Category Archives: Grade 8 English

General heading for one course; 3 sections of students

New Year (2015), New Quarter (3), New Concept (Power)

Welcome to 2015! This is an update of our schedule for the third quarter.

Our defining concept for this quarter is POWER with our essential questions numbering only 3:
1. What is power?
2. How is power distributed, shared and limited?
3. How is power both beneficial and harmful?

Please find attached to this email our quarterly syllabus. As well, The assessment plan for the quarter will be published here today as well.

Let me know if you have any questions about our final stretch of the school year; Grade 8 is accelerating to an exciting close!

David Burke

Q3 English Schedule 2015

Twitter Invitation for Parents and Students

I would like to invite you to follow our English class and thinking at a new twitter feed  @IsmBurke. If you are a person who likes to tweet, this feed will give you a snapshot into what is going on with your son or daughter in one of my grade 8 English classes.  I will share photos of happenings, short video clips, and samples of work along with various educational articles that you may find thought-provoking.   As well, please feel free to chime in with your own thinking on the feed.



Please don’t worry, this twitter account is not meant to replace the class blog for ‘essential information’, so if you’re not a tweeter, you will not miss any ‘essential information’.

If you want to know more about twitter and what we are trying to accomplish with it, please contact me at

2 Weeks to Go

The second quarter is quickly coming to a close; of the three major tasks for this academic session, two of them are now complete.  The Poetic Brain Frame has been assessed and handed back while the Poet Research Essay has today for a deadline.

We will spend the remainder of the quarter working on our Poetry Scrapbooks.  We will continue to focus on “words and phrases of great power” as the starting point of our poetic studies. Each class from this point will start with a poetry activity, which will then be followed by class time for scrapbook work.

Please take the time to review your son or daughter’s scrapbook. No two scrapbook should look the same, but there is a list of requirements that have to be met with the assignment. (shared in the googledrive) Our goal is to demonstrate a layered understanding of poetry through the use of varied text types and approaches to each page.  For example, a student may introduce a new poem on a page, then layer background information, interpretation, a drawing and some connected thinking or other poems on this page.

As discussed in class, we hope different kinds of poetry will get a student to stop and ponder for awhile- to think deeply about the layers of meaning within the poem.


Task 1: Research Brain Frame   

Task Overview:

We will review the steps to complete  research on your chosen poet and poem.   You will research your poet’s life and achievements to see how he or she is connected to transformation; how has  your poet had a transformative effect on you, society, and/or culture.  You will collect information and then create a large size (A3) brain frame that demonstrates your understanding of the poet.  You will use your metacognitive reading skills to achieve a deep understanding of the poet’s achievements while demonstrating your research skills.


  • Follow the brain frame rules reviewed in class
  • A4 paper can be used to supplement your central A3 sheet, but only if it is directly attached to the A3 and is not attached to any other A4 sheets.
  • Title, date, name, block needed

Due Date: Friday, November 14 at 3pm.



Task 3: Creating a ‘Things Poetic’ Scrapbook

Your goal is to create a simple personal scrapbook of Things Poetic.  This collection should include the following items:

  1. At least 3 examples of your best poems produced this quarter with a focus on Transformation.
  2. Collected poems, piece of poems, or ‘things poetic’ from other sources: just give credit but share these pieces that you think best represent transformation.
  3. Evidence of Revision and Reflection: Write at least 2 entries (paragraph style) on your thoughts about our poetic transformations; one should be about your own poem; a second should examine another poet’s poem while the last entry should be about you thinking about transformation and one essential question.
  4. Original Cover Art

Don’t forget- this is a SCRAPBOOK.

You will have class and home time to create the parts to your scrapbook.  We will read and model great works throughout the quarter with the goal of including your best in the collection.

Steps for Success:

  1. Reread the poems presented in class.
  2. Model your own work on the designs of these pieces- imitation is the first step in original work.
  3. Vary your styles to come up with your own collection of work.
  4. Your underlying theme should be about transformation.
  5. Write down your thoughts about poetry throughout the quarter.


Due Date: December 8-9, 2014 at the start of class, ready for a sharing session


Task 2: Looking at Poetry from Three Sides

Student Goal:

You will examine in detail your chosen poem.

You must think about the following key questions for your poem:

  • Why is this poem your poet’s most transformative work?
  • What personal experiences helped your poet write this poem?
  • How do they use poetic devices to help transform the readers perspective?
  • How has this poem transformed people, society, or the world?

You must look at the content of the piece, what big ideas it introduces, how it is connected to your poet’s life, and how other readers could connect to it. This poem must be examined in detail and should represent your poet’s most transformative work. It may, in your opinion, be the piece that shows this poet’s main approach for personal, societal or cultural change.

Your report should include the following:

  1. The full poem should be printed on one page only; the title and poet’s name should be at the top of the page.  Include your handwritten markings of your thoughts and ideas about the poem as you read and analyzed it.
  2. A detailed look at the poem using the 3 levels of examination (expository essay).

3 levels (or sides) of Poetic Examination: Understand, Analyze, and Evaluate

You will examine your poem in detail using the understand-analyze-evaluate approach.


Using Background Knowledge and Asking Questions:

  • What does the poem say or do?
  • What are the structures (poetic devices) used in the poem?
  • What is the poem’s topic?



Connect: Give some background information on the details of this issue.

Ask: What is the issue or theme of the poem?

Ask and Infer: Examine the verses and analyze their meaning; use specific lines to show your understanding. Are the poet’s ideas clear? How did the poem make you feel?  

Infer/Predict: Define the issue that your poet wants to change. List and explain the causes of this issue.

Determine Importance: Give specific reference within poem to show poets ideas and intentions and how they used poetic devices to accomplish this.

Synthesize: Explain the ideas and solutions offered by poet.


Connect: Put the poem into context by looking at the poet’s audience. Who is the poet’s audience?  Why do you think this?

Infer: Why did the poet choose specific words or lines; evaluate how effective these lines are in encouraging change. Is the poet successful or not?  Why?

Determine Importance /Synthesize: Examine individual lines to explain your opinion on the poem.  Do you empathize with the poet’s message?

Synthesize: Bring your idea together on this poem. Why did you want to study your particular poet and poem?


Writing Style, Process, and Formatting:

It is always important to remember that all of your ideas about the poem should be referenced to words and lines within the poem; therefore, if you make an inference about the poet’s idea, you must back up your idea with the particular part of the poem that reveals this idea.

Other details:

  • This task should be between 500-1,000 words, not including the poem.
  • No bibliography required.
  • This is a paper copy (hard copy)
  • You should follow the writing process.
  • The format: MLA See this video for help.

Due Date: Friday, November 28, at 3pm

6 Weeks to the End of Semester

This quarter does not seem to be so much a bout transformation but acceleration; we get back from the October and there are only 6 weeks to go!

Important Items (Assessments) Coming:

  1. Task 1: Poetic Brain Frame is due on Friday, November 14 at 3pm.
  2. Task 2: Poetry form 3 Side Essay/Analysis is due on Friday, November 28 at 3pm.
  3. Task 3: Poetry Scrapbook is due on Monday/Tuesday Dec 8/9 at the start of the class.

I will have the assignments posted directly after this post, and these will include student requirements and rubrics.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

There are still a few parents who haven’t had a chance to meet me this semester.  I am still ready to get together- contact Ms Kristine or Ms Susan in the MS office and they can make an appointment for you.  I would love to share my observations about your son or daughter as well as chat about how we can support English learning.