Useful Pages: What Makes You Think That?

What Makes You Think That

This is one of Harvard’s “Visible Thinking” routines.

For every opinion (or conclusion or interpretation or inference) explain your justification.

Your justification is the explanation (complete with thoughtful reasons and evidence).

For an example paragraph and more, head to our What Makes You Think That page.

Useful Pages: Essential Questions

Essential Questions open discussions about life’s big issues: death, doubt, trust, honesty, vanity, conflict, courage, marriage, identity, sense of purpose, ethics, race, gender, loyalty, friendship, hypocrisy, kindness, greed, ambition, money, cruelty, betrayal, honor, integrity, stereotypes, temptation, faith, addiction, creativity.

They don’t have easy answers.

Subject-Based Essential Questions

In every subject, there are big themes to explore. What does science teach us about testing our ideas? What does the Civil War show us about how economics pressures can affect morality? How can graphs be used to exaggerate and persuade? (And many more).

Getting Started (Examples and Sentence Stems)

  • What makes a strong friendship?
  • How do I deal with the loss of a friend?
  • When do [ideas or political issues or finances] become more important than family loyalties?
  • What can I learn about [?] from the novels we read in school?
  • How can I be a better friend?
  • What will the consequences of [X} be?
  • Why do people [do X]?
  • What is the connection between [?] and [?]?
  • How could [?] help us?
  • Why do we still [?} when we know the consequences.
  • What does [?] teach us about life?

Essential Questions Checklist!

  1. Question Will Open a Conversation
  2. Questions talk about life’s big issues and could get anyone talking at any time.
  3. The Answers Matter

2015 Cube of Destiny Project

cube of destiny

8th Graders Moving On

Our 8th graders are getting ready to leave us for high schools all over the city of New York!

Before they go, they’ve been thinking about the future by creating Cubes of Destiny.

A Project About the Future

In these projects, you will see their skills at:

  • finding public domain images
  • using online graphics software
  • writing brief personal responses

Check the weird and wonderful cubes on our Destiny Padlet to see what they did. (Note: Be patient. The cubes take a minute to load).

2014 Memoir Project

Students in our 8th grade blended learning ELA class wrote memoir pieces. The class includes several students with special needs and a few students still learning the English language.

The names of students have been withheld and names in the individual texts changed to preserve the anonymity of the students.

These pieces represent final drafts prepared with only peer and electronic support for revision and proofreading.


The Experience That Changed My Life

The experience that changed my life was when I found out about the book called The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was about a teenage boy named Charlie whose aunt recently died in a car accident. He thinks about her a lot and even visits her grave sometimes, telling her secrets that he only shares in his letters to his dead best friend (suicide). Charlie and his aunt had a unique relationship, she always got him the most presents but she died on her way to get him a gift for his seventh birthday so he blames himself for her death…

Growing up, Aunt Helen was molested by a friend of the family. When she finally told her parents, they didn’t believe her. They did nothing to stop it, and even continued inviting the man into their home. Eventually, Aunt Helen grew up and got away. But of course, the trauma stayed with her: "My aunt Helen drank a lot. My aunt Helen took drugs a lot. My aunt Helen had many problems with men,” is a line from the book. Victims of abuse often become abusers themselves. And of course, Aunt Helen goes on to molest Charlie. She took advantage of shy, quiet Charlie’s love and trust. Charlie forgives her, but it has changed the course of his life forever.

After reading this novel, I’ve had a different perspective on life and child abuse, etc. You never know what’s going on in somebody’s life or what’s happened to them in the past. As I said earlier, victims of child abuse often become abusers themselves so you really can’t blame them if they do because of their childhood.

The reason I felt such a strong connection to this book is because of my old friend Melanie. We’d been friends since 4th grade and she was one of the closest friends I’d ever had. We were basically inseparable! She used to have small bruises on her arms and wrists and I never knew what they were from. I never really asked either up until last year. At first, she didn’t answer my question and ignored me for days. But then a few days later, I walked into the girls’ bathroom and saw her sitting on the floor, crying. She was my best friend so I was instantly worried and I asked her what was wrong. She wouldn’t tell me and I didn’t know what to do so I went to my teacher and just told her that she was crying and looked horribly upset. Our teacher immediately called the guidance counselor because even she was worried. My teacher asked me to walk her down to the guidance counselor’s office and all Melanie did was cry for 10 minutes straight. I nearly started crying too because I felt like I couldn’t help her. The guidance counselor asked me to leave so Melanie could tell her what happened. Later in the day, I found out that her mom was physically abusing her and ACS would be going to her house in the afternoon. For the next few days, she was looking really gloomy and she told me that she was now living with her grandmother for now. Since I moved schools, we haven’t been in touch too much. We still text every now and then and she tells me how she’s been doing and I do the same. I still worry for her sometimes but hopefully everything’s getting better and things are going great for her.

My Break up Friendship

One day I was in the lunch room and my best friend and I were sitting and talking and I was using my DS. I had a group of people around me because they loved my DS. My best friend was next to me and she was looking at me like if she wanted it. I let her use it and after she didn’t want to give it back, she was acting like it was hers. Finally it was time for us to go upstairs to class and she gave me my DS. But when she gave me the DS she looked at me like if she wanted to take it home.

So then we up to class and she said “come let me put your backpack away.” Their I knew that she wanted to steal the DS because she never just tells me that she going to put it away for me. Then I said “No it’s alright I am going to keep it the whole day.” When I said that she got really mad and their on she didn’t know what to do. I knew that she was planning someway to take the DS. But the funny part is the she didn’t know that I knew she was planning to take it. I was one step ahead of her. It’s crazy because she suppose to be my best friend, the one I trust. But now I know she’s not.

It was fourth period and we had free time, we could do what we want in the class room. So I took out my DS and I had a group of friends around me once again and my so called best friend was next to me and I know she was dying to take it from my hand and play with it. So me being a nice friend, I let her use. Once again she was using it like it was hers. But that time I honestly didn’t care as much. I just let her use it as much as she wanted. But that was a really bad idea of me because that just gave her more of an idea so steal it. It’s really crazy because she was like a sister to me and I loved her like I never loved anybody. But I see I can’t really trust anyone I this world.

So it was last period and I had to go to a different room then her and I had to leave my backpack were she was. So I left and the teacher told her to pack up for me and their she had the perfect chance to go and take the DS and put it in her bag. And that what she did. She got me back pack from my desk and when nobody was looking she went inside my bag and got the DS and put it inside her pocket. Then she finished packing my backpack up and then when nobody was looking she put the DS in her bag and left. But at the end of the day I got my DS back and ever since the day we never talked again.

When I Was 6 Years Old

When I was 6 years old, my family used to have a big dog. The dog was so smart; he was special to my family. I think he was the smartest of the family. He was a respectful dog. Sometimes I used to sleep with him in bed, he was the one who woke me up every morning, just like in the movies. You know, in some movie the owner sleep with the dog and the dog is the one who wake the owner to go to school. Every time you tell the dog to give you the paw he always gives it to you. He uses to sing, you know how dog sing. But after a year someone kill him. It was so devastated to me and my family. We never knew who it was. Maybe they kill him because he was so smart and big. People used to hate on us.

The day my dog die my mom was in U.S.A. That day, she calls a lot of time but we weren’t home. So in the night she calls again.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello, how are you?” she said but in Spanish. Everything we talk about was in Spanish.

“Not that good, what about you?” I said

“Why?” She responds

I was speaking and my tears coming out. “Do you remember about Tony?”

“Yes” she responds

“He dies today, and we don’t know who actually kill him” I said

“Can you give the phone to your grandma please” she says. As I put the cellphone down I scream “MAMA”, “Yes, my dear” she answer.

“Mami is in the phone” I said, my grandma peak up the phone, and put it in her ear. When she peak it up, they starts talking about the dog, I left the room. When I left the room, I start talking to my cousin. When my grandmother finishes talking with my mom, she calls my brother to talk to her. That day my mom talks to everybody.

“So how do you feel” I ask my grandpa.

“Devastated “he responds. The dog was more close to my grandpa than to us. So my grandpa was the one who was more hurt. It was raining; you can actually hear the sound of the raining in the ceiling. We were in a family reunion. All hugging each other and telling stories. Also we were talking about the dog, what do you remember the most about the dog? The first person that starts talking was my grandpa, then my aunt, my uncle, my grandma, uncle, then my cousins. I was the last one to talk.

“The thing that I remember the most of the dog, is when the dog uses to give me the paws and when he uses to wake me up” I said

“Oh, eso verdad (that’s true)” my cousin scream. `

As time pass, we were happy he was in a better place and because he spend his life with us. Anyways, at the end of the day, he would be always in our heart. We would never forgive him because he was special, really special. So yea, I miss him.

I Remember Crying

I remember crying in my bed, throwing my stuffed animals all over my room. Tears came out of my eyes and yelling out of my mouth. Me alone in my house and putting music so nobody could hear me screaming. Hearing my dad opening the door and me running to the bathroom. My heart was running fast because I forgot to pick up all the mess in my room.

I told my mom that I was having trouble with math. She told me to calm down and try my best. Let’s do a flashback. When I came here to 8th grade for the first time I was nervous. I thought it was going to be good and awesome. I have to say that I got a weird feeling that 8th wasn’t going to be easy. The day I actually knew that was when I first came to 8th grade because I was having trouble in math. I always ask myself why I was having trouble in math. When I first took the math test I got a 40%. I got so sad I let that score frustrated me in the beginning of the year. I thought that my grades were going to be like that for the rest of the year. I don’t want my grades to be like that because I want to go to a high school. Every day I didn’t feel like going to math because it was so annoying. I felt like I was the only one that didn’t understand math and I was frustrated that I didn’t let myself learn new things.

“You need to let that score in a side and start leaning” Ms.Papita said

“But I thought I was going to have a 85% and above,” I said

“You will never move on if you don’t accept you’re score,” she said

“I want to go to Mr. Papito’s class,” I said

“You not going to Mr. Papiro’s class because you are staying here,” she said

After that I actually let the score in a side. In that afternoon Mr. Ryan said, “You going to the after school program.”

I decided to go and check it out. Mr. Sonh was there and told me to sit down. He told me if I wanted to learn something specific. So I told him that I wanted help with everything. That day he teaches me a lot of things that I needed help with. I actually learn something. I decide to go every Tuesday-Thursdays. I can’t lie but going to the afterschool program really helped me a lot in math. I got so happy that I understood math that I was happy going to math every day. I was so happy not just because I understood, but because I made my mom proud. Anyways I start to do very well in math and my grades went up to 81% to an 89%. I felt really proud of myself. In this story I learn not to let a score read your future. I just keep trying, and never give up. That’s something I want to teach to others, to never give up and to keep trying.

When a Loved One Dies

It was June 6 when my stepmom’s dad died, I felt like the world was ending for me, I didn’t want to be alive without him. My stepmom was 8 month pregnant so she couldn’t go t0 D.R to see her dad for the last time, and neither did I because I was in school. It was so hard for us two knowing that we couldn’t do anything about it.

Today I still remember how I spent the day crying and crying and couldn’t stop being mad at myself because I couldn’t do anything about it also because I couldn’t say bye to him.

For me my stepmom’s dad meant the world because I learned so much from him and he was like my dad he was always there for me, sometimes before I go to bed I remember all those memories I had with him and my tears start to come out because I was never able to tell him how much I loved him, and today I regret that so much.

Flash back ……. (Coming from school)

“Hey Diana, how was your day?”

“It was great ma, how was yours?”

“It was also good, but go put your stuff away,

Wash your hands and come eat!!!!”

“Alright ma!!! “

A few minutes later the phone started ringing…….. (My grandma picked up the phone and she started to talk to someone from D.R.)

While I was eating my favorite meal (arroz con pollo) I saw how a tear came out of my grandma’s eye,

“Ma what’s wrong??????”

“Roberto died Diana!! “

Once she told me that I couldn’t even speak I started crying so hard and not wanting to believe what just had happened L I kept a distance from everybody that day and everybody was worried about me because my reaction was very unusual, I kept saying that I didn’t wanted to be alive without Roberto. Like an hour later my stepmom came to the house, she was so happy knowing that it was almost time for her to give birth, (my grandma was trying to find a way to tell her that her dad died but it was so hard to figure out because we were so afraid of her reaction). Once my stepmom saw me crying she immediately noticed that something bad was happening. She hugged me asked me …

“Diana what’s wrong??”

I left running and locked myself in the bathroom while I left my grandma and stepmom talking in the living room

I washed my face trying to be strong to go and support my stepmom… 3 seconds later I heard my stepmom screaming and crying very loud, I felt so bad I thought she was getting a heart attack because she was already losing her voice. The house felt like a cemetery, everybody was crying especially me and my stepmom. All I kept hearing was my grandma saying Dana calm down you just making things worse for your stepmom.

17 days later ………….

“My stepmom gave birth to my little brother and the first thing she said was “ I lost my dad, but God replaced him by giving me this little angel !!!!!”

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