Mrs. DeFors's Desk

Information and Conversation for 8th graders

Anne Frank Web Quest March 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 2:13 pm

Click this link to get to the Anne Frank Web Quest


Final Monster Projects March 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 9:49 pm

This week, we finished our whole class novel study of the book Monster, by Walter Dean Myers.  The 8th graders have been tasked with selecting a final project from a list of  End of Unit Project list possibilities , which were presented today during class.  Please click on the link to see a pdf file of the project possibilities.

Additionally, students were given End of Unit project rubrics, which match the project they selected.  Students will be given two periods of in-class time to work on their project.  However, they may need to complete their project at home.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this project.


Argumentative Speeches! March 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 9:47 pm

After five weeks of preparation, the 8th graders are gearing up to present their argumentative speeches starting next Monday, March 11th! I am very excited to see all of the work students have completed come together in their speeches!


The purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the art of argumentative writing and speaking.  This was accomplished by first introducing them to basic terms such as claim, counterpoint, rebuttal, support, and refute.  Knowing these terms allowed students to establish relationships between claims, reasons, and evidence.  It also helped students analyze an author’s use of argument in text to which they were exposed throughout their research time.


One aspect of this unit that makes me proud is that it was completely inquiry based.  In other words, students self-selected contemporary and controversial topics.  Students felt completed to take a stand on one side of the issue, which became their argument.  Students used their own research questions to drive the time they spent in the IMC, and they refined their claims as their research progressed.  


In the end, it is not the “what” of the speech that matters.  Students will not be judged on their side of the argument.  What is most important is the “how” of the speech such as, “How are students supporting their side of the argument?”  “How did they determine what was a credible source or not?” and “How are they delivering their information?”


Good luck to all the 8th graders as they prepare their speeches for next week!


Congratulations to the 2012-2013 Mascots! October 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 7:42 pm

Max B.

Kurt B.

Audie B.

Jacob B.

Tommy H.

Tommy M.

John Luca M.

Joe M.

Nick N.

Cameron P.

Sabastian T.

Trent T.

Please log into your Google Docs account, open up the document I shared with you entitles “Mascot Schedule”, follow the directions, and sign up for three basketball games that work with your schedule.  Think about when you have after school activities…you don’t want to sign up for a day that doesn’t work for you!


2012 Junior Varsity Cheerleaders! October 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 9:51 pm

Congratulations to the 2012 Junior Varsity Cheerleading squad:













We will have a short meeting tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 7:35 in my classroom.  If you cannot make the meeting due to other commitments, just stop by my classroom sometime tomorrow 🙂

Our first practice will be this Friday from 3-5 pm in the Lakeview lobby.  Please wear athletic shoes, shorts/yoga pants, and a t-shirt.


Text-Marking and The Outsiders October 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 11:53 am

For the past two weeks, students have been diving right into one of the most beloved 8th grade novel studies, The Outsiders.  They are required to annotate – or text mark- their books using sticky-notes.  The majority of the reading will be assigned as homework so we can spend time in class truly analyzing the text.  I thought I’d take a moment and explain the value of text-marking.

Students can improve the depth of their reading and extend their understanding over long periods of time when they text mark.  These notations are not necessarily difficult, and they are completely personal and exceptionally useful.

The advantage of having an annotated text instead of a set of note papers and a text is that all the information is together and inseparable.  This means students will have less papers to keep organized.

What students get from annotating is a deeper initial reading and a lasting  understanding of the text.  I am thrilled to hear students engage with  the author  through their annotations.  For example, they are asking questions, maybe stopping to argue or evaluate a specific event in the story, and clarifying  important issues—much like having a teacher with you in the room as you read.

It has been very exciting to listen to 8th graders discuss their annotations!


What You Need to Turn in With Your Narrative October 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — jdefors @ 7:03 pm



1. Final Draft

2. Draft #3

3. Draft #2

4. Draft #1

5. Self-Assessment (yellowish rubric)

6. CLAP graphic organizer (purple paper)

7. Shoe Questions (blue paper “Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes”)