“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”—John Locke
In this foundational high school English course, students learn how to deeply, analytically, personally, and imaginatively think about and respond to literature. Students discover connections between literature and the world beyond their virtual classroom. Designed to develop the basic skills of students as mature readers and writers through the analysis of complex texts in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, this course thoroughly prepares students to tackle the rigors of college-preparatory coursework in grades 10-12.
Students explore a variety of writing discourses such as persuasion, cause/effect, compare/contrast, and problem/solution, as well as research-based projects. Because of the interconnected nature of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking, students simultaneously strengthen and perfect all of those skills throughout the course. Special emphasis, however, is placed upon effective composition, analytical response to literature, collaboration, discussion, and vocabulary development.
Six books are required for this course and should be purchased in advance and brought to class as needed. Internet links to short stories, poetry, articles, and speeches are provided by the teacher. Because an important component of this class is learning to provide textual evidence when writing about or discussing literature, it is helpful for all students to acquire the same editions of each book. It is important for the students to be “on the same page,” so please refer to the ISBN numbers in the Required Texts tab above when ordering.
Weekly homework includes vocabulary, grammar, reading, and writing assignments. Each week, students read while annotating assigned novels, short stories, poems, or articles. Students are also asked to respond to the literature through a variety of methods including thought-provoking questions, story summary charts, essay-writing, group assignments, online discussion boards, journaling, oral reports, and projects.
Who should enroll?
This class is for 8th – 9th graders who have taken Literature and Composition 7/8 or equivalent.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Webcam, headset, and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
- Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are extremely helpful. If using a different word processing program, the documents should be saved or exported as a pdf in order to submit it on Canvas.
Evaluation and Feedback
Asking students to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter is an integral part of the learning process. Weekly vocabulary and grammar quizzes will be assigned. Comprehension of literature will be assessed through live class and online discussion and through written responses such as journal entries, multi-paragraph essays, graphic organizers, and exams. Students will also be asked to demonstrate mastery and application of course material by completing special, creative projects and oral presentations.
Communication is an essential component of any educational endeavor. With that in mind, I encourage all of my students to contact me whenever they need assistance with an assignment, and I make it a priority to promptly respond to student inquiries. I also send a weekly “wrap-up” email outlining the learning objectives accomplished in class as well as reminders about upcoming assignments.
Beyond email correspondence, I have set aside an additional hour each week to assist students with writing and grammar. To participate in this extra learning opportunity, students need to register separately. See Language Arts Lab 8/9 for details and to register. Parental inquiries are also welcomed and encouraged as parental involvement is essential to student success. To best serve parents, I have established “office hours” on Friday mornings from 9:00–11:00 AM (ET) for responding to emails and phone calls. I consider it a great privilege to be able to walk alongside parents and assist them in educating their children.
Providing consistent feedback is imperative for student growth and success especially with writing. For this reason, I provide a detailed critique of each major writing assignment as well as general comments on all other assignments. In addition, I schedule individual writing conferences periodically throughout the year where students and I meet one-on-one to address their specific writing needs.