Honors English 10A

Class Info

This class will primarily be a study of American literature from Puritanism through Modernism. While reading a variety of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from that era, we will develop a greater understanding for the foundations of our own literary tradition. The various texts will enable you to hone your critical thinking abilities, and our writing exercises will be your outlet of expression for these abilities.

Writing a 5-page paper should be comfortable for you, and you should know that MLA (Modern Language Association) format is required of all papers. Using correct grammar and usage as well as speaking in front of the class should by now be routine, and you should be prepared to craft your own higher-level discussion questions as well as use higher-level thinking to answer questions that connect the world we are reading with that of today. You will work in small and large groups as well as individually.

As in Honors 9, you are required to do independent reading — this semester you will read two American authors of your choosing and write a paper on each. Our three primary class readings will be The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. 

You will also be required to study extra vocabulary and we will try to get to as much non-fiction and poetry as we can as well.


Monday, 12/14

Today groups prepared and presented the review materials for the semester final on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. Don't forget to also take the end-of-semester vocab quiz on Virtual Campus.

Thursday, 12/10

We discussed the end of Huck Finn today. Using these prompts, we focused on the aspects of Realism, Twain’s reactions to Romanticism, and the motifs/themes. We also went over all the nuts and bolts of the end of the semester — regular vocab quiz this weekend, comprehensive vocab quiz open all next week, semester review on Monday, final on Wednesday. At the end of class, I divided everyone up into four groups to prepare review materials for each of the four literary periods we studied this semester. Homework: take care of the tasks assigned to you by your group in preparation for Monday’s review.

Tuesday, 12/8

Today we started by discussing the Huck Finn reading from yesterday — Huck’s and Jim’s adventures on the wreck of the Walter Scott and Huck’s moral dilemma. We then finished the HF film. The last 30 min of class was for beginning tonight’s sizable reading assignment. Homework: read from ch. 31 to the end of HF.

Friday, 12/4

We started class by discussing, a little bit, Huck’s moral dilemmas in this novel — the big one being what to do about Jim. We then watched more of the film, which we should finish on Tuesday. Homework: read ch. 12-13, 16-18 in Huck Finn.

Wednesday, 12/2

I started class by fielding last-minute questions on the second independent reading assignment. There were many. We then continued with our viewing of the Huck Finn film. Homework: independent reading essay due Friday.

Monday, 11/30

Today we continued our viewing of the film version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I also returned the Romantics tests. Homework: keep working on your second independent reading assignment due on Friday.

Thursday, 11/19

Today we wrapped up Maggie, talking about symbolism and the qualities and progression of some of the characters. We also started our discussion of Huck Finn, and afterwards our viewing of the film version. Homework: work on independent reading and also read ch. 6-10 of HF.

Tuesday, 11/17

Today I was absent. Students needed to finish reading Maggie: A Girl of the Streets in class and also begin reading ch. 1-5 in Huck FinnHomework: finish ch. 1-5 in HF.

Friday, 11/13

Today I went over the second independent reading essay. It will be worth more than the first and due 12/4. We reviewed the assignment itself and its rubric first. I then spent some time reviewing pages from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) to help everyone do better this time. We spent a bunch of time talking about how a good essay makes an argument, and its thesis should be (at least in theory) debatable and defendable, and we also talked about the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing, as well as when to use each. We also discussed in-text citations and the different formats to use for different types of sources. Using this information, I asked everyone to practice finding examples in Maggie of Jimmie’s sense of superiority (and how it’s ironic for the reader) — everyone needed to write down at least one quote, paraphrase, and summary each. Homework: read ch. VII-XIII in Maggie.

Wednesday, 11/11

Today we used “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” to both introduce the Realist unit and also to do a refresher lesson on theme. I reviewed the definition of theme as well as a 5-step process for writing a statement of theme; this is the same 5-step process that I set out for you on the worksheet that was due today. We also talked about how “Owl Creek Bridge” is an example of Realism and also a reaction to/criticism of Romanticism. At the end of class, I handed out the photocopies of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, a novella by Stephen Crane that we will be reading over the next few class days. Homework: read ch. I-VI in Maggie.

Monday, 11/9

We started our Realism unit today by reading “The Rise of Realism” in the textbook. I then gave some notes on Realism, its historical background, and the essential questions for our unit. We also went over the first set of independent reading essays — some were fine, others were pretty good, and many had problems with theme and (sadly) plagiarism. We apparently need to review some of these things that didn’t go quite as well, and we’ll be starting with theme. Homework: read “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” on p. 424 in the textbook; please fill out this worksheet on theme so we can discuss it on Wednesday.

Thursday, 11/5

Today was the Romantics test. If you were absent, please come talk to me ASAP about making it up. Homework: only the vocab quiz.

Tuesday, 11/3

Today was our last day discussing Romanticism. We discussed and compared our two Poe stories. We also reviewed the anticipatory notes for the Romantics/Transcendentalists as well as The Scarlet Letter in preparation for the unit test on Thursday. Homework: review and prepare for the in-class essay test.

Friday, 10/30

Today we discussed the end of The Scarlet Letter, including how the novel wrapped up as well as motifs for themes expressed in the novel. We also discussed Thoreau from Monday, and we began discussing connections among all of the texts in preparation for a unit test next Thursday. We briefly touched on the Poe story I had you read for today, but we’ll discuss that in more detail on Tuesday. Homework: read “The Pit and the Pendulum” on p. 257 in the textbook.

Wednesday, 10/28

Today we essentially had no class due to the suicide awareness assembly during 2nd period. Homework: read “Hop-Frog” from the photocopies I handed out before the assembly.

Monday, 10/26

I was out today. The sub checked to see if you had your second independent reading novel and also collected a description from each of you for why you chose this novel. The sub also had you read the selection from “Resistance to Civil Government” by Thoreau on p. 211 in the text and take notes on parallels between Thoreau and the brief excerpts from Ghandi and King we read last week. You also had time to finish The Scarlet LetterHomework: finish any of today’s reading that you didn’t get done in class.

Thursday, 10/22

Today we started with a quiz over symbolism in ch. 14-16 in The Scarlet Letter, which we then discussed at length. In preparation for reading Thoreau next week, we read brief excerpts from writings by Ghandi and King at the end of class. Homework: take the Vocab Quiz — Set 8 on Virtual Campus, bring your independent reading novel to class on Monday, and read ch. 17-20 in SL.

Tuesday, 10/20

Today we started with more Transcendentalism, reading a selection from Emerson’s “Nature” (p. 182) and also revisiting the selection from “Self-Reliance.” We then discussed some of the symbolism pertaining to Chillingworth and Dimmesdale in Scarlet Letter, as well as how Hester might be seen as a parallel to Emerson in “Self-Reliance.” See the slideshow below for more on this discussion. Homework: read ch. 14-16 in SL.


Friday, 10/16

We started with a review of Transcendentalists, and then we read, paraphrased, and discussed “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant on p. 167 in the textbook as an example of Transcendentalist poetry. I think it worked better than our example from Emerson the other day. After that we discussed questions from ch. 10-11 in Scarlet Letter and made a list of key plot points thus far in the novel. Homework: take the vocab quiz, read ch. 12-13 in SL, and start researching your second independent novel.

Wednesday, 10/14

Today was a very short period due to PLAN/PSAT testing in the morning. I gave back the Puritanism/Rationalism tests and also gave out progress reports. We briefly discussed last night’s reading, but we’ll go over this more on Friday. Homework: read ch. 10-11 in SL.

Monday, 10/12

Today we reviewed ch. 4-7 in The Scarlet Letter, answering student questions and also continuing our discussion of symbolism. We also read and discussed the passage from Emerson’s Self-Reliance in the textbook. Homework: ch 8-9 in SL.

Thursday, 10/8

Today we started The Scarlet Letter in earnest with a big discussion of symbolism, including some close reading of passages from ch. 1-3. We will continue looking at symbolism throughout the text. Homework: read ch. 4-7 and make note of the symbolism you spot during the reading; try using 2-column notes like we did with the close reading passages in class.

Tuesday, 10/6

Today I collected the independent reading papers and then spent a lot of time setting up The Scarlet Letter. After this, we went over and discussed the grading of the persuasive speeches. Please see me if you were absent. Homework: read ch. 1-3 in The Scarlet Letter for Thursday.

Friday, 10/2

Today we took the first cumulative vocab quiz in the Wired lab. If you missed this quiz, please talk to me ASAP. I also handed out The Scarlet Letter, which we’ll begin reading next week. Again, talk to me if you didn't get a copy. The rest of class was work time for the independent reading project. Homework: independent reading is due Tuesday, the next time we meet.


(I should have mentioned this in class before, probably — check out these notes on theme that I use with my 9th graders, as they might be helpful in determining the theme of your independent novel.)

Wednesday, 9/30

Today we introduced Romanticism — students read p. 138-149 in the textbook and we went over some notes about the period. I reminded everyone that the cumulative vocab quiz will be Friday, and that there will also be some time on Friday to work on the independent reading project before it’s due next Tuesday. Please make sure you bring whatever you need to work on the project with you so you can make good use of class time. Homework: study for the vocab quiz and continue work on independent reading.

Monday, 9/28

Today was the in-class essay test over Puritanism and Rationalism. Wednesday we will start our unit on Romanticism. Don’t forget the in-class, cumulative (Sets 1-5) vocab quiz on Friday, 10/2, and the independent reading essay due next Tuesday, 10/6. Homework: study for vocab and work on independent reading.

Thursday, 9/24

Today we wrapped up the persuasive speeches. We also reviewed for the essay test on Monday. Homework: review Puritanism, Rationalism, Appeals, Rhetoric, and the other terminology from the notes this unit for Monday’s test.

Tuesday, 9/22

Today was the due date and first presentation date for the persuasive speeches. We will continue these on Thursday. Homework: make some progress on your independent reading.

Friday, 9/18

Today I started by checking your speech rough drafts. We then went over the calendar and all of the upcoming events/dates:

I went through the Independent Reading Essay assignment next, we reviewed some tips for public speaking, and then students worked with partners on more peer editing and then speech feedback for those persuasive speeches. Homework: be ready to give your speech on Tuesday; if you have any questions or need to use electronic visual aids in your speech, you can e-mail me over the weekend.

Wednesday, 9/16

Today was another work day for the persuasive speech. I made available some more guidance on how to outline/organize your speech — it’s your choice if you use this. We also spent time peer-editing each others’s speeches using Google docs. I will take a participation grade on how much you have helped your classmates. Homework: have a rough draft of your speech ready for class on Friday, when you’ll practice giving your speech; if you’re using an electronic visual aid, Friday is also the time to test it out and make sure we’ll be able to present it smoothly next week.

Monday, 9/14

Today we hit the Wired lab to begin earnest work on the persuasive speeches. We spent the first part of class reviewing MLA Formatting (thank you Ms. Luker), noting some MLA citation tools online (Landmark Citation Machine and MLA Secondary Citation Maker), discussing the usefulness of online research databases, other Skyline LMC resources, and the importance of determining the reliability of Web-based sources. The rest of the class was work time for your speeches. We will have more work time, as well as peer-editing time, on Wednesday. The rough drafts of your speeches are due on Friday, where we will use part of class to practice them. Homework: um, work on the speech.

Thursday, 9/10

Today I handed out the formal assignment and rubric for your persuasive speeches. We then continued our discussion of the Appeals and Rhetorical Devices in President Obama’s speech on Tuesday. We also discussed whether or not the speech was effective and even tied it in to our ongoing discussion of the American Dream. We did the same with Patrick Henry’s “Virginia Convention” speech that you read for today. Homework: work on finalizing your speech topic, craft a main idea/thesis, and begin an outline; also, Vocab Quiz — Set 2, which closes Sunday night.

Tuesday, 9/8

Today we started by debriefing from the first vocab quiz. Mostly it went well, but some students had difficulty. Overall, it is your responsibility to contact me (and make sure I can reply to you) if you cannot take the quiz. If you let me know before or early in the quiz window, I’m much more likely to be accommodating — if you let me know later or after the quiz window, you’re more likely to be out of luck. After this, we reviewed and discussed your reactions to the Rowlandson diary piece. Next, we went over notes on Rhetorical Devices, and we also reviewed the Appeals notes. This was all leading up to our live viewing of President Obama’s address to schoolchildren. You can read the speech here or watch the replay below:


During the speech, I asked students to keep two-column notes, keeping track of Appeals on one side and Rhetorical Devices on the other. We began, and will continue on Thursday, to critically examine his speech based on these criteria, as well as our general impressions of whether his speech was effective. Homework: similarly, everyone needs to read “Speech to the Virginia Convention” which starts on p. 80 in the textbook and take two-column notes on that speech as well.

Thursday, 9/3

I started today by announcing the availability of the quiz for vocab Set 1 on the Virtual Campus page. This quiz, and every future quiz, will become available at 5:00 a.m. on Thursdays and will close at midnight Sunday night/Monday morning. Right now the quiz will be worth 10 points and you’ll have a 2-minute time limit to take it. If you fail to take the quiz by the time it closes, and haven’t already made arrangements with me in advance, you will get a zero. Once we start adding more words, you’ll have a little more time and the quizzes will be worth more points. I also reminded everyone that they should already have chosen an independent novel and begun reading it. We then discussed your observations from “Sinners” and how it pertained to our discussion of appeals on Tuesday. We did an activity where I asked you to write in the style of the Puritans, which I collected. And then we discussed notes on the RationalistsHomework: Going backwards a bit, read “from ‘A Narrative of Her Captivity’” starting on p. 37 in the textbook; make sure you also take the vocab quiz and keep plugging away on your independent novel assignment.

Tuesday, 9/1

We started today by reviewing the independent reading project and online vocab quizzes. If you don’t have a novel chosen by now, you’re starting to fall behind — the analytical paper on your novel will probably be due at the end of September. Vocab quizzes will open up on Virtual Campus every week on Thursday morning, starting this week with Set 1. The current week’s quiz will be available until Sunday at midnight; if you miss the quiz window, you’ll be out of luck. After this, we started brainstorming for the end-of-unit speeches; students came up with 3-5 things in their world that need to change, and then how and why. We then went over persuasive appeals — ethos, logos, and pathos. Following these notes, I read Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to the class. Homework: identify the persuasive argument in “Sinners” as well as the types of persuasive appeals Edwards uses; be ready with examples and whether or not he uses them correctly or poorly; also, get ready for the vocab quizzes and start (or continue) your independent reading.

Friday, 8/28

Today I started by updating you on the vocabulary and independent reading. Vocab quizzes will start next week, and you’ll be responsible for the first set of words. Independent reading is a little different now — we have a proscribed list of novels, so please consult that and choose two for your reading this semester. We then took notes on Puritanism. After going through these notes, we tried to make some connections to our own experiences and also touched on the essential questions of the unit (see the last two slides). We then read “Here Follow Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666” by Anne Bradstreet and tried to connect it to the notes. Homework: get started on the vocab and do some more (for real this time) independent reading research.

Wednesday, 8/26

I collected your list of three American novels at the start of class. We then went to the library review our Virtual Campus online classroom, the independent vocabulary study, the related online quizzes, and Google DocsHomework: read p. 6-19 in the textbook in preparation for our notes on Puritanism Friday.

Monday, 8/24

Today we started by collecting your signed course guidelines. If you didn’t have them, Wednesday is the last day I’ll accept them for credit.  Then we did a practice journal prompt, which we then discussed. This prompt will form the basis of the semester final (and also be the essential questions for the entire course). We also talked a bit about the Independent Reading Project — you will need to choose and read two (2) novels this semester, each by an American author and each of 250-300 pages in length. Homework: for Wednesday research and bring in a list of three (3) possible novels for the independent reading.

Thursday, 8/20

Today we started class with yearbook photos. Afterwards, we went over the course guidelines, this Web site, Virtual Campus, and signed out textbooks. Homework: get the bottom portion of page 2 of the course guidelines signed by a parent; due Monday.


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