English Department Award Winners

We are nearing the end of the school year. EOC scores were received this week and posted in the gradebook. Next week, students will complete their Writing Portfolios that we have worked on for the past two weeks for a final grade. Students will wrap up their year as ninth graders and prepare for their sophomore year of high school.

I appreciate all of my students and their efforts to learn in class. Thank you for a wonderful school year. And today, 5/18, we celebrated our English Department Awards in the Martha Bigham Auditorium so students could receive their deserved recognition by their teachers and peers. I’d like to acknowledge these students who received an award for the outstanding work this semester in 9th Literature and Composition – ESOL. Congratulations to the following awardees!

1st Block

Scribbling Scribe – Best Writer:  Ashley Martinez

Elevated Emender – Most-Improved:  David Guerra

Story Surfer – Avid Reader:  Giovanni Hernandez

Insightful Innovator – Most Creative:  Tamar Desir

Dramatist:  Samir Bautista Pelaez


2nd Block

Scribbling Scribe – Best Writer:  Hannan Khattak

Elevated Emender – Most-Improved:  Jennifer Erazo

Story Surfer – Avid Reader:  Denilson Marroquin

Insightful Innovator – Most Creative:  Hanh Le

Dramatist:  Steven Herculano


4th Block

Scribbling Scribe – Best Writer:  Enrique Chavez Argueta

Elevated Emender – Most-Improved:  Emilio Aguilar

Story Surfer – Avid Reader:  Neyshmarie Romero Germosen

Insightful Innovator – Most Creative:  Mersy Barahona

Dramatist:  Zadkiel Serrano


EOC Adjusted Bell Schedule for 4/30, 5/1, and 5/2

My 9th Literature ESOL students will take the Georgia Milestones EOC (end-of-course) exam on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I have explained to all of my students the adjusted bell schedule and where they should report for testing. I’m attaching the bell schedule for your reference.

It is very important that ALL students come to school. This is a mandatory state test required in order to graduate. 

Monday 4/30, Tuesday 5/1, Wednesday 5/2

Morning Bell 8:15
1st Block 8:20 -10:10
2nd Block 10:16 – 12:06
All students testing during 4th block report to TESTING lunch   (My 4th Block Students)
4th Block 12:12 – 2:24 Testing Lunch 12:12 – 12:34
  A Lunch 12:40 – 1:02
  B Lunch 1:06 – 1:28
  D Lunch 1:32 – 1:54
  C/E Lunch 1:58 – 2:20
3rd Block 2:24 – 3:30  

9th Literature EOC Exam Dates: 4/30, 5/1, and 5/2

EOC Extra Credit Opportunity & Raise Your Grade!

We are scheduled to take the 9th Literature & Composition EOC exam on April 30, May 1, and May 2. This is a state-mandated test for all 9th grade students. Do not miss class on these test dates. The EOC test counts for 20% of your overall grade. Please do your best and study using USATestprep.com and gaexperienceonline.com.


In an effort to help you study and raise your overall grade, I have created four Extra Credit Tests (1, 2, 3, 4) on USA Testprep that you can take to earn an extra credit Test Grade 100%. This will not count against you if you don’t do it but it can only help you raise your grade if you complete the tests.

You need to achieve a 60% or above on all four tests. You are allowed to correct your wrong answers twice before your final score is posted. You must complete this by 4/29/18. You can login from school, home, or public library to access your USA Testprep account.


EOC Study Guide for Students:  9th_Grade_Lit_EOC Study Guide-1crt30s


Study for the 9th Literature EOC Exam

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you study each day for the 9th Literature Composition and Literature EOC (end-of-course) exam in April. Not only does this exam account for 20% of your 9th Literature semester grade, but it is a state-mandated test that all 9th graders in the State of Georgia must take. I spent the past week ensuring that all of my students have an active online account with USA Testprep that they can login to from home or school. Students needs to study every day. I suggest 20 minutes or more a day for the next month in order to prepare for this very important exam.

Students may login at:  https://www.usatestprep.com/

Parents/Guardians and students may reach me with any questions at:  janet.vrba@cobbk12.org

Progress Reports

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,

Progress reports went home on Friday, 3/2, for the first six-weeks of our second semester. All grades are uploaded. During our first two days of class, I asked my students to write goals. Most of my students wrote that they wanted to pass my 9th Literature ESOL Sheltered class as well as their other courses.

I then asked students to write action steps they would do so they could achieve their goal. Most wrote action steps, such as:

I will complete all of my daily class work.

I will turn in all class work for grades.

I will attend class regularly to learn.

I will listen, pay attention, and do my best.

I’ve asked students to look at their grade in my class. If they’re truly not happy with it, I asked them to re-examine their goals and action steps. Honestly ask themselves, have they done what they need to do well and/or pass this required class?

There are 11 more weeks left to this semester and all students can succeed and pass if they commit to learning, attending class, and completing all class work. As my favorite quote says, 80% of success is just showing up.

Be Open to New Experiences in School

As we wrap up Unit 1, we read many articles that spoke about the value of a college education and how it can offer one a future of more opportunities that include making more money, earning a professional degree, such as a doctor or attorney, and having a better quality of life in regards to health and exercise. What we’re exposed to helps open our minds and shape who we become later in life.

It’s my hope that these past few weeks have stimulated the minds and hearts of my students to think outside the boundaries of what they know. As I shared with my students, my exposure to sports changed my life and led me to consider going to college when college coaches began recruiting me in basketball and track & field. I am third generation Czech-Irish and I was a first generation college graduate – the first one to earn a degree and graduate from higher education in my family.

Years later, I’m now the first in my family to earn a Master’s degree. I’m thankful for my high school community and experiences. Through the support of my coaches and teammates, I became a top athlete in the state of Iowa in basketball and track & field. And I was no dummie in the classroom as I graduated in the top 7 of my class. But I would never have considered going to college if I hadn’t experienced being a successful athlete and the doors that it opened for me.

My message to my students is be active in extra-curricular activities, such as, JROTC, music, sports, theatre, academic clubs, etc., while you’re in high school. Be open to new experiences. Try something in your four years at Osborne HIgh School. You never know what a new experience will lead you to discover about yourself. Because I went to college, it opened the door to see the world as I backpacked through Europe and eventually lived and worked in the Czech Republic to learn about my ancestral culture.

I know as a teen that you think you know it already and that no one can teach you. I know … because I once was that teen just like you. But I can share that I was wrong and I would have missed out on so much in life if I had not opened myself up to trying new experiences. And it’s not easy, it actually takes much courage. But, what’s the alternative?

So, dream. Then dream some more. Then I challenge you to believe in the power of your dreams to come true. One of my dreams was to live and work in the Czech Republic. I believed for five years before it came to pass. I’ve had other dreams take as long as 20 years to manifest. The point is:  my dreams came true! And if they don’t, you’ll find that you’ll be led down a better path. I am still dreaming and waiting for new things to come to pass.

For all the doubters who didn’t believe my personal story, Ms. Vrba was a Jr. Olympian track athlete for the state of Iowa in the 400 m., 400 m. hurdles, and high jump. Here’s the pictures that you asked for. And yes, I ran in Iowa’s State Track & Field meet all four years of my high school career as well as make a trip as a senior to play as starting forward in the Sweet 16 Iowa State Basketball Championship Tournament. All these years later, I have two track records that remain unbroken all these years later.

Helpful Flu Advice

With flu season in high gear, can we help to stop contamination of a virus to others? All doctors agree that the most effective way to prevent spreading illness is to stay home. If you have one of these symptoms:  fever, diarrhea, or vomiting; then you are contagious and will spread your illness to others.

Yes, Stanford Hospitals and the scientists concur that the most effective way to NOT spread your germs to others is for you to sneeze and/or cough into your elbow (clothing). This way the contamination of germs is soaked up by your clothing and contained with you and not spread to others. The experts agree that sneezing or coughing into your hand or a tissue will only spread your germs (virus/bacteria) as your hands are then spreading the virus/bacteria to all that you touch. But sneezing into your elbow (the vampire method) contains your germs on the material of your clothing and keeps a virus/bacteria from spreading.

Don’t use your hands to cover a sneeze or cough as you will only spread your germs onto your hands and then everything that you touch.

Watch and learn.

WIDA Access Testing

Many ESOL students will be testing for all language domains (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) beginning today. Testing will occur from 1/29/18 through 2/16/18 until completed. Some of you may ask, what is the access test for ELLs? ACCESS for ELLs is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English language learners’ social and academic proficiency in English. Letters to parents/guardians were sent home with students last week with more information.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at janet.vrba@cobbk12.org.

Online Learning Resources for 9th Literature

Once more we’ve had two snow days due to inclement weather of icy roads and sub-freezing temperatures. My students have homework to do. They are to interview an adult who has graduated from high school about his/her Coming of Age experience. Students also have their novels to read for IR (Independent Reading). Students may also set up their accounts to study for the EOC (End of Course – Georgia Milestones Exam) on USA Testprep.

To learn Grammar Rules:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

To learn Literary Terms:  http://literary-devices.com/

To sign up for USA Testprep Account:  https://www.usatestprep.com/

To sign up for free Gmail Account:  http://gmail.com



What is Independent Reading? Why is it Important?

At Osborne High School, we have decided that Independent Reading is beneficial for all students and has been planned into our daily instructional time. Reading is a cognitive workout for the brain and has been found to increase growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency, and general information. Therefore, students have been instructed to choose a book of their interest and genre, such as, young adult novel, graphic novel, non-fiction, or sports. They should read something that is of high interest to them but also a little challenging but not overwhelming. My students have been instructed to bring their chosen book to class each day for independent reading and journaling about their reading experiences. For more information, please read the excerpt I have attached on this subject.

Excerpted from School Library Media Research | www.ala.org/aasl/slr – Volume 3 | ISSN: 1523-4320:

Independent reading is the reading students choose to do on their own. It reflects the reader’s personal choice of the material to be read as well as the time and place to read it. Independent reading is done for information or for pleasure. No one assigns it; no one requires a report; no one checks on comprehension. Independent reading is also called voluntary reading (Krashen 1993; Short 1995; Morrow 1991), leisure reading (Greaney 1980), spare time reading (Searls 1985), recreational reading (Manzo and Manzo 1995), and reading outside of school (Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding 1988).

Voluntary reading involves personal choice, reading widely from a variety of sources, and choosing what one reads. Aliterates, people who have the ability to read but choose not to, miss just as much as those who cannot read at all. Individuals read to live life to its fullest, to earn a living, to understand what is going on in the world, and to benefit from the accumulated knowledge of civilization. Even the benefits of democracy and the capacity to govern ourselves successfully depend on reading. Thomas Jefferson believed that informed citizens are the best safeguard against tyranny. He believed that every citizen must know how to read, that it is the public’s responsibility to support the teaching of reading, and that children should be taught to read during the earliest years of schooling. In a letter to Colonel Edward Carrington, Jefferson (1787) wrote: “The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Research indicates, however, that many students do not choose to read often or in great quantities. In recent years scholars from a variety of disciplines have studied the amount of time students choose to read and the effect of literacy on cognitive functions. In a series of studies involving hundreds of students, Morrow and Weinstein (1986) found that very few preschool and primary grade children chose to look at books during free-choice time at school. Greaney (1980) found that fifth-grade students spent only 5.4 percent of their out-of-school free time engaged in reading, and 23 percent of them chose not to read at all. Anderson, Fielding, and Wilson (1988) found that students spend less than 2 percent of their free time reading. Furthermore, as students get older, the amount of reading they do decreases.

The premise that literacy is associated with school achievement, participation in a democracy, and self-fulfillment is widely held. Why then don’t students read more? Some suggest that the way reading is taught is not conducive producing students who love to read. In a study for UNESCO, Irving (1980) found that most respondents made no association whatsoever between reading and pleasure.

Many teachers of language arts, recognizing the value of independent reading, immerse students in real literature from their earliest encounters with print and establish sustained silent reading time in their classrooms. According to Anderson, Fielding, and Wilson (1988), students who begin reading a book in school are more likely to continue to read outside of school than students who do not begin a book in school. However, research also suggests that some teachers are not knowledgeable about children’s literature; they are not able to introduce students to the wealth of books available, and they may not recognize the effects of their teaching methods on students’ attitude toward reading (Short and Pierce 1990).

The common sense notion that students who do a substantial amount of voluntary reading demonstrate a positive attitude toward reading is upheld in both qualitative and quantitative research (Long and Henderson 1973; Greaney 1980; Hepler and Hickman 1982; Greaney and Hegarty 1987; Reutzel and Hollingsworth 1991; Shapiro and White 1991; Mathewson 1994; Barbieri 1995; Short 1995). Students’ reading achievement has been shown to correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do (Greaney 1980; Anderson, Fielding and Wilson 1988). This affirms the predictability of a success cycle: we become more proficient at what we practice (Cullinan 1992).

Longitudinal studies that show long-term effects or that isolate the exercise of literacy, however, are missing from the research on voluntary reading and school achievement. Such studies might indicate which factors make a difference in establishing lifetime reading habits and in what influences readers’ choice of reading material, that perhaps could help us plan effective programs. Unfortunately very few case studies set in homes, libraries, or classrooms extend over long periods of time (Morrow 1995), and factors associated with the effects of reading are not well defined.