Oakland Middle School

Skip to main content
Main Menu Toggle


ELA is English Language Arts. We focus on Literature and Writing. Please know that if you need to get in touch with me you can email me at hawkinsp@rcschools.net.  My goal is to prepare 8th grade students to transition into high school as knowledgeable and confident students.  I want them to be successful and feel prepared!
Please click on my links for information.
Follow me on Twitter Paige Hawkins @vizslacrazy5 and  oms_AnimoHouse @OMS_AnimoHouse
*Spirit Day is every Wednesday!  Please wear your Gold and Burgundy(Garnet)!!!!
HOUSE ANIMO rocked the 3rd Quarter.  Keep up the good work- Attend OMS events and continue to do good things!   
April 16th- May 8th Testing begins-Please be in attendance!
May 8th New Student Orientation 6:00-7:00
May 10th Junior Achievement Day 
May 10th Academic Awards- Students will receive an invitation!
May 17th-20th Mary Poppins Performance
May 18th Spring Fling
May 24th Teacher Work Day- No school for students
May 25th 2-hour day- Report Cards!
Audio Chapter 3, 4, 5
Above is link to the book, just in case you miss a day when we read!  Below is a link to listen:
Chapter 2 Assignment:
If the above prompts you to sign in, there is an Office 365 option, which will get you there. 
Book Project:

Book “Report” 

Choose two “reports” to do when you finish reading your independent book. Your two report choices are due on April 27th...make sure you have a cover sheet.  See details below the table of activities.   


Write a 20-line poem or rap song about this book. Talk about the characters, the setting, the problem/conflict, and the resolution. 


Summarize the book until the end. Then, rewrite the ending of the book. Afterward, explain why this would be a better ending. 


Choose three (3) key events that took place in this story. 

Then, write about how the story would have changed if these three events occurred in different places (settings). 


Make a poster or a model of the critical moment in the book (climax). Then, describe your picture/model in two (2) paragraphs. 


Evaluate if you were the character in the story, what would you have done differently? Choose three actions you would change. 


Create a comic strip depicting the book. You can draw the comic strips or use appropriate comics from the newspaper and insert dialogue from the book. 


Evaluate which character could be eliminated from the book. Why could they be eliminated? How would the book change if they were? 


Compare the title with the events of the story. Is this an appropriate title? Explain. 

Then, rename the book, and explain why your title is also appropriate. 


Compare the main character’s personality in the beginning and the end of the book. Use a Venn Diagram. Then, describe what conflicts or event caused this person to change. 



You need to follow the descriptions of the two activities you choose to complete.  You must write clearly and in complete sentences where applicable.  You may type anything that you must write.  You will either staple your activities together or present it in a folder.  Your name and class period must be clearly written on a cover page as well as the title and author of your book.   

 .Brain and Behavior Essay:
Passage 2 Use It or Lose It: A Good Brain Pruning by Laura K. Zimmermann
WARNING! As you read this, parts of your brain are disappearing. On the plus side, other parts of your brain, like the ones you are using to read this, are getting stronger. It’s a competition for survival, and the main players are neurons. Neurons are brain cells that process information by communicating with other neurons. Many have branches like a tree, with shorter “tree-top” branches that receive messages and a long branch, the “tree trunk,” that sends them. Whenever you experience something, neurons start sending messages to each other. Dffierent experiences activate connections between different neurons, creating networks. And it is these networks that are responsible for what we sense, think, feel, and do. Or more precisely, networks whose connections survive are responsible. Other connections disappear.
Brutal but Necessary
When we are young we have way more connections between our neurons than we need. These extra connections are there, ready to be used to build networks for the things we experience. And if you experience the same things over and over, like when you practice doing math problems, playing an instrument, or your backhand swing in tennis, the stronger the networks related to these skills become. Over time the connections between the neurons we use more frequently are kept and the others are pruned away, much like the pruning of a tree. It’s a dog-eat-dog world up there in your brain — you use it or you lose it. But brutal though it may be, the pruning process is important too, because pruning allows your brain to become increasingly more specialized so that you are better at the skills and information you use. Look at it this way: Is it more important to be able to distinguish the sounds of every language in the world, or to learn the language your family and friends use? Because as a newborn you actually could perceive all of the world’s language sounds, but that ability was pruned away long ago when you began to specialize in the languages used by the people around you.
Pruning the Teen Brain
Researchers used to think the pruning process slowed down after early childhood. They were wrong. Extra connections continue forming in different parts of the brain through the early years, with a second major pruning of these connections in later adolescence. So what does this mean for the teen brain? It is likely that, as in childhood, the extra connections set the stage for the pruning process that helps our brain become more effcient at processing the information we take in. But there are still many questions. For example, does having extra connections available help teens pick up new information and skills more easily? Are there times in adolescence when some things are easier to learn than others? There is still much to discover about what a good brain pruning in the teen years can do.  .
 Passage 1
Embarrassed? Blame Your Brain by Jennifer Connor-Smith
Remember when you could pick your nose in public or run outside in your underpants without a second thought? These days, you flood with embarrassment if your dad sings in front of your friends or you drop a tray in the cafeteria. What changed? Not the rules about nose picking or your father’s singing voice, but your brain. It’s All in Your Head
Sometime during middle school, changes in brain activity transform how we see the world. Spending time with other kids becomes a top priority. Hormones power up the brain’s reward system, making hanging out with friends more fun than ever before. But these changes come with a down side. Fitting in becomes essential. Threat-detection systems focus on what other people think and scan for any hints of disapproval. Hormones push the brain’s shame and self consciousness systems into overdrive. Because of these brain changes, teens start reacting more strongly to social problems. Scientists don’t know this just from surviving middle school — they have evidence from laboratory research. During a challenge like giving a speech, teens release more stress hormones and have higher blood pressure than kids or adults. Teens don’t even have to tackle a challenge to feel stressed. Even being watched over a video monitor makes teens sweat more than adults. Words Do Hurt Like Sticks and Stones
Why do we use pain words, like “hurt feelings” and “broken hearted,” to talk about problems with other people? Maybe because our brains react to physical pain and social rejection in the same way. Psychologists explore this connection between physical and social pain by measuring brain activity while people play a computer game called Cyberball.  In Cyberball, research participants play a game of catch online with two other players. At least, that’s what they believe is happening. In reality, the other “players” are fake, just part of the game’s programming. The game starts fair, with the players programmed to share the ball with the research participant. Then, with no warning, the players start throwing the ball only to each other, leaving the research participant out completely. No big surprise — teens in these Cyberball experiments feel sad and rejected. The surprising part? Rejection activates the same brain systems that physical pain triggers. Brain scans show that rejection res up the “Ow!” part of our brain that makes pain upsetting. Without this pain-response system, we would recognize physical pain, but it wouldn’t bother us. This physical pain system also responds to many kinds of social pain, like thinking about a breakup or being called boring. Some people have especially reactive pain-response systems. A stronger “Ow!” brain response in the lab translates to people feeling more rejected, self-conscious, and sad in real life. Differences in pain-system reactivity may help explain why rejection hurts teenagers more than young kids. In Cyberball experiments comparing children to teens, teens activate brain systems related to pain and sadness more strongly.
Embarrassment Has an Unfair Advantage
Our thoughts and feelings depend on the balance between many different brain systems. Activity in one system can amplify or cancel out activity in another. Because our brains take more than two decades to develop, some brain systems come online sooner than others. Unfortunately, the systems that trigger embarrassment and fear of rejection re up years before the systems that tame bad feelings. Imagine a tug-of-war with fear of rejection, the desire to t in, and self-consciousness all pulling on the same side. With nothing pulling against them, they easily drag in all sorts of bad feelings. This imbalance means even small problems, like tripping in the hallway, can trigger a wave of embarrassment. Brain scans reveal that adults unleash a powerful defender to pull the brain back into balance. Adult brains quickly re up systems to soothe anxiety and generate positive thoughts. These systems help balance out concern about what other people think, so adults feel less hurt and embarrassed by rejection. Wouldn’t it be better if we could just turn o hurt feelings, embarrassment, and the desire to t in? Probably not. Before modern society, people needed to belong to a group to survive. Without a group, people couldn’t nd enough food or protect themselves. Fear of rejection forced people to behave well enough for the community to keep them around. Our lives don’t depend on social acceptance anymore, but social pain is still helpful. Fear of rejection pulls on the right side in the tug-of-war against mean or selfish behavior. Sham 4/5/2018  4/5 us for lying or cheating, even if we don’t get caught. Social pain hurts, but it also makes us nicer. Brain scans show that teens with strong pain-response systems give more support to other kids. Unfortunately, knowing the benefits of social pain won’t save you from a flash of humiliation when your mom reminds you to take a “potty break” in front of your friends. But you can take comfort in reminding yourself that the pain makes you a better person. Maybe even one less likely to embarrass your own kids someday.
Writing Prompt
Each text discusses a different relationship between behavior and the brain. Write an essay explaining these relationships and how they are different from each other. Develop your essay by providing clear details and relevant evidence from both passages.
Due Friday, April 13th...we have worked on it in class 4/9-4/12
Work to be REDONE or to be completed:

 Informative Essay

Rewrites are due by April 30th. Graded essays should be ready by Wednesday, April 11th.  If you are interested in correcting your essay to receive a higher level, you must come talk to me to find out what needs to be done.  


Describe someone who has shown resilience in times of adversity. (This does not have to be someone you know)  

Explain the situation in complete sentences using good vocabulary.   Cite characteristics and examples that demonstrate resilience from The Diary of Anne Frank, Helen Keller, or Elie Weisel to support ways your  "someone" has shown resilience in times of adversity. 

 How can knowledge of others' adversity contribute to making better decisions for your personal circumstances? 

 Three or more paragraphs in Essay Section of your Notebook.  Add a new page in the Essay section labeling it Informative. 


  *Quarter 4 Word Wall Words are available in Quizlet!  Be proactive and begin studying.  Most students have done an excellent on their Word Wall tests.  Let's end the year STRONG!  Quizlet.com...search hawkinsp