English 9B

class info

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 To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo and Juliet, and we will also study a unit on The Hero’s Journey. Our objectives are to apply a mastery of the elements of literature, continue to practice the writing process, and better develop organization of writing.




Because of the birth of my son on Jan. 1, I began second semester three weeks late. Thanks to my excellent sub, my students were all right on track when I showed up on Jan. 26. Unfortunately, my Web site will pick up approximately where I started this semester. Thanks for your patience and understanding.


Monday, 5/18

Today my wife was sick, so I had to stay home with the kids. The sub was supposed to help you review for the final. Periods 2 and 3 will take the final Wednesday, while Period 4 will take it Friday. Homework: prepare for this open-note final assessment on 5-paragraph essay writing.

Thursday, 5/14

Today we discussed the weaknesses of our heros in Pirates. I also reviewed one last time the basic organization of a 5-paragraph essay. I handed out the working outline for the final essay and gave everyone the last 20-30 min. of class to work on it. Homework: finish your outline for Monday.

Tuesday, 5/12

Today we reviewed the Hero’s Journey pattern a little bit (please see and review the handout and notes) and then finished watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I also announced to all classes that next Monday, 5/18 will be the last day I will accept late or revised essays. Aside from the final, any work turned in after this date will be immediately recycled. Homework: make sure you have completed the Hero’s Journey Worksheets for our two heros for Thursday.

Friday, 5/8

We reviewed our notes from the Hero’s Journey lecture from Wednesday, and then we jumped into our text: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Afterwards we discussed which character is the hero (trick question: there are two), and began working through the Hero’s Journey worksheet for the character of Will Turner. This will be the text for the final.

Wednesday, 5/6

Today, after collecting the Romeo and Juliet papers, I started our final (mini-) unit on The Hero’s Journey. I handed out the notes on this narrative pattern and also presented them via slideshow and lecture. The particulars of this pattern applied to a film text we’ll start on Friday will be the basis of your final — an in-class 5-paragraph essay.

Monday, 5/4

Today was a work day for the Romeo and Juliet essays. I checked rough drafts, and those with them started typing final drafts in the library; those without them worked on their rough drafts. Homework: finish typing the essay final draft and turn it in Wednesday.

Thursday, 4/30

Today I spent time at the start of class to check everyone’s outlines for the Romeo and Juliet essay. Periods 2 and 3 spent a great deal of time after that discussing two film versions before getting to the scene review, while Period 4 jumped right into the review. We went over the review as a class, with the objective being a detailed road map for every student to have to help them in working on the rough draft. Homework: rough drafts of the essay are due at the start of class on Monday; you will not be allowed to type if you don’t have this rough draft;

Tuesday, 4/28

Today I handed out the working outline worksheet. For those of you playing along on Friday, you have a barebones outline already finished on the back of the rubric handout — start by copying this over to the outline handout. I also suggest that you try to find four quotes for each body paragraph’s main idea. The extra one each with either net you more points or will come in handy if you discover one of your quotes is not the best. After discussing the outline, we finished watching the Luhrmann film Romeo + JulietHomework: finish the outline for Thursday.

Friday, 4/24

Today I handed out and spent a good deal of time going over the Romeo and Juliet paper assignment. Students in class picked (tentatively) their body paragraph main ideas and also wrote very basic introductions. We then started the Luhrmann film version of the play. Homework: go through the quotes you’ve already collected and start narrowing down the ones you think you might use in the paper.

Wednesday, 4/22

Today I checked the homework and we finished the Zefferelli film version.

Monday, 4/20

We started today with a quiz on IV, iii. Then I handed out this worksheet on finding evidence to blame Romeo and Juliet themselves for their own deaths. I gave everyone a quick overview of the rest of Act IV, and then we plowed on through to the end of Act V (and the play) as a class. We will start talking details of the Romeo and Juliet essay very soon. Homework: finish the handout mentioned above, which I’ll check on Wednesday.

Thursday, 4/16

I started today by checking the key scenes handout, which was homework. We then read and watched III, v. Afterwards, we read IV, i, and I summarized the important points of IV, ii. Homework: read IV, iii; there will be a quiz.

Tuesday, 4/14

Today we read through III, iv in the text and then watched the same in Zefferelli. Homework: complete the key scenes handout for Thursday.

Friday, 4/10

Today I began by passing out progress reports for all students. Overall, not looking good for many of you. If you were absent, please see me for yours. Parents, e-mail me if you’d like a copy. We then finished III, i in the classes where we didn’t on Wednesday, and we found evidence in that scene for who was to blame for the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt and the banishment of Romeo. I then gave everyone a copy of this handout, which asks you to start doing the same through the first three acts of the play. This will probably be due for homework next Thursday. Homework: none officially, but students with missing Mockingbird papers should work on completing those, students who are eligible for Mockingbird revisions should work on those, and anyone else should get a head start on the key scenes handout mentioned above.

Wednesday, 4/8

Today we reviewed the Nurse and Friar handout from before spring break, specifically reviewing the concept of and importance of finding quotes in the text to support your impressions and opinions of the characters and events in the play. We then read III, i (some classes will finish this on Friday).

Monday, 4/6

Welcome back, folks. We picked up where we left off before our extended spring break. The homework previously slated to be due on Thursday, 3/26 was collected today. Afterwards, we caught up with Act 2 of the Zefferelli film. And then we spent nearly an hour going over the To Kill a Mockingbird essays, which I’m finally getting back to you. Unfortunately, the results were not quite what I was expecting. If you were absent, please see this PDF of my slideshow with information on grades, common problems, late submissions, revisions, and the possibility of grade adjustment

Thursday, 3/26

Snow day today! The homework originally due today will be due on our first day back from spring break, which should be Monday, April 6. Enjoy the break!

Tuesday, 3/24

Today we read II, iv-vi, finishing Act 2. We also spent some time introducing some of the rules and expectations around quoting and citing from the text (which you’ll be expected to do on the paper). We put some of those examples on the projectorHomework: Complete this handout about the roles of the Nurse and the Friar in the marriage of Romeo and Juliet; include one properly quoted, punctuated, and cited supporting example from the text for each character.

Friday, 3/20

Today we got everyone caught up after the disruptive partial day on Wednesday. Period 2 finished the end of Zefferelli’s Act 1, periods 3 and 4 paraphrased The Chorus at the beginning of Act 2, and then everyone read II, ii-iii together.

Wednesday, 3/18

Today I met with only periods 3 and 4. I checked the homework (summary of II, i), and we watched the rest of Act 1 of the Zefferelli film. With the remaining time, period 3 overwhelmingly voted to watch the beginning of Romeo + Juliet (the Baz Luhrmann 1996 version) and most of period 4 preferred to keep watching into Act 2 of the Zefferelli version.

Monday, 3/16

After collecting the homework due today, we jumped into the last two scenes of Act I of Romeo and Juliet. After a good deal of reading and discussion, we finished the act and began watching Act I of the Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet (1968). The plan is to watch each act of this film as we finish reading that act in class. Homework: read and summarize II, i for your next class (Wednesday for periods 3 and 4, Friday for period 2).

Thursday, 3/12

Today we began our conversation of the unit assessment, an essay over Romeo and Juliet by talking about cause and effect. We used a worksheet to help move this discussion along. We then read I, iii and talked about the Nurse and Lady Capulet at length. Homework: repeat the worksheet on the back with a new event that happens between now and Monday (and its causes/effects).

Friday, 3/6

Today we did part 2 of our practice CSAP essay. Please remember to use the planning time well, even if it seems like it’s more time than you need — do a web and an outline, make sure you have lots of good details, pay particular attention to organization, maybe even begin parts of a rough draft. It will pay off during the final draft, I guarantee. After this, I checked the I, ii summary homework and we read I, ii in class.

Wednesday, 3/4

Today we finished our reading of I, i and did some planning for a CSAP practice essay we will write on Friday. Homework: read I, ii and write a one-paragraph summary of what happens.

Monday, 3/2

Today started off with a check of the homework and whether students had their lit textbooks with them in class. Then we spent some time reviewing the CSAP schedule for testing starting next week. Afterwards we reviewed the homework, the summary of the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, and began our reading of Act 1, Scene 1.

Wednesday, 2/25

Today we did some more CSAP practice, except in 3rd period where students did course registration for next year. I also collected Mockingbird books and late Mockingbird papers. I passed out Elements of Literature textbooks to students who didn’t have English 9A with me last semester. And then we began our Romeo and Juliet unit by talking about drama, Shakespeare, and reading the Prologue of the play. Homework: paraphrase/summarize the Prologue as best you can; I’m looking mostly for a 3-4 sentence overview of what you think it means.

Monday, 2/23

Today was the due date for the papers on To Kill A Mockingbird. If you were present and didn’t turn in your paper today, and we didn’t already have an extension arranged for you, it is late. Late papers will be a zero until I get them, at which time I will grade them for full credit, but you will not be allowed to revise it. If you were absent, make sure your absence is excused, or you will receive a zero and will not be able to turn it in. Next, my 2nd and 4th period classes did their course registration for next year, which ate up most of the period. 3rd period will do this on Wednesday. The rest of the time was filled with CSAP practice for the upcoming tests in early March. Homework: make sure you bring your Mockingbird book to turn in and your purple lit textbook (if you have one issued to you) which we’ll be using for Romeo and Juliet starting Wednesday; oh, and finish those late Mockingbird papers soon.

Thursday, 2/19

Today is typing day for the Mockingbird essay. Please keep in mind the formatting guidelines that we reviewed on Tuesday. Homework: finish typing the essay if you don’t get it done in class; it’s due on Monday, 2/23.

Tuesday, 2/17

Today I checked the outlines one last time. We also talked at length about the essay formatting requirements. Please remember that I will not accept your essay if it is formatted incorrectly, and thus it will be late. The rest of class was time to work on rough drafts (or to finish outlines for the man of you who are behind on this project). Homework: complete your rough draft for Thursday; only those students with complete rough drafts will be allowed on the computers to type final drafts.

Thursday, 2/12

Today I checked over everyone’s progress on the outlines for the Mockingbird essay. We spent some time reviewing what makes for good paragraphs and notes on introductions and conclusions. After that, we practiced writing intros and conclusions together. Homework: complete the working outline handout for your essay, which I'll check again on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 2/10

Today we finished watching the film version of Mockingbird, discussed it and the book, and then began work on the outlines for the Mockingbird papers. Homework: finish the body paragraph section (3 paragraphs) of the working outline handout.

Friday, 2/6

Today I introduced and reviewed the details on the Mockingbird essay assignment, including the rubric. We then spent the rest of class getting nearly done with the film version of Mockingbird. Homework: consider the two prompts and choose one; then begin looking for evidence (supporting details) for your body paragraphs. We will begin work in earnest on the essay next week.

Wednesday, 2/4

Today we talked briefly about the Mockingbird essay, including the choice of two prompts:

  1. When Scout complains about her teacher, Atticus tells her, “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (30). Where in the novel does Atticus demonstrate this kind of empathy? How does he regard those who criticize, ridicule, or threaten him? How would this ability to empathize with others help solve the problems that arise from racism and prejudice?
  2. The kids spend a lot of time early in the novel discussing and attempting to unravel the mysteries surrounding Boo Radley. “There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time” (13). Explain how Harper Lee uses Boo to develop the idea that things aren’t always what they seem. How is this an important message in the novel?


I also asked students, as they began watching the film version of Mockingbird today, to consider comparisons and contrasts in the story. Homework: finish the novel if you have not; begin thinking about the essay and try to choose prompt #1 or #2; time permitting, start looking for evidence in the text that you can use while assembling your essay next week.

Monday, 2/2

Today we wrapped up To Kill A Mockingbird with our final quiz and discussion of the text, particularly the somewhat confusing ending (Who killed Bob Ewell? What is the sheriff hushing up or not hushing up?). We also reviewed writing introductions and conclusions some more. Homework: catch up on your reading of the novel if you haven’t actually finished. 


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