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8th grade gifted English follows the 9th grade curriculum in the order of the 8th grade units. 8th grade gifted Extended Academics intends to stretch gifted learners as does 8th grade Extended Academics intends to enrich studies for students scoring well in mathematics on standardized tests.

by Gabrielle teacher: Anita Roberts-Long
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Title: Revised Nonfiction piece (10/24/11)
Description: Revise your nonfiction piece from teacher comments, more time with the piece, and more distance from the piece. Post as article to your blog.

Deadline: 10/24 by 8:30 a.m.

Article posted October 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1944

I Choose Happiness

“Why am I not happy? Where did I go wrong? What happened to make me so upset, sad, and this feeling of being alone? Where did things go so… wrong?”

“Well, that sounds like an intrinsic question to me. Although, you should have realized by now- that you are not alone.”

We all wish there was a magical ‘Key to Happiness’ or ‘The Trick to Love’. People have spent their entire lives looking for it, countries have fought for it, and religions are devoted to it- hoping to find happiness in ‘salvation’.

A question to ask yourself, is will you ever be truly happy? I a lot of people say that true happiness, is impossible. It is impossible, because humans are all selfish beings; we all have an ‘evil’ within us, or that a long time ago a woman and a man ate an apple off of a tree (to give an examples). It seems to me that those aren’t exactly good reasons as to why you can’t have true happiness. It looks like a reason to deny yourself from finding your happiness.

I genuinely hope that, you can say that you had one of those moments. It could happen at any time. One of those rare feelings where you all of a sudden feel that everything in the world is just right, and you are in your own small bubble of pure bliss. Where you are so happy you feel your heart may explode, from this intense happiness. I’ve felt this, and it is wonderful, but is it ‘True Happiness’? It’s a possibility that it could be. When you’re not happy, what are you? You could be feeling any emotion, but just because it’s not happiness, doesn’t mean it’s not a good emotion.

You see, you don’t have to be happy or sad, you can just be content. Content with your surroundings, content with your life, happy about the fact that you can wake up every morning and see at least one person you love that day. I personally think being content is always nice. Some have said the ‘key’ to happiness, is using the feelings we have that ‘branch’ off of happiness. Whether it is ‘ignorance’, ‘love’, or as some people would argue—‘knowledge’, it really doesn’t make a difference. You have to realize that nobody can really tell you what will make you happy, or where you will find love. There are a lot of choices you have to make on your own, whether you like it or not. To find ‘happiness’ sometimes you just have to choose it. Then perhaps, one day, you will find your true happiness. It may be in an object, thought, or idea. Or it could be that your true happiness is in that one special person and theirs in you.

I happen to have a paradox to my happiness. I’m happy always growing, learning, and going forward, yet when I’m happy I find I’m no longer motivated to move towards my goals. And then soon, because of this ‘loop’ I simply become sad. Then I soon start moving towards my goals and this will happen over, and over again. Stuck in a loop, I happened to be told a simple solution- one I personally find easier said than done.

It happens to be, that happiness isn’t something complicated. You don’t have to sit there for hours and wonder how on Earth you ended up being unhappy. Happiness is a simple, lovely feeling, which you just hold close to your heart. I had to realize that happiness and love are in everything. From a night sky, to a child, an animal, a poem, a picture, a person, even homework if that’s what you enjoy. So, if happiness can be found in everything, where is sadness found?

Sadness is something we bring upon ourselves. It is an emotion that mainly sprouts from within us, and comes out as tears. I still get incredibly sad, almost depressed, from time to time. It’s difficult to try to stay happy, but it not complicated. You just have to mark your own beginning, on a true ‘whim-of-the-moment’, choose happiness.

Article posted October 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1944

Article posted October 25, 2011 at 03:35 AM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1428

rticle posted October 12, 2011 at 07:34 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 32

Red Scarf Girl is a book telling a teenagers experience in the Cultural Revolution. Now most people could not even begin to imagine what it would be like to live like this but I see it as a more concentrated form of a little story I like to call my life. Everyone you may think I am overreacting but I did say my life is better, but in some ways it resembles. So I am going to give on example through a metaphor.

So in this story there are red guards who on the slightest suspicion go inside people houses, search for anything that looks wrong, and take it. In the process, they leave the house in a complete wreck, and if the owners argue .They are taken. Now to get to the fun part. Me telling you how my mom and the red guards are not that much different.

Well this morning my mom told me to be quiet because my baby sister was sleeping .I agreed, of course it is common etiquette. When I come back from walking my dog (at 6 AM), my mom says I cut it too short. Say okay I will go do it again; I come back 20 minutes later. She says that is too short so I run around my block in about 5 minutes and come back sweaty. Then she gets mad at me comes into my room, pulls out all my drawers, and throws my TV on the ground while screaming at me. I ask her to be quiet because my little sisters sleeping in a quiet tone and she screams, that she can do anything she wants in her house and I agree then my sister wakes up. Leaving me to clean up the mess. A bit like Ji Li Jiang and her family…


Article posted October 25, 2011 at 03:35 AM GMT0 • comment • Reads 1428

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:31 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 751

One day when I was five years old, I decided to go to my Paw-Paw's fishing dock with my dad. I was with him, my brother, and my sister. Before we arrived when we were in the boat, my hat flew off. That made my dad a little upset because he was telling me to take it off so it wouldn't fly away. When we finally arrived to the dock, we all walked to the covered area. In it was a couch, a T.V., a refrigerator, and a shower. I was bored as my dad and Paw-Paw were talking amongst themselves, I decided to sit at the edge of the dock and let my feet hang over. I noticed a dead fish pass by, so I lifted my feet up and leaned over the dock. I started poking the fish. Everyone was still inside talking to each other and watching T.V. My dad noticed what I was doing and told me to stop because I would fall in. I disagreed with him and told him I wouldn't. I kept poking the fish, ignoring what my dad had continuously told me. I was poking the fish for a while which made it move further from me so I had to reach far just to poke it. I guess it was too far away because I couldn't reach it. I tried my hardest, but I couldn't, and found myself in the water. The water was deep, and I was only five years old so I couldn't swim. The mud underneath my feet wasn't helping because every now and then my feet would get stuck in it. There was a big electrical box right by me, and I was really scared to go by it. A few moments later I saw my brother running toward me in the water. He picked me up out of the water and put me back on the dock. He was about thirteen years old back then. After that I had to go rinse off in the shower and get my clothes washed. My brother had to do the same. I think my dad was really upset with me for not listening to him again. For some reason, every time my parents tell me something is going to happen to me, I ignore them and it does happen. Still to this day, I'm stubborn and don't listen when they tell me something. I should start listening to my parents when they tell me to do something or not to. But kids are supposed to give their parents a hard time right? Well, that's why you shouldn't poke dead fish!

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:31 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 751

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:06 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 711

A "Not So Fun" Fishing Trip

Have you ever been fishing before? Well, I fish a whole lot. If you have never gone fishing before, you should really try it.I have been fishing since I could walk, so I know a lot about the sport/hobby and I have a great number of memories from it.

One time I went to my cousin's house that was located just outside of Memphis, Tennessee. My cousin's house stood right by a pond that I always fished in, so right when I got there I went straight to the dock and started fishing. After about 30 minutes my brother got bored with my cousins and decided to come join me. He soon got bored fishing too, so he decided he would try to joke around with me. He told me he had a fish so he yanked the pole and accidentally sent the hook flying through the air. The hook flew right past me but still managed to cut my eye wide open.

After the hook cut my eye, I couldn't see through it at all. I went straight to my mom and showed her what happened. My mother told me she almost passed out once she saw my eye after the incident occurred. She also said my pupil was shaped like a pear, so she knew something was wrong right when i walked into the room. After seeing all of this, she rushed me straight to the hospital. When we got there, the doctor examined my eye and said the hook was about a millimeter away from blinding my right eye. The doctor made me wear an eye patch for 5 days. The eye patch overall just sucked. Since I had to wear the eye patch for so long, it would take at least an hour every time I took the eye patch off just for my eye to readjust. A week or two later, my eye was fully functional again. The hook had left a scar that was almost right on top of my pupil. Now, it moved up and is in the back of my right eye.My brother and I have given each other numerous scars.I have scars on my eye, knees and feet from him while he has scars on his hands, arms and knees from me.

Now, my dad makes our whole family wear glasses when we go fishing. The only reason he does this is to prevent this incident from occurring again. Overall, this event wasn't a very fun one but a very memorable one.

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:06 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 711

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:04 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 526

4:00 A.M., Butte la Rose, cold as an Alaskan winter. There was still a veil of fog over the land. My uncle awoke me like a drill sergeant waking up a platoon. I leapt out of bed and into my camouflage-hunting garb. My uncle grabbed his shotgun and we were out the door by 4:15 A.M. I couldn’t bring a shotgun because I didn’t have a hunting license yet since this was my first time and I wasn’t sure if I’d liked hunting. My uncle and I met up with some of his friends to pick up the beagles that we were going to use for the hunt. 4:30 A.M., we arrived at the kennel and the dogs were howling up a storm because they were excited and ready for the hunt. My uncle picked three or four of his favorite dogs and the chase began.

First, we checked out an area of tall grasses and the men let the beagles loose. We started looking around until one of the beagles started howling, which meant, “I’ve found one, I’ve found one!” My uncle ran over to where the noise was coming from and found the dog barking at a squirrel. Although this as an early sign of failure, I was still hopeful that the dogs or us would spot a rabbit. About fifteen minutes later, as some of the guys were ready to try a different spot, there was another earsplitting howl. This time it came from just outside a circle of five old abandoned rusty cars. As we all encircled the cars, a cat sprung out and was then quickly pursued by one of the beagles. Each and every time a letdown or false alarm like this occurred, my hope in finding a rabbit went up but my faith in actually catching one went down.

5:30 A.M., after an hour of false sightings, some of my uncle’s friends were thinking about throwing in the towel, but others wanted to check the woods, which was bound to have tons of rabbits. I couldn’t even consider quitting yet, especially since this was my first time going hunting even though I wasn’t allowed to shoot a gun. I just couldn’t go home empty handed. I think failure was what kept me motivated and optimistic. It would be a terrible car ride home if no one shot a rabbit.

There it was again, the howling of a beagle, which came from deep inside the woods. My uncle and I rushed over to the sound but had to be careful not to trip over any branches. Zoom! The rabbit ran by in a blur with the beagle on its tail. My uncle couldn’t get a good aim for a while but then had the rabbit in his sights. Or so he thought.

He fired his big twelve guage and there was a bloodcurdling whine. My uncle had just shot his favorite dog. I tried to convince him we could make it to the nearest pet hospital and he just shook his head. The shotgun blast (multiple pieces of singeing metal) had ripped through the poor dog’s flesh. I thought about how much pain the beagle must have been in. The blood was now oozing out of the dog's body. My uncle answered that unasked question. “I think we should put him down.” He said sullenly.

You could see the twisted anguish in his face and in the beagle’s. I know people say animals don’t have feelings, but after seeing the torment in that dog’s deep blue eyes, I don’t know how anyone could say that.

My uncle guided me out of the forest. We took nine steps from the beagle before the executing shot rang out through all of Butte la Rose. On the way home I saw that the nearest pet hospital was in Breaux Bridge, which was about thirty minutes away. I’ll just say one thing… it was a long car ride home. Arrived home, 8:00 A.M., Halloween morning.

Article posted October 24, 2011 at 02:04 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 526

Article posted October 17, 2011 at 06:15 AM GMT0 • comment • Reads 776

I rose from the seat, tired, exhausted, but proud at what I had accomplished. The bright lights blinded me from viewing anything more than a yard in front of me. Even so, I could tell that the sea of people had risen. Was this a dream? I couldn’t believe it! How did I get here?

On a cold December morning, I pulled up to Cathedral Carmel. Representing Paul Breaux Middle, I strode across the floor to where my destiny awaited. There, in the middle of Cathedral Carmel’s gym floor, was a single piano—a digital—and even though I didn’t know it, it would change my life completely.

I sat down and began to play my “remixed” version of “The Flight of the Bumblebee”. I wasn’t nervous. Why should I be? This was only for fun and it’s just like any other competition, right? Wrong. This competition would bring me so much further than a regular competition.

Winning first place that day was just the beginning. I now had an opportunity to go on—to expand my horizons. Never did I second-guess my answer when they asked me to go to the state competition.

Eleven thousand people packed into the Cajundome as they were seated to hear me and my competitors play. I looked out to the crowd from my vantage point, but all I saw was an endless sea of people stretching to some place far in the distance. I wasn’t sure where it ended nor did I know if it ended at all. Backstage, I put on my gloves—trying to keep my fingers warm. I was nervous—not about playing in front of such a large crowd, but because I was afraid my fingers would freeze up. It was my turn. I took a hold of the gloves and flung them off, marching up onto the stage, tall and proud. I had made it this far and I wasn’t turning back now! I got to the piano and touched the keys, hoping for the best.

For the next three minutes, I was no longer at the Cajundome. I was no longer on stage. There were no longer eleven thousand people watching me. I was in my own world. I wasn’t playing for anyone in particular—I wasn’t even playing for myself! I was just letting the music flow from my fingers to the keys of the piano. Unaware of the people surrounding me, I played. Nearing the end of the piece, I increased in intensity—performing the notes with such emotion that I was starting to shake a bit.

I finished. I longed for more time to play, but the sound of applause awoke me from my daydream. I had snapped back into reality. And what did I hear and see? Eleven thousand students giving me a standing ovation. At that moment, I was complete. I had won first place at the Jr. Beta State Convention!

For the next few days, I was in awe. I just could not believe it! I kept asking myself if it had been a dream, but it never was. I was number one in the state of Louisiana. But this story doesn’t end there—that’s just the beginning.

Over the next month, I worked twice as hard to get my piece completely mastered as I, the first person in the history of Paul Breaux’s Jr. Beta Club to go to nationals, prepared to leave. A week before the national competition began, my parents and I departed for Nashville.

I was backstage of the Delta Ballroom, wearing a white suit, sitting. Calmly, I listened to the performances of my competitors, who were extremely talented. The audience was smaller than at the state competition, but strangely enough, it didn’t calm my nerves.

As I sat and waited, I thought of what could happen. What would happen if I won? And what if I were to lose? My thoughts were interrupted as they called number 5—me—up to stage. I rose hesitantly and walked across the stage, trying not to give away my nervousness. Six thousand people made eye contact with me at that moment. That was what made me go on. I couldn’t stop now! Not even if I was afraid of the inevitable. I had to keep going, bringing joy to these people who listened to me play.

I bowed and turned to the piano. The small digital piano from the district competition at Cathedral Carmel had transformed into a massive grand piano. I sat at the bench, barely pressing my fingers to the keys. This was it. My long journey was finally coming to an end. As the applause slowed, I began, my fingers pounding the plastic and ebony keys at an uncanny speed.

My body was in the real world, but my mind was again away. I felt as if I were the only person in the universe, playing my music. The three minutes of real time seemed to stretch forever in this other world. But I liked it, for it was in these three minutes that I completely relaxed, giving way to everything and anything that had happened before, just focusing on music. As I passed hard parts in the song, I knew that the end of this piece was drawing closer. And as I played the last chord of the piece, I was snapped back into reality. For a few seconds, I was confused as of where I was—and then I realized the people. But these people were not just clapping. They were hollering and cheering—for me! As I stood up, dozens of people at a time did the same. Bowing, I returned backstage to hear all of the stories of my competitors, amazed at what I had done.

Then, the hour drew closer—the awards ceremony.

“Special talent,” the announcer said. Mrs. Reamer, my parents, and I sat at the edge of our chairs. “5th place . . .” I was calm. I didn’t know what there was to worry about. “4th place . . .” I clapped for winners. “3rd place . . .” They haven’t called my name yet. Should I be afraid? “2nd place . . .” My heart is racing. The seconds ticked, but they ticked all too slow. The gap between second place and first seemed to be never-ending.

Then finally, “1st place . . .” she calls out. She holds for a dramatic pause—either that or she couldn’t read the name on the paper, I don’t know—and then, “Spencer Leger from Paul Breaux Middle School in Louisiana!” The crowd applauds as I make my way, shakily, to the stage where I claim my title as first in the nation—my heart swelling with pride and joy. I felt accomplished, finally relieved of all of the stress of the competition. It’s funny to think that a competition with no great importance, like the district competition, can have such tremendous outcomes.

Article posted October 17, 2011 at 06:15 AM GMT0 • comment • Reads 776

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