English 9A


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. We will be reading poetry, short fiction, novels, and dramatic texts. Our objectives are to master the elements of literature, practice the writing process, and improve organization of writing.

Note: I teach two sections of this class on different days. When possible, I will use the same entry for both Red and Gold days. When impossible, I will post a separate summary for each day.

Wednesday, 12/12; Thursday, 12/13

We finished discussing To Kill a Mockingbird and completed our review of introduce/explain/pertain for the final.

Monday, 12/10; Tuesday, 12/11

I gave the final TKAM quiz and we talked a bit about the major events of ch. 26-28. Students then practiced finding more quotes along with reviewing and practicing introduce/explain/pertain for those quotes. Homework: finish the novel!

Thursday, 12/6; Friday, 12/7

We continued our practice with finding and correctly recording quotes from last class, at the same time talking about events in the novel following the end of the trial. The second half of class was reading time to help everyone have time to finish Mockingbird before finals. Homework: read ch. 26-28.

Tuesday, 12/4; Wednesday, 12/5

After some reading time, I returned the power paragraph tests and talked about how I graded it. Then we did some practice with finding and correctly punctuating quotes in the text. Homework: read ch. 24-25.

Friday, 11/30; Monday, 12/3

Today was our Socratic seminar over the issue of racism in the South during the time of the novel. Students refined and expanded their questions begun last class and we went over norms for the discussion. Then everyone circled up and asked and answered each others’ questions in the seminar. At the end, students wrote a reflection as an exit ticket. Homework: read ch. 21-23 in TKAM.

Wednesday, 11/28; Thursday, 11/29

We continued today our mini-lesson on the criminal justice system, talking through the steps of a criminal case from beginning to end. This led into a conversation about where in this process are we with our novel and the Tom Robinson trial. Students then had some reading time, I returned the TKAM research notes, and we started talking about the Socratic seminar we will have next class. Students began developing questions for the seminar, a process we will refine and finish at the start of next class. Homework: read ch. 18-20 in Mockingbird.

Monday, 11/26; Tuesday, 11/27

We talked through the last couple weeks of the semester (finishing the novel, Socratic seminar on research, and the power paragraph final) to start off class. Students then had a quiz then reading time since we have quite a bit of the novel left to finish. The last part of class was a brief discussion of the reading done over break and the nuts and bolts of a criminal trial. Homework: read ch. 16-17 for next class.

Wednesday, 11/14; Thursday, 11/15

Today was the last day for the TKAM research project. Students shared successful search terms, events, and people, did more research, and then followed the instructions at the end of this slide deck to share their research notes and bibliography with me. Homework: read through the end of ch. 15 in TKAM.

Monday, 11/12; Tuesday, 11/13

Today was work day two of three for the Mockingbird research project. Students learned about research databases today and continued working on their notecards. I also announced that I increased the minimum number of notecards from 6 to 8 and the minimum number of sources from 3 to 4. Students worked on their research the rest of class. Homework: please read ch. 12 in TKAM; there will be assigned reading over Thanksgiving break as well, so feel free to read ahead if you have time.

Thursday, 11/8; Friday, 11/9

Today was our first of three days in the library for the Mockingbird research project. Students will be researching details about the differences between black and white citizens of the southern United States between the Civil War and the 1960s (when our novel was published). Ms. Cope introduced students to citations and note-taking in EasyBib, and also helped everyone get started using electronic versions of reference books the library has access to. Students then had some work time to begin their research. Homework: no additional reading this weekend, but students who are behind should get caught up.

Tuesday, 11/6; Wednesday, 11/7

After some reading time, we talked about the importance of research and I talked broadly about the research project we will begin in the library next class. We also discussed characters who aren’t quite who they first seem to be in Mockingbird. Homework: read ch. 11 for next time.

Friday, 11/2; Monday, 11/5

After a quiz over ch. 9, we returned to practicing paraphrasing. Students chose their own examples from the novel this time to summarize and then paraphrase. Homework: read ch. 10 for next class.

Wednesday, 10/31; Thursday, 11/1

After reviewing summarizing from last week, I introduced the much more challenging skill of paraphrasing. We talked about the difference between the two skills and some of the specific things to try while paraphrasing — switching nouns/pronouns, using synonyms, changing/inverting word order. Then we practiced paraphrasing using examples from To Kill a Mockingbird. The end of class was reading time to start on ch. 9. Homework: finish ch. 9 for next class.

Monday, 10/29; Tuesday, 10/30

After a short quiz over ch. 6-7 in Mockingbird, we had a big discussion about racism and racist language in the novel. Students read ch. 8 by themselves, and then we discussed students’ small questions from ch. 6-8. Homework: get caught up if you’re behind in the reading; if you've read the entire book through the end of ch. 8, no homework.

Thursday, 10/25; Friday, 10/26

Students journaled about and then we discussed what we already knew about Boo Radley. This lead into a review of the exposition handout/activity students had been working on the last two classes. The end of class was silent reading time to get caught up on Mockingbird or start the reading due next class. Homework: read ch. 6-7.

Tuesday, 10/23; Wednesday, 10/24

Students spent the first part of class finishing the exposition handout, which I then collected for a grade. Next we reviewed summary skills and did a little bit of practice, which lead into a quiz on ch. 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird. We wrapped up class by answering some of the small questions students had from ch. 1-4. Homework: read ch. 5 in Mockingbird.

Friday, 10/19; Monday, 10/22

After going over students’ small questions from ch. 1 of TKAM, we had reading time to complete ch. 2 and 3 (and write more small questions from these chapters). Students also started detailing some of the characters and places of the exposition (ch. 1-3) at the end of class, an activity we will continue next time. Homework: read, and write small/medium questions for, ch. 4.

Wednesday, 10/17

We talked about perception today in preparation for starting To Kill a Mockingbird. I passed out copies of the novel, students signed for them, and we started reading ch. 1 together while writing (and answering) small and medium questions. Homework: finish ch. 1 and write additional small questions.

Monday, 10/15; Tuesday, 10/16

Today was the final assessment for our first unit covering elements of fiction and the power paragraph. Students had already read “The Sniper” already, so we talked through small questions about the story to make sure everyone understood what was going on in the story. Students then had the rest of class to figure out the theme of the story, outline a power paragraph using evidence (quotes) from the story to prove the statement of theme, and then write a final draft of this power paragraph.

Wednesday, 10/10; Thursday, 10/11

Students finished outlining their Wall•E theme paragraphs, and then they wrote the power paragraph within a 20-minute time limit to practice for the summative assessment next week. This assessment will allow me to see how well students can infer the theme of a short story and how well they can outline and write a power paragraph on their own.

Monday, 10/8; Tuesday, 10/9

We continued our discussion of Wall•E today, covering the various inferences (character motivations and changes, conflicts and resolutions, and subjects/topics of the film) on our way to coming up with statements of theme. After everyone came up with a couple themes on their own and shared out to the class, a student recorded them on the doc camera. Everyone then picked their favorite statement of theme, converted it into a claim with the aid of sentence frames, brainstormed possible evidence, re-watched short clips from the film to take more detailed notes, and then filled in the claim and evidence portions of a Power Paragraph outline.

Thursday, 10/4; Friday, 10/5

After collecting the Power Paragraphs on the Poe story, we finished our viewing of Wall•E. Students completed their notes handouts and we started talking through small questions about the film as well as some of the easier inferences students should have made while viewing.

Tuesday, 10/2; Wednesday, 10/3

We talked today how to translate the Power Paragraph outline into an actual paragraph, including how to choose the order of the three pieces of evidence and respective introduce/explain/pertain components. Students worked for a few minutes on starting these paragraphs before we returned to watching Wall•E and taking notes on the film. Homework: complete the “Cask” power paragraph for next class.

Friday, 9/28; Monday, 10/1

Students continued work on their Cask of Amontillado power paragraphs today. Students who made good use of time finished these in class. We then moved on to our next, the film Wall•E. Students started taking notes on various inferences to try and discover the themes of the film. Homework: complete the Cask power paragraph outline if you didn’t get it done today in class.

Wednesday, 9/26; Thursday, 9/27

The Poe story from last class was quite difficult. But after talking to everyone about the importance of reading difficult texts, we went through the story to try to understand it better. This eventually lead to a large question: “What kind of person could get revenge the way Montresor did in ‘The Cask of Amontillado?’” During the last part of class, students began a power paragraph outline that attempts to answer this question.

Tuesday, 9/25 (Red day)

I was away from school today. With the sub, students were to read “The Cask of Amontillado” and work on a handout, partly by themselves and partly in pairs.

Monday, 9/24 (Gold day)

After spending a little bit of time reviewing the theme of “Souvenir” at the start of class, students read “The Cask of Amontillado” and worked on a handout by themselves (I was starting to lose my voice). At the end of class, we briefly discussed the story.

Thursday, 9/20; Friday, 9/21

To help introduce theme today, we started off with a discussion of inference and reading from two Dr. Seuss stories. By thinking about the subject, conflict, and characters in a story, we were able to more easily infer the theme of these stories. After practicing with Seuss, we looked back at Vonnegut’s “Souvenir” from last class.

Tuesday, 9/18; Wednesday, 9/19

Because “The Interlopers” didn’t seem very popular last time, I tried a different story today, one not in the textbook — “Souvenir” by Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors. Students read this story in class, writing down small and medium questions again, while I checked the homework. Then we reviewed Introduce, Explain, Pertain and I suggested sentence frames for starting each different section of the outline. Students tweaked and revised (and in some cases, completed) their outlines and turned them in again. We then used the last few minutes of class to answer questions and have a general discussion of “Souvenir,” which we will revisit next class.

Friday, 9/14; Monday, 9/17

Students started class by reading “The Interlopers” from the textbook. While reading they wrote down small and medium questions about the story, and then wrote about the characters’ motivations and whether they change. After discussing the story I introduced the “introduce/explain/pertain” pattern for presenting evidence. Students wrote about their favorite object from their bio bags and then filled out the Power Paragraph Outline handout, practicing introduce/explain/pertain with three examples as to why this was their most valued item. Homework: complete the Power Paragraph Outline to turn in at the start of next class.

Wednesday, 9/12; Thursday, 9/13

I returned the small questions students wrote for “Thank You, M’am” last class, and we talked through some of the small and medium ones to gain a better understanding of the story. Then we went over some notes on character interactions — particularly the importance of character motivation and characters changing. Students then looked for evidence in “Thank You, M’am” for the motivations of the protagonist and antagonist as well as how the protagonist changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

Monday, 9/10; Tuesday, 9/11

After wrapping up the last of our bio bag presentations, I introduced Costa’s Levels of Questioning. We discussed the difference between small, medium, and large questions, and then students practiced writing each type while I read them Where the Wild Things Are. We reviewed these questions, talked about possible improvements, and then students read the Langston Hughes story “Thank You, M’am” to themselves. Everyone turned in 2-3 of each type of question from this story as an exit ticket.

Friday, 9/7 (Red day)

Thursday, 9/6 (Gold day)

After knocking out the remaining few bio bag presentations, I checked the homework due today and students either completed the homework in the hallway for reduced credit or worked on some peer editing tasks together on their finished paragraphs. Next, we talked about setting, mood, and tone, and then watched a short video clip that illustrates these literary elements.

Wednesday, 9/5 (Red day)

After quickly reviewing the plot slides from last class, students found examples of each type of plot element in groups. Once each group had 5-6 examples, students began writing paragraphs with good topic sentences, the three best of their group’s examples, and explanations for how they illustrated their group’s plot element. Homework: finish these paragraphs; they are due at the start of next class.

Tuesday, 9/4 (Gold day)

We managed to get through nearly all of the rest of our bio bag presentations during the first part of class today. After quickly reviewing the plot slides from last class, students found examples of each type of plot element in groups. Once each group had 5-6 examples, students began writing paragraphs with good topic sentences, the three best of their group’s examples, and explanations for how they illustrated their group’s plot element. Homework: finish these paragraphs; they are due at the start of next class.

Thursday, 8/30; Friday, 8/31

We picked up where we left off on discussion questions from the end of last class. After finishing these, I passed out the elements of plot handout. Students attempted to fill it in using what they remembered from studying plot in the past, and then I went through slides with my own definition of these terms. We finished up class with a few more bio bag presentations.

Tuesday, 8/28; Wednesday, 8/29

Students gave more of their bio bag presentations during the first part of class today. We then finished reading “The Most Dangerous Game” together. Students wrote answers to a few discussion questions, and we started discussing these towards the end of class.

Friday, 8/24; Monday, 8/27

At the start of class, students received a copy of the Bio Bag rubric and wrote a list of the objects they brought today on the back. After again reviewing the components of a good oral presentation, students practiced their presentations in small groups (no more than 4). While this was going on, I visited with each student, checking to see that they had all their objects and making note of those who did not. Once this was finished, I collected the rubrics to hold for presentations, and a few students in each class got their presentations to the entire class out of the way. The last few minutes of class were spent reading a bit more of “The Most Dangerous Game” together.

Wednesday, 8/22; Thursday, 8/23

During the first half of class, students used the Bio Bag planning document to start organizing their thoughts and making notes for their own Bio Bag presentations. Some students finished this in class, and there was certainly enough time to do so. We then spent the last part of class beginning the story “The Most Dangerous Game” in the lit textbook. We will use this story to study plot, but as it is long and we are concurrently working on the Bio Bag assignment, it will take a few days to get through the entire story. Homework: complete the planning document, if necessary, and bring in your Bio Bag with all of your personal objects by next class — Friday for B8 and Monday for A2/A3.

Monday, 8/20; Tuesday, 8/21

The first half of class was eaten up by yearbook photos and food services biometric scans. During the second half of class, I reviewed the course norms, handed out the norms signature slip, and introduced the Bio Bag assignment. For this last part, we discussed the qualities of a good oral presentation, I went over the rubric, and then I presented my own example Bio Bag. Homework: return the norms signature slip signed by you and a parent; also, start thinking about items to include in your own Bio Bag.

Friday, 8/17

For our first actual day of classes, students completed a writing sample and participated in an icebreaker activity.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.