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: william_milburn@beaverton.k12.or.us

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

English: Poetry Speeches

Yesterday started our first day of our Poetry Speeches and Presentations. We had a strong first day and those who were prepared to present, did an excellent job.

Students: Please send me a link, attachment, or bring in a hard copy of your presentation/speech.

No Homework. 

For now,

William Milburn

Poetry Analysis Response.

Today our class did the “unseen” Poetry Analysis assessment. Students were given two individual poems, and then asked to choose one to analyze. Their multi-paragraph response needed to include various components of the TP-CASTT system addressing theme and overall meaning of the selected poem.

Students will be graded on Criterion A. This grade will be included in the upcoming progress reports.

If you would like to read the poem options, click the links below:

“Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

“Tonight” by Agha Shahid Ali

For now,

William Milburn

Grading and Unseen Poem


StudentVUE should be open on your grade book. I encourage you to take time this weekend to look at your grade, as we are heading into the final week before progress reports. If you have initial questions, please let me know. On Monday you will have your book speeches and book covers returned with feedback. Some students have neglected to turn in parts or even all of the three assessments at this point (journals, book preservation speech, and book covers) and have lower grades than expected. Please correct this by next Thursday. The expectation is for students to complete all assessments.

You will have one more summative assessment that will be reflected on this progress report – the in class response to the unseen poem.

Unseen Poem: 

On Monday you will write a response to an “unseen” poem. Students will be expected to read the poem and then demonstrate their proficiency with the TP-CASTT analysis system (as we have been practicing in class), as well as, their ability to write an insightful response.


  • Go over the TP-CASTT sheet and make sure you have a strong understanding of each component: TP-CASTT Analysis
  • Review your own TP-CASTT sheets along with the Prezis for each poem. Pay attention to the ideas you wrote down and reflect on how you formed them. Prezis for each poem can be found in earlier posts.

If you have questions, please let me know via email. Thank you!

Enjoy your weekend,

William Milburn

Poetry Updates

Good Morning,

Today our class worked on their Poetry Speeches in the media center. Most students took great advantage of this work time to create presentations and to ask questions about the assignment and their poems.

In reflecting on the week ahead, and the upcoming STEM Expo for Science, I decided to adjust our upcoming assessments.

Poetry Speeches will now begin on March 11.  

Next Monday (March 9) our class will do an unseen poem analysis. Students will dissect the poem and identify meaning based on the components we have been practicing with our TP-CASTT activities.

For now,

William Milburn


It was a rather chilly ride in this morning at is was easy to complain about the drop in temperature. However, this is the lake I grew up on (Lake Huron) frozen over. A friend posted this picture last week and it helped me be thankful for this mild Oregon winter.

More updates coming soon.

Lake Huron

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Mullen


Poetry Unit: Week One

Sorry for the delay on updating – It’s been a rather busy week!

Here are the notes and information for this week:


We reviewed theme and contrasted it from main/central ideas. Notes can be found here:

Theme and Central Idea


Finding Theme

Finding Theme

Then we used the TP-CASTT analysis system to dissect the poem/song, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Samuel Beam, in small groups.

Poem and notes are found here:


Flightless Bird, American Mouth


In groups, our class created an analysis by paraphrasing and discussing the theme of the poem, “Not Waving But Drowning” by Stevie Smith.

The poem and notes can be found below:

Not Waving But Drowning: Poem

Not Waving but Drowning- Prezi Notes


Today we listened to and the did a TP-CASST analysis on, “Kitchenette Building” by Gwendolyn Brooks. This poem proved to be a bit challenging but allowed for some great discussion amongst groups.

The poem and notes:

Kitchenette Building: Poem

Kitchenette Building- Prezi Notes

Homework and next Class:

Students are being asked to have a poem selected for their speech presentation by class on Tuesday, March 2.

If you are struggling to find a poem:

1. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/browse

2. On the left, ” Refine Your Search”  – you can narrow down by author, idea, etc.

3. Find a poem you can analyze. There are thousands of poems on this site. If you are still struggling to find one, please let me know as soon as possible.

Next class period we will be working on our speech presentations in the Media Center. Please plan on working on your presentation – come prepared!

Poetry Speeches will begin on March 9, 2015. 

I think this is “everything” for the time being. As always, feel free to ask questions, seek help, and so forth.

Enjoy your weekend,

William Milburn