Course Syllabus

Honors English 2019-20

Christine Kerr                                                                                                  Canvas:


Room #229

Office Hours: M-Th 2:30-3:15; Block 1 (all but days #3 & 7)

Writing Lab: Day 1, block 6  


Welcome to Wellesley High School! You have elected to take Honors English, a demanding, 
fast-paced course where you will read and write daily and are expected to participate meaningfully during discussions and activities.  A passion for reading, writing, and language is assumed of the Honors English student.

Required Materials 

  • 1-inch binder designated to this class
  • Laptop (charged) every day
  • Headphones that work with your laptop
  • Pen, pencil, highlighter
  • Copy of the text/outside reading book



The year begins with the Freshman Writing Semester (FWS) where we review the building blocks of good writing: punctuation, diction, concrete language, and sentence structure. The Freshman Writing Semester (FWS) is designed to prepare you to meet the expectations of high school writing (and beyond).  Please see the attached list of all topics covered during the FWS. Over the course of the year, we will write for a variety of purposes including short responses to current events and longer personal narratives and expository essays.  During the first quarter, a graded piece of writing will be done in class every Day #5.  



We will spend the first cycle discussing the summer reading. Throughout the year, there will be a combination of personal choice reading, whole class studies of novels and plays (A Tale of Two Cities, Romeo and Juliet, Lord of the Flies), and small group literature circles.


Word Study

Vocabulary development is essential to becoming a stronger reader.  We will be using a program called Membean. Membean is an online program that creates individual word lists and offers many tools to help you develop your language skills.  You will have two Membean assignments each cycle as well as in-class work and quiz time on day #2.  



Grades are calculated on a point system with major assessments counting for 75-100 points, homework 5-10 points, and quizzes between 10-50 points. 
Your grades are updated and posted to Powerschool weekly.  Please remember that your term grade is based on 10 weeks of work.  Early in the quarter, your average may be quite high as it will likely be based on homework and quizzes only.  By the third or fourth week of a term, you will have a major assessment that will provide a more accurate reflection of your progress.  An average based solely on homework is not an accurate indicator of your achievement. As a high school, we encourage healthy behaviors and attitudes around grades.  While checking grades once per cycle can be useful, checking Powerschool daily or having the app set to send you notifications is not.  Any discussion about a grade received should be predicated around your understanding that grades are earned, not given.


Attendance and Punctuality

Attendance and punctuality count towards your grade.  You are expected to be in your seat with your phone parked when the bell rings.  The school policy on attendance states:


  • Whenever students are absent from school, they should contact their classmates, access their teachers’ webpage, and/or refer to their class assignments sheets.
  • Previously assigned school work including, but not limited to tests, quizzes, homework, etc. is due upon the student’s return to school from an anticipated absence unless a teacher has previously specified the expectation. 
  • Field Trips: Students participating in school-sponsored field trips, exchanges are considered present in school and are entitled to make up work. School assignments need to be turned in to teachers on the first day of a student’s return to school.
  • Vacations​ ​and​ ​Trips:​ The school strongly discourages non-school-sponsored trips and vacations which do not coincide with school vacations. The student and parent/guardian will need to speak with their Principal and develop a plan to make up work missed. Failure to do so may result in academic consequences.


The school policy on tardiness states: 


  •  If a student is late to class by fewer than 10 minutes, the teacher may speak with the student, record the tardiness, and may take disciplinary action.  If a student is fewer than 10 minutes late to class three times in a term, the teacher may email the student’s Assistant Principal of the dates and blocks of the three tardies and the Assistant Principal will assign a class cut.   If a student is more than 10 minutes late to class, the teacher will mark the student as absent and the Assistant Principal will assign a class cut.




If you miss class, please check the homework calendar and Canvas for handouts.  You should also consult a classmate for notes. Do not email me and ask what you missed for a 1-day absence.  Please stop by before block 1 or after school the day following a 1-day absence to discuss missed work and reschedule quizzes/tests/presentations.


Cell Phones, Computers, and other Electronic Devices:  Phones must be parked and silenced or shut down by the start of class.  If your phone rings, flashes, or buzzes during class, it may be confiscated for the remainder of the day.  Multiple instances of your phone disrupting class will face disciplinary action. The messaging function of watches and computers must be shut down during class. If you are caught checking messages or sending messages during class you will face disciplinary action.  When we use laptops, you will be told which tabs you should have open. Use Chrome for all school-related work.  All personal items (shopping, email, news, sports, games, etc.) should be done in a separate browser that is kept closed during class.


Food and Drink: Do not bring plastic water bottles to class!  Reusable water bottles are allowed in class. Discrete snacking is ok on occasion, but meals and messy snacks  (sushi with dipping sauce!) or loud snacks (chip bags) are not allowed.


Academic Integrity:  Sparknotes, Cliffnotes, etc. are not to be used.  Use of such material is considered cheating. The material you are given may be challenging, but you will be provided with the resources and skills you need to meet challenges. 


When given a writing assignment, you are encouraged to bring your drafts to the Writing  Lab; however, parents, tutors, siblings, and friends should not be doing your work for you.  We will discuss what appropriate help looks like.


Plagiarism, or using bits, pieces, or all of someone else’s work without sourcing it, will lead to an automatic zero and administrative action. Remember, no one will be helping you during in-class essays or major assessments.  Develop the skills and confidence to work independently.

I look forward to getting to know each of you and hope you will drop by to see me with questions and concerns.  Freshman year involves adjusting to a new school, new rules, new teachers, and very different expectations and grading from middle school.  Be kind to yourself! If you are feeling overwhelmed, schedule time to see one of us sooner rather than later.


FWS  Freshman Writing Semester:  


FWS: Grammar & Usage

  • Parts of speech
  • Word choice/Diction
  • Abstract vs Concrete Language
  • Sentence parts (subject, verb, clauses, phrases)
  • Sentence structure (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex)
  • Punctuation (comma rules, semicolon, colon, etc.)
  • Sentence errors (fragments, run-ons, comma splices)
  • Sentence style (appositives, active verbs, opening adjectives)


  • Structure (topic sentence, evidence, analysis, etc.)
  • Sequencing of ideas
  • Unity 
  • Flow
  • Clarity of language
  • Quote integration and citation
  • Putting paragraphs together to write papers 


Types of Writing Assignments:

  • Analytical Essays
  • Personal Narrative
  • Expository Essays
  • Short Response

Course Summary:

Date Details