Mrs. Amy Finley

7th Grade Lions Language Arts


November 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 1 of a 2 day week is done! The students are so excited for their upcoming Thanksgiving break.

Today I shared some nonfiction books with the students for their December book talk. I am hoping that many of them can get a jump start on their reading since it is such a short month before they do their book talk. The book talk guidelines should still fit, with the exception of a few of them. Most of the book talk guidelines can be applied to a book regardless of the genre. Even book talk #7 To Read or Not to Read This Book (a lot of the students favorite) can still fit for this book talk.

I would like to tentatively set the book talks for Wednesday, December 11 that way if we need the 12th or 13th we can still use those days. That means that the students have 16 days until their next book talk. I should note that many of their nonfiction books are shorter than the fiction books so I’m sure that this is ample time for them to be able to complete their book talk by the deadline. I have urged them to go ahead and write their book talk if they finish their book early so that they are writing it when it is still fresh in their head.



  • Read at least 20 minutes of your nonfiction book to prepare for your December book talk.


~Mrs. Finley


Friday, September 22, 2013

Happy Friday!

I can’t even believe that November is almost over already. Where has the year gone?!

I wanted to let you know about our exciting news at Hayes. Mr. Williams, eighth grade math teacher, has been developing a new homework website. The goal is to have all of the homework in one place for the three years your student is at Hayes instead of having to go through each team website. This was just launched this week but I anticipate that teacher’s will begin using it this next week. You can check out the E.J. Hayes Homework Hotline at the following website: 

We continued our book talks in class today. We are almost finished! I have two classes that have finished book talks and two classes that are very close to finishing (these are the two largest classes so that is really not a surprise).

My goal on Monday, our library day, is to share some great nonfiction books with the students to help them prepare for their December book talk. They will have to choose something quickly since they will only have 3 weeks before their December book talk.



Read at least 20 minutes.

I encouraged the students that if they finish their nonfiction book early to go ahead and write their book talk while it was still fresh in their memory. 🙂 


Have a great weekend!

~Mrs. Finley

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wow! The book presentations today have been fantastic so far! I am so proud of the kids for preparing and working so hard on these.

The kids are hearing about a lot of other really great books that they may want to read in the future. Their enthusiasm about reading is contagious and I see it spreading. The kids are very excited to hear about good books that will keep them hooked!

Tomorrow we will, hopefully, finish up the book talk presentations.


Read at least 20 minutes tonight.

If you did not present today, be ready to give your presentation tomorrow.

~Mrs. Finley

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I am sure that many students are busily working on their book talk presentations tonight. I hope that they are not just writing their book talk but also practicing so that they can feel comfortable with their presentation for tomorrow. 

I had a talk with some of the students today about why reading is so important and how I really am not trying to make them do something that I don’t think will be useless in the future. My goal is to help prepare them for their future, whether that is going to college, playing professional sports or going to trade school, reading will help them in life.

We talked about how professional sports players, such as LeBron James, is a reader because he says it relaxes him before the games. In fact, he was photographed reading the Hunger Games before the championship game because it takes his mind off the pressure and allows him to relax. 

I also talked to them about how the tests for college, such as the ACT and SAT, are all really reading tests. They may say it is a math test or a science test, however the math test is mostly word problems and the science test is usually a big experiment with lots of graphs and data. They have to be able to read all of that information to perform well which then determines the college they are accepted at. I always let the kids know that I find it funny as a Language Arts teacher that I actually tested highest in science on the ACT. It was simply because the test was really lots of reading and charts and graphs. I was great at nonfiction!

Part of what I really like about reading workshop is that the students are selecting their own books. I want to help guide them to select books that are going to enhance their vocabulary and not be too easy for them, however I also want them to select a book that they enjoy. I am trying to give them time in class to read because a lot of my students complain that they have sports, club activities, chores, etc. after school and don’t have a lot of time to read.

I really hope that they understand the importance of reading and why it will help them reach their potential no matter what field they choose to enter in the future. 

A few students have asked about the nonfiction genre for the month of December. I am open to any nonfiction books, even if it is only 30 pages long. Nonfiction is just as important for students to read and learn about because it continues to build their vocabulary as well as teach them about real-world issues, events, people, etc. For the nonfiction genre there are so many great books, such as A Child Called ItWe Beat the StreetThe Diary of Anne Frank, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, etc. that will teach them about someone else’s life and experiences. They could also choose to read about animals, such as Unlikely Friendships, Marley & Me, etc. Maybe they just want to learn more about the Yellow Fever epidemic or read a book about The Black Plague. I am open to any books for December so long as it is nonfiction. Page limit does not matter, however I would like for it to continue to challenge them and not be too easy. 

I have asked the advanced students to try to aim for 300 pages for this month (instead of the 500) since they only have 3 weeks. That means they can read a fiction book, if they would like, after they have read their nonfiction book for their presentation.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a list of the notable nonfiction books for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and the current 2013 year at this website: Just scroll down to “nonfiction” and you will see several award-winning books. The public library has almost all of these available and our school library has a few as well.

Today we also continued to identify character traits in our book and gave evidence to show how characters are alike and how they are different with examples from the text. I also asked the students to connect to a character in their book and give me a specific example of how they were alike.


Prepare for your book talk presentation tomorrow.

~Mrs. Finley


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Good evening!

Today we had writing workshop in class. The students worked on their myth and I had conferences with those that were ready to see me. I am hoping that by next week we can begin work on a different writing piece as we take a break from this one for a while. The students that waited to have a conference with me were either reading their books or preparing their book talk presentation during class.



Read at least 20 minutes. If you are beginning your book for December remember that is just needs to be a nonfiction book. This can be a biography, autobiography or memoir. It could also be a book about history, science, etc. Feel free to check the books that Mrs. Butler has available in the library at the following website: You can type in a keyword, such as “animals,” “space,” or just type in “nonfiction.” If you click on the title of the book it will take you to a new page with a little information about what the book is about.

Prepare your book talk for on Thursday.


~Mrs. Finley

Monday, November 18, 2013

Good evening!

Today was our reading workshop day. The students continued the character trait activity from on Friday. They really had almost the entire class period to just read and fill out the graphic organizer (same one from on Friday). Some students did not finish so they will finish the graphic organizer tonight as homework.


Finish the character trait graphic organizer if you did not finish in class. This is due tomorrow.

Read at least 20 minutes of your fantasy or science fiction book to prepare for the book talk on Thursday!


~Mrs. Finley

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Friday!

Today we had reading workshop and as we read our books we identified character traits about a character based on what they say, do, think, etc. I showed the students how to fill out a simple character trait graphic organizer so that they could show me their thinking as they read and then they had at least 20 minutes to read in class. We will finish up this activity on Monday.

The seventh grade teachers hosted the dance after school. It was a lot of fun to see the students relaxed and outside of the classroom environment.


Read at least 20 minutes each night to continue to build your reading stamina and vocabulary.

Begin to prepare the presentation for the book talk on Thursday, November 21 on a fantasy or science fiction book. I encouraged the students to begin planning this early so they will have plenty of time to rehearse and get comfortable enough so that they can be more engaging with the audience.

~Mrs. Finley

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Good evening!

Today was our writing day in class. The students worked on their original myth that they have been revising and editing. At this point, I talked to the students about stepping away from this writing piece for awhile after they have had a conference with me and have made the revisions that we decided on making. I feel that we have really given their myths a lot of our precious writing time and I would like to move on to another writing piece and revisit the myths at a later point in the year. The students seemed really excited about working on another writing piece and putting this one away for now.

Tomorrow is a reading day so students will need their books.


Read at least 20 minutes to prepare for the fantasy or science fiction book talk on Thursday, November 21.

Reminder, tomorrow is the school dance that the 7th grade teachers are hosting. Students can pay $3 at the door or bring in 3 canned goods and get in for free.


~Mrs. Finley

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sorry for not blogging the past few days. Friday we had an assembly and I simply forgot to blog. Monday I was absent and Tuesday we had to stay late for the school spelling bee so I didn’t get home until late and it slipped my mind.

Today in class we practiced identifying character traits in our books. The students had to select one character and identify three character traits and give evidence from their book. I continued to have writing conferences because they are taking more time than I had hoped. The stories the kids have been writing are really imaginative and I am really impressed! I am hoping some of the students will consider submitted them for publication. I will post some more information on that later this week. 🙂


Book talk for fantasy or science fiction is on Thursday, November 21. Make sure to look over the book talk guidelines and the rubric that is posted under “Book Talks” on the blog website.

Read at least 20 minutes tonight.

~Mrs. Finley

Blog at

Up ↑