Meeting new friends

Hey Kids!

We’d like to introduce everyone to some new blogging buddies, Mrs. Rovira’s 7th grade class in Southern California.  They are middle school students and are looking to connect with other student bloggers.

Mrs. Rovira's blog 001

After reading some posts on their blog, I know that Mrs. Rovira’s class is reading Red Scarf Girl.  I also learned that they are from Orange County, a place I’ve never been.

Here is a blogging challenge for our new and old friends:  What book do you like, and what place would you like to visit?   I hope all our family members will participate as part of our last week of Family Blogging Month.

Mrs. Donofrio’s picks:  Gone With the Wind– when I read this book as a sophomore in high school, I’d set my alarm for 5 am so I could read before school.  This year, 31 years after I read the book, we are planning a summer vacation to Atlanta, the setting of GWTW, and I can’t wait!

The White House
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Steve Driskell via Compfight


Dear Mother, I am at Bush Hill…

Laurie Halse Anderson conducted extensive research in writing her novel, Fever 1793.  As a piece of historical fiction, Fever, 1793 contains many allusions to real people and places that are important to telling the story of Philadelphia in the late summer and early fall of 1793.  The article Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia provides a primary source which authors use to write both historical fiction and informational text.  A primary source is an account written by someone who actually experienced the events.  A secondary source is written by someone who has researched the events, but who was not present during the events.   Read the above article, noticing people and places with which you are familiar from the novel.   Think about the words of Samuel Breck, a Philadelphia merchant who lived in the city during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793.

Laurie Halse Anderson uses primary sources in her epigraphs.  They come from letters, journal entries, or newspaper articles written during the Fever.  After reading the words of Mr. Breck, and thinking of the experiences of Mattie, write a letter that Mattie might pen from Bush Hill to her mother at the Coffee Shop.  Use descriptive writing to give the reader a good idea of what Matie sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels.

Don’t forget to take the quiz on PhotoPeach to refresh your memory for some historical details you may want to include in your letter.


Fever 1793 on


The Right Way to Write

Storytime 126“Words, words, words.” As Hamlet and Polonius know in Act II of Hamlet, words can be confusing.   When do we need to let our readers know we are using words others have already used?  How do we communicate ideas that have already been penned by others?  Is changing one or two words from our source enough to make the writing our own?  Do I need to give formal credit to Shakespeare in a bibliography or footnote for my opening sentence, or is what I have already written enough?

We have been researching and writing informational texts.  This is tough writing!  How many original ways are there to say Mount Everest is 29, 029 feet?  Is this fact considered general knowledge and therefore safe from attribution?

We are also writing descriptions of family members for our blogs.  This is completely original writing, but still difficult to do well.  How can we incorporate some original turns of phrase and figures of speech into our prose?

We found some help on this website called   It has a lot of practical information.

We also decided to ask some high schoolers, and some grown-ups, what happens when students plagiarize at their schools?  (I have a video, but am having trouble embedding it into the blog.  Check back soon to see if I can solve this problem!  Here is the audio portion at least.  Plagiarism)

Do you have any tips for avoiding plagiarism when writing research papers?