Course Syllabus


Mr. Finneron                                                                                                                        2021-22

Office 235                                                                                 

Ext. 4620


Welcome to Humanities!  You stand on a threshold between childhood and adulthood, between a familiar past and an unknown future; the 12th-grade English curriculum, in general, is tailored to this unique time in your life. It is designed to inspire reflection on where you have been and to hone the reading, writing, speaking, and thinking skills for wherever you are going. In our Humanities course, we will synthesize our literary lens with that of Social Studies. In doing so, we will examine the shapers and reflectors of identity, the experiences that are unique and individualistic in conjunction with those that are part of more collective, sometimes universal, human experience.


Our 12th-grade curriculum will explore and hopefully start to answer these Essential Questions:


  1. Who am I? What is my story, and what forces and choices influence this identity?
  2. How does writing help me tell stories? How do I use the stylistic techniques and literary conventions explored last year to tell my stories and the stories of others?
  3. How does literature teach me to empathize and connect with others? 


In the year to come we will delve deeply into literature – reading it, discussing it, and writing about it. You will make connections between literature and your own life. You will work to refine your powers of self-expression so that you may better articulate the meaning you find in literature and in your world. You will participate actively in this learning community, simultaneously supporting your classmates and pushing them to think in new and different ways. 


Some of our potential texts:

The Namesake    Jhumpa Lahiri

Purple Hibiscus    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hamlet     William Shakespeare

Poetry   Various Selections

The Matrix      The Wachowskis

The Stranger     Albert Camus 

Siddhartha   Hermann Hesse

The Odyssey     Homer

The Things They Carried       Tim O’Brien

Daily Words

Each day there will be two new vocabulary words introduced at the start of class.  You are required to record the words, the part of speech and the definition for each in your notebook.  You will be given a quiz on your daily words every ten words – this works out to roughly 5 quizzes per term.  Additionally, after the first quiz of the year, which will have 10 words on it, each subsequent quiz will contain 5 random vocabulary words from the previous weeks, for a total of 15 words.  The quizzes will count towards your final grade for the term.


The Senior Paper

The Senior Paper is a chance to take stock of your journey thus far, to pause on the threshold between your old known world and your new unknown one, and to share the meaning you have made of some part of your experience. It’s your chance to decide what you want to say and how you want to say it. Each student will compose a Senior Paper during Quarter 4. 


An excellent senior paper will:

  • have a well-designed and intentional structure and flow
  • be suited to both audience and task
  • balance narration with self-reflection or metacognition; narrated events will not be left to speak for themselves
  • employ carefully crafted, intentional and precise prose
  • be 8-12 pages of typed, double-spaced, 12-point font
  • be polished as if for publication (don’t worry; it won’t be published unless you choose to publish it)


Senior Speech                                                             

The Senior Speech provides you with a last chance to say something. Your audience is the group of peers with whom you have shared this class. Your speech allows you to speak of something that matters to you, and your delivery of the speech allows you to share your topic with an audience in such a way as to make it matter to them, too. It is rare that someone gives you the floor and says do what you want, so I encourage you to seize the opportunity and show yourself off. Each student will deliver a  Senior Speech during the final weeks of the school year. 


An Excellent Speech Will…

  • *be fully written out (not written as bullet points or “talking points”)
  • reveal something about who you are or what matters to you. Remember that you can reveal something about who you are without talking explicitly about your life or your experiences. 
  • explicitly demonstrate self-reflection, thoughtfulness about what your topic means to you
  • be 10-12 minutes long (depending on pace of delivery, about 5-7 pages)
  • demonstrate understanding of audience and task
  • be rehearsed. You will read your speech, but you should format your written copy so that it is easy to read while standing at a podium and making eye contact with your audience.



Course Summary:

Date Details Due