Sunday, August 31, 2014

Journal: Grading and Expecation

Grading and Expectations
There are 25 points possible for the journal. Journals are due every Friday at the end of class. The length and amount of entries assigned per week does not affect the amount of points possible. Only one entry will be reviewed while the others will be given credit.

Students will receive 5 points for completing all entries.  Points will be deducted for missing entries.
Students will receive 5 points for copying down the vocabulary. Vocabulary must be copied at the beginning of the week near the first entry.
The 15 points that are left over will be attributed to content and will follow the following guidelines:
  • ·         Students answer all or most (depending on the quality of the answers) of the questions asked in the writing prompt.
  • ·         Students provide thorough, detailed answers that show a great deal of thought into what he/she writes while attempting to connect reflection to examples from the real world, novels, movies and other sources. 
  • ·         Students provide good support with no repetition or redundancy.
  • ·         Responses are clear and easily understood by the reader.

Students will lose 1-3 points for formatting errors. Formatting errors include:
  • ·         Not putting the date
  • ·         Not writing the prompt
  • ·         Not writing the quote

Students do not have to agree with the teacher to get a good grade. All perspectives and viewpoints are always welcomed. However, students must provide support when making a statement. 


Bad Response:  I think that immigrants are treated unfairly. People are racist when they talk to them.

Good Response: In the United States, immigrants are treated like they are not humans. The government enforces laws and policies that discriminate against minorities. 

*Good and bad examples of journals will be posted every week. 

Interview Assignment Due Thursday (9/4)

Assignment Overview:
Points Possible: 25
Due: 9/4/14 

Immigrant Interview Assignment
“Where are you from? Why did you stay?”

Throughout this unit, students will investigate the theme of immigration in order to gain
a greater awareness and empathy for people from of other cultures, as well as become more informed  . With this project, students will engage in an authentic learning experience by uncovering an immigrant’s journey to America.

Directions: Students will seek out an immigrant (relative, friend, or acquaintance) and uncover his/her journey to the U.S. by conducting a thorough interview.  Interviewees can remain anonymous, as long as they are given a  pseudonym (fake name) on the paper.  Students must ask at least 15 questions (5 required questions and 10 optional). 

Required Questions:
1.      Where are you from?
2.      How did you get here?
3.      What hardships have you faced during your time here?
4.      What successes have you achieved during your time here?
5.      Why did you stay?

Optional Questions:
Students may substitute optional questions with their own.
1.      What specific circumstances caused you to immigrate?
2.      Was it a personal decision or one that someone else made for you?
3.      How old were you?
4.      What had you heard about the U.S. before you came? What stereotypes/expectations did you have?
5.      Had you seen pictures or photos of the U.S.? What did you think of them?
6.      What had people told you about the U.S.?
7.      Were your initial expectations accurate? Can you give me an example?
8.      Where specifically in your former country did you live? (great time to pull out your atlas)
9.      What was your life like there?
10.  What was going on historically?
11.  Can you tell me about the government in your native country before you left?
12.  What year/date did you arrive in (present city)?
13.  Did you immigrate alone, or with friends/other family members?
14.  Can you share a memorable experience with me about what is like, how you were feeling when you first arrived?
15.  Was it hard to leave or was it exciting?
16.  Did you experience any “culture shock”? Was it hard to adapt? If so, what was challenging? Can you think of a story or experience that will give me an idea?
17.  Do you miss family members/Friends? Are you in touch with them? How?
18.  What possessions did you take with you? What important things, if any did you leave behind?
19.  How did you arrive? Method of transportation? What route did you take?
20.  Do you have a green card? How did you obtain it? Are you an official U.S. citizen?
21.  When did you become an official citizen?
22.  What did you have to do in order to become an official citizen?
23.  How did you wind up in Chicago?
24.  Did you consider living anywhere else?
25.  Did you know anyone here when you arrived?
26.  How did people treat you? Do you find people treat you differently now if you have been here for a while?
27.  Who/What helped you get settled, find a place to live, etc.?
28.  Tell me about any language barriers that you experience/or currently experience?
29.  Did you know any English before you arrived?
30.  Was it difficult to communicate when you first arrived?
31.  What were your first 24 hours/days like?
32.  Can you tell me how your life has changed since you came to this country?
33.  What sacrifices if any have you made to live in the U.S.?
34.  Are their specific things/people that you miss? Who/what? Why?
35.  What is the best thing about your immigrant experience?
36.  What has been most challenging or difficult about your experience?
37.  What kind of job did you have in your home country?
38.  What job(s) did/do you have in the U.S.?
39.  How did you go about finding a job?
40.  Did you bring any specific skills with you that you were able to use here?
41.  If you had no immigrated, what do you think your life would be like today? Can you give  me an example of how it might be different?
42. Did you feel welcomed?
43.  If you have children, were they born in this country?
44.  Do they speak your native  language?
45.  Do they know about your immigrant experience/native culture?
46.  How might you children’s lives differ if you had not emigrated?
47.  What might you life, your family’s life, be like today had you not emigrated?
48.  How has this country changed since your arrived?
49.  Can you tell me a story or give me an example of how your country has changed since  you’ve been here?

Tips for Conducting a Good Interview

·         Make sure the location you choose to conduct your interview is quiet and comfortable

·         Give a list of questions to your interviewee, so they know what to expect.

·         Be encouraging to your interviewee
o   Look at your interviewee and smile while they are talking.
o   Be familiar with your questions so that you can pay attention to your interviewee, NOT the paper in your hand.

·         Really listen to what your interviewee is saying
o   Make sure that they have answered your question and that you have received the information that you are looking for.  If not, ask the interviewee to elaborate.
o   Pay attention for something that you find interesting, so that you can ask a follow-up question.  (Write it down if you need to, so that you don’t forget to ask it!)
o   Don’t be afraid to ask questions that you might not have written down.  What your interviewee says might lead you somewhere unexpected.

·         Wait for at least 3-5 seconds after you think your interviewee is done speaking to ask your next question.  They might surprise you and have more to say.

·         Thank your interviewee for their time.  Be sure to ask permission to contact them again if you need to clarify or get any additional information.

·         Be gracious and appreciative.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Journal Entries:8/26-8/28


"Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Look at the comic strip on the board and write a response.  What is your opinion on immigration? How are immigrants treated today? What should be the national policy for immigration?


“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources—because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”

-Lyndon B. Johnson

Tell me about your home. How would you describe your home/ family/ culture? What kind of food do you eat? Which holidays do you celebrate that aren’t typical American holidays?


“Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”

-Cindy Gerard

Respond to the quote.  What do you think it means? At what point in your life, did you realize that you weren’t a kid anymore?  What happened?

Unit 2: Immigration, Identity, and Dreams

Expected Unit Length: 6 weeks
Major Assessment: Narrative
Minor Assessments: 19-22 Journal Entries
Points Possible: TBA

Unit Summary:

Our goal for this unit was to utilize mirror texts to help our students develop both academically, socioculturally, and socioemotionally. We were informed by our teacher that they had all shared their stories amongst themselves one day through a community circle. Many of the students told us that it was a very emotional day; they were crying, laughing, and learning from each others’ experiences. We wanted to build on this sense of community within the classroom and help them tie their experiences to the community at large for a final, end of the year project. Thus we focused on telling our stories and giving students a way to explore their own stories through mirror texts, and eventually writing and recording their own story, or narrative.

The final assessment, writing and recording of their own narrative, measures storytelling: plot structure, content, and setting for this particular time. However, the students have such wealth of experience to draw on to create a compelling narrative. Thus our assessments, both the summative and formative ones, build on this prior knowledge and help them build structure into an already great story. 


W.10.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant significant evidence.
W.10.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.10.5.Develop and  strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose or audience.
W.10.6. Use technology, including the internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display  information flexibly and dynamically.
SL.10.1.Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.10.5. Make strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
RL.10.1.Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.10.6. Analyze how a particular point of view or cultural experience is reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of literature.
RI.10.6. Explain how an author develops the point of view
RI.10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums, determining which details are emphasized in each account.
RI.10.9. Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical or literary significance, including how they address related themes and concepts.

Unit Objective:

Using various stories and informational text as a mentor text, students will develop basic writing skills such as summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing. In addition, they will begin to create strong writing pieces that uses typical literary tools such as figurative language and imagery.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unit 1: Introduction to Language Arts ends 8/22

In this unit, we briefly explore the broad and often misleading concept of intelligence.  We also confronted former our former challenges, struggles, and successes in Language Arts.  Using the understanding gained from this unit, we are now ready to explore the rigorous (and often controversial) topics ahead of us such as racism, immigration, oppression, identity, censorship, and much more.

ALL ASSIGNMENTS for Unit 1: Introduction to Language Arts

  1. Parent Letter Signed                         10 Points
  2. Classroom Supplies*                        10 Points
  3. CAHSEE Assessment                      10 Points
  4. Syllabus Quiz                                   15 Points
  5. KWL: Language Arts                        TBA
  6. Say-Mean-Matter: Intelligence          10 Points

Upcoming unit:  Immigration, Identity, and Dreams.  Approximately 5-6 Weeks.

Journal Entries: 8/18-8/22

Unit Vocabulary
Interfere- to get in the way of; to come into opposition.
Empathy- able to understand the feelings of others
CAHSEE- California High School Exit Exam
Common Core- Standards followed by 48 states
Intelligence- capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding. 
Literacy- ability to read and write.
Assess- to estimate or judge


"The limits of my language means the limits of my world." - Ludwig !.

What has been your experience with Language Arts (English) classes? Good or bad? Why? What do you hope for this year?


"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings." - Salvador Dali

What is intelligence? How can you tell if someone is intelligent? In what ways can someone be intelligent? Give me specific examples.


"We can't change the world unless we change ourselves." -Tupac

What does this quote mean to you? How can people change the world? How will you make a difference? 

Next, list 3-5 struggles or problems negatively affecting the world/ society/ community.


"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi

Is it possible for one person to make a difference? Where does the world need the most help  right now? Why?

Next, list 3-5 people (living or dead) that has positively influenced you, society, or the world.


Make-up day: No Journal Entry. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Journal Entries: 8/14-8/15 & Writer's Journal Rubric


"Don't let schooling interfere with your education." - Mark Twain

What is the purpose of school? Can you succeed without school? Why does/doesn't it matter?

Next, list 3-5 things you like and 3-5 things you dislike  about school.


"Happiness does not reside in possessions and gold, happiness dwells in the soul." -Democritus

What is your artifact? Where does it come from? What is the story behind it? Why is it significant?


Writer’s Journal Instructions and Rubric
Assignment Overview
Points: 25
Frequency: Weekly (Submitted on Fridays)
Type: Writing

1.      Write the date on the top right hand corner.  The date should be visible for each journal entry.
2.      Copy the journal prompt (quote, question, etc.) onto the first few lines of your page.
3.      Answer the journal by thoroughly addressing the specific question and prompt mentioned (See rubric for further journal expectations and requirements).
4.      Copy the week’s vocabulary on the first entry of the week (Monday).

The following instructions (5&6) only apply to English 10 Honors Students.

5.      Include at least one of the week’s vocabulary words into any of the journal entries.  Be sure to highlight the word when used.  Vocabulary not highlighted will not be counted.
6.      Make a specific connection to a personal story, an historical event, a current event, a literary reference, another class (math, science, foreign language, etc.), or popular culture (movies, music, art, etc.).
Students will receive points for all journal entries, but, due to time constrictions, only one assignment will be graded. Depending on which journal entry sparked the liveliest discussion, the teacher will only spotlight one entry for grading. The rest will be counted as credit towards the total score.

Point Breakdown
·         Other Entries                           5 Points
·         Spotlighted Entry                   20 Points
o   Formatting: Does the journal entry follow the instructions listed?
o   Cohesiveness: Are the ideas linked with the appropriate connectives? Does it flow from sentence to sentence?
o   Overall Structure: Does the entry use a variety of sentence patterns? Do the sentences vary? Are ideas organized a certain way?
o   Content: Does the entry thought-fully answer the prompt? Does it add to the discussion by raising any additional questions? Does it take a stance? Does it effectively explain something?
o   Vocabulary: Does the entry attempt to use a variety of words that are grade appropriate?  Are they trying to expand their vocabulary?

*Because these are in-class assignments, grammar and spelling will not be a factor.  However, this exception is subject to change if problems persist.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CAHSEE Prompt Assessment

The class spent 40 minutes working on the listed below. This assignment will receive points for attempting to write, but it will not be graded.  All Sophomore English teachers will use this writing prompts as baseline assessments for all students. In preparation for the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam), we will vigorously work on writing and writing skills throughout the year. This assignment is worth 10 points.

Prompt #1

Some students at your school expressed interest in making the school more attractive by getting rid of the trash on the school grounds.

Write a persuasive essay for your school in which you convince the readers of the importance of getting rid of the trash and making the school more attractive. Convince your readers through the use of specific reasons and examples. 

Prompt #2

Tourism committees spend a great deal of money each year advocating natural landmarks of states
and countries. By using media such as posters, magazines advertisements, television commercials,
and radio advertisements, committees are able to send a message about beautiful places, and
hopefully convince some tourists to travel to those places.

Suppose you have been hired by a tourism committee. Write a persuasive essay in which you
identify a place in the world that has something tourists might find interesting. Explain precisely
what makes this particular place so special. Develop your ideas so that a potential tourist would be
persuaded to visit the place you have identified.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

HW: 8/12-8/15

Homework for 8/12-8/15

Parent Letter    (Friday)
Personal Artifact   (Friday)
Classroom Supplies*  (Friday)

*10 point extra credit for getting it early

Quiz: Syllabus 101    (Friday)

Unit 1: Introduction to Language Arts

Expected Unit Length: 2 Weeks
Major Assessments: N/A
Minor Assessments: 8 Journal Entries
Points Possible: TBA

Unit Summary: 
This is an introductory unit that will inform students and parents of the expectations and structures of the Mr.Ta's Classroom.  Besides reviewing school policies, students will set short-term and long-term goals for the class, as well study the idea of intelligence and education.

RI.10.8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
SL.10.1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
W.10.10. Write routinely over extended time frames and shorter time frames for a ran\ge of tasks, 

Unit Objectives:
After reviewing the course syllabus, students will understand the rules, procedures, and structure of the classroom, as well as conceptualize the goals of the course.  In addition, students will set long-term and short-term goals for the school year.  They will also write about their experience with Language Arts.  

More to Come.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Parents/ Guardians,
I am happy to welcome you and ______________________ to English II at Huntington Park High School for the 2014-2015 school year.    My name is Mr. Ta and I am very excited to embark on this wondrous literary adventure. 

To briefly describe myself, I was born and raised in Southern California, hailing from the San Gabriel Valley.  After receiving my bachelor’s degree at the California State University, Long Beach, I attended UCLA’s Teacher Education Program for my Single Subject Credential and Masters of Education.  I chose UCLA because of its focus on Social Justice and dedication to serving underprivileged, multi-cultural areas.  As the youngest son of Chinese immigrants who grow up in a diverse area, I am fascinated by linguistics, culture, and the evolution of language, and my instruction will reflect these passions. 

This year’s course of study will focus on the Common Core Standards required for 10th grade English Language Arts with specific attention exploring the themes of identity, social class, and racial inequality.  In accordance with those crucial themes, we will be reading and discussion literary text such as Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, George Orwells’s Animal Farm, and Francisco Jimenez’s The Circuit and information text spanning from newspaper articles, federal and state policies, and autobiographies.  Students will also be exposed to a variety of media—films, documentaries, podcasts, music, photography, advertisements, etc.  It is essential for students to develop a critical and conscious eye.  In addition to developing life-long skills, enduring understandings, and content knowledge, students will learn testing strategies and techniques that will prepare them for the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) and STAR testing. 

At the beginning of the school year, parents want to know how to help their children succeed.  Here are four quick and easy ways you can ensure your child has a great start to the school year:
1)  Ensure the following supplies are brought EVERY DAY our class meets.  Students will be checked this coming Friday (September 5) and will lose 1 point for each missing item from this list:

·         Three-ring binder (1.5 to 2 inches, any color)
·         10 tabbed dividers for the binder.
·         Loose-leaf notebook paper (paper ripped out of a spiral will not be accepted).
·         2 blue or black pens
·         2 pencils
·         2 red pens
·         Highlighters (at least three colors)
·         Pleasure reading
·         1 box of tissues or hand sanitizer (optional for extra credit)

2) Review course rules, negative and positive consequences, and classroom polices that are outlined in the course syllabus. 
3) Check your child’s Assignments List for all homework, class work, projects, and due dates.  The Assignments List is updated every Monday/Tuesday.  Typically, students will submit a 1-2 page analysis paper every two weeks on top of any other assignment. 
4) Sign and date the below and make sure to include a phone number where you can be reached.  Cut the portion below at the dotted line and return this bottom portion with your student so that he/she can receive ten bonus points for extra credit.

I hope we have a year full of critical investigation and skill-building! I am happy to make myself available on Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM and by appointment, or I can be reached via phone or email.  Call ________  or email at my personal email,

For the continued success of every student in my class, I need the help, support, and feedback of parents and students.  Together, we will be able to accomplish our objectives and reach success.  I truly believe that parent involvement and engagement are the key components for an healthy and effective classroom.  Thus, anytime you have thoughts, comments, or suggestions, feel free to contact me.  Your help is much needed and wanted.


Mr. Ta