Course Syllabus

Ms. Prinn                                                                          email:
English 9 Honors                                                   Classroom 220 (and online via Canvas ) 
Academic Year 2022-2023                       Office Hours/Support: before and/or after school by appt.


 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! I am thrilled to be one of your teachers during your first year of high school. I think we must begin this academic year with a joint recognition that teaching and learning continues to look new and unfamiliar at times. We are engaged together in readjusting and remaining flexible, and I believe we are up to this challenge. The purpose of this course outline is to give you an introduction to what material this class will cover and how; what the expectations are; and what steps you can take to learn and grow. In these still uncertain times, what I am certain of is the following:

  • I am glad you are in this class. 

  • Building community in our classroom is always crucial in allowing us to delve into the richness of literature and our experiences of it, and it has never been more important than now. We will commit ourselves to building this community in which all students are valued for their unique perspectives and experiences. We will commit ourselves each day to interacting with our texts and with each other in a safe, lively, and thought-provoking classroom community as we learn about ourselves, our potential, and our world.  

  • We will explore a variety of texts, including genres such as: short stories, poems, plays, novels, and ancient Greek myths.  Our overall purpose – which I am confident we can achieve this year with our collective enthusiasm and adaptability – is to improve our literacy and critical thinking, reading, and writing skills so we can more skillfully interact with outstanding literature and more effectively communicate our ideas.

  • We should be prepared to engage in the work and with each other, to read critically and closely, 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 collective 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 crafting and supporting insightful claims about literature with concrete details from the texts and thorough, specific language analysis (much more on that to come). 

  • Through reading, writing, and productive conversation, we will engage in an exploration of our own evolving identities and build empathy with others – both necessary lenses to bear in mind in our times. We all are craving a socially and emotionally healthy and supportive environment in the face of the challenges we are living through. We can build this place together.

English 9H Essential Questions

  1. Who and what determine who I am? What does it mean to be ‘from’ a place? How does where we
    are from influence who we are?

  2. 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?

  3. What constitutes right and wrong in a changing world?

Common English 9H Student Objectives/Core Skills:

  1. To become an active/close reader who increases their understanding and appreciation of texts by recognizing and analyzing the function of literary devices, such as: conflict, characterization, symbol/motif, allusion, figurative language & theme. We will hone these skills by practicing active/close reading strategies

  2. To identify, compare, contrast, analyze, and make connections (verbally and in writing) to texts of various literary genres

  3. To build an inclusive and participatory classroom atmosphere and a sense of belonging 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

  4. To understand literature as both window and mirror; To build empathy for others and be able to shift perspectives to respect another’s experience and point of view; To express ideas articulately and sensitively, to listen well, and to collaborate productively

  5. To continue to develop a personal writing style that demonstrates: logical development of unique ideas; clear and cohesive structure; relevant textual evidence; purposeful word choice; clarity of thought and expression; and other elements of good writing, and to participate in the writing process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and peer and self-assessment


Class Texts: This year we will immerse ourselves in the following texts together:

Unit 1: Summer Reading
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
One other choice book from any genre you enjoy (Here is a list of great suggestions)

Unit 2: 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 (play)

Unit 3: Coming of Age
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Lord of the Flies by William Golding;

Unit 4: Ethics and Origins
ancient Greek mythology
Book of Genesis (as creation stories)
*potentially a new book included in this unit or choice book lit circles - TBD as the year progresses

Unit 5: Searching for Justice
Night by Elie Wiesel
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Unit 6: Final Experience

*Although the quantity of reading assigned varies with the difficulty of the text, typical reading in this honors-level class is 30-35 pages between class meetings.

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

Required Materials:
→ 3-ring binder (about 2") reserved exclusively for English class.
Required sections:  1) Class Notes/Handouts      
2) Writing/Grammar       3) Vocabulary

→ Please also have:
**Supply of post-it notes (you might want a variety of sizes for Active Reading - more on that later)

**Several colored highlighters or colored pens (a variety of colors will prove helpful for reading and editing)

**Some sort of assignment calendar/planner (this can be hard copy or digital) to log your assignment due dates

You will receive some hard-copy handouts to keep in your binder. We will also use Canvas for some assignments and handouts, so it will be crucial for you to become familiar with our Canvas modules. 


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”)                                    

  • Preparedness –Your steady progress toward mastery of skills depends on thorough reading and preparation outside of class. Strive to arrive in class prepared to contribute to our discussion and activities to the best of your ability. This category includes daily active 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 in order to get the most out of our learning experiences. 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).  Use that time to read and re-read the actual text.

  • Classwork/Effort/Participation - Your thoughtful engagement 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 posts, 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 self-assessments. Please remember the importance of academic integrity and only submit wholly original work in all cases. This year as we continue to readjust to full in-person and full-time school, it is particularly important that you stay in close communication with me if you are having trouble meeting a deadline. Do not struggle alone – come see/talk to me in a timely fashion for support any time you need it. I’m here to help.

  • 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.

    Please note: Cheating on tests or quizzes violates our core values. Plagiarism is also cheating and will result in disciplinary action, but, more importantly, relying on someone else’s work steals your chance to hone your own skills and your chance to build your self-confidence, sense of accomplishment, and resilience.  Copying homework and downloading any portions of Internet essays both ARE considered cheating.  Please review the WHS Student Handbook for the updated school-wide policy on cheating and SparkNotes.

  • Projects/Presentations These assignments will give you the opportunity to express what you have learned in ways other than reading and writing.  They may include art, music, Google Slides, video, podcasts, teaching the class, acting, or speaking - all opportunities to express our creativity and hone our presentation and language skills.

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 (approximately): 

Essays – 30%
Projects/Presentations – 15%
Tests/Quizzes– 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, identity, 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. Let’s build a space of belonging. 

  2. We will follow WHS’s health and safety protocols to ensure we protect each other.

  3. We will follow WHS’s technology and online learning rules and guidelines to ensure we create productive and welcoming online spaces where we all can learn and enjoy our time together.
  4. Be in your seat on time and resist the urge to pack up early. Let’s make the most of our time together!

  5. Eliminate distractions. As soon as you enter the classroom, put your phone away! Use this time to interact with your classmates and invest in those relationships!  Building a supportive community is a top priority in our class.

Absences are a fact of life. The best way to handle this inevitability is to be proactive about your work when you are absent. Work missed due to an excused absence may be made up.  If you are absent the day a project or essay is due, that work is due the same day you return to school unless an extension is warranted by the circumstances. (Even better, e-mail it to me or share it on Google Drive on the due date if possible.) If absent for a test or quiz, be ready to make it up the day of your return.  It is difficult to make up missed presentations, especially a group presentation. Make every effort not to let down your fellow group members 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 following an absence. I'm here to support you and help you avoid overwhelm!

 Office Hours/ Student Support: 
Please take the initiative to seek me out to discuss any questions or difficulties you may be having with the class. These days especially, it is important that you do not worry alone. I am readily available for extra help or advice. You can reach out via school email and/or come by in person to Room 220. I urge you not to wait before seeking help with any assignment, reading, skill, question, or activity that is troubling you.  I’m looking forward to our time together! With our combined hard work, flexibility, and enthusiasm, I know we will have a rewarding journey. Don’t forget that I’m here to help you succeed and enjoy your learning along the way.  Let’s go!


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

                                                          -African Proverb