ACADEMIC ENGLISH II SYLLABUS

mlevine@grsu14.org
Tuesdays and Thursdays after school


“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”                – Paulo Coelho


CLASS OVERVIEW

We will be exploring the various aspects of culture in this class through literature and non-fiction writings by authors around the world. Our focus will be on finding similar experiences that are part of what makes us human, as well as tracking ways in which specific cultural values make these experiences look and feel slightly different.


ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

  1. What is the common human experience?
  2. How is the human experience expressed in different cultures?
  3. How does self-knowledge help us recognize commonalities in other cultures?
  4. What impact do history and geography have on culture?
  5. How does literature reflect and perpetuate historical and cultural ideals?

GRADUATION STANDARDS

This is a slightly abridged version of the skills that this class will work on this year (the full version is available on request)

Reading Literature and Informational Texts
Reading comprehension skills on a variety of levels of complexity

  • Using textual evidence to support claims
  • Identifying and analyzing themes
  • Identifying and evaluating cultural experiences
  • Drawing connections between your life and texts you read

Argument Writing
Writing essays to convince the reader of the validity of your point of view

  • Writing precise claims
  • Introducing supporting evidence and limitations for claims
  • Considering and refuting counterclaims
  • Writing conclusions that connect your claim to broader ideas

Informative & Explanatory Writing
Other types of writing, including creative pieces

  • Enriching writing with sensory details
  • Employing figurative language

Research Writing
There will be a major research project undertaken by each student

  • Developing and refining research questions
  • Gathering and evaluating the credibility of information
  • Synthesizing multiple sources
  • Restating complex concepts in your own words
  • Creating an annotated bibliography according to MLA format

Speaking and Listening
Clear and effective oral communication

  • Participating actively in discussions
  • Questioning other speakers
  • Responding respectfully to another speaker’s point of view
  • Presenting information in a logical order

Language Use
Focusing on the ability to edit and revise your work

  • Using commas correctly
  • Understanding the difference between independent and dependent clauses

PRIMARY READINGS

These books are listed in the planned order that we will be reading them in, understanding that there will be many other shorter readings throughout the year, many of which will be chosen by students:

Chinese Cinderella, by Adeline Yen Mah
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.


ASSESSMENTS AND GRADING

Most in-class work and homework are considered formative in that you are working on building skills that you display when you complete summative tasks. For that reason, merely completing your daily work with a good faith effort will earn you a good grade on formative assignments, while summative assessments will come with their own individual rubrics that are standards-based.

Formative Assignments

No formative assignments will be accepted after the summative assessment is given. If your formative assignment is handed in late, the maximum grade you can receive is a 3. Most assignments that you are asked to complete will be graded according the following scale:

Turned In (4 points) = Your assignment was completed on-time and demonstrated an understanding of how to complete the required task(s)
Late (3 points) = Your assignment demonstrated an understanding of how to complete the required task(s)
Incomplete (2 points) = Your assignment showed some understanding of the required task(s)
Beginning (1 point) = You began to work on the assignment
Missing (0 points) = You did not hand in the assignment

Your grade on formative assessments does not affect your term grade, which is based entirely on your scores on summative assessments. However, only students averaging a 2.5 or greater on their formative assignments will be able to remediate summative assessments during that quarter.

Summative Assessments
The specific standards for each assignment will be discussed when the assignment is being given out. Each standard receives its own grade in Infinite Campus, meaning your summative assessments will be worth different amounts depending on how many standards the assignment covers. All grades will be issued on the basis of a 4-point scale. Your overall grade for the term will be an average of all of the standards you have received grades for during the quarter. You may only re-do a summative assessment if you handed it in on time and your Academic Habits of Work grade is greater than an average of 2.5. If you re-do a Summative Assessment, it will be re-graded, but you cannot receive a score higher than 2.5.

Summative Assessments
The specific standards for each assignment will be discussed when the assignment is being given out. Each standard receives its own grade in Infinite Campus, meaning your summative assessments will be worth different amounts depending on how many standards the assignment covers. All grades will be issued on the basis of a 4-point scale. Your overall grade for the term will be an average of all of the standards you have received grades for during the quarter. You may only re-do a summative assessment if you handed it in on time and your formative assignments grade is greater than an average of 2.5 for the quarter. If you re-do a Summative Assessment, it will be re-graded.


HABITS OF WORK
We will be evaluating your two habits of work according to the Windham High School rubric every four weeks (or so). In case you are not familiar with them, some general reminders appear below along with some specific areas of attention for my classroom:

Social Responsibility

  • Follow classroom and school rules
  • Keep your language positive
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated

Academic Responsibility

  • Formative Assignments

KEY THINGS TO KNOW
We will be spending some time during the first week becoming familiar with the following:

Google Classroom
In case you haven’t used it before, this will be the primary tool we will be using to complete formative assessments, hopefully eliminating the need for paper (and the possibility of lost assignments!) . Most summative assessments (other than essays) will be paper and pencil tasks.

Class Participation
You will be offered the chance to participate in class on a regular basis and will be awarded a summative assessment grade at the end of each quarter to reflect your proficiency of the Speaking and Language Standard. This participation grade will be averaged in with any other grades earned in the Speaking and Listening Standard during that quarter.

Essays
Your first draft (the first time you hand in the essay with all of the required components) will be commented on and edited, but not graded. Only your second draft will be graded.

Freewrites
These are generally expected to be at least 100 words on an assigned topic (sometimes no topic will be assigned). Freewrites should be edited for writing mechanics and clarity of ideas. Most freewrites are formative, though a few each quarter will be summative (you will be told when assigned) and graded according to the standard rubric available on Google Classroom.

Quickwrites
These are always formative and are graded solely on word count. Do not worry about editing or re-reading–just write!

Reading assignments
Most of the time, you will be given time in class to complete assigned readings and related formative assignments, which become homework only if you are not able to complete them before the end of class.

Late work
A reminder that no credit is assigned for late formative assignments unless discussed in advance with me. Summative assessments that are handed in late cannot be remediated.

Sparknotes (or other similar internet sites)
I would ask you to remember that the point of reading for English class is to build reading comprehension skills. Sometimes it can be helpful to consult an on-line resource to supplement your reading, but never to replace it.

Plagiarism
A reminder that it is plagiarism to consult the internet for quotes from a book, copy and paste any portion of a plot summary or character description, or even read a plot summary before doing a freewrite on it. It is also considered plaigarism to work together on an assignment unless you are specfically asked to do so. No credit will be awarded for duplicate assignments (no matter who actually did the work) or plagiarized work, and offenses that violate the WHS Academic Code of Conduct will be reported to school administration.

Cell phones and earbuds
I expect you to put them away when the bell rings. During work time, they may be used for music listening (only). Should you phone be out when it is not supposed to be out, you will only receive one warning before I take away your phone, and if I do so, you cannot pick it up until the end of the school day. Anyone who loses their phone for violating class policy must surrender it to me at the start of class for the remainder of the quarter.

Computers
Please close your computers at the bell and keep them closed except when you are working on an assignment for class. Emailing or use of other social media is not permitted during class time for any reason, either on your phone or computer.

Backpacks
Backpacks are allowed in class as long as you keep them out of the way in the “Backpack Zone.”  Room 126 is very small, so please use common sense.

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