978-793-1553 fitz@johnfitz.com

8th & 9th Grade: Assignments Update

I just finished writing all of your end of term comments. It is a fairly prodigious task–about 12,000 words in all, and none of it cut and paste, so anything that helps me at times like this is a big bonus.

Most of you were awesome. Your work was posted in timely ways on an easy to access blog and your assignments were also posted in iTunes with grades and comments–which also makes things easier for me, and for you and your parents. I see your work and grades, and then I write a comment based on what I see and read, and it is very easy for me to see who gives a damn and who does not give a damn. Also big in my book of life.

I do beleive firmly that your assignments and grades should be easy to find, easy to access and easy to submit. I also belive firmly that I should use the iPad as wisely as possible, which is why your reading materials are in iBooks, your writing assignments are in Pages, and the course material and gradebook is accessed in iTunes U, which works with all iPad apps and allows for quick and easy posting, accessing, grading and revising with an equally quick and easy way for us to comment back and forth about individual grades!

Last year, I did try to go all Finalsite for a while. I would love to have “one place” shopping! It would make my life a lot easier. I am sure that sometime in the near future the school will require me to use only Finalsite, but for now it is not really optimized for use with an iPad. Itunes U (used by hundreds of schools and universities) is designed to be simple. It does not try to have “all” the functionality of a full-fledged learning management system. It is simply designed to allow a teacher to create a course and manage the classroom experience for the students and keep everything on an iPad. For the most part, I love it. But…

I do wish iTunes would show your updated total grade to you. It does show it to me, and we need to find a way for you to see your grades whenever you want–at least once a week, so there are no surprises at the end of any semester.

So here are a few changes I am going to make for this semester:

  1. I will put in a weekly “Grade Update” in your assignments. In it you will post a short metacognition about your work for the week, and I will post your updated grade in the comment box. It will only be a two point assignment, but just by writing that short metacognition, you will know your grade AND get two points just for giving a damn. If there is any problem (such as your being sick), we can fix the grade then and there.
  2. All of the assignments will be posted and submitted to iTunes. Often, it will be required to be on your blog, too. You must post a short metacognition (two-three sentences) whenever you post an assignment–and even when you don’t post an assignment, so that there will always be communication between for any assignment whether you did it or not.
  3. I will also post the assignments on the calendar on Finalsite, and I will do my best to keep that current, but the first and last place you should go for a specific assignment is on iTunes.
  4. Last minute changes and homework cancellations will posted in iTunes on the assignment overview discussion thread–not on The Crafted Word, which will now be soley a reading and writing resource website, not a place to post assignments. If I want you to read and post a comment on my site, I will make it an assignment in iTunes U.

My goal is to simplify things, so you do get that one stop experience, and you and I have that one place where we can communicate outside of the classroom about your work and grades in a quick and private way.

Your blog and digital portfolios are still massively important to me, and I fully believe in the power of a shared writing community. There are way too many good posts with zero or one comment. I need to create that time for you to post comments, and I will! 

I hope this sounds good. As teachers we need to rethink and evolve better ways of doing things. I think this will be a better way–and simple, too! Go to iTunes, Upload the assignment. Turn it in.

I do value your thoughts and feedback. If you have any ideas or thoughts, please let me know. And let me know when I screw up!


8th Assignments: Feb 17-28

Please check this for updates!

Wednesday: Introduction to Iambic Poetry

  • Class period #1: Complete iambic dimeter poem


  • Iambic Dimeter: Complete second Iambic dimeter poem.  The first stanza creates the image.  The second or third stanza creates the twist.
  • Post completed poems to your blog. Each poem should have a title.
  • Consider workin gon blog entries


Thursday/Friday: Iambic Trimeter

  • Class period #2: Complete Iambic trimeter poem:


  • Class period #1: Iambic Tetrameter. Complete Iambic tetrameter poem worksheet

Homework: Blogging

  1. Blog Entry#1: Using vivid imagery, humor, paragraphing and exageration, write a 300 word blog entry about how to “make” something. Due Monday
  2. Blog Entry #2: Use the narrative paragraph rurbic and Adobe Voice to write a paragraph about one of the stupidest ideas you ever had. Due Tuesday
  3. Blog Entry #3: Adobe Voice. Explicate a poem using the Literary Analysis Paragraph Rubric. Due Friday.

Tuesday in Class

Sorry that I am not in class…again. The reality of a lot of children.

For in class work today on Tuesday:

Work with one partner–or alone–and complete the worksheet on iTunes U on comma rules. Turn in after class–no later!

For homework,

  • Work on WW Fenn work.
  • Post your WW Fenn Piece Reflection.
  • Work on Adobe Voice Video

Please comment that you have read this, and ask any questions. I can answer them right now.

WW Fenn Week

It is hard to imagine a more perfect weekend for memorizing your WW Fenn piece!

The class presentations will start on Thursday, [Monday for ninth grade] so please be ready. Those with shorter pieces will be asked to go first.

By now you should have posted your WW Fenn piece text and reflection on your blog. Add your Adobe Voice video to the post before tomorrow, if you can.

It is very easy to share your Adobe video. Share it first to Adobe. After it uploads to your site, you can view the video and get the embed code to enable you to post the video on your blog. Spend the time to recite the video as you hope you will in live performance. 

There is nothing now that you are doign that I haven’t already done hundreds of times in my life. I’m not bragging; I’m just saying that I get what you are going through.

…and like the straits of Skylla: the only way out is through!

9th Grade Assignments: Feb 1 – 6

For Friday: Try to choose your WW Fenn poem or literary passage. Spend some time choosing your piece. Read the details on the blog carefully.

We will write about your chosen piece in class on Friday.

NOTE: Make sure that everything that needs to be posted to your blog is posted and formatted correctly.  You do not have to write the Iambic Terameter poem, yet–though you can, as it will be an upcoming assignment!

  1. Poetry reflection #1
  2. Iambic Dimeter poem
  3. Iambic Pentameter Poem
  4. Classmate’s Short story review: post the review “you” wrote on your blog
  5. The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian personal reading response

If you have any questions, please post a comment or email me.


8th Grade: Thursday

The cold and cough and sneezing has me home today.

In class work on your WW Fenn pieces and/or your response and Adobe Voice video.

Spend ten minutes at the end of class writing your metacognitions.

Be sure, too, that everything that should be posted to your blog is posted and formatted correctly:

  1. Odyssey Metacognition Poem/reflection
  2. Two Poetry Responses (one being your WW Fenn piece)
  3. Book 22 Reflection
  4. Where I am from poem and podcast

Email me if you have any questions…

Iambic Dimeter Poem

Iambic Dimeter

When you combine two iambic feet, (ba-booms) you can create poetry in iambic dimeter.  These poems are relatively rare, but are extremely effective for a short observational poem.

NOTE: sometimes the rhythm is more ba-ba-boom [unstressed-unstressed stressed] This is called an anapaestic foot and can be used in place of a strict iambic beat. I have highlighted the anapaests in red.

For Example:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow (A)
Shook down on me (B)
The dust of snow (A)
From a hemlock tree (B)

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
~Robert Frost


Create your own two stanza iambic dimeter poem. Be sure to follow the abab rhyme scheme as in Frost’s poem


ba-boom  ba-boom (a)
ba-boom  ba-boom (b)
ba-boom  ba-boom (a)
ba-boom  ba-boom (b)

ba-boom  ba-boom (c)
ba-boom  ba-boom (d)
ba-boom  ba-boom (c)
ba-boom  ba-boom (d)

Due Wednesday

WW Fenn Publick Speaking Contest

I want you to choose your WW Fenn performance piece this week. We will begin the memorization and performance process immediately–and it is a multi-step process! Performance implies mastery, not simply memorization.

This contest originally started out as a poetry recitation contest. Over the years, the original rules have been bent and distorted to the point where it is sometimes hard to tell that it is supposed to be a celebration of “greatness” in literature, not a mimicking of a speech seen on TV or in a movie; not a silly comic piece or sing-songing children’s story, and not a shallow barrage of clever words set into a story.

I want you to have an experience that will live on in you and for you through as many years as you walk this earth; I want you to remember your words for the power that gives those words timelessness. I want to get back to the purity of the original source and lifeblood of the WW Fenn contest.


  • You may choose a poem, ballad, or a passage from a longer piece of classic or singularly great literature, which includes: novels, short stories, or essays; moreover, you may choose to recite a traditional myth or cultural story.
  • The piece must be at least two minutes long and not more than four minutes.



  • Find a piece and post the words on your blog with a Poetry Response Reflection about “why” you choose your piece.
  • Learn a portion of your piece each night, so that you can practice more in class and receive the feedback you need to do the best you can.

Grading: 25 Points

  • Your grade will be based on the quality of the piece you choose. 2 Points Due Thursday
  • A WW Fenn Response Reflection: 5 Points Due Friday
  • Daily Metacognitions of your progress. 3 points Post in the discussion thread. 100 words per post.
  • Your performance in front of the class. This will be filmed. 5 Points Beginning Next week
  • An Adobe Voice video of your piece posted on your blog. 5 Points Due Tuesday
  • A personal narrative essay (video or written) you will write after your performance is completed. 5 Points TBA


PoetrySoup.com Great selection of ballads 
Shakespeare Passages