Course Syllabus


  English 2021-2022


Hi, everyone.  I’m glad to know that you are reading this, and to know that we will be working together this year.  It will be another challenging year for us all, yet last year—the most challenging one so far for me as a teacher (and a person)—had some stunning bright spots, and I believe this year will too.


In my teaching, I have always tried to keep things simple; I will continue to do that this year as we focus on thinking, reading, and writing.


As thinkers, you will practice thinking literally, inferentially, and abstractly.


As readers, you will practice using those levels of thinking to understand and connect with texts, and you will also practice noticing the ways writers use words to create meaning, power, beauty.


As writers, you will  practice using language that is clear, specific, and direct.  You will also practice writing techniques that add style and grace to your writing.                                              


 More important than academics will be your commitment to following the following daily  class practices:


1) Greet each other, and me, by name when you enter—either online or in person. 


2) After you greet people, ask them how they are doing if they need help with anything.


3) Thank people for what they do, and for what they say.


4) Say “I’m sorry” when the situation calls for it. 


5) Listen to each other.  If necessary, ask people to repeat what they have said.  Do not engage in side conversations while another person speaks. 


6) Unless otherwise instructed, keep cell phones off and out of sight.  Lower sweatshirt hoods and remove earbuds before class starts.


7) Should the situation arise, when attending class remotely, make sure you are out of bed, properly dressed, and sitting at a workspace, with your camera on, and with any distracting apps closed, all notifications off, and all other devices off.   


8) When you can choose to kind or cruel, be kind.  When you can choose to be genuine or sarcastic, be genuine.  When can choose to lie or tell the truth, tell the truth; if you do, you will  keep your integrity solid and strong—it’s one of  the few things in life you alone control.


Following these practices is essential to your, and our, success this year.  They will help you think not just about yourself, but about others, and they will help lead you to support each other and  the learning we will do together.





50 Percent: Writing and Graded Practice and Preparation.  Unless otherwise noted, these assignments will be graded on a 12-point scale: 12=A+, 11=A, 10=A-, 9=B+, 8=B, 7=B-, 6=C+, 5=C, 4=C-, 3=D+, 2= D, 1=D-, 0=F.


50 Percent: Dependability, Concern for Others, Spark of Life.  These will also be graded on a 12-point scale.  I’ll will give you rubrics for each of these categories. 


                     Texts/Readings (Due to this year’s uncertainties, these could change)


Here are the texts we will read, but we will also read poems, essays, short stories, and selections from longer works.


Seniors: A Room of One’s Own, Sula, Othello, American Moor, Desdemona, and a selection of essays, poems, and short stories.


Sophomores: The Sun is Also a Star, Early Autumn, The Kite Runner, Born a Crime.


Ninth Grade: The Poet X, The House on Mango Street, The Book Thief, When the Emperor Was Divine, A Raisin in the Sun, Romeo and Juliet.   



                                                               Partial Creed


I believe learning in high school does not always require pain or anxiety or a backbreaking amount of work.  I believe that not everything you write must revolve around an “argument”—arguments make me think of shouting, hurt feelings, grudges.


I believe that to read well you have to make sure, first, to do the reading—doing the reading is the most important thing you can do—and then just look for beauty, sadness, truth, or uncertainty in the text—and how the author creates those things for us—then share with us what you are thinking, understanding, not understanding, or just wanting to discuss about those things. 


I believe that when you write, your main goal is to just try to reach us with your words, give us something to feel or think about or learn from, something to connect with and remember.  I believe that there will be beauty in that—especially if you use the language creatively and effectively.


I believe that if you can’t do any of that right now as well as you want to, that’s okay—just practice what I try to teach you and you’ll get better at what you are trying to do.  In the meantime, as you are learning, you can give the class what is most important: your kindness, your compassion, yourself.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due