Course Syllabus

Wellesley High School
Department of English

 Ms. Prinn                                 Office Hours/Extra Help: before and/or after school by appt.
English 9 Honors                                         e-mail:

Academic Year 2019-2020                        Classroom 220            


That is the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

                                                                        -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Course Description:
Welcome to English 9H! In this class we will read, think, talk, and write about influential and important literature as we consider the four course themes: Cultural Identity, Coming of Age, Ethics and Origins, and Searching for Justice.  We will explore a variety of texts, including: short stories, poems, plays, novels, ancient Greek myths, and the Book of Genesis.  Our overall purpose is to improve our literacy and critical thinking skills so we can better appreciate good literature and more effectively communicate our ideas.   Be prepared to work hard, discuss, debate, learn, listen, grow, and enjoy yourself in this class. This is a place where your voice and opinions will be highly valued and crucial to our combined journey.  You will find this class to be a place of high expectations and high support. We will work on connecting the texts to our own lives, and since literature is not written in a vacuum, we will spend time researching and studying the authors and cultures in which they lived and wrote.  In addition, we will continue studying grammar and will develop our vocabularies in order to improve our own writing.  We will be composing several different types of paragraphs and essays this year (narrative, descriptive, expository) in order to develop our individual writing styles.  We will concentrate especially on making and supporting insightful claims about literature with concrete details from the texts and thorough, specific analysis.  Above all, we will strive to interact with our texts and with each other in a safe, lively and thought-provoking classroom atmosphere as we learn about ourselves, our potential, and our world.

Essential Questions:

  1. Who and what determine who I am?
  2. What does it mean to be ‘from’ a place? How does where we are from influence who we are?
  3. How do we understand ourselves not only as individuals but also as parts of diverse communities? How are decisions made about who belongs and who does not?
  4. What constitutes right and wrong in a changing world?

 Student Objectives:

  • To become an active reader who increases his/her appreciation and understanding of texts by recognizing literary devices, such as: conflict, characterization, symbol, figurative language & theme
  • To identify, compare, contrast, analyze, and make connections to texts of various literary genres
  • To build a classroom atmosphere that allows us to honor and develop our core values of: achieving academic excellence, fostering cooperative and caring relationships, respecting human differences, and committing to community
  • To understand literature as both window and mirror; To build empathy for others and be able to shift perspectives to understand another’s point of view; To express ideas articulately and sensitively, to listen well, and to collaborate productively.
  • To continue to develop a personal writing style that demonstrates logical development of unique ideas, clear structure, relevant textual evidence, standard English grammar, and other elements of good writing and to participate in the writing process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and peer and self-assessment. 

Major Texts:
Summer reading: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

1. Cultural Identity
Selected short stories – various authors
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (selected vignettes)

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

2. Coming of Age
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

3. Ethics and Origins
Book of Genesis

Greek mythology
A Separate Peace by John Knowles

4. Searching for Justice
Night by Elie Wiesel (if time before the Final Experience)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

*Core poetry and film will be included in appropriate thematic units

 Materials Required Every Day:

**3-ring binder devoted exclusively to English class.  Required sections:

1) Class Notes/Handouts,  2) Writing/Grammar, 3) Vocabulary

**Supply of post-it notes

Loose leaf paper

2 pens (blue or black ink)

2 pencils (number 2 lead)

Current class text(s) (will vary)

**Be sure to have your materials with you EVERY DAY in class.   Expect materials checks!!

 Assignments: To achieve life-long learning skills and to make progress toward our course objectives, we will practice and perform a variety of tasks.

 Process (“the practice”)                                               

  • Homework and Preparedness – This year is a critical time to ensure that you have good study habits and organization.  These general skills will be crucial to your success at WHS and beyond. A significant portion of your grade depends on thorough reading and preparation outside of class.  It is crucial that you arrive in class each day prepared to contribute to our discussion and activities.  This category includes reading assignments and discussion questions, reflective writings, essay rough drafts, vocabulary and grammar exercises, and other assignments. Be sure to have all required materials with you each day in order to get the most out of our learning experiences.  Expect occasional materials checks.  ACTIVE READING is crucial (and required).  Read with a pen in hand, take notes, use post-it notes, make connections, and ask questions. Avoid SparkNotes and the like at all costs (see Student Handbook for details).  Use that time to read and re-read the actual text.
  • Classwork/Effort/Participation - Your thoughtful and active participation in discussions and activities during class will determine how much you learn this year.  This category includes whole-class and small-group discussions, in-class writings, group activities, creative projects and posters, acting/speaking, peer editing, and more.

Product (“the performance”)

  • Final Essays - All final drafts of essays must be typed, properly formatted, and accompanied by all pre-writing, rough drafts, peer edits, and formative assessments. In keeping with English Department policy, late assignments will be docked 10 points the first day and 5 points each day thereafter (unless you have negotiated an extension well in advance of the due date.) To avoid this needless stress, budget your time and submit all assignments on the due date. Please remember the importance of academic integrity and only submit wholly original work in all cases. Most importantly, do not struggle alone - come see me in a timely fashion for support any time you need it.
  • Tests/Quizzes – All major tests and quizzes will be announced at least one week in advance and you will receive a detailed study guide.  Expect regular unannounced reading quizzes, also.
  • Projects/Presentations – These assignments will usually give you the opportunity to express what you have learned in ways other than reading and writing.  They may include art, music, PowerPoint, video, teaching the class, acting, or speaking.  We will be working on several group and individual projects and presentations over the course of the year.  There will be a rubric distributed for each project or presentation. 

Assessment:  Grades will be calculated on a straight point system and are based upon your effort in achieving course objectives and upon mastery of the material.  Course work will be weighted as follows (approx):

Homework/Preparedness—15%                       Essays – 30%               Projects/Presentations – 10-15%

Participation/Effort/Classwork – 10%               Tests/Quizzes– 25-30%

Grading Scale (averages are rounded up at .5):

A+  97-100;  A  93-96;  A- 90-92;  B+ 87-89;  B  83-86;  B-  80-82;  C+ 77-79;  C 73-76;  C-  70-72; D+  67-69;  D  63-66;  D-  60-62;  F  0-59

Classroom Conduct:

To ensure good use of our precious class time, students are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:

1)    Each student is a valuable member of our classroom community with unique insights, experiences, culture, ideas and background to share.  Respect, listen to, and learn from one another.  No disparaging comments or jokes, hurtful actions, and/or inappropriate language will be tolerated.  

2)    Be in your seat on time and resist the urge to pack up early.  Let's make the most of our time together!  

3)   Cheating on tests or quizzes will result in an automatic zero for all involved. Plagiarism is also cheating and will result in a zero on the assignment and possibly further disciplinary action. Copying homework and downloading any portions of Internet essays both ARE considered cheatingPlease review the WHS Student Handbook for the updated school wide policy on cheating and SparkNotes.

4)    Eliminate distractions. As soon as you enter the classroom, put your phone away! Use this time to interact with your classmates and build those relationships. Except in rare circumstances, food, drinks (except water), hats, and other distractions are prohibited in class in order to foster an effective learning environment.

Only work missed due to an excused absence may be made up.  If a student is absent the day a project or essay is due, that work is due the same day the student returns to school. (Even better, e-mail it to me or share it on Google Drive on the due date.) If a student is absent for a test or quiz, he/she should be ready to make it up the day of his/her return.  It is difficult if not impossible to make up missed presentations, especially a group presentation. Make every effort not to let your fellow group members down by being absent. Please note that it is your responsibility to follow up on missed work and schedule make-up dates when applicable. Be proactive and come talk to me before and/or immediately following an absence.

 Office Hours: 
Please take the initiative to seek me out to discuss any questions or difficulties you may be having with the class. I am readily available for extra help or advice. It is best if you make an appointment – I can often see you the same day or the next day. This scheduled meeting also would provide the appropriate time to discuss academic progress and grades.  For quick questions about an assignment, feel free to stop by without an appointment.  I urge you not to wait before seeking help with any assignment, reading, skill, question, or activity that is troubling you.  I have high expectations for each of you and will support you in your efforts.  I’m looking forward to our time together! With our combined hard work and enthusiasm, I know it will be a fun and rewarding year.  Don’t forget that I’m here to help you succeed and enjoy this experience. Let's go! 

If you want to go fast, go alone.
     If you want to go far, go together.     

                                                              -African Proverb

Course Summary:

Date Details