Tuesdays and Thursdays after school

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


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.


  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?


This is a slightly abridged version of the skills that this class will work on this year (the full version is available on request). In order to receive credit for this class, you must have an average of at least 2 in each standard at the end of the year.

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

  • Identifying key passages in a text
  • Annotating a text to keep track of ideas
  • Explaining the plot structure of a text

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

  • Incorporating transitional words and phrases
  • Introducing and incorporating quotes into your writing
  • Maintaining a formal tone throughout your papers

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

  • Writing a thesis statement
  • Creating an organized structure for your ideas
  • Finding and using quotes to support your ideas
  • Writing effective conclusions

Research Writing
There will be at least two small research projects undertaken by each student

  • Evaluating potential sources of information
  • Identifying when to cite sources
  • Understanding intellectual property rights
  • Finding sources to support your research
  • Revising research plans to fulfill the purpose of the research

Speaking and Listening
Clear and effective oral communication

  • Participating in a structured conversation
  • Connect the ideas of other speakers to your own thoughts
  • Using appropriate media to explain your point of view
  • Presenting information in a logical order

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

  • Using capitalization correctly
  • Spelling correctly
  • Writing in complete sentences


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
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
Hero’s Journey choice book
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck


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 for the unit 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 for the quarter. If you re-do a Summative Assessment, it will be re-graded, but you cannot receive a score higher than 2.5.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 formative assignments must be handed in before the summative assessment takes place. The maximum grade you can receive on a late formative assignment is a 3.  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.

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. During work time, they may be used for music listening (only). 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.

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 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.