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Senior English


Senior English (General)

Course Objectives

· To give students the resources that will enable them to approach oral, visual and written texts analytically, fostering their critical thinking skills.

· To enable students to become articulate and reflective members of their various communities: educational, social, and political.

· To introduce students to the persuasive tools of speaking and writing, both as audience and authors.

· To familiarize students with the different types of writing and give them analytical concepts appropriate to each (i.e., meter for poetry, subtext for drama, types of arguments for persuasion, etc.)

Classroom Procedures

1. Assignments:

· Homework is worth a total of 5 points. If it is late, it will be penalized 1 point if received anytime within the week it was assigned. After that, it will receive 3 out of 5 points if turned in within two weeks after the due date. Homework is due upon your arrival in the classroom and will be late thereafter.

· Quizzes are worth 10-20 points (mostly 10). They will be given for most readings, especially homework. The intention is both to check that you have read and to determine whether you understood what you read in terms of its thematic patterns and formal elements. Make-up quizzes must be completed within two weeks of receiving your results on a quiz. To make-up a quiz, you must find quotations from the original reading that answer all the questions you missed and write them out with the appropriate page numbers. The score on your original quiz is averaged in with the new score, giving you the chance to earn up to half the points you missed; decimals are rounded downward.

· Papers are generally worth between 20 and 50 points (30 most of the time). They will receive 10% off their original score for each school day they are late, including school days in which you don’t have my class. Papers must be in the appropriate box before 3:30 on the day they are due to be considered on time. You should keep all your formal papers in your portfolio in my classroom.

· Absence due to illness or other excused activities will not receive a late penalty. However, students are responsible for finding out what they have missed and arranging to take or do the make-up work with me in a timely manner.

· Participation will count for 10% of your grade. This will be dependent on your willingness to take an active part in classroom discussions and activities, your respectful attitude towards others,and your attendance. Off topic comments and behavior that requires my direct intervention will hurt your participation grade, as well as excessive absence.

2. Readings: All the texts (poems, essays, articles, novels,plays, etc.) we will be studying need to be read carefully and closely. This means practicing good active reading skills: ask yourself questions about the text as you read; note any passages that are confusing, ironic, or odd (good authors want you to notice these things); take note of word choice (diction); and mark page numbers for important passages. If you can afford to buy the books, I highly recommend that you do. This will allow you to write notes on the pages as you read. If you can’t buy the book, I recommend taking notes on a separate piece of paper (be sure to include the page numbers in your notes). If you have the time, I also recommend reading the piece twice. This is mandatory with shorter writings, such as poems.

3. Tests: Apart from the occasional unit test, there will be a final exam in this class. For this purpose, you are strongly advised to keep all your handouts, corrected quizzes,tests, and papers. The final exam will count for 20% of the semester grade. That’s a pretty big part of your grade. If you read carefully and keep your notes and handouts,studying for the test should be relatively straightforward. Generally, the major portion of this exam is a practical test of your ability to write about literature on the spot. For that reason, the best way to prepare for this exam is to consistently do your best work throughout the semester.

4. Rules: As seniors in high school, you should know how to behave in class already. I expect that you will be respectful and considerate of the other students in the class;it is not acceptable for your behavior to interfere with your and other’s education. I also expect that you will refrain from racist or sexist remarks in class, that you will arrive for class prepared and on time, and that you will actively participate in classroom activities. If I believe that any infractions of the classroom and/or school rules are the result of confusion about appropriate behavior, I will give you a single warning before referring you to the office and assigning you an after school detention. Such referrals will require a phone call home to your parents or guardians. Tardiness to class will receive two warnings followed by a detention. Again, I don’t anticipate having to deal with such problems as you are all old enough to know better.


Senior year represents a time of transition, a passage from the preparatory education offered by your community to the freedom and choices of adult membership in society. The literature and materials we will be using in class this year will reflect some aspect of such transitions and rites of passage. The hope is that they will enable students to connect their own experiences with those of other human beings in different cultural and historical epochs, and thereby reflect on what aspects of their own experiences are universal. Literature and the arts give us the opportunity to step out of our limited perspective and see ourselves objectively, allowing us to grow and change.

Possible Texts

Hamlet, Shakespeare; Metamorphosis, Kafka; The Stranger, Albert Camus; Bodega Dreams, Ernesto Quinonez; A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah; and various poetry and short stories