Socratic Circle: Immigration in America

Essential Question:

What does it mean to be an immigrant in America?


After exploring various texts throughout the first quarter, you displayed your collective knowledge in a Socratic Circle to discuss our essential question above. Although any text read this quarter was viable, everyone should have four specific texts analyzed prior to the discussion:

  1. “Blaxicans” by Richard Rodriguez (essay)

  2. “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan (essay)

  3. article (from “A New Birth of Freedom” section)

  4. one article from a credible source (your choosing)

Note- You could have incorporated our other relevant texts (“Immigrant in Our Own Land” – Baca (poem) or “Song of Myself”- Whitman (poem))

This is an evaluation image and is Copyright Pamela Perry. Do not publish without acquiring a license. Image number: 0515-1105-0620-2900.

Reminder: You should have…

  •  a bulleted list of the major points from all the texts of your group members

  • a stance on the essential question that you can explain in one concise sentence

  • created five (5) questions to utilize during the scholarly discussion

Ntoes picNotes from Socratic Circle on Immigration in America

Find notes from our class discussions below.

Period 4:

 Period 4 Socratic Circle- ImmigrationPeriod 4 -Immigration 2

Period 6:

P.6 Socratic Circle- Immigration

Writing Assignment:

Over the first quarter, we have discussed the immigrant experience. Based on both the texts we have examined and our Socratic Circle discussion, what does it mean to be an immigrant in America? In three argumentative paragraphs, fully address your stance on the immigrant experience incorporating at least four correctly cited pieces of textual evidence. You must address a minimum of two (2) counterarguments presented during the discussion.

Essay Scoring

Grading essays pic

How were your essays scored?

Recently, I scored your Fall Writing Interim essays. Even though we have discussed the writing rubric in detail, I wanted to provide an additional breakdown of the points system. Please view the number- letter system explained below.

Scoring System:

10-9= A

8-7= B

6-5= C

4-3= D


  • Your largest weakness is written on the front of your essay beside the corresponding category.

    • i.e.- “clear thesis” means you needed a clearer thesis in your introduction.

Reminders/ Patterns Found in Fall Interim Writing Assessments:

  • A title is not optional.

    • Come up with an original title and center it at the top of your essay.

  • Remove yourself from your essay.

    • No “I” statements.

    • No “I think” or “I believe”

  • Your thesis should be one (1) clear and concise sentence at the END of your introduction.

    • i.e.- When it comes to genetically modified foods, there are many benefits and risks. (p.1.)

    • OR

    • i.e.- “While the formation is above sea level, people come to see its fascinating features with different points of view- the “no mortal understands” versus the “we know” approach. (p.4)

  • Read the prompt and determine the type of essay at the BEGINNING.

    • Many of you wrote argumentative essays by giving your own advice instead of simply providing the readers with the facts.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

NaNoWriMo IconNovember is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo!

Because of our stringent schedule, I cannot have the entire class participate in NaNoWriMo, but I would like to offer extra credit to students who participate.

Sometimes we simply need a bit of motivation to help our writing come to life. Sign up for NaNoWriMo here and get started.

NaNoWriMo How To

Need more incentive? Check out this blog post.


  • To receive the extra credit you must show me the badges you have collected during the month of November, as well as your completed novel.

  • You will not receive credit for only a few pages of writing.

Good luck and happy writing!

Writing w colors

Close Reading from “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

Watch period 5 collaboratively close read like pros!

Snapshots from various class periods:Close Reading 1

Take a look at the close reading techniques practiced in class. Remember that close reading is a slow process and should not be rushed. Take your time using context clues to clarify key terms within the text. Summarize paragraphs or sections of the text in order to fully understand what you have read. Make connections between the summaries of each section and the central idea of the text.




On October 14th, 1977, Anita Bryant, an anti-gay activist/singer, was famously hit in the face with a pie on camera by a gay-rights activist. In honor of this day, come to Ms. Ellis’ Room (T81) and get a slice of pie! First come first served!

If you want to watch the video yourself, click here!
You can read more about the incident, and other’s comments on the incident here.

Ms. Ellis’ Literary Duel: How Bookish Are You Really?


I officially challenge you to a duel of literary proportions! Each quarter you will compete against your teacher to see who can read the most books (nonfiction or fiction). If you beat me, you will receive an automatic “A” to use on any project (that same quarter) of your choosing. If you read at least ten (10) books each quarter, I will give you extra credit for the quarter.

Note: It is possible to receive the automatic “A” AND the extra credit. 

Here are the rules:

  1. Your book must be within the Lexile range for your grade level.

    • Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 5.20.25 PM

    • The “Stretch” Lexile Band is for those readers who want to challenge themselves.

  2. Check Lexile levels here by typing the title of your text in the right-hand corner.

  3. You must submit a book review on Goodreads for every book you read. Follow Ms. Ellis on Goodreads so she can see your progress. Your book review must contain the following information:

    • Write a summary of the book including its central idea.

    • Discuss the book’s strengths and weaknesses.

    • Tell whether or not you would recommend the text to other readers.

  4. Keep a hard copy of your reading log posted in the classroom: Ms. Ellis’ Literary Duel Log 

Perpetual Return Writing Assignment


Directions: (to be completed in your class journal)

Write about a foreign place that reminds you of some aspect of home. Or introduce some aspect of the traveler’s home world into this foreign world. (i.e.- Think about a very familiar smell, which takes you to the home of your neighbor across the street, except you’re sitting in a dusty spice merchant’s stall in Quito, Ecuador. Make the completely unfamiliar seem unfamiliar).

(Minor revisions to make assignment appropriate for a classroom setting. Brian Kiteley. The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction. 223. Cincinnati, OH. 2005)


  1. Date your journal entry.

  2. Plan. Brainstorm your ideas before writing.

  3. Come up with a creative title.

  4. Specificity (use specific details to enhance your writing)

  5. Vocabulary (utilize the words learned throughout high school career)

  6. Writing Techniques (i.e., incorporate figurative language, sensory details, imagery, tone)

Length: at least three (3) paragraphs