Honors English 11-12

Overview of 11-12 Honors English Literature and Composition
Mr. Evans

Course Prerequisites

All prospective Honors English students are screened and must have received a recommendation from their current English Teacher.  Further, students are required to read two novels over the summer.  One novel will be assigned, and the second novel will be of the student's choice, from the approved reading list. Any student receiving less than a "B" grade will not receive honors credit, and any student receiving less than a "C" grade in the first semester will be removed from the Honors English course and returned to regular English.

Course Design

As an HONORS English student, you will write two critical response essays and two additional expository papers during each semester. Your first critical essay will be in response to one of the major work we will be reading in class.  The second critical essay will be in response to a literary work from the approved reading list. You are expected to read extensively the unit/era of literature we will be studying. You will learn to use secondary sources responsibly and are also encouraged to become familiar with the MLA guidelines and other library resources that may provide critical material that will be useful to you. To quote the Common Core Standards: "Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism." The papers generally range from 750 words to 1000 words in length. Your independent reading and research is completed in addition to the regular daily assignments given to you in class. Your first critical response essay and first research based paper will be due approximately four to five weeks from the beginning day of school. Your second two essays will be due shortly before the end of the semester.  This pattern will be repeated in the second semester.

Course Objectives

1. To address multiple opportunities designed to promote reading comprehension, advanced academic writing, and improve critical thinking.
2. To develop independent thought through avid critical inquiry and to enhance writing skills through
frequent, challenging assignments.
3. To create a highly committed, focused, and collaborative community of learners.
4.  To address and meet the various anchor standards of the Common Core Curriculum for the state of Nevada.

Course Philosophy

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. You are expected to write and read more than other English classes.  As HONORS students you should be intrinsically motivated to do more than the minimum and to participate at all levels.  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 function as a community of learners. If you are committed to the work as well as to listening and learning from each other, this class will ultimately become one in which we are all teachers and students. Each member of the class will have a voice. We will learn from each other, read our writing aloud, work collaboratively on revisions, and share our thoughts, ideas, and observations with one another.

Course Description:

Let’s begin with this declaration: Literature, for the most part, is not practical. It doesn’t tell us how to repair our computers, build a bookcase, or change a tire. What it does do, however, is more subtle and, I believe, more powerful. It takes us out of ourselves, providing transcendent experiences that often leave us shaking our heads in amazement. More importantly, perhaps, it also takes us into ourselves, helping us to process the events of our lives and to produce our own narratives. It provides case studies of successful lives and failures: of what to do and what not to do. In a survey, 75% of Fortune 500 CEO's attributed a strong background in literature as a component to their success.  Through literature, we live vicariously: we travel, both in time and place; we change genders; we experience melancholy and elation, fear and courage, ignorance and wisdom. We grow, and we know.

This course is built on the notion that literature is greater than the sum of its parts but that knowing both the parts and the sum is crucial. As a student of literature need to be conversant in the terms specific to its genres; you need to know something about the various theoretical approaches to literature; and you need to be familiar with some of the significant works of Western culture.

For our curriculum, we will be studying British Literature in mostly a chronological fashion.  This is the same as the other English classes, but you will be doing much more reading and writing as part of this course.  The study of writing will be reflected as we address major works of literature.  As such, you will be expected to be continually writing and revising several assignments at any given time.  There will be many 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 Hamlet, 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 as well as opinion and expository essays meant to convey information and argumentation.  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.

In addition, The 11-12 Honors class will be discussing contemporary issues meant to present more opportunities to exercise critical and creative thinking.  These opportunities will often come in the form assigned writings being assigned to either anticipate  to follow up in class discussions.  Many of these assignments will fill up the Extended Response element of the course which is discussed later in this syllabus. 

Syllabus Overview (A sampling)

 The Epic

The epic is long form storytelling, often centering on the actions of a central heroic figure.  Such stories are often written in narrative verse, usually marked by the telling of a complex sequential story by way of action, characters, themes, plot, and setting.  The epic has several essential elements and qualities which set it apart from other kinds of storytelling.  It is during the study of the epic we will also begin to study the more basic elements of poetry and story.

Essential Questions:
What are the essential elements of the epic?
What cross cultural influences create variations of the epic?
How do epics represent various cultures?
What poetic elements are most common among epics?

Major Texts:
1.                    Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: The British Tradition (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.                    The Odyssey. Homer
3.                    Beowulf. Traditional
4.                    Various Texts as assigned by Mr. Evans


Medieval Poetry

Medieval poetry in English literature spans a great length of time.  We will begin with The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and continue through the Arthurian tradition.  Many of the poems and stories we will be reading have contributed to British identity, and as an extension, American identity.  By way of these poems and stories, we will further investigate the aspects of poetry and make introductory steps into studying fiction.

Essential Questions:
What major themes developed in Medieval literature?
How has poetry itself progressed because of the Medieval poem?
How is Medieval literature connected to religion, and how does it begin to break from that influence?

Major Texts:
1.                    Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: Platinum Level (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.                    The Canterbury Tales.  Geoffrey Chaucer (Various sections)
3.                    The Mabinogion.  Traditional (Various selections)
4.                    Gawain and the Green Knight.  The Pearl Poet
5.                    Various texts, poems, and essays regarding poetry

Shakespeare & His Contemporaries

Drama is literature and storytelling expressly meant to be performed by actors for an audience.  The most popular, and perhaps profound development in British Drama are the plays written by William Shakespeare.  In this unit, we will place primary emphasis upon the literary works of William Shakespeare (his plays and his sonnets), studying the elements of drama and how performance and collaboration effect literature.  We will also be reading the poetry and writing of those who were contemporaries to Shakespeare,

Essential Questions:

What are the essential elements of drama?
What are the common themes of William Shakespeare's work and why do they still connect with readers?
How have Shakespeare's contemporaries contributed to the identity of British literature?
What are the essential elements of literary criticism?

Major Texts:
1.                    Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: Platinum Level (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.                    Hamlet. William Shakespeare
3.                    The Taming of the Shrew. William Shakespeare
4.                    One additional play by Shakespeare or a contemporary
5.                    Various essays and other readings as assigned by Mr. Evans


The Romantics

The Romantics in England were a group of poets and writers who rejected the changes brought to England as a result of the Industrial Revolution.  Most were politically minded and outspoken on the aesthetic requirements of poetry and writing, using their talents to voice their displeasures with the modern world and demonstrate their aesthetic goals.  As a class we will learn the various rules the Romantics set forth for poetry and how those rules continue to

Essential Questions:
What are the various elements of poetry?
How does one point a critical eye at poetry without falling prey to subjectivity?
How does one develop a personal aesthetic?

Major Texts:
1.                    Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: Platinum Level (Prentice Hall, 2002)
2.                    Preface to The Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
3.                    Various essays and other readings as assigned by Mr. Evans

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 of novels or major literary works 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. 

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)

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%

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:  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.  I will not allow any student to mitigate a "0" grade on any assignment for which he or she cheated.

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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