• Mr. Armstrong

The Chiefs are playing right now, as I type this. And they are losing, which is a bummer. Maybe you will read this tomorrow and think, "Didn't they win?" I certainly hope so, person in the future. I certainly hope so...

This past week was mainly focused on making the transition into gradeable work. I have put off that part of class (points, due dates, grades, etc.) as long as possible so that you would have plenty of time, space, and support to begin making choices as a reader and writer again. I don't want to take for granted how hard all of this has been, I think, on all of us.

My hopes are:

-you have a book to read that you are actually interested in and invested in. We spent a week in the library, I've introduced tools for accessing the media center's collection - physical and digital, the bookmobile came by, I've been building bookstacks as requested, we've ordered some stuff, I see lots of you utilizing the resources on our class website. At the end of every month, you will be emailing me an update about your progress as a reader. Remember, I don't really care about how often you read, or how long the books, or how many pages, just as long as you are 1. using the time you've been given, and 2. are making progress as a reader.

-you have finished drafts of some (if not all) of your portfolio pieces and can see the finish line ahead without having a total meltdown or just flat out giving up and making excuses. Feel free to share drafts with me on Google Classroom or on email if you want feedback. Generally, it is best if I've seen your assignments before I grade them so you get a "free pass" with just my opinions and suggestions, no points attached. Your portfolio is due October 1st and 2nd. We will be spending that week (a four day week) in the library trying to get everything done and printed.

-you are ready to get back in the literature part of class. We have been focusing almost entirely on our writing and on finding you a book to read, but now we need to start introducing some whole class texts that we can work on together as a class. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what you can do, and what you think, and what you respond to.

Alright, I think that's everything for now. Have a good one. See you soon, I hope.


  • Mr. Armstrong

Updated: Sep 20

I'm writing this a little late, so please forgive me for taking the three-day weekend off.

(That was sarcasm FYI. I'm terrible about actually relaxing on breaks instead of obsessively thinking about or working on school stuff. It's a miracle I actually rested. Hope you did too.)

It has been a stressful, chaotic, wonderful start to the year so far, in my opinion. In this past week, we have:

-discussed/reviewed resources for reading. On the "Reading Workshop" page on this site, you will find tons of tools for 1. finding books and 2. documenting your growth over the course of the weeks and months ahead. We also reviewed how to use the Media Center's catalog - physical - and the digital collection on the Sora app (FREE eBOOKS!). The most important takeaway is this: I don't want you to feel like you have to survive our reading time AKA fake your way through it for a grade. Please let me know what you need to make the time and work as meaningful and real as possible.

-continued to follow the writing process to shape our first writing portfolios. Reminder that your goal is to finish all five pieces by the end of the month.

-used professional email formatting to send a reflection over our identities as readers and writers. You did an awesome job overall at this and I have lots of new book suggestions and writing plans based off your thoughts and feedback. Thank you for your honesty and openness.

-set up our Padlets for creating the gradeable version of your bucket list. This will probably be due at the end of next week. I think 20 finished items on your Padlet is a reasonable goal, though you might have a few more or less depending on the circumstances. Remember for each one you have a title (what you want to do), the writing (what you want to say about it), and the visual (what you want to show your audience about it).

We will be spending this week in the library with Mrs. Keeling and Mrs. Youngworth, who are so happy to be working with you again and to invite you back into our fantastic Media Center. Make sure to say hi or ask for a book recommendation. They've missed you!

Here's hoping we have another great week ahead. I'm ready to start reading again.


  • Mr. Armstrong

Updated: Sep 20

Well, here we are: we've made it a full week.

I can't and won't speak for anyone else, but I'm so happy. Sure masks and social distancing are a pain in the butt and add layers of stress on top of an already tense time, but dang: I am so glad to be back to work. I'm so excited to be working with you.

I thought this week would feel like ripping off a band-aid while screaming in pain.

Instead, it feels like coming home after a long trip. Everything feels a little different, but everything somehow also feels exactly the same. The only thing that's really changed is us.

By my count, in these three classes we have:

-started our writer's notebooks

-had our first (pretty successful) writing workshop

-been making decisions about what our first writing portfolios will look like

-started brainstorming and/or crafting our bucket lists

-started hunting for books

In the next week ahead, we will work toward finding the right book for every one of us. Not reading every day has been killing me and I am so ready to start having those conversations with you. I have tons of recommendations to share.

We will be taking our rough draft bucket lists into Padlet using quick research and visuals to create an engaging and entertaining piece of writing that will require you to use all of the skills you've learned over the years in English: research, argument, narrative, vocabulary, and informative. As we do that, don't forget - yes, your grade matters. Yes, your spelling and punctuation and formatting matter. But your words and ideas - especially here at the beginning of our time together - those matter SO much more. Don't let this turn into just another assignment.

Hopefully soon we will all be reading something we actually want to read.

We will all be writing something we chose and are passionate about.

We will all be creating bucket lists worth checking things off of.

We will be learning how to work alongside each other.

We will be learning names and personalities.

In short, we will not be strangers anymore.


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.