Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Syllabus 2008--English IV & AP

English IV Syllabus
Mr. Coon; Fall, 2008

I. Goals

In the courses which comprise English IV, we seek to expose members of the senior class to significant pieces of literature from the world tradition. The required semester selection of world authors includes pieces from the classical Mediterranean world, Asia, Africa, South America, and Continental Europe. Canonical authors such as Sophocles, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Kafka, Tolstoy, Achebe, and Solzhenitsyn provide depth and balance to the assigned material. Authors and works are chosen with an eye toward providing significant intellectual, esthetic, moral, and literary challenges to readers. Each course asks students to read and think carefully, to listen and discuss, and to develop their language skills, especially in writing, critical reading, vocabulary, and English usage.

II. Readings

World Literature (first semester)
1. World Literature , Donna Rosenberg (editor)
2. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
3. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
4. selected novel(s) for summer reading

Advanced Placement World Literature (two semesters)
1. Literature: An Introduction, (10th edition) X. J. Kennedy & Dana Gioia, editors
2. Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee
3. The Sound and the Fury , William Faulkner
4. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (summer reading)
6. selected novels for summer reading and 2 additional papers

African-American Literature (second semester)
1. Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America, James Oliver Horton & Lois E. Horton
2. Black Boy, Richard Wright
3. Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
4. Fences, August Wilson
5. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Shakespeare (second semester); team taught with Mr. Burns
1. Hamlet
2. As You Like It
3. The Merchant of Venice

III. Additional texts
1. Vocabulary for Achievement, 6th course
2. Write with Pride—Abandon Prejudice: A Style Manual for English IV (available online at

IV. Written work
The primary forum for written work is your blog. You are required to post weekly blog entries relating to the literature studied in the classroom. Your blogs will receive a grade, accounting for 30% of each quarter’s grade. Blog entries should be approximately 500 words in length (please indicate word count in parentheses at the end of each entry). I will not, however, grade by length alone; rather, quantity will be one of four criteria, along with regularity of entries, style, and originality of content. Instructions about creating and posting blog entries may be found on my blog at
Occasionally I will ask you to respond to particular prompts or questions on my blog, but often there is no set topic for your weekly entries. Rather, I ask you to find an element of the assigned reading that interests you and discuss it thoughtfully. This comment may take many forms, a few of which are suggested here:
• Discuss a character’s actions, words, personality, moral values, or humanity.
• Comment on the writer’s style, use of language, tone, irony, or imagery.
• Consider a topic or idea raised in class discussion, trying to go beyond what has already been stated.
• Raise and discuss a question about the text under consideration.
• Discuss the importance or meaning of a key passage or scene from the reading.
• For longer works, show how a scene or passage develops a theme or pattern identified in class.
• Make a comparison between a scene, character, or idea from the literature and something from another source or from your own experience
• Use an idea from my blog or from that of one of your classmates as a point of departure for your response.
• Locate relevant research material on the web, post a link to the site on your blog, and discuss your choice.

In all cases, your goals are to demonstrate close, careful reading of assigned texts, challenge yourself to creative, original thinking, and develop your fluency as a writer. In addition to blog entries, several times each semester, I will assign papers, either revisions of blog entries or interpretations of asigned novels, plays, poems, or stories. Your papers will account for another 30% of your grade.

IMPORTANT: HEADINGS FOR PAPERS—Always head your papers with the following information: your name, date, turnitin receipt number, and word count (your word processing program should perform this last task for you automatically).

In addition to submitting hard copies of your papers this year, you are required to submit electronic copies of all papers to These instructions will help you submit your papers. Use the same e-mail address and password for that you use for your account at
• On your web browser, go to Register as a new user or login to the personal home page you created last year. You must give your e-mail address and a personal password which contains both letters and numbers to register. Click “student” as your user type. Give whatever other information may be necessary as you move through the required fields.
• When you reach your personal home page, click “join new class.” Then enter a class ID and a class enrollment password. For AP students, the class ID is 1598905 and the password pcdsap; for World Literature students (non-AP) the class ID is 1875359 and the password is pcdswl. Click “submit” when you finish. N.B: You only need to complete this step once.
• Then submit your paper. When you click on the class title, you will go to the class history page. Click on the word “submit” in the middle navigation bar. Enter the title of your paper and select the assignment with the correct date from the pull down menu. Assignments are listed by the title of the work and the date an assignment is due.

• After entering your title and selecting the correct assignment, paste your essay into the box marked “main text.” (In my experience, the copy and paste method works better than the upload method. You may, of course, find otherwise). You may ignore the boxes marked abstract and bibliography unless otherwise instructed. When your paper has been pasted into the “main text” box, click “submit.”
• Remember to put your digital receipt number on the assignment before you give it to me. Otherwise your assignment will be marked late and penalized accordingly.

VI. Participation and attendance
• Class discussion is a crucial part of the course. Therefore, it is imperative that we all treat one another with respect and behave in such a way as to contribute to, not disrupt, an atmosphere conducive to maximum learning.
• Participation in class is mandatory. I understand that the introverts have difficulty speaking in front of your peers and me; nevertheless, I expect you to contribute meaningfully to class activities and discussions. You must come to class having done the reading assigned and be prepared to discuss the material, answer questions, venture informed opinions, and articulate personal responses.
• Participation grades are assigned as follows and account for 20% of your grade in the class: "A" students are fully engaged, on time with the necessary books and supplies. They display obvious enthusiasm for the tasks of the class: reading, talking, listening, working in a group, thinking about a problem. "B" students' engagement varies slightly, sometimes at "A" level, sometimes not. "C" students are generally involved but with noticeable lapses. They may arrive late to class or frequently forget materials. They spend time on things other than the work at hand: chatting with friends, doing homework for another class, catching up on sleep, or staring off in space. "D" students exhibit these behaviors to an even greater degree, becoming a distraction to the work of the class, having a negative impact on the group's ability to get its work done, regularly coming to class unprepared.
• The first six excused absences each semester, not including those for School business (athletic competitions, class trips, performances, field trips, etc) will not be penalized. The seventh, ninth, and eleventh absences will result in a one-third letter grade penalty in your participation and attendance grade, and the thirteenth will result in a participation grade no higher than D for the semester. Latenesses to class, including leaving the room to find a book or go to the restroom, will result in penalties on weekly quizzes.

VII. Vocabulary
• Three new lessons in the vocabulary book are assigned every other week. We will look briefly at the new words during the first class of the week, so please bring your books to that session. Quizzes will take place the first 10 minutes of class on alternate Fridays unless otherwise notified.
• For first semester, we will cover lessons 1-18; for the second, lessons 19-30. Quizzes will contain all 30 words from the three lessons.
• Missed vocabulary quizzes must be made up at your earliest possible convenience. After one week, barring extraordinary circumstances, missing scores will be entered as zeroes.

VIII. Grading policy

• Grades are determined on a point system in which each assignment is weighted by the number of points it contains. Points will be totaled at the end of each quarter and semester and grades determined in accordance with the percentages contained in your student handbook.
• Grades from individual assignments are then weighted into categories as follows: blogs (30%), papers (30%), vocabulary and quizzes (20%), participation and attendance (20%).
• Assignments are due at the beginning of class. Work turned in during or after class is considered late and will be penalized. Late work is eligible for a score no higher than 75%, depending on the quality of the assignment and the degree of lateness. If you are absent the day an assignment is due, either have a classmate turn it in or fax the assignment to the Upper School office (602-224-6177).
• Students who miss quizzes or tests because of excused absence must make arrangements for make-up immediately upon returning to school. Missing work (quizzes or assignments never turned in or made up) will result in an incomplete grade for the quarter or semester.
• Any student who establishes a clear pattern of failing to complete the assigned reading according to the prescribed schedule will receive a semester grade of D or F, regardless of that student’s scores on other assignments. Repeated missing or poor written work, failed quizzes or tests, or the inability to supply basic factual information in class will be taken as signs of not reading.
• All assignments must be completed in accordance with the school’s honesty policy. See your handbook for details and be certain you know the difference between plagiarism and acceptable use of source material.

X. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Group 1—Questions to which the answer is “yes” (often because you asked):
• Will this assignment be graded?
• Will this be on the test?
• Does this count very much?
• Do we need to know this?
• Was I supposed to send this to
• Do we need our books today?
• May I go to a college meeting during class period tomorrow?

Group 2—Questions to which the answer is “no” (generally as a matter of policy):
• Is it OK if I’m a few minutes late to class today?
• May I use the restroom?
• Should I go get my book from my car?
• I didn’t get a chance to read last night. Is it all right if I turn this in tomorrow?
• May I go to a college meeting today?

Group 3—Other questions
• What’s the best way for me to improve my grade in this class? (A: Spend more time on your blog and on your papers AFTER you write them.)
• Will you look at my college essay? (A: Yes, but I need 24 hours to get it back to you)
• I’m a very quiet person by nature. How can I improve my participation? (A: When something comes up that interests you or that you thought about while you were reading, make a point to say something brief. Keep doing that. Over time it will get easier as you expand your comfort zone.)
• What kind of people do best in English class? (A: Those who like to read, those who can write clearly, those who think about the meaning of what they read, those who stay on top of their day-to-day responsibilities, those who come to class prepared, those who volunteer information and ideas during class discussions.)

XI. Contact information
• In person—room 311. Stop by to talk or ask a question anytime I’m free. My schedule is posted on the door of my classroom. To make up a quiz, go over an assignment, a speech draft, or a college essay, please make an appointment first.
• By voice-mail—602-956-0253 x4296
• By fax—602-224-6177
• By e-mail—