Honors English 9-10

9-10 Honors English 2011-2012

Instructor: Mr. Evans
Room:  W-14

Course Objectives:

Welcome to Honors English.  Some of you already know who I am but I know there are a lot of you who are still unclear regarding 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.    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2.    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3.    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
4.    Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
5.    Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
6.    Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
7.    Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
8.    Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
9.    Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


1.    Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2.    Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
3.    Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
4.    Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5.    Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
6.    Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
7.    Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8.    Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
9.    Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Listening & Speaking

1.    Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2.    Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
3.    Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
4.    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5.    Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
6.    Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


1.    Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
2.    Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
3.    Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
4.    Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
5.    Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
6.    Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

My Personal goals, interpreting these standards:

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.

Course Description:

All of those State Standards and my Course Objectives are the exact same objectives I have for my regular English courses.  If you are asking yourself then, what is the difference between the two classes, maybe what follows will help. 

First, I have a higher expectation of participation and work completion.  This is an honors class, but as with anything, you will get what you put into the class.    The first and primary difference between an honors class I teach and a regular class I teach is that I expect my honors students to be intrinsically motivated to do more than the minimum and to participate at all levels.  You will be expected to think critically on a higher and more consistent level than my other classes.  Your ideas will be put to the test more often, and you will be expected to learn and think independently.  If this is too much work for you, then you need to ask to be reassigned to one of the other English classes. If you plan not to participate in the exchange of ideas or to only complete the minimum, then you may as well leave now.

We will be studying Literature & Writing for our curriculum, the same as the other English classes, but you will be doing much more reading and writing as part of this course.  The year will be broken into four major units: The Novel, Poetry, The Short Story, and Drama.  As such, you will be expected to be continually writing and revising several assignments at any given time.  There will be times when I will assign a reading as homework.  If you neglect to do the reading, you will be at a distinct disadvantage when as a class we discuss that assigned reading or when you are asked to write about it.  We have had this discussion before, but if you question your willingness to read, then you should strongly consider your enrollment in this class.  An example:  While studying Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare, you can expect to read three or four additional essays on the play as well as other Shakespeare plays in their entirety.  All this will be done simply to address the Shakespearian element of the Drama unit.

Over the course of this school year, you will be expected to write essays related to the reading content assigned as part of the curriculum.  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.  In addition, you will be expected to write an informal essay based upon a specific question.  These write-ups will be a major part of your overall grade.

Textbook and projected reading list:

1.              Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: Platinum Level (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.              The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald
3.              The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain
4.              To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee
5.              Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury
6.              Taming of the Shrew.  William Shakespeare
7.              Romeo & Juliet. William Shakespeare
8.              A Midsummer’s Night Dream. William Shakespeare
9.              Our Town. Thorton Wilder 
              10.              Various elements of other essays, poems, books, and plays.

Class Procedures: 
1.             Journal Writing:  Every week, you will be responsible for writing four journal entries, each one half page. These journals may be on the assigned topic or one of your own choosing.  Each week you will turn in these journals depending on when you are in class.

2.             Extended Responses:  Every two weeks (due on Fridays) you will be responsible for writing at least one informal critical response of at least 1 ½ to 2 pages in length.  These are in addition to your regularly assigned essays.  You will be given possible topics to write upon, or you may choose to respond to an assigned reading in particular.  You will have the opportunity to revise and edit these responses throughout the semester, turning in at least five essays comprised of what you feel to be your best at the end of the grading period.  You may only turn in those responses which were checked off as complete throughout the semester.

3.             Book Reviews:  You are responsible for turning in two book reviews for each nine week period you are in Honors English.  The rules and format of this assignment is explained in that particular hand out.

4.             Exams:  As an Honors Class, you may expect a significant number of exams as a part of the course.  These will take the form of essay and short answer.  Some will be in-class, while others will be take-home.  Regardless, the exams in this honors course will be graded with a much higher expectation than those in regular English classes.

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.  All class discussions are summative assignments.

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

                        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 school year, you will be assigned various written assignments designed to improve your ability to write about a single subject.
b.    Extended Responses:  Assigned each week, these write-ups are explained above.
c.     Portfolios:  Much of the work you do during the time spent in this class will be collected and turned in by means of a portfolio.  This format will be explained within the first few days of class.
d.    Class Discussions. These will be assigned on a regular basis to provide the student opportunities to provide evidence he/she has been completing assigned readings as well as keeping up with comprehending the material.

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 and class discussions.
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, questions from the various reading quizzes will account for at least 50% of your interim assessments and your semester exam grade, whether that is five questions or thirty questions for each of these tests.

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 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.  Certain summative assignments will not be open for mitigation.

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 scored as incomplete “I” until the work has been turned in. If a student is absent (excused) the day assigned work is due (e.g. an essay or portfolio) the assigned work is due the day they return.  If not turned in, the grade entered will be a “0.”

Student Discipline Policies:

As honors students you are in a unique position.  As such, I expect you to act maturely.  Simply put, I do not believe in disciplinary problems with you.  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:  Even though I am not allowed to affect your grade because of cheating or plagiarism, I still have options.  I am allowed to grade according to evidence of work shown and I am allowed to assign additional remediation and create additional features to help ensure academic honesty.  These options may include:

·         Requiring that you compose your essay in my room after school over the course of several days to ensure the work is yours.
·         Providing evidence of; and a detailed, written description of the complete writing process along with your essay.
·         Conducting additional research above the minimum guidelines of the original 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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