find one you especially like, leave a comment with a link to the essay so we can all check it out!)

Amy Tan (photo from

In honor of Respect Week, we will be responding to a number of quotes in our Writer’s Notebooks (instead of our grammar warm-ups).  Be prepared to think deeply about what you think each quote means, how you can connect it to your life and/or the world around you, and then write about it in your WN.

Monday, October 1, 2012:  “Never look down on somebody unless you are helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson
Tuesday, October 2, 2012:  “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that.  THEN I realized I am SOMEBODY.”  – Unknown
Wednesday, October 3, 2012:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Thursday, October 4, 2012:  “When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.”  – Ben Franklin
Friday, October 5, 2012:  “When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.” – Charles Evans Hughes

Continue working on your independent reading response work at home.  Take a look at this blog post for links to your independent reading resources.


  • Wear purple on Monday.
  • Wordly Wise assessment on Wednesday (and we will be in the computer lab).
  • The FLEX schedule will be:
    • Monday – 3rd
    • Tuesday – 4th
    • Wednesday – 5th
    • Thursday – 8th
    • Friday – TBA

~Ms. Morris 🙂

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