Wednesday, August 31, 2011


1.     FORMAT: 3 x 5 index card, collected at the beginning of class each day there is a reading assignment.
2.     HEADING: Your name, the title of the reading, and the pages you read on the top line.
3.     PURPOSE: to demonstrate to me your effort and engagement with the assigned readings; to encourage the practice of thinking for yourself about what is important, meaningful, or problematic in the readings; to generate discussion items within your team. Thinking about the significance of specific details and ideas from the reading is one of the best ways to deepen your understanding of the material and derive maximum benefit from the reading assignments.
4.     CONTENT: Think of the bookmark as a one-question quiz you create for yourself, allowing you to show that you have done the reading carefully. Each bookmark contains ONE of the three following items. In each case, the more specific your comments and the more responsive to the text, the better.
·      your best quiz question about that day’s reading and your answer to the question;
·      one brief quotation from the reading and a short statement of why you think it is important;
·      one thought or observation relating to a specific aspect of the day’s reading.
5.     REQUIREMENTS: each entry should be two-three sentences in length; fill one side of the card (2nd side optional); bookmarks are turned in to me as you enter class, and I will read them while you do your daily check-in and write your “take five”; without a bookmark you do not receive credit for that day's discussion of the material.
6.     GRADING: Bookmarks will receive a check (occasionally a + or -) and be returned to you for team discussion. They receive no individual grade but count toward your class participation as evidence of close, thoughtful reading of the assigned texts.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Important Reminder about blogs

Everyone—Please check two of your blog settings:

1. Settings Tab of your "dashboard"--Take my e-mail address out of the "email notifications" box;

2. Also in the settings tab (not the comments tab)--there is a comments menu under "settings"--go to "show word verification", click "NO"

Remember to SAVE SETTINGS EACH TIME before you leave your dashboard.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book order

Two additional titles:

For all students--Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Norton Critical edition, book # 0393964582, new $9 - $11.71, used from $4.89

For all AP students--Grendel, John Gardner, Vintage, # 0679723110, new $6.89

Prices given are this week's quoted prices on Amazon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Assignments Fall 2012

English IV & AP
Schedule of Assignments
Fall 2012

Assignments are DUE in the class for which they are listed

Rotation 1: August 21-29
Class Meeting (CM) #1: Summer reading assigned for the first day, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Class #2: Establish blogger accounts; write first blog entry—What are the most memorable books you have ever read? List 5 – 10 and give a brief reason for each book you include (see instructions on my blog). Copy the url for your blog onto a bookmark note card and turn it in to me as you arrive in class.

Class #3: Blog entry #2—Choose a character, scene, incident, or brief passage from Frankenstein that you have a strong reaction to or that interests you or stands out in your mind. Explain why you made the choice you did.

Class #4: August 28 & 29: Short essay—In light of your reading of the novel as a whole, discuss the passage on page 32 where Victor describes his goals and the work of assembling the creature. Write a short essay (2 paragraphs, approx 300-400 words) showing how Mary Shelley establishes a complex attitude toward Victor’s work at this early stage. Post the file to your blog.

Rotation 2: August 30 – September 10
Class #5:  August 30 & 31. Vocab quiz covering lessons 1 & 2; with your teammates, choose one of the selections of Modern Criticism in the Norton Critical edition (suggestions: Christopher Small, George Levine, Ellen Moers, Barbara Johnson, William Veeder, or Marilyn Butler); read the essay and post on your blog a summary of THREE key ideas from the essay and a few sentences stating in what ways this information gives you new understanding of any aspect of the novel.

Class #6:  August 31, September 4 & 5. Draft of paper. Choose an action or decision from the novel Frankenstein that raises an issue of ethics. Write an essay of three to four pages (approximately 750 to 1000 words) in which you discuss and evaluate the ethical ramifications of the decision or action you choose. Identify any values or principles which motivate the action (or which should have) any conflicts you see between competing values, and any relevant issues such as responsibility, egotism, fear, concern for others, humanitarianism, or others which either complicate or advance the decision. Drafts are due in class for peer review.

Class #7: September 5 & 6. Papers due in class and to Turnitin assignment name: Frankenstein 2012. Bring Beowulf to class. Read chapters 1 & 2, Oure Faire Englische Tung.

Class #8: September 7 & 10. Bring vocabulary books to class; begin reading Beowulf, pp. 3 – 57 (odd numbers only) to line 835. Bookmark.

Rotation 3: September 11 – 19
Class #9: September 11 & 12.  Beowulf, 57 – 109 (odds) to line 1569. Bookmark.

Class 10: September 12, 13, 14.  vocab quiz 3 & 4; Beowulf, pp. 109-161, to line 2367. Bookmark.

Class 11: September 14 & 17. Finish Beowulf. Bookmark.

Class 12: Sept 19 & 20. Read Chapter 3, Oure Faire Englische Tung. Bookmark. Choose topic for brief research blog entry from notes or projects in chapters 2 & 3.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Starting a Blog

Blog assignment #1

Go to You should be automatically directed to their start page. Follow the "three easy steps" :
--Create your account using a Gmail account and a password of your choice (if you don't have a Gmail account, it only takes a few minutes to set one up). Since your blog will only be read by me and by your classmates, please use your first and last name as your display name; that way I always know whose blog I'm reading and you get credit for having written it.
--Name your blog. Whatever you like, but it's a school assignment, so be appropriate, please. For your blog's url, use firstname-lastname so that we may find each other's blogs easily during the year.
--Select a template for your blog. Pick whichever one you like, with one condition. My eyes are getting older and I can't read text set against a black or dark blue background, so please don't choose one of those templates.

After you create your template, click "start posting" to go to the editing page of your blog. From there, you have one more crucial task. Copy the exact URL for your blog carefully and legibly onto a bookmark card and bring it to me in class.

Finally, one crucial setting. Open the "comments" tab, scroll down, and click the "NO" button next to a setting called "show word verification for comments." This one is important to save us all a great deal of time and bother when we write comments back to you about your blog posts. Click "save settings" before you leave this section of your settings.

When you have completed all these steps, click the "Posting" tab and create your first blog entry.

See the other link for further instructions

Syllabus Fall 2011

English IV & AP

Syllabus: Major British Authors I

Mr. Coon; Fall 2011

I. Goals

The goal of this course is to develop students’ ability to read, write, and create meanings from a series of related pieces of literature drawn from over 1000 years of British literary history. Our work will center around the following series of questions; all texts, assignments, projects, and discussions will help develop our answers to these questions.

1. What are the essential qualities of a good story? Are they different from the requirements for a great story? Why do some stories have a shelf life of 6 months while others last 1000 years?

2. What value do historical texts have for our lives today? Are “old” stories less meaningful or more boring just because they’re old? Or do they still contain relevant meanings for the 21st centuruy?

3. Why do both old and new stories contain superheroes and monsters? What purpose do characters with super-powers serve? Are there reasons why they “have to” exist? Are all monsters inherently evil? Are modern comic books and ancient tales more alike or unalike?

4. What qualities other than super-powers make a character heroic? For instance, what is honor? What is integrity? What is courage? How do characters hold onto or lose their honor, courage, or integrity?

II. Materials and Course Requirements

This fall-semester course examines the origins of literature in English and traces the development of the English language from its Germanic roots to the eighteenth century. Readings include the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, the medieval romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, John Gardner’s novel Grendel (AP only), excerpts from the literary epic Paradise Lost, and shorter pieces of poetry. A supplemental text develops a historical understanding of the growth and development of the English language.

Some students in the course have the AP designation attached to their enrollment. These students, chosen on the basis of their interest, prior achievements, and motivation level, supported by the department’s recommendation, are expected to meet slightly higher academic standards. AP students write one additional paper (examining the novel Grendel in light of the questions above), write slightly longer papers, and take occasional quizzes based on practice materials drawn from previous AP English Literature examinations. Also, students enrolled with AP designation are required to take the second half of the Major British Authors sequence in the spring semester and sit for the AP exam in English Literature and Composition in May.

III. Texts

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, Eighth edition, Volume A

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Grendel, John Gardner (AP only)

IV. Additional texts

1. Vocabulary for Achievement, 6th course

2. Oure Faire Englische Tung: A Brief History of the English Language

3. Selected novels for summer reading

V. The Daily Book

An essential part of the class is the regular use of your daily book. The daily book is a 7½ by 9 ¾ notebook in which you record all the writing you do during class sessions. The daily book, which never leaves the room except with my personal permission, will contain examples of the following kinds of written work:

· Daily check-ins (inside the front cover of your daily book), giving yourself credit for arriving in class on time, bringing your textbook and writing utensil, and doing the reading or other daily assignment.

· Take Fives (short 3-5 minute writings) done as you come in the door while I am taking attendance and organizing that day’s materials. A Take Five is a mental check-in, often beginning with a sentence like “Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about . . .” or “I’ve been wondering why. . .” and containing content which may or may not be directly related to the content of English class.

· Passages of the day—brief answers to questions about short passages of poetry or prose, first written in your daily books, then shared with the members of your team in round-robin style.

· Response journals—see instructions below—the alternative to pop quizzes as a means for you to show your level of engagement with the assigned reading and help yourself interact with that reading on a deeper level. RJ entries will be shared with teammates, used as discussion items, and form the basis for short critical essays posted to your blogs.

· Closers—2-3 minutes at the end of class, time for you to process and reflect upon what happened in that day’s class: what was the most interesting or important thing you learned today? What do you need to remember from today’s class? What left you feeling confused or with a sense of incompleteness? What should we be sure to do next time we meet?

Since your daily book never leaves the room, any notes you wish to take about our discussions or new material should be kept in a notebook of your own or on your laptop.

Daily books will receive a “process” grade; this grade complements your work in your discussion teams as the “participation” component of your performance in the class. I will check your daily books approximately every seven days.

Daily book grades are based on both quantity and quality:

• Quantity: all entries are present (if you are absent from class it’s your responsibility to come in during a free and make up the Response Journal entry), and entries show the effort to answer the questions thoroughly (rather than writing a single sentence, saying “I’m done” and sitting there while others write).

•Quality: Content shows a sincere effort to take the questions seriously and write thoughtful answers which are responsive to the assigned readings.

Take Five starters:

Lately I’ve been thinking about . . .

I’ve been wondering why . . .

(Monday) The best/worst thing about this weekend was . . .

(Friday) I’m looking forward to/worried about this weekend because . . .

(Morning class) Today should be a really good/bad day because . . .

(Afternoon class) Today has been a really good/bad day because . . .

I’m looking forward to/dreading because . . .

The best movie I’ve seen lately was . . . .

Lately I’ve been really enjoying the time I spend . . .

So far I think the new longer periods are good/bad because . . .

My favorite thing to do outside of school is because . . .

I will read whatever you write, so don’t describe the fight you had with your mother/boyfriend/best friend last night unless that’s something you want me to know about. And of course my confidentiality is limited by law not to include anything you say that sounds dangerous, harmful to yourself or others, or illegal.

Response Journals

We often use reader response journals as in-class activities to accompany our study of literature. There are a number of different topics you can use in a reading response journal:

  • Copy down a quote from a character and tell why you think it’s meaningful.
  • Ask questions about things that confuse you or that you wonder about.
  • Describe your feelings about the events.
  • Describe your feelings about characters.
  • Copy down a brief passage and tell why you think it’s important.
  • Describe your favorite part.
  • Make a prediction about what will happen next.
  • Tell how you would react if you were one of the characters in the story.
  • Describe a part that surprised you.
  • Does the author use any strong imagery in the story (similes, metaphors, etc.)? Give examples.
  • Write down interesting vocabulary words, look them up, say how they add to the passage.
  • Talk to the author or a character (or one write of them a letter).
  • Draw pictures or create graphic organizers.

Below is a list of prompt starters:

General Observations

  • I noticed…
  • I was really surprised…
  • What I found interesting…
  • The author is saying…


  • I like the way…
  • I didn’t/don’t like…
  • My favorite part…

Element of the Text is Unclear

  • I didn’t understand…
  • A question I have…
  • I’m guessing that…
  • Something new I learned…
  • I felt _______ when…

Discuss Surprising Element

  • I couldn’t believe…
  • I never thought…

Hypothetical Thinking and Predictions

  • If I were [character]…
  • What I think will happen is…
  • What I thought would happen was…
  • I think _____ will become important because…
  • I began to think…
  • I predict…

Personal Connection to Past Experience

  • This reminds me of…
  • I began to think of…
  • I know the feeling…


  • I can picture…
  • I can imagine…

Purposes and Rules

Response journals serve two important and related purposes. They allow you to experience the readings for yourself, ask your own questions, and search for your own meanings rather than attend classes where I tell you what the text means to me while you write it down. They also allow me to see the evidence that you are reading the assigned texts and thinking about what you read. Therefore, there are two very specific, non-negotiable rules for a response journal entry. 1. Entries must include specific references to pages, lines, numbers, and passages covering the whole text assigned. 2. Entries that contain only general comments or plot summary without specific questions, quotes, and references will be assumed to be the product of Spark-note thinking and are therefore not acceptable and will not receive passing grades. Finally, for safe-keeping, your response journals are part of your daily books and therefore never leave the classroom.


Reader response journals will be written for at least 5 minutes each day a reading assignment is due. They will be shared, round-robin fashion, with the other members of your class team. They may also be used to respond to passages I have chosen for the class to discuss. From there, RJ (response journal) entries can be used to generate Discussion Items (DI’s) for either your team or the class as a whole. Finally, RJ entries can become the basis of short individual critical essays on aspects of the literature. These essays (approximately 300-500 words depending on your level of ambition) are posted on your blogs and will receive specific written comments from your teammates and from me. Thus reading and writing become entwined as basic learning activities. You read, you write, you discuss, you choose a piece to refine, and you write further.

We will also use daily books to record our responses to the passage of the day or the question of the day, to record our thoughts about the meaning of a short poem, an example of a literary technique, or to think about poetic or prose style analysis. These brief responses will be shared in your teams.

(Thanks to Mr. Scott at Hughes Academy for his list of journal starters and to Dan Kirby and Tom Liner, authors of Inside Out and my mentors on the use of class journals.)

VI. Blogs

Aside from your daily book, the primary forum for sharing short critical essays and content for oral presentations is your blog. Instructions for starting your blog may be found on and will be reviewed in class. I will occasionally ask you to select an entry from your Response Journal to be revised and expanded into a short critical essay (the equivalent of 1 to 2 typed pages). These revised journal entries will be read for content by members of your discussion teams and by me. We will look for ways to make your writing clearer, more specific, and more informative. Some of these blog posts will be further revised to be turned in as papers. Your ability to keep your blog current and thorough is another important component of your “process” grade.

In addition, you will each be asked to post the results of short research assignments on topics related to our literature study and the history of English. This information will be shared orally in class. Whether individually or with a partner, you will present two of these assignments each semester.


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 your PCDS e-mail address and the same 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 PCDS 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 4223549 and the password “apeng” (case sensitive); for English IV students (non-AP) the class ID is 1875359 and the password is “engIV” (also case sensitive). 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.

VIII. Participation and attendance

Class participation 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. Often, these contributions take forms other than speaking in front of the entire class. For example, the entries in your daily book are one important way for you to show your engagement with the material and willingness to exert yourself. Another important factor is the quality of your contributions to your team activities. In these ways and through your oral presentations, you show that you have come to class having done the reading assigned and are 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 for class 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. Their daily books are thorough, thoughtful, and always kept up to date. They participate in all team activities and remain on task throughout class. "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.

Absences and lateness will have detrimental effects on performance and grades. With longer breaks between classes, I expect you to tend to personal business—going to the bathroom, finding your backpack, picking up a paper from the printer in the lab, and so on—on your own time. Be in class at the beginning of the block and don’t leave. Lateness will also be reported to the Dean of Students for detention.

IX. Vocabulary

Two new lessons in the vocabulary book are assigned for quizzing every fifth class (5, 10, 15, etc). We will look briefly at the new words two classes prior to the quiz (#s 3, 8, 13, and so on), so please bring your books to that session. Quizzes will take place the first 10 minutes of class after “check-in” on sessions which are multiples of 5 unless otherwise notified.

For first semester, we will cover lessons 1-14; for the second, lessons 15-30. Quizzes will contain all 20 words from the two lessons. There may be occasional cumulative quizzes as well containing selected words from a larger number of lessons.

Missed vocabulary quizzes must be made up at your earliest possible convenience. After three class days, barring extraordinary circumstances, missing scores will be entered as zeroes.

X. 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 fall into categories weighted approximately as follows: daily books and blogs (30%), papers and projects (40%), vocabulary and quizzes (20%), participation and attendance (10%).

Assignments are due at the beginning of class. Written 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, response journal entries which cannot be distinguished from SparkNotes summaries, or the inability to respond to 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.

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—