English 9A

Class info

Announcements: The Animal Farm test is on Thursday, 12/11. Please use these questions to help you prepare for the test, which will be an essay of 3-5 paragraphs in length with required evidence from the novel.

The English 9A final will be on Wednesday, 12/17 for periods 2 and 3, and Thursday, 12/18 for period 4. Please bring your purple Elements of Literature book to the final as well as the review session on Monday, 12/15. Use this practice final to help you prepare for the real one.




This class is an opportunity for students to develop and practice their skills in reading and analysis of literature as well as writing. Our various texts will be the vehicles through which they will hone their critical thinking abilities, and our writing exercises will be an outlet of expression for these abilities. During this semester we will be reading poetry, short fiction, and the novel Animal Farm. Our objectives are to master the elements of literature, practice the writing process, and improve organization of writing.

Thursday, 12/11

Today was the test over Animal Farm. I need to have your copy of the text back ASAP if I don’t already have it. Homework: please review for the final with this handout which will also be your last homework grade of the semester.

Tuesday, 12/9

Today we took our last quiz of the semester on ch. 9 & 10 in Animal Farm. We discussed your questions and observations about the end of the book, and then I had some of my own in preparation for the test on Thursday. Homework: please review the novel for the test and try and locate additional details from the text (page number, quoted text, explanation) that you can use as supporting details in the essay; you also need to bring your purple Elements of Literature text on Thursday and for the rest of the semester.

Friday, 12/5

Today we took a quiz on ch. 8 and discussed your questions and observations. I then spent a lot of time returning the short story tests and discussing each answer on those tests. I also distributed progress reports so all students will know where they stand going into the last week of school. Finally, we did a little more practice with finding supporting details in the text, this time with the main idea about Napoleon continuing to distance himself from, and lose touch with, the other animals on Animal Farm. Homework: finish the novel (ch. 9 & 10) for Tuesday. Our test over Animal Farm will be next Thursday.

Wednesday, 12/3

Quiz to start today, and then we talked about totalitarianism — both in the historical context of Stalinist Russia/Soviet Union as well as Napoleon’s Animal Farm regime. We then practiced finding, citing, and quoting evidence from the text as a preparation for doing so on the unit test next week. Homework: read ch. 8 for Friday; make sure you’re on track to finish the novel for next Tuesday.

Monday, 12/1

Welcome back from break. Today we started, as usual, with a quiz. I also checked the graphic organizers to make sure students had made progress in filling those out. We discussed your questions about chapters 5 and 6, and then we talked about propaganda, using some examples from the Web (1 and 2). And lastly, students made note of rules that Napoleon has changed and went back and compared them to the original language of the rules (7 commandments, etc.) in earlier chapters. Homework: ch. 7 is due on Wednesday.

Thursday, 11/20

Today we began with a quiz on Animal Farm ch. 4. We discussed the events of ch. 4, including the introduction of the neighboring farms/farmers and the Battle of the Cowshed. We also discussed paragraph organization, particularly paragraphs with topic sentences, and then we practiced writing those types of paragraphs with details from ch. 4. Homework: read ch. 5-6 and work on completing your graphic organizers over Thanksgiving break.

Tuesday, 11/18

Today started with a quiz over ch. 3 of Animal Farm. We then went over ch. 3, focusing primarily on how things have changed for the animals since the revolution. We also talked a lot about how the pigs are very subtly starting to build power. And we reviewed more of the history behind Animal Farm, particularly the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky and how it parallels that of Napoleon and Snowball in the novel. Homework: read ch. 4 of Animal Farm for Thursday.

Friday, 11/14

Today we took a quiz on Ch. 1-2 of Animal Farm. I then handed out the reading schedule bookmark and a graphic organizer to help you keep track of the characters and how they progress throughout the novel. We discussed Ch. 1-2, trying to update the graphic organizer as we went. Homework: read Ch. 3 for Tuesday.

Wednesday, 11/12

Today we began our third and final unit of the semester — we will be reading studying the novel Animal Farm. We did an activity to introduce the concepts of capitalism and socialism, we went over some notes on these as well as some of the history behind the novel, and then we had reading time. Homework: read ch. 1-2 for Friday.

Monday, 11/10

Today was the short story test. If you were absent excused, please speak to me as soon as you return to school so we may schedule your make-up test. If you were absent unexcused, you will receive a zero as stated in the course guidelines. Those who finished the test early began reading Animal Farm, which we will start in earnest on Wednesday. Homework: none.

Thursday, 11/6

Today was our final review day for the short story test on Monday. We used the review sheet and “The Scarlet Ibis” to review all of the elements of fiction from this unit one by one. Homework: review and organize your notes in preparation for the test Monday; you should also identify those elements of fiction that are the weakest for you and practice those with stories from the textbook — either ones we have read already or maybe stories we didn’t get to; stop by on Friday or e-mail me over the weekend if you have any questions.

Tuesday, 11/4

Today we took our last notes of the short story unit — symbolism. We then discussed symbols in the classroom and in everyday life. We also discussed symbolism in the story “The Grandfather.” I handed out a review sheet for the short story test next Monday, and then gave everyone a chance to begin their homework. Homework: read “The Scarlet Ibis,” p. 343; then use the review sheet to find examples from this story of each concept we studied this semester; we will use this story to do our unit review on Thursday for that test next Monday.

Friday, 10/31

Today we started with a quiz over “The Lady or the Tiger?”. We reviewed that story, as well as “The Gift of the Magi,” continuing our discussion of theme, irony, and ambiguity. We then read together Poe’s “The Cask of Amantillado” (read and listen to it here), which seemed appropriate for Halloween. We also looked for irony and ambiguity in this story — there’s quite a bit. Homework: read “The Grandfather” on p. 359.

Wednesday, 10/29

Today was a busy day. We caught up on discussing “Liberty” from Monday when I was out. We also studied theme in the Dr. Seuss story, “The Sneetches.” Afterwards, we quickly reviewed Irony and Ambiguity, on which students should have already taken notes from the textbook. I then gave an in-class assignment to write a paragraph each explaining the theme of and irony in “Gift of the Magi.” Periods 2 and 3 finished this in class, while Period 4 didn’t have time and must complete it for homework. Homework: read “The Lady and the Tiger” on p. 298; Period 4, remember to also complete and bring in the theme and irony paragraphs.

Monday, 10/27

I was out today. With the sub, you worked on completing questions 1-3 at the end of “Liberty” (p. 253) as well as writing a paragraph stating and explaining theme, taking notes on Irony and Ambiguity, reading “The Gift of the Magi” (p. 287), and completing questions 3, 5, and 8 on p. 295. Homework: I will check the “Gift” questions on Wednesday.

Thursday, 10/23

Today we did a very short writing assignment with the homework — students wrote a paragraph from their 5-step theme test that explained the theme of their chosen story, why it is the theme, and how they arrived at that theme. We also discussed the themes for most of the stories so far in our unit. I finally returned the poetry tests to everyone and spent a good amount of time going through the test and discussing some good answers for each question. If you were absent, please see me if you’d like to take a look at your test. Homework: read “Liberty” on p. 246.

Tuesday, 10/21

I started class with a review quiz — it used “The Sniper” to quiz you on and review our first four elements of fiction (Plot, Setting, Character, and Narrator). We reviewed these elements a little, based on student questions, and then we discussed the story. We took notes on theme, and practiced applying the 5-step test to “Thank You, M’am.” Homework: choose one of our other 5 stories and practice finding the theme of that story; I will check this, and we’ll discuss these, next class.

Friday, 10/17

We started today with a quiz and a discussion of “The Interlopers.” We took notes and discussed Narrator/POV in relation to this story and then the previous four stories in this unit. Homework: read “The Sniper” on p. 212 for Tuesday.

Wednesday, 10/15

We started today with a quiz over “Thank You, M’am.” Then we reviewed plot and setting with this story, as well as direct and indirect characterization. We took more notes on character, applied them to “Thank You, M’am” as well as “The Most Dangerous Game,” and then I returned those poetry project part 6 assignments that were turned in on time. Homework: read “The Interlopers” which starts on p. 151.

Friday, 10/10

The homework today, while not perfect, was much, much better; most of you did it, and most of you did it well (or at least made a really good attempt). We talked about the Truman Capote story “A Christmas Memory,” focusing particularly on setting and the mood and tone conveyed through the setting. We also took some notes on characters and characterization which we practiced applying to this same story in looking at how Capote revealed the character of buddy’s friend, the old woman. Homework: read the Langston Hughes story “Thank You, M’am” on p. 87 and answer questions 1, 3, & 4. 

Wednesday, 10/8

Pretty much across the board, I was disappointed with the number of you who had the homework done for today. There are some really poor grades in all three sections, and almost exclusively those Ds and Fs are due to not turning in the homework. Seeing as we’re about half-way through the semester, those of you in this situation don’t have very long to turn it around. 

Today we discussed the story “Dog Star.” We put all of the story’s events in chronological order to compare it to your plot diagrams — this is a very good illustration of flashback. We then took notes on setting and briefly applied those new terms to both of the stories we’ve read so far. Homework: read “A Christmas Memory,” p. 51, and answer questions 1-4, 6-7 after the story.

Monday, 10/6

Today we kicked off the short story unit. We started with a quiz on “The Most Dangerous Game.” We then took notes on plot. We applied what we learned (or in many cases, reviewed from middle school) to today’s story. Homework: read “Dog Star,” p. 33 in the lit text. Afterwards, complete a plot diagram for this story (exposition, complications, climax, resolution), identify the internal and/or external conflicts in the story, and identify any flashbacks, flash-forwards, and/or foreshadowing in the story.

Thursday, 10/2

Today was the poetry test. If you were absent excused, please see me ASAP to schedule a make-up test. Homework: read “The Most Dangerous Game” on p. 4; there may be a quiz on Monday as we begin our short story unit.

Tuesday, 9/30

Today I collected Part 6 of the Poetry Project. If you didn’t turn it in, it’s late. You will have a zero until I get it, and once I grade it, you will have no option for revision (unlike folks who turned it in on-time today, who will have the revision option). After this, which took a while, we reviewed one last time for the poetry test this Thursday, 10/2. Then we spent some time continuing our work on sentence completeness — today was run-ons and comma splices. Homework: review/study for the poetry test on Thursday, the next day we meet.

Friday, 9/26

Today was a work day for Part 6 of the Poetry Project. Please have Part 6 (along with all of the previous parts) ready to turn on at the beginning of class on Tuesday, 9/30.

Wednesday, 9/24

The beginning of class was reserved for questions about the Poetry Project (part 6 is due Tuesday, 9/30) and the Poetry Test (Thursday, 10/2). I also reminded everyone of the policies on late summative written assignments like part 6 (on time, you get to revise; late, it’s a zero till I get it, then full credit, but not revision) as well as unexcused absences (any unexcused absent will result in a grade of zero for any assignments due that day, including big ones like the two next week). Then I handed back progress reports so everyone knows his or her grade and what work they may have missed. We then took brief notes on Fragments and Run-ons and did some practice in the Elements of Language textbook regarding these things. Homework: continue working on part 6; Friday will be a work day for this assignment, which must be typed.

Monday, 9/22

I returned part 5 of the Poetry Project today and introduced part 6. Part 6 is the final part, and serves a few different purposes: to help you document your progress with the poem from the beginning until now; to make connections to the text and between it and the poet, the world, etc.; and to identify and discuss imagery, figures of speech, and poetic sounds, tying the project to our classroom study of poetry in this unit. Part 6 will be due Tuesday, 9/30, at the start of class. It must be typed (double-spaced, 1" margins, Times or Times New Roman 12 pt. typeface). You will have the entire period Friday to work on it in class (in the computer lab). Please remember/review the policy on written summative assessments as well as the grading categories and their percentages from the course guidelines. After talking about the Poetry Project, we reviewed the practice test that was for homework — “The Gift” p. 469. We then practiced with a familiar poem, “Boy at the Window” p. 451. Your poetry test over imagery, figures of speech, and poetic sounds will be next week, probably on Thursday. Homework: begin work on part 6; I suggest you work on identifying imagery, figures of speech, and poetic sounds in your poem, as that will be good practice for the test and will also allow you to identify any difficulties you might still be having prior to taking the test.

Thursday, 9/18

Today I collected part 5 of the Poetry Project. Part 6 will be coming up next week, with a work day next Friday. We then did an in-class extended writing prompt so I could have another writing sample from everyone; this will help shape writing instruction we’ll do in the future. We then examined sound — followed by figures of speech and imagery — in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth (p. 457). This was the first of our reviews for the test as well. Homework: complete this practice test with “The Gift” by Li-Young Lee (p. 469).

Tuesday, 9/16

I started class by collecting your sonnets that were homework over the weekend. Next, we reviewed sounds of poetry using the poem “Ballad of Birmingham” in the textbook. I returned part 4 of the Poetry Project to you, and we discussed and began work on part 5, the choice piece. Part 5 is due at the beginning of class on Thursday. Homework: finish Part 5.

Friday, 9/12

Today we introduced and took notes on the sounds of poetry. Then we read a Shakespearean sonnet to discuss three of those aspects of poetic sounds: rhythm, meter, and rhyme/rhyme scheme. We identified the syllable rhythm and pattern in the sonnet’s lines and also examined the scheme of end rhyme Shakespeare uses. Then I had students practice these techniques on their own — we set up a rhyme scheme as a class, and then I instructed everyone to write their own sonnet using the class’s rhyme scheme for the end rhyme; remember, each line must have 10 syllables, and you should try to write in the iambic pentameter meter (5 groups of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable in every line). Homework: finish your sonnet for Tuesday.

Wednesday, 9/10

Today I collected part 4 of the poetry project. We then did some writing prompts, followed by notes and practice with sentence fragments. Homework: none! Except for those of you who are behind on the poetry project; if you are, use this time to get caught up.

Monday, 9/8

I began with a check of the homework for today’s class. Then I handed back parts 1-3 of the poetry project. By far, the biggest problem (other than it not being turned in at all) was a lack of specific examples in part 2, the initial response. I gave out and explained the assignment for part 4, the interviews; I’ve since updated the poetry project assignment page to include part 4. The due date for part 4 is Wednesday — remember, you must turn in all 4 parts together, even the ones I’ve already graded. After this, we reviewed figures of speech, reviewed the poem that was for homework, and talked about a new poem, “The Seven Ages of Man” as an example of similes, direct metaphors, and extended metaphor. Homework: complete part 4 for class on Wednesday.

Thursday, 9/4

We began today with a check of the homework from Tuesday. We then reviewed the poems in that assignment — “in Just-” and “Tiburón” — and also took some notes on Figures of Speech (a.k.a. Figurative Language). We practiced identifying figures of speech like similes, metaphors, and personification in the poems “Fog” and “Fire and Ice.” Homework: read “Folding Won Tons In” on p. 433; find two examples each of vivid imagery and figurative language.

Tuesday, 9/2

Today was picture day, which meant a little disruption to every class (at least it was relatively consistent). Today was also the due date for parts 1-3 of the poetry project. I collected those at the start of class, then returned your homework with the Angelou poem “Woman Work” from last week. We briefly discussed the meaning students were able to construct about the entire poem using the line-by-line paraphrases as well as imagery in the poem. We then read two new poems from the text — “in Just-” by e.e. cummings (p. 414) and “Tiburón” by Martín Espada (p. 430). The rest of the class was time to complete the extensive homework while I conferenced with each student about his or her progress on the poetry project. Homework: 1.) paraphrase “in Just—” and answer questions 1-7 on p. 416; 2.) paraphrase “Tiburón” and try to find three examples of figurative language in the poem (you may need to refer to p. 428-429, “Figures of Speech,” to help).

Thursday, 8/28

Today was primarily a work day for the poetry project. Periods 2 and 4 had a short library orientation before their computer time, and period 3 will make this up at a later date. Students finished selecting poems, typed them up, and then began work on the initial response (part 2) and paraphrase (part 3), time permitting. Homework: finish parts 1-3 of the poetry project for Tuesday, the next day that we meet.

Tuesday, 8/26

I introduced the poetry project today. I will update the PDF as I add pieces to the project. Some students practiced logging into the computers so Thursday’s poetry project work time will go more smoothly. I also distributed textbooks — if you were absent, please make sure to get one the next time you are in class. 


Homework: Read and paraphrase “Woman Work” by Maya Angelou on p. 409. You must also identify 5 examples of imagery and describe which sense each appeals to; make sure you locate some imagery that appeals to more than just your sense of sight.

Friday, 8/22

I collected homework at the start of class — the parent-signed portion of the course guidelines. If you failed to turn it in, you can still do so next week for partial credit. Next we reviewed the definition of imagery from the textbook and talked about how vivid imagery effectively appeals to the five senses — seeing, hearing, touch, taste, smell. We also practiced writing vivid images together as a class. Next, we practiced paraphrasing “A Blessing” by James Wright (p. 405 in the lit textbook). We reviewed our paraphrases and then talked about the different images in the poem and what senses they appealed to. (Period 2 didn’t quite finish this and will wrap it up first thing on Tuesday.)


No homework for the weekend!

Wednesday, 8/20

We reviewed the class norms and guidelines and began practicing paraphrasing poetry. The homework for today is to get the bottom of page 2 of the guidelines signed by a parent. It is due on Friday and is for a grade.

Monday, 8/18

The goal today was for me to introduce myself and for me to get to know the students better. Students spent some time writing about their experiences to-date with reading, writing, and English classes. We also played an icebreaker game. No homework!


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