ENGLISH 1:

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    English 1 will challenge you to formulate and respond to questions about identity and coming of age, in relation both to yourself and the world at large. We will explore how to use language powerfully and thoughtfully and to think critically about messages around us. To do so, we will create a community of readers and writers who ask difficult questions, listen closely, share and challenge ideas, and explore how to make a meaningful difference in the world, recognizing that each of our choices impacts others. Our thematic focus of “Coming of Age” will lead us to investigate both fictional characters and real individuals who encounter self-defining events. As we meet these individuals, we will study the relationship between narrative voice and style while analyzing literary and stylistic elements. We will study how authors achieve their purposes in writing and we will also work to effectively achieve our purposes as writers. We will develop our argumentative writing skills by studying how to use rhetorical appeals to influence an audience. Additionally, we will develop our speaking and listening skills in small group and class discussions as well as presentations to improve our public speaking abilities. And through research, we will evaluate and analyze social, cultural, and historical influences on a fictional text.


    YEAR OVERVIEW: Coming of Age

    Essential Question: What does it mean to “come of age”?


    UNIT 1: Coming of Age

    Essential Questions:

    • How do writers communicate voice and achieve their purposes in writing?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 1.1: My Name piece
    • 1.2: Literary analysis paragraph
    • 1.3: Interview narrative

    Texts: Excerpts from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, “Marigolds” by Eugene Collier


    UNIT 2: Research & Presentation

    Essential Questions:

    • How does context have an impact on a literary work?
    • How do I research a topic and effectively present my findings to an audience?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 2.1: Research paragraph
    • 2.2: Research presentation

    Texts: Non-fiction articles and other research materials


    UNIT 3: Literary Analysis

    Essential Questions:

    • How does a writer use literary elements to communicate messages in a work of fiction?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 3.1: Literary analysis paragraph
    • 3.2: Literary analysis essay

    Text: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee


    UNIT 4: Argumentation

    Essential Questions:

    • How are rhetorical appeals and the elements of argument used to influence an audience?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 4.1: Analyzing an argument
    • 4.2: Argumentative paragraph
    • 4.3: Argumentative speech

    Texts: Student choice of a coming-of-age novel, variety of argumentative pieces


    UNIT 5: Style

    Essential Questions:

    • How do artists (filmmakers, songwriters, poets, and writers) communicate style and purpose?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 5.1: Literary analysis paragraph (independent novel)
    • 5.2: Style analysis paragraph
    • 5.3: Style analysis essay

    Texts: Student choice of a coming-of-age novel, Tim Burton films (Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)


    UNIT 6: Poetry

    Essential Questions:

    • What is poetry?
    • How does a poet use stylistic elements to communicate messages in his or her work?

    Summative Assessments:

    • 6.1: Poetry portfolio
    • 6.2: Poetry analysis paragraph
    • 6.3: Literary analysis poster (independent novel)

    Texts: Student choice of a coming-of-age novel, various poems and spoken word pieces


    UNIT 7: Drama

    Essential Questions:

    • As readers, how do we make sense of a complex text?
    • How do actors and directors use theatrical elements to create a dramatic interpretation?

    Summative Assessment:

    • 7.1: Dramatic presentation

    Text: Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare



    Please be sure to bring the following to class every day:

    • Pen or pencil
    • 3-subject notebook (used only for this class)
    • Folder (used only for this class)
    • 4 different color highlighters or pens

    SpringBoard books are stored in the classroom and may be taken home at any time as long as the student has the text available during our in-class work together. Additional texts (novels) will be used throughout the year. Students may bring their own copies of the texts we will be reading so they can mark in them as they read and discuss or check out a copy from the library. Sticky notes are also strongly recommended.



    In order to use grades to communicate to you as a learner the skill level demonstrated in your work, I grade all assignments on a 4 point scale. The grade you receive on an assignment indicates your level of skill mastery demonstrated by that assignment. Exemplary work (4) is model work and demonstrates mastery of this skill area; Proficient work (3) indicates that you are capable and meeting standard in this skill area; Emerging work (2) shows that your skills in this area need some refining to meet standard, and Incomplete work (1) reveals a lack of understanding and/or ability and a need for additional instruction and practice in order to meet standard in this area. Missing work is entered as an M in the grade book, which receives a grade of a 1 as no evidence of understanding or ability in this skill area has been demonstrated. (TI in the grade book simply indicates that an assignment has been turned in. It may simply remain this way as a credit/no credit assignment, or it may be graded as soon as time allows. I try to enter work received as soon as possible so that students and parents are aware of any missing work right away.)


    Inevitably, you will want to know what grade you have in this class. You are welcome to access your current grade for this class online at any time. What you see at any given time should reflect my assessment of the overall skill level on the skills we are focusing on in this class that you have been able to demonstrate at that point in time. Work that is mostly exemplary will translate into an A; mostly proficient work will translate into a B. Work that borders between emerging skills and proficiency will translate into a C; work that demonstrates a mostly emerging skill set will generally translate into a D. Work that is mostly below emerging will not receive a passing grade.


    Here’s how your final numerical grade winds up being translated into a letter grade at the end of a grading period:


    Conversion chart

    B+ = 3.16-3.32

    C+ = 2.66-2.81

    D+ = 2.16-2.31

    A = 3.5-4.0

    B = 3.0-3.15

    C = 2.50-2.65

    D = 2.0-2.15

    A- = 3.33-3.49

    B- = 2.82-2.99

    C- = 2.32-2.49

    F = < 2.0





    As your teacher, I am deeply invested in your learning – your personal improvement and growth. I am only interested in your grade insofar as I am responsible to ensure that it accurately reflects your learning or your skill level. Please feel free to engage me in conversations about how to increase your learning or sharpen your skills, but not conversations about how to increase your grade. Please do not ask me how many points an assignment is worth. Our work together cannot be categorized in that way. I believe that the process is just as important as the product: our goals cannot be achieved without an investment in the daily work that culminates in the desired end result. In order to reflect this, formative work (daily tasks designed to help you learn the skills of the course and receive feedback to aid your learning) comprises about half of your grade in this class; summative work (larger unit assessments) constitutes the other half. You will get the most out of this class if you engage in all of our work with your best effort.



    To be successful in this class you must be willing to improve through redoing work until it reaches the standard. Revising your work is how you learn and improve. Once I return graded work, you have two weeks to make changes and improvements and resubmit to the revised work box. Formative work may continue to be revised until the summative project for the unit; summative work may continue to be revised until the end of a quarter. Summative work may not be revised unless all of the formative work leading to the summative project has been completed.



    It is the student’s responsibility to note due dates and to make certain assignments are placed in the class turn-in box on the day that they are to be turned in. All late work is to be placed in the “Late” box with a “Late Ticket” attached. On the ticket will be an explanation of why the assignment was late and a parent signature. Late work will not be accepted without a completed late ticket. Formative late work will only be accepted until the summative project for the unit; summative late work will only be accepted until four weeks after the original due date. If this procedure is followed, late work is accepted for full credit.



    In the case of an absence, whether excused or unexcused, it is the student’s responsibility to acquire any necessary make-up work outside of class time. Please come to me before or after class rather than interrupting our work in class with requests for make-up work. For excused absences, students have an extension on deadlines of any assigned work for the number of days they were absent. Students should still submit work to the late box and fill in a late slip to explain why the work was turned in late, but they do not have to obtain a parent signature. For unexcused absences, students may submit work to the late box following the late work procedure.



    Open communication between the teacher, student, and parent/guardian supports academic success. I will do my best to reach out; it is also important for me to hear from students and families if a question or concern arises so we can all work together to enable students to be successful. I endeavor to make myself available as much as possible outside of class time to support students, arriving at 7am and staying until 3pm every day. Please do not hesitate to see me for one-on-one assistance before school, during first lunch, or after school any day. Additionally, I do my best to keep the class website up to date with current assignments and the online grade book as current as possible. I encourage you to check on your (or your student’s) work and progress in this class and e-mail or call me with questions or concerns.



    Within the context of the classroom, students are expected to use personal electronic devices for academic purposes only at appropriate times. For optimal individual and whole class success, I expect that students will have electronic devices out of sight and out of use, unless instructed as appropriate to use for an assignment or activity.



    The written work that you submit for this class must be representative of your own abilities, not someone else’s. I expect that we will learn a great deal in conversation with one another, so discussing class material with your classmates is highly encouraged. However, all written work you submit must be entirely your own unless a) you are working on a group project which will be clearly specified as such or b) you are using and properly citing source material for an assignment that requires or allows you to do so. As you prepare your assignments for this class, remember that if you make use of a source (even if it’s just where you got a certain idea and you’re not quoting it word-for-word) and you do not properly cite it, this is plagiarism. Be sure that you understand whether or not it is appropriate to use a variety of sources in researching for an assignment or whether you are expected to produce written work reflective only of your own independent thinking. Keep in mind that when I ask you to reflect on a text, I’m not asking you to tell me what others think about it or how they have analyzed it. I’m asking you to analyze it. I want you to present and justify your own thinking, not rehash of the ideas of others. Submitted work that is not entirely one’s own will receive a referral for academic dishonesty, a zero in the grade book for the assignment, and a one-day in-school suspension. Please don’t resort to this. Instead of lifting something from the internet or using another student’s work, please come see me so that I can help. I believe that with effort and assistance (which is what I’m here for), all my students can achieve success in this class. And that’s my goal!



    If we make a conscious choice to invest in our own learning and the learning of others, we have the power to create a positive learning environment – an enjoyable classroom climate in which we can all prosper and grow. To make our classroom a meaningful learning community, I will ask if we could all agree to do our best to practice these habits:

    • READ CAREFULLY: Take care as you read that you’re actually processing the words on the page and working to understand and respond to the text. Ask questions, bring up disagreements, and talk back to the text. Reading is not a spectator sport; you must be involved and engaged.
    • WRITE CONSCIOUSLY: Don’t write on auto-pilot. Write something real – your honest thoughts in your own voice. Put effort into your words. Write like it counts. But don’t let perfectionism stand in the way of getting your thoughts onto the page. Writing doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful and purposeful.
    • SPEAK THOUGHTFULLY: You don’t need to be sure you have “the right answer” (which often doesn’t exist) before speaking up. In fact, responses that evidence an incomplete understanding are often more productive than ones that are spot on. Additionally, I am a big proponent of thinking aloud as a way of processing something and working out our thoughts as we go. But I do want you to put thought into your words and choose them carefully instead of speaking thoughtlessly or hurtfully.
    • LISTEN EMPATHICALLY: Active listening shows that we care about what the speaker has to say, and in this class, everyone’s contribution is important. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and recognize that you don’t have to agree with them to learn something from what they have to say. In fact, you may learn more from them if they’re coming from a point of view that’s difficult for you to swallow. Listen to understand; mutual understanding is foundational to any meaningful conversation.
    • THINK CRITICALLY: Our thinking must go beyond the surface and really wrestle with deeper challenges, not just noticing or naming what is evident but evaluating and making judgments about what we see and hear. In order to help us all hone our critical thinking skills, I will often ask you to explain your thinking, saying, “What makes you think that?” or “Where do you see that?” or “Say more.” I want us all to be able to understand not just your conclusion but your process, which is just as important (if not more so).
    • QUESTION COURAGEOUSLY: Be curious. Dig deeper. Do not be afraid to “get it wrong” or look dumb. We are all learners. Failure is a necessary step towards success. If we don’t take intellectual risks, then we never grow.
    • ACT MINDFULLY: Be conscious of your actions and intentional with your behaviors. All of us have our moments when we’ve slipped up and become mindlessly reactionary, letting our emotions, our fears, or our hormones push us around and dictate our behavior. It’s never too late to start making choices about your actions instead of being controlled by impulses. Choose to be the person you really want to be.
    • BE PRESENT: Come ready to learn every day; be prepared mentally and physically to give your full attention and best efforts to the work at hand. The quality of our class time together depends entirely on your preparation and participation. I do not assign busy work; none of our work together is frivolous. Your total engagement in and completion of all assignments is critical for your own learning and the learning of your classmates.
    • STAY POSITIVE: A good attitude and sense of humor are key to success in many areas of life. Remember to keep an open mind, be eager to learn, believe the best about one another, and treat everyone with respect at all times. Negative or disrespectful comments or behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Everyone should feel safe and valued here. Mutual respect and positive attitudes will make our endeavors together enjoyable and successful.