Archive for the ‘Language arts’ Category

Helping promote FITE Nite, Brianna Bogart, 8, makes a poster to advertise the event. (Photo by Kashmir Baillie)

By Chloe Mayes
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon will host FITE Nite from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29. The event gives families an opportunity to learn what their kids has been doing in school.
      FITE Nite, which stands for Families Interacting Through Education, will be filled with games, food, music, and other events. This event will be on March 29, from 5:30 to 7:30. This is an event where families can interact, connect, and learn.
      “We will have minute games and other competitive activities that allow people to earn prizes,” language arts teacher John Leal said. “The jazz band will be there for some of the time, we will have face painting, and some other carnival activities.”
      One of the main events that will be going on at FITE Nite is the Chemistry Cookoff, where student bring either an entree, main dish, or dessert that they have made and explain the physical and chemical properties that occur while making it. These students will serve samples of their food along with a presentation.
      Mr. Leal and science teacher Regan Roach are two of the teachers that helped plan this night, which takes lots of preparation to make it successful.
      “We have been planning this event for most of third quarter off and on, when we can all meet together,” Mr. Leal said. “I help plan some of the games and I, along with Mrs. Roach have students in positions to help us setup, takedown, and cleanup the area.”
      Although there are going to be many things going on at the event, it is mostly about the families being able to interact and have a good time while learning a little bit about what is going on at school.
      “This allows us to demonstrate not just student learning, but it also allows for families to connect over the activities,” Leal said.

A student presents his case during a debate in Mr. Leal's class. (Photo by Robin Marshall)

A student presents his case during a debate in Mr. Leal’s class. (Photo by Robin Marshall)

By Chelsey McCarthy
Cougar News Blog

     Everyone likes to be right about something. Cactus Canyon teacher John Leal is starting a debating campaign for the students in his classes for the eighth grade.
     The students were in groups of four or five and debating with the team cross from them about the same topic. One team would be in favor and the other was the opposition.
     “Since we did the debates I learned how to discuss an argument and I learned how to back up what I’m trying to support,” Emily Lewis said.
     Students debated topics such as lowering the voting age and whether young people who commit crimes should be charged as adults or minors.
     “The topics on the debates were chose by thinking what would be fun for the students to debate about,” said Mr. Leal. “I wanted students to have an opinion on them.”
     Mr. Leal asked his students to dress appropriately because presentation is the key to creating and confidence. Confidence is crucial for convincing others to agree because it shows the presenter cares about himself or herself, as well as the topic.
     Students who were not debating were asked to decide which group was the winner in the debate.
     “Students would be deciding how relevant the examples are convincing; essentially voting for who has the stronger case,” Leal said.

By James Armstrong
Cougar News Blog

     In a learning experience that really had its ups and downs, Cactus Canyon eighth grade language arts teacher Tammy Howard has given her students a stockbroker project.
     Students researched potential profitable companies. They will use decision-making skills, internet, newspapers, bulletin board service, and money magazines to complete their stock reports.
     Ms. Howard said the project taught students how to use new computer programs and practice research skills.
     “(I want students) to use the imaginary buying and tracking of stock to familiarize them with the functions of a spreadsheet,” Howard said. “I wanted them to also research and learn about the company the selected as their primary so they would gain more from their buying decision.“
     Students will learn about their companies’ ticker symbol, founder, history, current president/CEO and background, and when the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. They will be able to track and explain their best and worst buying decisions between their two companies.
     This project also allowed students to incorporate mathematical operations in language arts by using imaginary buying and tracking of stock to familiarize students with the functions of a spreadsheet.
     “The part I had the most trouble on was getting all the correct current information on my main company. The most interesting part was learning about Microsoft,” said Nicholas Moorhead.
     Mrs. Howard has been having students do this project for 10 years, the main changes are the stocks that students decide to purchase and the companies that are available on the New York Stock Exchange.
     Ms. Howard plans to do this project again next year she has hopes that the students will continue to enjoy the project and learn the core standards it provides.

By Stella deVargas
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High students in Tammy Howard’s third-hour class are making dioramas using individual creativity to help them visualize and better understand their project.
     Mrs. Howard’s eighth-grade students in advanced language arts are recreating scenes from the book All Fall Down by Alli Carter. Ms. Howard hopes the project will stimulate long-term learning and get students engaged in higher-level thinking..
     “I hope my students are being challenged as well as learning to think critically and take pride in doing well,” says Mrs. Howard.
     This project will help students focus on central idea of text and how it is developed. Students will learn how dialogue and incidents in a story influence plot, characters and character decisions. It will help students show strong evidence to support understanding of text.
     “I learned that books were way more entertaining when you have something to visualize it better and this project certainly did that,” said Jaden Erchen, eighth grader.
     Mrs. Howard planned to read the book as a class and have students do their projects as individual assignments. Students can choose their own scene from the book and will have two weeks to complete it. Howard hopes students can connect and become part of the story.
     “This project helped me get more into what I was reading and it helped me visualize the text a lot better than just reading,” says Erchen.
     This project is so students can connect to their favorite part, visualize and create a scene and share it with others. This project is a way to think and recreate the story. Howard hopes to do the project again.
     “I hope these projects become visual aids for students and pique the interest of those who have not read the book,” says Howard.

By Chris Munro
Cougar News Blog

     A fierce competition took place at Cactus Canyon’s spelling bee. Dozens of students competed on Dec. 10 to determine who would advance to the district bee on Jan. 20.
     As with any competition, some of the competitors were nervous if competing for the first time or returning into their roots for even the third time. Such was the case for many students, including first-place winner, Janice Roque. Hailey Neaman finished in second place, James Armstrong third, and Bronte Pappas was the alternate.
     “I felt excited, anxious, and quite a bit nervous,” said Roque.
     Cactus Canyon’s annual spelling bee, set up by teachers John Leal and Sheryl Anderson saw around 40 students compete.
     “Mr. Leal and I were asked by Mrs. Castelhano to work on the school bee,” said Mrs. Anderson. “We got some of the other staff and teachers to help pronounce and judge for the bee.”
     The teachers had about two months to plan the bee and to nominate students for the contest. The students were nominated by their language arts teachers. The aim of the bee was to find competitors for the district bee as well as teach the students how to study.
     “I was asked about three weeks before the spelling bee to be in it,” said seventh grader Hailey Neaman.
     This was a friendly and non-aggressive competition, but some students still enjoyed rivalries with their friends.
     “I hope that they have fun competing academically, learn to perform under pressure and maybe learn some new vocabulary words while they are studying the spelling lists,” said Mrs. Anderson.
     The winners advanced to the district bee. The winner of the district bee will advance to the Pinal County bee.
     “We want to support academic as well as athletic competition. It’s a great way to show off our student population,” said Mrs. Anderson.

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By Damian Lopez
Cougar News Blog

     From chefs and engineers, to neurosurgeons and chiropractors, these are just a few of the jobs students in Tammy Howard’s eighth grade advanced language arts class researched and presented, in an effort to help students get introduced to numerous fields.
     The students in this class were given a week to research their job and develop a presentation based around the field they got. The project helped students learn and develop different types of learning standards, including research, formal writing, and presenting.
     “For my job, I did a computer programmer. A computer programmer is someone who develops and programs the basic building blocks of a computer,” said Nicolas Moorhead, a student who is taking part in the project.
     Howard, a teacher for over 10 years, first started doing the project in 2005 with her seventh grade class. Instead of making web pages and short videos, as students were previously required to do, students created posters with different pieces of information about the career of their choice. Students included the job description, education requirements, average salary, and possible employers.
     “I look forward to seeing their individual creativity as they share what they have learned. Their projects are so enlightening and show their enthusiasm,” said Howard, when asked about what she was most looking forward to about the project.
     Since she has started doing the project, Howard has received numerous messages from former students saying that they are infact pursuing the career from their dream job project. She hopes that students will gain knowledge about themselves as well as their career goals, and possibly even see what other jobs are out there for them.
     “I remember being asked many times, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I hope they develop a sense of direction as they take a glimpse of what their future could hold,” said Howard.
     Students and parents were invited to view the class’s projects on Nov. 16 in the 500 building.

By Stella DeVargas
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon has started a new chapter in education by adding a reteach class for language arts.
     Reteach, which is part of the Beyond Textbooks program, is when students have the opportunity to improve their skills and get extra help with time to be successful with mastering objectives. CCJH has had a similar program for math since the 2014-15 school year.
     Students have many different learning curves, meaning teaching in a larger group is not always effective for everyone. Reteach classes help by incorporating different strategies and styles of teaching to include different types of learners. These classes are for students to develop deeper understanding in reading comprehension.
     “When data showed that there were many students not meeting standards on formatives who could use the extra time, we knew it was the right thing to do,” Meaghan Davis, the dean of students.
     The effort of language arts teachers and Title 1 support teams helped put the classes together. Objectives are chosen based on data from benchmarks and formative assessments. Every two weeks objectives may change. Seventh and eighth graders work on individual topics to benefit the grade level, so they won’t always have the same objective.
     “It takes a lot of work behind the scenes by many people,” said Mrs. Davis.
A big purpose of reteach classes is using different techniques to reach students with different teaching styles. Teachers incorporate new strategies to engage students and present information in different types so learners can learn the material in more than one way.
     “The class helped me by showing me what I missed on the test and the work sheets helped me develop what I need to know,” says seventh grader Trinity Hakenewerth.
     Reteach classes impact students by developing reading comprehension that will benefit them throughout the rest of their educational lives. To make sure this is working, staff routinely goes to professional development to create stronger teachers.
     “We are always looking for ways to improve. If we find we need to make a change we adjust accordingly,” says Mrs. Davis.


By Zoe Siegel
Cougar News Blog

     CCJH is opening a new chapter with a grant that was awarded to the library for non-fiction books.
     The Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded librarian Jennifer Cameron with a $4,000 grant for more informational books in the library. Cameron requested the PTO apply for the grant last spring.
     “CCJH library’s non-fiction books indicated that our collection was seriously dated. In an effort to rectify this situation I reached out to CCJH’s PTO,” said Cameron.
     Last spring, Cameron heard about the grant and talked to the PTO about the grant. Not long after, they hired professional grant writer Eve Jacobs write a grant focused on technology and science.
     “They had hired a professional grant writer to do some work for them,” said Cameron. “I compiled a list of books for her focusing on science and technology and she put together the actual literacy grant.”
     The grant is affecting students in many ways. Students say when more books get updated, they will have more information that wasn’t in the old books.Kids can enjoy more books and make their reading experience more exciting and educational.
     “I think it will open up more options of what to read. I would like to say that this grant will most likely bring more readers to the library,” said eighth grader Robin Marshall.
     The grant helps out after-school clubs like Raging Readers. It can open up what they read and provide more text that they haven’t read before. The more books the library has, the more text the club can read.
     “Since I am in Raging Readers I do think it will provide more for us to read because the more books the more we can read,” said Marshall.


By Alyssa Flores
Cougar News Blog

     Book club has a week full of plans to get students and CCJH staff to read. “I Love to Read” week is April 28-May 1 and is a week for CCJH to show their love for reading, not just in language arts class.
     Lisa Smith, the book club advisor, wants encourage students to read because she believes reading can help students learn new things and can take them to different journeys through the books they read.
     “Reading can be fun and exciting. I want students to learn different books that are out there to read. I want all teachers to share their love of reading, not just language arts teachers,” said Smith.
     There is going to be different activities each day of the week during Study Skills and the materials will be given to the teachers.
     On Monday, classes will be playing “book charades,” where the teacher will be given a box of 25 book titles. One student will act out a book title and the others will guess what book it is. On Tuesday, the students will be playing an activity called “who’s reading the book.” There will be a Google presentation that the Study Skills teacher will show. On each slide, a teacher be shown holding a book they like to read and students will try to guess who the teacher is.
     Wednesday is “worms for bookworms” day and each student will get a bag of gummy worms to eat when they are reading. Thursday is poetry day and teachers will receive paper so the students can write a four-line poem and the winner will get a treat. Friday will be “read with a buddy” day where students will bring a stuffed animal to read with.
     “Reading should be a life time activity that people enjoy. It helps you learn new things and can take you on many different journeys through the stories you read,” said Smith. “Each CCJH (student) gets to enjoy reading with a fun week to show their love. In the same week there is going to be a book fair in the library.
     “I want them to learn how to find a book that suits them,” said book club member and seventh Phillip Baker.

By Natalie D.
Cougar News Blog

     Students at Cactus Canyon have a pool party to look forward to if they love to read and can show it.
     On May 15, students have the possibility of going to the Superstition Shadows Aquatic Center if they get 90 Accelerated Reader points by reading books and taking tests on them.
     “I’m doing my best,” said seventh grader Kyo Steward. “I can read half of a book in one day if I put my mind to it.”
     Since the party comes one week before school ends, it is almost a release for students who can’t wait for summer vacation to roll around.
     “The pool party is a great reward because it comes at the end of the year when many students are feeling restless,” said seventh grade language arts teacher Mallory Stradling. “It will be a great experience for those students to be able to have a break for all their effort.”
     For some students, the party is a motivation to keep reading and taking tests so they can reach a much wanted award.
     “If there wasn’t a reward I don’t think I would try as hard because it’s hard for me to read if I don’t really want to,” said Steward.
     Most teachers also agree that if there wasn’t a reward most of their students wouldn’t make the effort to read or take tests just for the fun of it.
     “I believe students who love to read will read for the enjoyment of reading,” said principal Courtney Castelhano. “Students who do not like to read as much may be motivated more to read by the reward party. My hope is that once students begin to read, that they will enjoy it and continue reading.”
     Students have until May 14 to get 90 points on AR and earn the pool reward.