Smarter Balance Updates.

Our class has completed two of the three days scheduled for the Performance Task of the Smarter Balance. Thursday will be our final day scheduled for this portion of the assessment.

Some notes for next class session:

  • Report to B112, not Portable One
  • Come with nothing to class, other than a pencil and a book to read if you finish the test early. Please leave backpacks, phones, etc. in your locker.

Journal Collection:

To clarify, the journals for To Kill a Mockingbird, were due today. The journals needed to include: Days 1-6 of the Guided Reading Questions, All of the Journal Questions up to Chapter 12 (with the exceptions of chapters 2-3, and 9-11), as well as any other pertinent notes/activities from class.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

-William Milburn


Updates and a change of course (for now)…

Day Six:

Today our Mapping Maycomb assignment was due. Then, we transitioned into our Teacher for the Day discussions. We are putting this assignment on pause for the time being as we need to change our schedule for Smarter Balance Testing.

Our next assessment will be for students to create a Character Sketch (Profile) of a character of their choice from the novel. The guidelines, rubric, and an example can be found in the links below:

Character Sketch GuidelinesCharacter Sketch RubricCharacter Sketch Example

The next task was a group activity to practice analyzing characters. Each group was randomly assigned a character from the novel. Groups were asked to create a profile for their character, on a poster. Information needed to  include: picture, quotes, personality traits, and potential hobbies and interests (kind of like a “Facebook” page).

Each group will share their poster on Wednesday.


  • Read Chapters 16, 17,18
  • Day Six Guided Reading Question
  • Chapter 12-15 Journal Question
  • Character Sketch Due April 21

Smarter Balance: 

On Wednesday, I will be teaching a lesson that is a precursor to the Performance Task (Grade 08 Writing). Our class will begin the Performance Task starting Friday (04.17) and will take the next two class period after that (04. 21, 04.23). 

Then, on the week of May 4-7, we will take the second English portion (Literacy Assessment).

Obviously this disrupts our schedule for the novel. I will update the site frequently and remind students in class to take note of the adjustments.

NOTE: I encourage students and families to go onto the OAKS portal, and take the practice tests and check out the additional resources. Eighth grade students will get a “nuts and bolts” tutorial in their Technology or Math class. This is just additional exposure as we head into teasing.

The site:

Please let me know if you have any questions.

– William Milburn


Onward we go…

Here is the update for Day Five of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Teacher for the Day: We had our second set of teachers present to their groups. New teachers will present to their groups on Monday, April 13. Teachers for this day need to send me their information by Sunday evening, please.

Chapter 9-11 Questions: Students again worked in groups to answer some questions related to chapters 9-11. Copies of the questions and (brief) answers can be found below:

TKAM- Chapters 9-11 Questions

TKAM- Chapters 9-11 Questions and Answers


  • Read Chapters 12,13,14, and 15.
  • Guided Reading Question – Day 5
  • Mapping Maycomb – Due April 13

Note: Students, you do NOT need to do the chapter 9-11 journal Question.

For now,

William Milburn


One Shot Finch

Below is an outline of activities covered in class and assigned for homework.

Mapping Maycomb: Students were assigned two tasks.

1. Map the town of Maycomb using quotes from the text.

2. Draw the Radley home and write a brief summary from the perspective of one of the characters.

Guidelines, rubric, and other information can be found in the links below:

Mapping Maycomb Guidelines,

Mapping Maycomb, Alabama

This assignment is due on April 13th.

Teacher for the Day:  Today we had our first set of students present their information and artifacts to their groups. These students were very well prepared and did an excellent job.  Group members were required to copy the vocabulary and quotes into their journal (under Day Four).

Reminder: Next class we will have new “teachers”. They are to cover chapters 9-11 and send their handout to me the day before (Wednesday, April 08).

Chapter 1-8 Questions

Collaborating with their groups, students were asked to answer nine questions covering the first eight chapters of the book. We then discussed the answers as a class.

The questions: TKAM- Chapters 1-8 Questions

Answers (brief): Chapter1-8QuestionsTKAM


  • Read Chapters 9-11
  • Chapter 7-8 Journal Question
  • Guided Reading Question Day Four

Important Dates:

  • Mapping Maycomb due April 13
  • Journal Collection – April 17

Contact me with any questions or concerns.

For now,

William Milburn

To Kill a Mockingbird – Day Two and Three

Here are the updates for the past two class periods.

Day Two:

We started the second day of the novel by continuing some discussion on beliefs and opinions, through a “four corner” activity. Students were read a statement and were then asked to move to a corner with a number that correlated to the extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). This activity spurned great discussion in class and a large number of students shared their beliefs and perspectives on challenging topics in a mature and insightful manner.

We then read an article that gave a historical context for the novel and provided some necessary background information. Students determined important facts, shared with their small groups, and then discussed as a class. A link to the article can be found here:

Day Three: 

Today we started the class by discussing one of the assessments for this unit, the “Teacher of the Day” assignment. Students will be teaching vocabulary, sharing and discussion an essential quote, and finding/creating an artifact that relates to the chapter. When it’s a student’s turn for their group, they are to email me their written report by 5:00PM the day before class.

The rubric and guidelines can be found here: Teacher for the Day- To Kill a Mockingbird

Then, in small groups, students shared their responses for the Guided Reading Question: Day One and the Chapter One Journal Question. We then transitioned into a whole group share out.

The remainder of the class period was built to allow students time to read and work on the various journal entires.

Journal: These are the entires that need to be completed as of this morning. Copies of the questions are in the previous update.

  • Day One Entry:  Guided Reading Question: Day One, Chapter One Journal Question, additional notes/activities from class
  • Day Two Entry: Guided Reading Question: Day Two, class notes and activities


  • Read chapters 7-8
  • Day Three Entry:  Guided Reading Question: Day Three, Chapters 4-6 Journal Question.

As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns.

-William Milburn



To Kill a Mockingbird: Day One

Today we started To Kill a Mockingbird. Students checked out books from the ISB Media Center (note: if you still have not turned in Fahrenheit 451, please do so immediately). 

Below is the reading schedule and corresponding journal questions for each day. I am allowing students to read ahead, but with the understanding that their discussions need to focus on the assigned reading and cannot be informed by information later discovered in the novel.

Reading Schedule

Journal Questions -Page One

Journal Questions -Page Two


Students will be keeping a journal for the novel. They are expected to answer each day’s Guided Reading Question (GRQ) and Journal Question. 

The GRQ is to help reader’s navigate the text and create a mindset to approach the assigned reading. This information will help inform and prepare students for discussions taking place the next class period.

Journal Questions are going to help students reflect and make personal connections to the novel.

Below is a format to follow and help organize each day’s journal entries:

To Kill a Mocking Bird – Journal Format

Class Activity:  A portion of the class today (and again on Wednesday) will be dedicated to laying a foundation for the novel. We will explore personal opinions, bias, and create a historical context for the novel. Our first activity was to finish “sentence starters”. I was really happy to hear a wide range of perspectives and insight for these prompts. See a copy of the activity below:

Opinions for Discussion

Homework (due next class period): 

  • Read Chapters 1-3 in the novel.
  • Answer Day 1 GRQ and Chapter 1 Journal Question

As always, please feel free to email me with any questions.

-William Milburn


Poetry: We’ll miss you, until we meet again…

English: We still have a few more presentations to finish upon our return from break. Once they are completed we will officially conclude our Poetry Unit.

Next: I am excited to teach our unit on To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s classic has had a tremendous impact on readers for many generations. This unit will truly challenge students to think critically and beyond their own personal world view. I will add further information on the unit, including handouts and assessment details, in a post next week.

I hope my students and their families have a safe and enjoyable spring break. I encourage everyone (adults included!) to do some leisure reading over the next 10 days.

Enjoy the Madness,

William Milburn

ISB Community Service Day 2015: My Eighth grade Advisory went on a service trip today. We helped landscape and clean a facility called Imagine Possibilities. Imagine Possibilities helps provide services for individuals with developmental disabilities. We were fortunate enough to work and hang out with some of the people served by this organization. For many students this was their first time meeting a person with developmental disabilities. Apprehension quickly dissipated into respect. I am so proud of these students and their hard work and willingness to go outside their comfort zone

Here are some photos from our outing:








Thanks again students and parent volunteers! I think yesterday was a big success.

For now,

William Milburn


Poetry Speeches: Day Two

Today we continued with our second day of Poetry Analysis Speeches. I was again impressed by the overall quality of the presentations from our students. Keep up the great work!

We will finish presenting speeches on Thursday (note: meeting days are shifted this week for our Community Service Day). 

For now,

William Milburn

Advisory: Community Service Day

An ongoing tradition at ISB includes a day of community service for our middle school students. I think it’s important to reflect on why we serve others:

  • —To fulfill our ISB mission statement—“to become compassionate world citizens”
  • —To develop our interests and strengths
  • —To be a risk-taker and try new things
  • —To build community among groups of students/staff (advisory classes)
  • —To show the greater community how much ISB students care!

My Advisory class will be volunteering at Imagine Possibilities. We will be helping with some basic landscaping, gardening, other  improvements to brighten the facility. Imagine Possibilities provides services for children and adults with developmental disabilities here in Beaverton. More information about this great organization can be found here:

Since we will be doing some outdoor related work, I made the following suggestions for students in order to pack and prepare:

  • You must wear closed toe shoes – no sandals!
  • Pack a sack lunch, or order one from the cafeteria ahead of time (see me ASAP).
  • Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Bring a rain coat if you have one
  • Bring garden/work gloves if you have some at home

Attention: Our trip will need two parent volunteers. If you are willing and able to help us on our trip, please email me:

Lastly, students need to bring in a completely filled out permission form by Community Service Day (March, 17 – next Tuesday).

Please let me know if you have any questions. Take care,

William Milburn