• Mr. Armstrong
  1. We were with the counselors all week doing college/career readiness prep and working on scheduling.

  2. It is never going to stop raining; we will never see the sun again.

  3. Next week we will start our second portfolio and continue reading our book.

Peace out. Enjoy the long weekend.


  • Mr. Armstrong

'Twas a dark and stormy Sunday and Mr. Armstrong's tummy was a-hurtin' from eating too many donuts and bratwursts on Maple Leaf Saturday. Oops.

(I regret nothing!)

For our first lesson this past week, we wrapped up our "practice run" using text connections, universal themes, and notice & note strategies to build a bridge between you and whatever text (book, movie, song, article, short story, play, poem, whatever) you are working with or enjoying to give yourself a more meaningful experience.

We responded to images which fall under one of the three following dates which will be relevant while we read and respond to our first whole class text, Up from the Sea by Leza Lowitz: 2001. 2011. 2021.

2001 - the attacks of September 11th

2011 - the Japanese Tsunami, the Joplin Tornado, and the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as commemorated at the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum

2021 - the world we are about to step into, which will be created and shaped largely by our choices and actions. So much of this book is about how we recover from tragedy and crisis, how disaster can bring out the best in people (and the worst). I ask you to think about the future you want to see. This will become a central argumentative question as we finish the book.

For our second class period this week, we started the book! We read the first two sections of "Spring." If you were gone or need to refresh (or just want to listen to my smooth and calming voice) I have posted my audio recordings from class on Google Classroom under the Classwork / Resources section.

This week we will have one class to finish the first season of the book and then one class in the library to type up our double-entry journals, which will serve as the main grade you will be receiving for this book study.

If you want to go ahead and make a copy of it, I have posted the document in Classroom.

Last, this week I tracked down the Survivor Tree that Joplin Mercy Hospital received on the 5th anniversary of the Tornado. The original survivor tree was saved from the ruins of September 11th and nursed back to life. Every year, three saplings are "awarded" to different cities in the country that have faced tragedy that year and are trying to rebuild and recover.

Below are the two pictures I took and an image from the original tree at the 9/11 memorial in NYC. Our tree is, appropriately, planted just outside the Cancer Center. If you have a chance I suggest you visit it and the Tornado memorial in Cunningham Park.

See you soon.


  • Mr. Armstrong

Good morning! I just got to school on this bright (super dark outside actually) Monday morning and I just realized I did not do a blog post this weekend summarizing the past week. So here we go:

-We started the week by taking "Team Notes" over Argumentative Writing, which I organized from the best responses to the pretest you took in the library over the essential elements of the five modes of writing we are practicing with our portfolios. These notes are available in my monthly slides on Google Classroom; I also posted a screenshot of them into our stream on there too.

-I began introducing our first whole class read, Up from the Sea by Leza Lowitz. We will be working with this book the next month of class, practicing three key literary skills that will help you build a bridge between yourself and whatever text you are required to read: text connections (text, self, and world), identifying universal themes, and notice & note strategies. We practiced this on the board by responding to different photographs connected to the themes and content of Up from the Sea: September 11th, the Joplin Tornado, the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, soccer, etc.

-We started doing an activity called This or That, which presented you with various questions and positions to "take a stand" on, not agree/disagree but rather along a spectrum. We also practiced sharing our opinions and beliefs while actively and respectfully listening to those of others.

-I gave you an acronym, OREOS, to help you remember a simple outline for an argument which will also help you when 1. writing your next professional email over your progress this quarter as a reader, and 2. when you have to take a post-test over the elements of argument.

O - Our opinions

R - Reasons

E - Evidence, Examples, Explain, Experts, Experiences

O - Opinions of others

S - Support, Sources

This week we will be writing a professional email using OREOS over our self-selected reading so far, we will finish playing This or That, finish responding to images, and begin reading Up from the Sea. I'm curious to see what you think.


About Mr. Armstrong

This will be my twelfth year teaching English Language Arts and my fourth working at Carthage High School, which I graduated from in 2005. I love being back in my hometown helping our sophomores find an appreciation for reading and writing while challenging them to discover and develop the value, depth, and power of their own voices. Hopefully this will be a year of daring greatly and learning bravely.