Senior English

Course Objectives:

Welcome to Senior English.  Most of you already know who I am but I know there are a lot of you who do not know what to expect from this course or from me as your teacher.  This syllabus will help to clarify course objectives, my intent, and the necessary information for successful completion of this class.  If there is any information you cannot find here, it is your responsibility to make me aware of what you need.  I cannot read your mind and I cannot anticipate all of your individual needs without your assistance.  The primary goal for this course is to provide you learning opportunities to improve your writing and reading comprehension levels.  These skills are broken down into the following state standards & essential outcomes:

1.    Students know and use word analysis skills and strategies to comprehend new words encountered in texts.
2.    Students use reading process skills and strategies to build comprehension.
3.    Students read to comprehend, interpret, and evaluate literature from a variety of authors, cultures and times.
4.    Students read to comprehend, interpret, and evaluate informational texts for specific purposes.
5.    Students write a variety of texts that inform, persuade, describe, evaluate, or tell a story and are appropriate to purpose and audience.
6.    Students write with a clear focus and logical development, evaluating, revising and editing for organization, style,  tone, and word choice.
7.    Students write using Standard English grammar, usage, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
8.    Students listen to and evaluate oral communications for content, style, speaker's purpose and audience appropriateness.
9.    Students speak, using organization, style, tone, voice, and media aids appropriate to purpose and audience.
10.   Students participate in discussions to offer information, clarify ideas, and support a position.
11.   Students formulate research questions, use a variety of sources to obtain information, weigh the evidence, draw valid conclusions, and present findings.

The district curriculum for this course is located at :  
The Nevada State Standards for this course are located at:

Course Description:

During the first nine weeks of this English course, class will generally be split into two daily sections.  The first of those sections will concentrate on writing and writing skills, while the second part of the day will be devoted to the study of literature specific to the British Tradition.  It must be stated at this time, very little class time will be given over to you in order to work on essays or other Summative written assignments. 

Participation is not only recommended, it is vital to your understanding of the course materials.  Because of the nature of the course structure, you will not be able to fake your way past the interim assessments which will focus on both heuristics (the study of writing) and literature content.  If you choose to avoid participation by way of sleeping or ignoring conversations (state standards 9 & 10) when they take place you risk not gaining the understanding necessary to pass interim assessments.  At no time will you be allowed to re-take any test.  Your opportunity to improve your grade will come in the form of revising assigned essays and other summative writing assignments.

Reading is a fundamental aspect of this course.  You should expect to be assigned reading or a re-reading every day.  I cannot force any of you to read the assignments, but it will quickly become apparent who is reading and who is not.  If you do not like reading, you will have a difficult time with this course, so if you do not enjoy reading, you will need to find a way to get through the school year as best you can.  If you are having difficulty comprehending the various passages, I suggest you share the assignment of reading with a friend or partner.  One of the best ways to gain understand of something is to talk it over with others.  Extending this logic, participation in discussions by asking questions, offering possible explanations, and actively listening to others will add to your overall understanding and increase your chances of receiving better grades.

Over the course of the school year, you will be writing several essays, ranging from 500-1000 words in length.  Each of these essays is designed to teach you by way of practice, various approaches to the writing process, which in turn will help you to master the standards set forth by the state of Nevada.

The course will be divided into several units of study.  We are going to be using a modified portfolio system for part of the course work you will be assigned.  The intent of my modified portfolio system is to allow you to play to your strengths and give you some say in the assignments you complete.  I will be explaining the portfolio at the appropriate time and be modifying it as the course progresses to match your needs.


Why English?  The fundamental aspects of language and literature are key to success.  75% of all CEO's in the Fortune 500 attribute a strong background in writing and literature to their success.  Being able to write and understand literature widens your perspective and your ability to relate to others.  It's as simple as that. One final factor for motivation:  This is your last year and without passing both semesters of this class, you will not graduate.

Textbook and other resources:

1.             Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: The British Tradition (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.             Hamlet.  Shakespeare, William. 
3.             VARIOUS .

Class Procedures:

1.             Journal Writing:  Each day of class, you will write a journal entry for the first several minutes of class.  These entries will be turned in on Friday each week and will be entered in as a Formative Assignment.

2.             Reading Quizzes:  Quizzes will be assigned according to the various reading assignments given in class and will be entered in as Formative Assignments.

3.             Essay Formatting:  All assigned essays will be written in MLA format. 

4.             Late Work:  Late work will only be accepted at the discretion of the teacher, and only for valid causes. 

Formative:  Formative work will not be accepted late for credit except as previously noted.
Summative:  In the case of Summative Assignments, students may arrange with me to mitigate any missed Summative Assignment by completing alternative assignments as arranged between the student any myself in a timely manner.  These “alternative assignments” will represent a fair, balanced approach to making up the original assignment but will consist of more work than the original assignment.

5.             Participation:  All students are expected to participate in class discussions and activities.  Participation is your best opportunity to improve the chances of doing well on summative assignments.

                        Students will accumulate points throughout the nine weeks.  Points will come from the following categories, and will be based on the following percentages:

·         Category 1:          Formative                                          30%
·         Category 2:          Summative                                        70%.

1.              Major Assessments
a.     Essays:  During the 18 weeks of this course, you will be assigned various written assignments designed to improve your ability to write about a single subject.
b.    Exams:  Throughout the semester, you will be given exams derived from the in-class and homework reading assignments, as well as pertinent aspects of the writing process.  These exams are a measurement of your ability to comprehend and discuss the major themes presented in class.
c.     Writer Workshops:  Most Fridays you are in class, you will be assigned to participate in a writer's workshop.  These are considered summative assignments based upon participation.  If you are absent, it is your responsibility to make up the time/work before or after school.
d.    Class Discussions:  During the study of major works of literature, you will be required to participate in student led class discussions.  These discussions are summative.  You must participate four times in a significant manner to receive full credit.
2.              Daily Assignments:
a.     Journal
b.    Silent reading
c.     Participation
d.    Reading Quizzes
e.     Formative writing assignments
3.              Homework:
a.     Readings:  Most days you will be given a reading assignment.  These reading assignments will be monitored by the use of quizzes.
b.    Written work:  Most written work assigned should be considered as homework because most class time will be taken up with learning writing strategies and the discussion of literature.

Grading System: 

All assignments, regardless of whether they are formative or summative, will be graded on a 4 point scale: 

                        4 = Exceeds Standards 90-100%                       (A)
                        3 = Meets Standards                 80-89%              (B)

                        2 = Approaches Standards       70-79%             (C)
                        1= Below Standards                 60-69%              (D)

                        0 = Insufficient Evidence          0-59%                (F)

The purpose of this scale is to help make the transition to a standards based grading system.  Some of the math does not appear to be correct, but it reflects the need to perform at a certain level to be considered proficient at any various assigned task.  In addition, the actual percentages are irrelevant because the real measure of a grade is based upon whether or not the evidence you provide suggests you are exceeding, meeting, or not addressing the standards set forth.  Grades for Summative assignments will be calculated on a traditional letter grade/percentage scale for ease and convenience of students and parents, but be translated to the 4 point scale when put in the grade book.  These numbers will be carried over to two decimal points (e.g. 3.5 or 2.75).

A Word on Formative Assessments:

In order to assure the impact of certain Formative assignments will have upon the final grade, not all Formative assignments will be graded.  For example, I will collect journals every week, but a maximum of 6 journals throughout the semester will be counted towards your final grades.  Further, because the assigned readings are of such importance to the successful completion of this course, content and concepts from the quizzes will account for at least 50% of your reading exams and your semester exam grade, whether that is five questions or thirty questions for each of these tests.

Make up work:
Policy: Students will have two days for every day they are excused for being absent to make up their work. Assignments will be left blank until the work has been turned in or time has expired. If a student is absent (excused) the day assigned work is due (e.g. an essay) the assigned work is due the day they return.  If not turned in, the grade entered will be a “0.”

Assessment Re-Test Opportunities:
All students have the opportunity to revise summative writing assignments.  Students will be given at least one full week after they receive their paper after it has been graded to revise and re-submit for a better grade.  Reading exams and Unit Exams are not open for this option.

Returning work to the student:
Students will have the opportunity to review their major assignments, but because of the nature of a split between the sections of this course, all major assignments must be returned to the instructor.

Student Discipline Policies:

As seniors you are in a unique position.  Some of you are legally adults, but more importantly, you are in your final year of high school.  As such, I expect you to act as adults.  Simply put, I do not believe in disciplinary problems with seniors.  Either you are a willing participant in this class as far as behavior goes or you should leave.  If my authority or guidelines are challenged from a behavioral perspective, my first response is to remove you from class and require a face to face meeting with your parents, where you will explain to them why they were required to come to the school.  All standards and school policies will be enforced.

A Few Words on Cheating & Plagiarism

Make no mistake about my views on cheating and plagiarism.  If I catch you cheating or plagiarizing on an assignment, you will be referred to the administration for disciplinary measures at the administration’s discretion, and I will schedule a conference with your parents and the counseling office.  This will happen every time I catch you.  Cheating (which plagiarism is) is defined by all of the following activities:
1.    Copying in part or whole another person’s work, words, and/or ideas and attempting to pass it off as your own.
2.    Copying in part or whole another person’s work, words, and/or ideas and neglecting to give credit to that person.
3.    Having someone complete assigned work for you.
4.    Completing assigned work for someone else.
5.    Looking at another person’s answer sheet during a test or quiz.
6.    Allowing someone to look on you test or quiz for the answers.
7.    Attempting in any way to subvert the directions given for any assignment or test.

Be warned:  I only accuse someone of cheating or plagiarism when I have irrefutable evidence, so if I make the charge, it will stick.

Be further warned:  The Common Core Standards addresses Plagiarism.

"Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism."

As such, plagiarism fits squarely in the realm of something which affects your grade.  Because it is a standard for you to avoid plagiarism, you need to be aware if it has been determined you have plagiarized and assignment in my class, you will be given a "0" for that assignment.  You also need to keep in mind I am the person who determines which assignments you may re-attempt or mitigate.  The severity of your plagiarism will determine whether I allow you to re-attempt the assignment.

Availability for Extra Help:

1.             Please see me before school or after school.
2.             You may request to be placed with me for guided instruction.

Students are encouraged to come see me before or after school for additional help and explanations of concepts or help in approaching summative work as the course requires.  Students should also make arrangements to come see me during guided instruction.  It is not only my job to help when a student asks for help, but it is one of the more enjoyable aspects of my work to interact with students on a one-to-one basis.  In the long run, coming to me will be helpful to you, more so than asking a classmate who might be guessing or to simply let the opportunity slide.

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