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Mrs. Maura Nash, 8th Grade English Language Arts

Hello! My name is Mrs. Maura Nash.  I am thrilled to join the faculty at St. John Fisher School! Though I am new to the staff here at SJF, I am not new to this outstanding parish and school community.  My three sons attend SJF: Charlie (1st grade), Jimmy (kindergarten) and Liam (pre-school).  My teaching career began at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, IL where I taught all levels of English along with ACT prep for 5 years.  After attending Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park, IL for high school, I went on to study Secondary Education, English and History at Loras College in Dubuque, IA, followed by Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, for my Masters in Educational Leadership as well as my type 75 certificate.  I can't wait to work with our students and watch all of the wonderful things I know they can accomplish!      

January 4, 2019 - January 11, 2019

Posted on Jan 04, 2019

Happy 2019! As I reflect on the first half of the school year, I am filled with pride as I consider all that your intelligent students have accomplished.  Being their teacher has greatly impacted me personally and professionally and I will forever be grateful for my experience with them.  I look forward to this new year and now working with your students in the role of principal.  We have formed a special bond which I know will contribute to a successful and memorable rest of the school year.  Thank you for all of your support.  I have stressed to the 8thgraders that my door is always open and that I will continue to check in with them and maintain the close relationship we have built.  This Monday, I will be passing the torch to Mrs. Larmon.  Being a Fisher Falcon Alumna, Mrs. Larmon is incredibly eager to get back into the classroom here again, but this time in the role as teacher!   

 

This weekend I will be updating the grades from the past weeks that I have been juggling dual roles; I apologize for the delay in this area.  We dove head first into Shakespeare!  The kids are working incredibly hard and doing their absolute best with this very challenging unit.  Mrs. Larmon will be picking up where we left off by reviewing Act II of Romeo & Juliet.

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend; I can’t wait to see everyone on the 7th!

 

-Maura Nash

12/2-12/7

Posted on Dec 03, 2018

I hope your weekend came to an end with your children feeling confident in their test performance this past Saturday.  Congratulations to all of the 8th graders for jumping over another hurdle and challenge as they continue to journey toward their high school career!

This week in ELA, the students can expect to continue to work on and discuss study skills.  Through this on-going lesson, we are attempting to determine what "type" of learner each student is in order for them to tap into that strength and let it serve them positively when it comes to studying, completing homework, and taking exams.  

In addition to our work with study skills, this week we will be introduced to the life and many accomplishments of William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre.  This trimester the 8th graders will be studying and reading Romeo & Juliet. Together we will be participating in many exciting activities including another formal 5 paragraph essay, acting out certain scenes, and formal speeches to accompany our dissection of this important play that will appeal to the many diverse learners in our group and ensure total understanding of this challenging piece.  

Here's to another great week in ELA!

-Maura Nash

11/26-12/1

Posted on Nov 30, 2018

I truly hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I am so thankful for you and your children as they are such a wonderful blessing in my life.  

This week in ELA we focused on test-taking strategies and test anxiety coping methods.  The high school entrance exam date, which is rapidly approaching, brings along with it excitement and anticipation as well as worry and anxiety.  To approach this test head on, we discussed the many different types of questions that the students can expect to see on the exam.  I am a firm believer that familiarizing yourself with the question format is half the battle to success on any standardized assessment as it eliminates the mystery of the unknown as to what will be on the test.  We did much practice with the test questions and took two practice timed tests this week as well.  In addition to preparing the students for the academic portion of the exam, I also introduced them to yoga as well as a strategy called "tapping" which research shows can work wonders on stress and anxiety.  I have  impressed upon them the incredible benefit of simply going to bed early, away from all of their technology and distractions, and waking up to a healthy breakfast.   

Your students are incredibly bright, competent, and capable individuals who will succeed wherever they decide to go.  The high schools that these students choose to attend will be lucky to have them!  I can only imagine what their bright future holds!  

Here's to a stress free evening for all of you.  Best of luck to your intelligent children!

-Maura Nash

*You can find more information on "tapping" at www.taponit.com

*You can discover the yoga videos we did in class by visiting youtube and searching for YogaWithAdriene: yoga for the classroom & yoga for brain power

   

November 11-22nd

Posted on Nov 13, 2018

It is difficult to believe that the first trimester has come to an end. I feel like it was the first day of school just yesterday.  As a whole, we have learned many lessons this trimester, some of them harder than others, but I am excited that we all have an opportunity to start off on a clean slate as we enter into the 2nd trimester.  

This week we will be wrapping up our To Kill A Mockingbird unit.  Today we finished watching the film; it is always a treat to watch a movie at school!  We watched the classic depiction starring Gregory Peck. The students were so insightful in their ability to identify the many differences when comparing the film to the novel.  It gave me great joy to listen and read these comments as it is quite clear that they really absorbed so much of this must-read!  This week we will also be discussing how communities and groups of people as well as individuals heal when they have been wronged.  We are going to analyze a 15-minute documentary and brainstorm how we could hypothetically right the wrong of the African American character Tom Robinson who is wrongfully accused and convicted of raping a white woman in Alabama in 1932.  We will study and learn from the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project to complete this lesson.  In addition to this activity, we will be learning more about Harper Lee, and wrap up this week with a Socratic Seminar finalizing our assessment of the book.  

Next week, I am thrilled to welcome a guest speaker.  An attorney and parent from the community will be joining our 8th graders on Tuesday, November 20th to discuss the legal aspects of the novel and make modern day connections to our world today.  The students will be creating a list of topics and questions to address with our guest.  I am so excited about this and know this will be a meaningful experience for our students.  

Also, next week is parent-teacher conferences.  I am looking forward to meeting with you to discuss the progress of your students.  

I want to wish you and your family a very blessed and restful Thanksgiving filled with lots of love and joy!  I count my St. John Fisher family as one of my many blessings this year.  

-Maura Nash

ELA October 29th - November 9th

Posted on Oct 28, 2018

The fact that Halloween is in 3 days is shocking to me!  Where has the time gone? You know what they say, "time flies when you are having fun!" And, in 8th grade ELA this year, we are doing our best to incorporate many fun activities into our class each day.  One of the things I really love about this group of students is how we can seamlessly transition from one activity after another without any distraction and interruption; this is not easy to do, but I can always count on these kids to pay attention, stay on task, work hard and have fun.  They really are such a wonderful group of young people!  

This past week we participated in a fish bowl activity.  A fish bowl is when a handful of students are in the center of the room discussing a specific topic while the rest of us watch and grade their discussion.  To create a successful fish bowl activity the students need to put a great deal of preparation into this on the front end: learning the goals and objectives, creating a well-constructed written response to question posed (in order to have discussion points while in the bowl) and understanding the rules of the activity.  I could not have been more pleased with how this activity turned out.  The students have created a culture of serious learning as well as open-mindedness and honesty.  We were able to touch on the many themes and topics presented in To Kill A Mockingbird while connecting these big and sometimes controversial topics to our own lives today.  It really was amazing to watch the students articulate their opinions and learn from one another.  As a teacher, this is what dreams are made of!

The trimester is coming to an end on November 9th.  Tomorrow the students are turning in their literary portfolio (the directions are on Google Classroom) that they have been working incredibly hard on both in and out of school.  This is a big assignment that was assigned the first week of school.  I am looking forward to see their masterpieces!  This week we will be finishing the novel, continuing to work on our grammar review to prepare for the HS entrance exam and we will read a little Edgar Allen Poe to get into the spooky spirit of Halloween.  Next week we will wrap up the trimester with a final exam on the novel along with the many corresponding items we have read and analyzed throughout the second half of the trimester.  

I wanted to congratulate the following students who were selected as our ELA students of the week the past two weeks:  Christina Hernandez, Meghan Carlin, Charlie Griffin, Julie Black, Caitlin McDonagh, Sam Giglio and Colleen Malloy!  These students have excelled in class over the past 2 weeks and have made each day better with their thoughtful commentary and questions.  

As always, please feel free to send me an e-mail with any questions or comments you may have.  Many students have been coming in early and staying late to go over help when needed.  This makes me so happy that the students advocate for themselves!  Thank you for sending them in and please encourage your children to do this.  Here's to a fun and safe Halloween and a successful finish to ELA's first trimester!  

-Mrs. Nash

Week of October 18, 2018

Posted on Oct 15, 2018

Hello fall weather!  

I am thrilled that the fall weather is upon us!  This weather not only allows our building and classroom to feel much more comfortable, but fall weather is always the backdrop for being back to school.  I cannot believe how quickly this year is flying.  In less than a month it will be the end of the trimester!

In the next three weeks we will be wrapping up our study of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Our unit will be culminating with the creation of a literary portfolio (due on October 29th) in addition to a few more reading check quizzes, annotation grades, writing assignments and a final exam on the novel and the accompanying texts and pieces we have been studying.  In addition to "Mockingbird" related material we are also working on a grammar unit in preparation for the upcoming high school entrance exams.    

This week is going to be incredibly busy with many interruptions including: picture day (10.16), high school presentation day (10.17) and our 2nd all-school Mass (10.19).  The students are going to need to rely on their independent study skills as we continue to move forward with all of our important work this week.  The students can expect an unannounced reading check quiz as well as a test on our current vocabulary words from To Kill A Mockingbird.  I certainly know that your talented children will be able to meet the challenges this week will bring.  

Thank you so much for all of your help and work with your children each week. I am grateful for your partnership and assistance with your student's learning and future.  

Here's to a fast, but exciting and successful week!

-Mrs. Nash 

Week of October 8, 2018

Posted on Oct 08, 2018

I hope everyone has had the opportunity to enjoy the long weekend.  Friday's events were challenging.  Your students truly rolled with the punches and acted in such a mature manner helping one another remain calm.  Just after the soft lockdown was announced, my afternoon class bonded together, leading one another in "box breaths" and gathering their belongings together to move to their designated location.  Though it was clear we weren't in danger, the abrupt interruption took us all off guard and I was beyond moved by the way they supported one another as well as their younger siblings, neighbors and friends.  What a wonderful group of students we have!

This week in ELA, we will continue to work with "Mockingbird" and we will begin working on a formal grammar unit in order to begin our language review for the high school entrance exam.  Last week the students were anxious to turn in their first formal essay.  I was really impressed with the amount of information and detail each student was able to include in their essay.  Each student truly became an expert on the specific theme they chose to write about for Part 1 of the novel.  We conducted 2 peer review sessions, enabling each essay to have several pairs of eyes on it in order to not only identify points of weaknesses and improvement, but also to recognize areas of strength allowing all of us to learn from one another.  The amount of constructive criticism I heard as I walked around listening to each review session demonstrated how serious each student took this activity.  This is a task that they must familiarize themselves with as high school classes are constantly including peer review sessions into their curriculum.  I am looking forward to grading these essays.  

I want to congratulate our students of the week from last week:  Caitlin McDonagh, Jack Brouder and Colleen Malloy!  Adding the element of student of the week to our class has raised the bar in terms of participation and rigor.  I am grateful for each of your students and the personality they bring to our class.  

Here is to another Exceptional week in ELA!   

-Mrs. Nash

Week of October 1, 2018

Posted on Sep 30, 2018

Hello there!  I hope everyone had an incredibly fun and safe homecoming weekend.  I'm so glad the weather cleared up for Saturday.  Go Falcons!

How in the world is already October 1st?!  This trimester is truly flying by.  This week in ELA we will be completing our very first (of many) traditional 5 paragraph essays exploring one of the seven themes we are studying from Part 1 of To Kill A Mockingbird.  We began working on an outline to organize our thoughts for our essay and to ensure we are including all of the proper elements of the five paragraph essay.  The outline is due Tuesday of this week and the completed final draft of the essay is due this upcoming Friday.  For this particular paper we are concentrating on the elements of the five paragraph essay:  the hook, 3-prong thesis statement, body paragraphs in the appropriate order and a strong conclusion ending with a moral, lesson or strategy.  

In addition to the 5 paragraph theme essay, we will continue to read To Kill A Mockingbird part 2.  The controversial events in the novel are heating up as the Tom Robinson case is finally going to begin.  There will be a number of additional supplemental material that we will begin working with including new vocabulary words, a grammar unit and first-hand accounts from individuals who lived during this time period.  

I am continued to be impressed by your respectful, hard-working children.  Last week's ELA students of the week were:  Olivia Goosherst, Jack Walsh and Patrick Carmody.  Here's to another fantastic week in ELA!  

Week of September 23, 3018

Posted on Sep 23, 2018

We finally have caught a break from the heat; I am praying this cool fall weather stays with us.  Though it is always difficult to learn in a hot classroom, the students have done an exceptional job of staying on task.  We are all looking ahead to some cooler temperatures!

This week in ELA we will begin with the first test of the trimester on the vocabulary words from To Kill A Mockingbird.  Our week will also conclude with a test on the content from Part 1 of To Kill A Mockingbird (a study guide will be posted to GoogleClassroom).  In between the tests, we will finish up Part 1 of the novel and begin a grammar unit prepping for the formal writing assignment we will be constructing in class. The writing assignment will take a close look at the themes that have surfaced in the novel thus far.  Students will select a theme they wish to write about and we will take examples from the book as well as our own lives to discuss the relevance of these themes and the novel.     

Our week is going to conclude with homecoming events!  I know the students are excited for their traditions and festivities.  We will enter into the homecoming weekend strong with another challenging week of ELA behind us.  This week our ELA students of the week were:  Liam Egan, Savaun Jones and Hannah Clancy.  Congratulations to these very hard working students!  

Have a great week!

    

Week of September 17, 2018

Posted on Sep 18, 2018

Hello there!  Are you coming out of your FisherFestFog?!  I am slowly making my way out of mine.  With numerous students feeling ill today coupled with this hot weather, your children have been troopers!  We will continue to power through and work hard this week to meet our full potential.  

This week we will keep up our important work with "To Kill A Mockingbird."  In addition to reading and annotating the novel, we are taking a close-up look at the Jim Crow laws and what life was like during this historical time period in Alabama.  We are beginning to reach the part of the novel where the Jim Crow culture is going to be quite prevalent.  The students will now be armed with the appropriate knowledge to truly understand the upcoming events. 

In addition, please be mindful that there will be a QUIZ this upcoming Thursday, 9.20.18, on the vocabulary words from chapter's 5-9.  Also, this upcoming Monday, 9.24.18, there will be a TEST on all of the vocabulary words from "To Kill A Mockingbird" thus far (27 words).  In class we will certainly review these words and continue to familiarize ourselves with their definitions and meanings.  I would recommend that students make good old fashion note/flash cards in order to easier memorize the definitions. 

Finally, last week we instituted an ELA Student of the Week.  There is a list of what the Student of the Week embodies on GoogleClassroom.  This new classroom tradition will certainly encourage each and every student to reach for the stars in class each week and always put their best foot forward.  I feel this is a fantastic way to recognize those students who excel week after week after week.  Last week's recipients were:  Teresa Bonko, Olumide Akinyemi-Johnston and Danny Fontaine.  Congratulations to these very well-deserved winners!  

Have a great week!

~Mrs. Nash 

     

Week of September 10, 2018

Posted on Sep 10, 2018

Good morning! This is going to be a very busy week even though it is a short one.  I know how much the students are anticipating the return of the beloved FISHERFEST! Because this event is upon us, there will be no school on Friday.  I hope everyone has a safe and fun FISHERFEST experience!

Your children continue to dazzle me with their higher level thinking skills, insightful questions and serious dissection of To Kill A Mockingbird. I am so impressed with them! This week in 8th grade ELA, the students will be working incredibly closely with our first 15 vocabulary words from "TKAM."  Over the weekend, the students were to construct authentic sentences for 10 of the 15 words we are working with, ensuring they have plenty of detail in the sentence to demonstrate their complete understanding of the word.  Today we will be creating poems and sketches of the words to further our knowledge and prepare for our vocabulary quiz tomorrow, September 11th.

In addition to the vocabulary practice this week, we will continue to read the novel in class while still continuing to annotate, respond to study guide questions, etc.  Our goal is to get through the end of Chapter 6 this week. The plot is heating up in the novel quickly.  Students must continue to take superb notes in order to keep track of all of the activity within this challenging novel.  We have added a modern song from Ed Sheerin to our curriculum along with visual images from The Dust Bowl for us to analyze deeply as they are a very strong representation of what poverty looked like during this time period.  The majority of the characters in TKAM are beyond poor, living in horrid conditions.  We are trying to grasp the obstacles these characters were faced with during this time in history.  There will be another brief reading check quiz at the end of the week.  

Thank you for your time! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  Have a great week!

-Mrs. Nash

 

  

Week of September 4, 2018

Posted on Sep 04, 2018

Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day.  The students have been working so hard; this 3-day weekend was well deserved and approached at just the right time.  

This week in 8th grade English Language Arts we will be further analyzing To Kill A Mockingbird.  The students are to be actively reading by annotating in their notebooks or texts if they have their own.  As they annotate, the students know to be on the look out for important characters, new characters, conflict, plot twists and essential quotes that advance the novel.  Simultaneously, students are working on vocabulary and study guide questions as well as jotting down questions of their that they may have.  All of this hard work will allow us to create a thorough study of this important novel.  *There will be a reading check quiz either Thursday or Friday of this week.   

As we become experts on "TKAM", we will begin this week to discuss what it means to be a member of a community and what sort of rules apply to that community, both spoken and understood.  We will also examine our own lives closely and begin to make real life connections and comparisons to the novel.  

Thus far, we have had some fabulous discussions centering around the novel.  I cannot wait to continue to dig deep into this book and into our students' minds.  I know we are up for the challenge!

Have a great week!   

-Mrs. Nash

Week of August 27, 2018

Posted on Aug 27, 2018

Well, we are really into the swing of things in 8th Grade English Language Arts!  I am so impressed with your talented children.  Not only are they incredibly respectful and attentive, but I have thrown several difficult exercises their way and they have been knocking them out of the park!

Last week, we began to set the tone for our first novel study: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  This wonderful and important book is allowing us to tackle complex subject matters and themes such as inequality, racism, prejudice, exclusion, moral and physical courage, social ostracism and heroism to name a few.  We dissected a very famous Langston Hughes poem, "I, Too, Sing America," as well as had a very deep discussion about the historic Scottsboro Boys and trial from 1931.  We read a detailed article highlighting this event with the added bonus of relevant vocabulary words.  Hughes’ poem and the Scottsboro Boys along with the vocabulary will be the subject of our quiz this upcoming Wednesday.  

Through this material, we have relied heavily on our higher-level thinking and learning from one another to obtain a firm grasp on the material and make connections to our modern day lives.  All of this hard work will pay off immensely as we will have a significant better understanding of the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, as we build our background knowledge in hopes of being totally invested in the characters and events of the book.  This week, the students will have a firm grasp as to what is going to be expected of them as we read and study the book.  We will begin reading TKAM tomorrow in class.  All of our accompanying projects and assignments will be posted to GoogleClassroom so the students won’t miss a beat.  

Finally, please join us this Wednesday, August 29thfor Back-to-School-Night!  I know for many of you some of our presentations may be a review, but we would really love to see you and meet you in order to build a strong partnership, planting the seeds in making this year your child’s best year yet!

Welcome Letter

Posted on Aug 20, 2018

WELCOME BACK!

Welcome to 8thGrade English Language Arts!  I am so excited to join the faculty at St. John Fisher School!  St. John Fisher is extremely special and rare and I know this because I have been parish and school community member for the past 3 years. 

My teaching background is at the high school level.  Because of that, I think I am going to bring a unique perspective to the 8thgrade classroom.  I know first-hand what high schools are looking for in your student when they enter their freshman year.  Outside of the classroom, I also taught several ACT prep classes and provided one-on-one tutoring for many students to prepare for the ACT and SAT.  Due to my experience with standardized tests, I hope to be an asset to your child in this arena as well by helping him or her prepare for the high school entrance exam.  In order to utilize my experience to benefit your student, I will be adding test taking strategies to the curriculum for the first trimester.  

In addition to test-taking strategies, you can expect to see your child enjoy reading the following works of literature: To Kill a MockingbirdThe Tragedy of Romeo and Julietand The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timealong with many additional supplemental materials of their choice.  Of course our class will also include working extensively with writing, grammar and vocabulary and this year there will be an additional public speaking component to the curriculum as well.  

I am expecting a great deal out of your child.  I know they will be able to meet and in many cases exceed my high standards!  I look forward to partnering with you in order to ensure this happens.  If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Our investment in your child’s education will allow him or her to fulfill his or her absolute highest potential. 

Back to school night is Wednesday, August 29th.  I am eagerly awaiting this gathering so that you can have a bit more information on our curriculum, classroom policies and procedures along with a better understanding of what your child’s day will look like in 8thgrade. I truly cannot wait to dive back into the classroom with your talented child.  It is going to be a wonderful year!  

 
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