ACADEMIC ENGLISH I SYLLABUS

mlevine@grsu14.org
Google Classroom code: ens4792
Tuesdays and Thursdays after school


“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
– Mark Twain


CLASS OVERVIEW

This class will focus on developing and refining the fundamental English skills that you will need throughout high school and beyond in order to be an effective communicator. During the course of the year, we will develop a common vocabulary to discuss literature as well as practicing writing on a regular basis to improve your clarity and mechanics. All of our work will center on discussing the web of thoughts and emotions that make humans the complex and fascinating creatures that we are.


ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

  1. How does literature help us better understand ourselves?
  2. How do experiences shape personal identity?
  3. What is the importance of storytelling?
  4. What is the relationship between courage and responsibility?
  5. What is justice?

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:

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson OR The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose
To Kill a Mockingbird
, by Harper Lee


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. Some in-class assignments count only towards your HOW grades. Each assignment will be clearly noted as to its type when handed out and/or posted on Google Classroom.

Preparatory Work (part of HOW grade)

These assignments are helping to build your understanding of a topic or practice a skill.  Since you are still in the process of learning, they are not graded for accuracy, but only checked for completion with the following codes:

T – turned in completed and on time

I – turned in on time, but not fully completed

L – turned in late (must be fully completed or it will be returned)

M – not turned in or turned in late and incomplete

Formative Assignments (10% of each quarter’s grade)

All formative assignments are graded holistically, taking into account a combination of the completeness of the work as well as its accuracy.  Please refer to the chart below for general guidelines for grading. If your formative assignment is handed in LATE, you can only receive a maximum grade of 3 on it.  No formative work may be handed in later than two weeks after the due date, or after the unit has been completed. 

Exemplary (4 points) = Your assignment was completed in a way that fulfilled all of the requirements, and your response(s) were specific and contained original thinking.  Extremely accurate.

Proficient (3 points) = Your assignment was mostly completed and/or most responses were specific and contained original thinking. Mostly accurate.

Approaching Mastery (2 points) = Your assignment was somewhat completed and your responses were general in nature and/or contained some original thinking. Somewhat accurate.

Beginning (1 point) = You began to work on the assignment. Little accuracy.

Missing (0 points) = You did not hand in the assignment on time

Summative Evidence (90% of each quarter’s grade)

The specific requirements, standards, and grading criteria for each summative task will be discussed when the assignment is handed out and/or posted on Google Classroom. 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 standards grades will be issued on the basis of a 4-point scale, while the overall assignment will receive a traditional 0 to 100 grade.  In general, you may only remediate a summative assessment if you handed it in on time, and you have completed at least 90% of your preparatory work and formative assignments for the unit.  You can only remediate a summative grade up to 87%.


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
  • Use of Book It! time (see below)

Academic Responsibility

  • Formative Assignments
  • Class participation

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 evidence (other than essays) will be provided via paper and pencil tasks.  Please be certain to check the stream regularly for assignments to complete. When you are not able to attend school, you are still responsible for checking Google Classroom for work that you have missed.

Class Participation
You will be offered the chance to participate in class on a regular basis and will be awarded a summative 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, as well as becoming a part of your overall quarter grade.

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, and are graded using the table above.

Quickwrites
These are brainstorming prompts that are not graded. 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 formative assignments that are handed in late can only receive a maximum grade of 3. No formative assignments may be handed in later than 2 weeks after the due date. Summatives that are handed in late cannot be remediated.  No work of any sort will be accepted more than two weeks after the close of a unit.

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 online resource to supplement your reading, but never to replace it.

Plagiarism 
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 plagiarism to work together on an assignment unless you are specifically 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. Should your phone be out when it is not supposed to be out, you will only receive one warning before I take away your phone. Anyone who loses their phone for violating class policy must surrender it to me at the start of class until further notice.

Music
During work time, you may listen to music on your computers (only).  This is a right, not a privilege, and you may lose the ability to use your earbuds in class for repeated violations of classroom norms.

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.

Bathroom Break
You must ask permission before leaving the room. Please wait for a pause in the class to ask – you will not be allowed to leave when I am going over information and/or assignments.  You must sign out before leaving and when you return. You have a 5 minute limit on breaks – violation of this policy will result in revocation of your hallway pass privileges.  No breaks will be given during the first or last five minutes of class.  Only one person at a time out of the room!

This class participates in Book It!

You will participate in about 30 minutes of silent reading per week. We will be reading at the beginning of the first and last period of the week (whenever those fall). The rules are simple:

Read what you want.
Free yourself of technology.
Only use printed resources.
Stay quiet.

We encourage you to choose books/magazines from the library or library cart. Ask your peers, teachers, and librarians for recommendations if nothing catches your eye.

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