Hi, everyone. I’m glad that you are here and that we will be working together this year.
This year in English we will 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—from novels to short stories to essays to poetry—and you will also practice noticing the ways writers use language 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 augment the style and cohesiveness of your writing.
More important than academics will be your commitment to following these daily practices:
1) Greet each other, and me, by name when you enter the room. Or, if you are already in the room, look up when people enter and greet them by name.
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. Do not engage in side conversations while another person speaks.
6) Remind each other as you are settling in to turn cell phones off and put them out of sight, and to remove earbuds.
7) When you can choose to kind or cruel, be kind. When you can choose to be genuine or sarcastic, be genuine. When you can choose to be apathetic or enthusiastic, be enthusiastic. When you can choose to lie or tell the truth, tell the truth; if you do, you will keep your integrity solid and strong—your integrity is 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. Unless otherwise noted, these will also be graded on a 12-point scale. I’ll will give you rubrics for each of these categories.
Texts/Readings (Subject to change)
Here are the texts we will read, but we will also read poems, essays, short stories, and selections from longer works.
Seniors: The Namesake, A Room of One’s Own, Sula, Hamlet, Othello, American Moor, Desdemona, The Things They Carried, and a selection of essays, poems, and short stories.
Ninth Grade: Clap When You Land, The House on Mango Street, The Book Thief, When the Emperor Was Divine, A Raisin in the Sun, Romeo and Juliet, and a selection of essays, poems, and short stories..
Some of My Beliefs
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 first do the reading—doing the reading is the most important academic thing you can do in this class. As an after you read, look in the text for beauty, sadness, truth, uncertainty, guidance, enlightenment Look for how the author creates all of those things, and then share with us what you are thinking, understanding, not understanding, or just wondering 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 concrete 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 the above as well as you want to right now, that’s okay—just practice what I try to teach you and you’ll get better at it. I promise. In the meantime, as you are learning, you can give the class what is most important: your kindness, your compassion, yourself.
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
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