Chapter 5 SQR by, Dominique Robles

Development of the English Writing System

How is it that we went from pictures to letters? In a world run by technology, cell phones, i-pads, and Mac’s how is it that the only way we used to communicate was through pictures and symbols. Cuneiform was the earliest known writing system, and it was invented by the Sumerians. Even though many people around the world were writing before this, the first alphabet was not yet developed until this one between 1700 and 1500 B.C.


For many years we spent so much time making the alphabet and trying to expand the vocabulary, and now look what we are trying to do. Our generation is so lazy that we are reverting back to how the alphabet started. We no longer write out “talk to you later”, instead we just post “ttly”. Since the dawn of the I-phones we have become even lazier. There are so many different emoticon’s that we don’t even need to use letters or words, instead we can just send a picture or shape.


According to the book the Cuneiform language was referred too as pictographic, or ideographic and was usually connected to religion or magic. The symbols and shapes made it easy for those of other languages to communicate, because it was easier for them to understand symbols more than words. This system worked for a while, but became more difficult when people discovered that they had to learn many different symbols, one for each idea.


The next writing system was known as hieroglyphics, given to us by the Egyptians. There system used pictographic symbols, but also brought in ideographic and alphabetic writing for the first time. Though this was a step towards the future, it also created a limitation. The problem was that only the person that wrote the message could understand it, for many this system of combining letters with sounds was too complex. It was not until 1500B.C. that all marks were now represented by sounds, developed in Syria.


Finally, about four hundred years later what is now known as paper was introduced. Using more of a paper like substance called papyrus, the Phoenicians were now able to produce lines which made it that much easier for them to develop more letters. With the admission of “paper” the Phoenicians now had a twenty-two letter alphabet. Not 25, but a big step from symbols and pictures.


It was not until the Greeks got a hold of the system that we had our first true 25 letter alphabet. The Greeks used the Phoenician system as a base, but used both consonants and vowels to make the alphabet. It amazes me that after everything we went through and how long it took to create a true alphabet that we would almost revert back to our old language of pictures and symbols.


How is it that something as beautiful as language is being reduced to an annoyance? Something that our generation sees’s as not necessary. We don’t need words or letter to communicate; we have technology with smiley’s and other random emoticons. What is this world coming too, if we are just to revert back to our beginnings?



Concerned Citizen

First Day of School Blues

Are you soon to be a teacher, or just hate or fear the first day of school? Well, you’re not alone! I have an awful fear I am going to completely mess up my whole career with the first day of school.

I watched the video, “Advice for Teachers for the First Day of School.” Even though this video was fairly short, I was able to really get a better idea of what I should do with my students the first day of school. Many new teachers fear the first day of school, and this is a great, short, video that can provide you with meaningful advice.

For example, the teacher stated that the goal of the first day of school, is to make your students feel comfortable with you, and each other. It is so important that each child feels comfortable in their learning environment so they do become successful. She also said, get the kids excited for what is in store for them throughout the year, and be excited yourself. If you are excited, and show a lot of positive energy, you will make your kids feels excited about learning and school.

An activity she suggested for the first day of school. was introducing yourself through a powerpoint with pictures about you, your family, or anything else in your life. This is a great way for your students to get to know you, because they will become very nosy and want to know things about you. Showing pictures helps them understand you better and also creates a trusting relationship, which is essential and important in a classroom. They also need to be able to introduce themselves and give a brief description of what they like and about themselves.

Another great activity she suggested was taking them on a tour of the school. Especially if it a new school for them. this is a great way for them to feel more comfortable. You should take them to the gym, cafeteria, or anywhere else they may need to go. It is also a great idea to take them to meet their principals or any other faculty they may come across. All of these are great ways to help you students feel more comfortable and show success.

Whole Brain Teaching

Lately I have been very intrigued with the whole brain teaching movement that is slowly taking over K-12 classrooms–sometimes even in college! Whole brain teaching is using different methods in the classroom to reward students, but also keep their attention throughout the day. Whole brain teaching includes seven steps:

1. Class- yes

2. Five classroom rules

3. Teach-ok

4. Scoreboard

5. Hands and Eyes

6. Mirror

7. Switch!

This method, created by Chris Biffle, has been effective in keeping students attention throughout the whole day. It was created so that students could stop falling asleep in class and start engaging with laughter. The point is to help the desire for students to want to go to school and be actively involved throughout the day. It requires a high-energy teacher, a fun attitude, and a willingness to teach a little differently. It’s worth looking into. Here are some video examples of whole brain teaching used in a 1st grade class and then in a college class, both effectively to teach a lesson. At the very bottom, you’ll find links to some blogs/websites that I’ve been reading to try and learn a little more about this new, innovative strategy in the classroom.

By: Rebecca McKee

My Spanish Immersion Experience

Some of us senior year with our Spanish Teacher

Some of us senior year with our Spanish Teacher

Many people wonder how as a non native spanish speaker I am able to become a bilingual educator. The answer to that question is my spanish immersion experience. I was put into a lottery before first grade, for the first spanish immersion program in San Antonio, at the Alamo Heights school district. Twenty four students and I were going to be guinea pigs in this new program. I was taught in all subject areas in Spanish in first grade through fifth grade (starting in second grade we had a Language Arts time in English). By the end of fifth grade, I was almost fluent in Spanish. It was so wonderful to be immersed in this program, speaking in Spanish everyday. In sixth grade, we had Science and Social Studies in Spanish, which at times was very difficult. In eighth grade we started only having one class period, dedicated for Spanish, working on grammar and writing; this continued through high school. Our senior year in high school we were able to back to our elementary schools and mentor the Spanish Immersion classes there. This was something to fun and exciting to see these students go through the same thing I did. It was so rewarding to graduate from high school as the first Spanish Immersion class.  The University of Minnesota did a study about our class and concluded that, “The data in this study clearly indicate that the Spanish Immersion program, as implemented at at Cambridge and Woodridge elementary schools in AHISD, is successful as defined by the constructs of this study,” (University of Minnesota). Most of the people in Spanish Immersion are still some of my best friends today, we call each other “The Immersion Fam.”

By: Katherine Mantz


My manifesto, by Dominique Robles

I promise to have high aspirations and goals for all of my students, by learning about what they like and how they learn. At the beginning of the year I am going to pass out a form that asks my students about things that they enjoy, and about what they want to learn.

I promise to be an affective evaluator of myself. It is important that as teachers we also reflect on what and how we are teaching, to make sure that we are teaching to the best of our ability.

As a bilingual teacher I promise to further educate my students in their L1, while also further developing their L2.

I promise to have a student-centered classroom. Therefore, I will use visible learning so my students feel free to share their thoughts and ideas with the class in an open environment.

I promise to be accepting and understanding of the mistakes my students make, and instead use these mistakes to focus on what they need the most help with.

As a teacher I promise to be an active listener and learner. I believe that each year of teaching I will learn something new, and I welcome these new ideas.

I promise to promote student-teacher, and teacher-parent relationships. It is important that we have relationships with both, so that we can openly communicate in order to further their child’s learning.

I promise to implement both self-control strategies, and appropriate behavior in the classroom, by having rules and regulations that the students will follow.

I promise to be a teacher, who is actively involved in teacher organizations, and who is up to date on new teacher laws, regulations, and knowledge. Doing this will provide me with new and advanced research to improve and teach in the classroom.

As a teacher, I promise to make a positive lasting impact on my students. I hope that what they learned, and used in the classroom will be further developed in their own lives outside of the classroom.


Sincerely, Dominique Robles

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi



Making sense of spelling

I am sure you’ve heard the long-standing theory that American English spelling just doesn’t make sense. Why in the world would “gh” make an /f/ sound?! Why isn’t phone pronounced “puh-hone”? This language of ours might be complicated, but it does actually make sense! The key to making it all come together lies in our history.

The standardization of American English spelling starts with Noah Webster. He was the first American to install a uniquely American language system. With his American Spelling Book, he created the standard for which our unique way of spelling stems from. This is why our English is different from the English spoken in Britain. Webster pulled from what was previously used, and tweaked it to make it our own.

So why do we spell things the way we do? Well, most words in our language are spelled the way they sound. But spelling is not just about the phonics of a word; the spelling points to clues in the meaning. We use different spellings for homonyms so that readers can assign a correct meaning to words that sound the same. Spelling quirks also allow readers to make connections to words. A reader can assume a connection between the words “crumb” and “crumble” because the ‘b’ is a loud and clear signal. In addition, some spellings point to our history. “Wednesday” comes from the name of the Norse god, Woden. The day used to be referred to as “Woden’s Day,” and the ‘d’ in our spelling reflects Woden’s continued presence in our language.

We can’t change our spelling now. Any change that we create would rock the entire basis of our language  and previously printed materials would be rendered obsolete. People who propose spelling change are not considering that while this change would help some people, it would seriously harm others. The system we have now may have it’s oddities, but it serves a purpose, not only in teaching us our history, but also in acting as a road map as we read. Spelling clues you in to what you are reading about, whether you realize it or not. Consider the words in your book the next time you read. It might mean more than you think!

By: Alex Thorne

Source: Essential Linguistics, Freeman & Freeman, Chapter Five: English Orthography

Spelling: The Three Eras

Many people may not realize that spelling has changed over the course of time. English language spelling  and pronunciation has not always been the same and has developed and shit many different times throughout the past years. There are three historical periods of English spelling; Old English, Middle English, Modern English. These are the three time periods that have effected the English spelling and pronunciation, as well as Noah Webster.

The Old English historical period was from 450 to 1100. The alphabet during this age was much like the Modern English alphabet, but did not have the letters j, k, v, or w and q and z were rarely used. Some sounds were spelled differently during this time period. For example, Freeman stated on page 102, that “the /s/ sound was spelled sc, so ship was spelled scip.” Also the letters /c/ and /k/ were spelled with the letter c. The word folk was spelled like folc and child was spelled cild. Another rare occurrence during this time period for English language was that in words like knee the /k/ was pronounced.

The Middle English dates back from 1100 to 1500. Many of these new words during this time period were added from French and Latin. The Norman conquest of England established many changes during this era. For instance, cw was replaced with qu, so Old English cwen was now queen.  Freeman states, “the beginning to the use v for the sound previously written with f (driven); and using k and ch for the two sounds spelled with c in Old English (folk for fold and child for cild)” (103).

Modern English is the English that has been established over time. It dates back from about 1500 to present time. Many factors have been contributed to our present day English. For example, the Dutch came to work as type writers, and it is believed that they may have contributed to some of our modern day spelling, “like the h in ghost,” (103). After spelling was finally fixed, pronunciation came, and that is the reason that some current spellings to not math well with some pronunciations. The major change during this period was the the Great Vowel Shift, “during this period, a complex series of changes occurred in the pronunciation of the vowels. The long vowels were pronounced at a higher point in the mouth.

It is evident that language is so unique and changes over time. There are so many different factors that play into language and still may develop over time.


By: Katherine Mantz

Abbie Middleton’s Manifesto

I promise to check for understanding not just at the end of my lesson, but throughout the lesson, and in many different ways (group work, think-pair-share, games, etc.)

As a bilingual teacher, I promise to encourage the development of a student’s first language, while developing their English as well.

I promise to use active learning in my classroom, and to avoid sticking to the traditional classroom layout of straight desks, lectures only, and no class participation.

I promise to make my classroom a community of learners by acting as a facilitator, and allowing them to be heard by their peers and myself.

I promise to not only teach content, but study skills as well. For me, it is important that my students learn how to study, take notes, and stay organized, and not just memorize and regurgitate information.

I promise to hold my students to a higher standard of achievement, instead of just encouraging them to do their best.

I promise to teach acceptance in my classroom. I will encourage my students to value their culture and share it with the class.

I promise to communicate clear expectations to my students. I will tell my students what I expect from each assignment and assessment, so they know what they are working towards.

I promise to practice patience with English Language Learners, especially those in the six-month silent period.

I promise to defer judgment in my classroom. When a student suggests an answer, I will accept it, and make sure none of the other students offer their opinions about that answer. In this way, students will feel safe in my classroom, and be okay with being wrong sometimes.


“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”
― C.S. Lewis