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.

Monday, 12/16

students’ lingering questions

highlights of last third of novel

begin prep for final (finding theme)

Thursday, 12/12

prepare questions

Socratic seminar norms

actual seminar


Tuesday, 12/10

Briefly reviewed the end of the novel. 

More quote practice

review i/e/p

questions for seminar

Friday, 12/6

reading time

quote practice

hw: finish novel

Wednesday, 12/4

watch trial scene in film and discuss the trial

Monday, 12/2

end of semester run-down

lynch mob talk, watch, & read

criminal justice system

hw: read ch. 24–26

Wednesday, 11/6

After taking quiz on ch. 9, we talked about some of the events of the chapter and how it signifies a shift in the novel away from Boo Radley and towards the Tom Robinson trial. We did a little more practice with paraphrasing, and then students had reading time. Homework: finish chapter 10.

Monday, 11/4

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. Finally, students chose their own examples from ch. 8 of Mockingbird and summarized/paraphrased those. Homework: read ch. 9 for next class; finish the summary/paraphrase of your own examples from ch. 8 if you didn’t finish in class.

Thursday, 10/31

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.

Tuesday, 10/29

Students journaled about, and then we discussed as a class, Boo Radley and all of the stories about him floating around the community of Maycomb. Then I returned the graded exposition handouts, many of which were incomplete. We talked through each person or place on the handout and students filled in any gaps they had so this document could become a resource while continuing to read the novel. The last part of class was reading time to get caught up or a head start on tonight’s reading. Homework: read ch. 6 and 7 for Thursday.

Friday, 10/25

Students had time at the start of class to finish the exposition handout we began on Wednesday, after which I collected them for a grade. Then we talked about summarizing — why and how we do it — which should largely be a review from middle school. Students then took a quiz over ch. 4 in Mockingbird. We wrapped up by talking through students questions from ch. 2–4, focusing particularly on the scenes of Scout’s first day at school. Homework: read ch. 5 in Mockingbird for next class.

Wednesday, 10/23

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.

Monday, 10/21

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.

Thursday, 10/17

After turning in the Wall•E power paragraphs that were homework, we talked through everyone’s small questions on “The Sniper.” Then students came up with a statement of theme, outlined a power paragraph, and then wrote the paragraph all on their own. 

Tuesday, 10/15

We continued discussing Wall•E today, talking more about conflict and characters changing. Then we worked through several possible subjects of the film (reliance on technology, our relationship to the environment, love/friendship, and making difficult choices), and students wrote theme statements for each of these subjects. We shared these and projected several possibilities on the doc cam — and anyone who thought these were better than what they’d written stole them for their own use. I quickly walked students through choosing one for a claim and filling out a power paragraph to prove that statement of theme is valid as supported by the text (film). Students then had to write the power paragraph from the outline for homework. The last 15 minutes in class were spent reading “The Sniper,” a short story we are going to use as text for a summative assessment on Thursday. Homework: write those Wall•E paragraphs; if you didn’t finish “The Sniper,” come back before school or during lunch to make sure you’re ready for the test.

Thursday, 10/10

We finished watching Wall•E during the first half of class. After that, I helped students answer their small and medium questions about the film and we began discussing subject and conflict on our way to figuring out theme. More on this next week.

Tuesday, 10/8

After collecting the homework, I reviewed inference and theme from a few classes ago in preparation for our next text, Wall•E. We started the film over from the beginning, and while they watched it students took notes on characters, motivation, conflicts, and possible subjects to prepare for a Power Paragraph on the theme of the film.

Friday, 10/4

We talked about setting, mood, and tone, and then watched a short video clip that illustrates these literary elements. Students then worked together to find evidence and outline a Power Paragraph based on a claim I provide. Students then wrote their own Power Paragraph. Many finished in class. Homework: turn in your completed Power Paragraph and outline on setting, mood, and tone in Wall•E next class.

Wednesday, 10/2

We continued discussing inference and theme today using another Dr. Seuss story, “The Sneetches.” We also returned to “Souvenir” to figure out the theme of that story.

Monday, 9/30

Students finished reading “Souvenir” at the start of class, and then we discussed their small and medium questions about the story. Afterwards, we talked about inference and theme, and practiced with a Dr. Seuss story, “The Zax.” 

Thursday, 9/26

I returned the Bio Bag outlines and had students revise (or complete) them, using frames to improve the introduce/explain/pertain portions. We also talked about “The Interlopers” and the characters in that story. Then I gave out copies of a Kurt Vonnegut story, “Souvenir,” for students to read and write small/medium questions about.

Tuesday, 9/24

Asking students to think about their most valued item in the bio bag presentation earlier in the semester, we started talking about Introduce, Explain, Pertain today. Students completed an outline explaining why that item was the most valued. When they finished, students read “The Interlopers” and wrote small and medium questions about the story.

Friday, 9/20

(Today was our first day back following the week-long flood break.)

Students re-read the Langston Hughes story “Thank You, M’am” because it had been so long since the initial reading. We then used this story to talk about character motivations and found evidence of what motivates these characters.

Tuesday, 9/10

After students turned in the paragraphs on a single plot element in “The Most Dangerous Game,” we discussed the importance of asking good questions. We practiced this together with the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” and then students read the Langston Hughes story “Thank You, M’am” in the textbook. At the end of class, we briefly started discussing direct and indirect characterization.

Friday, 9/6

I introduced students to Remind101.com today and provided directions (A3 directions, A4 directions) for signing up for my course updates there. I also reminded students of this very website and that they should be checking Infinite Campus regularly. Then I returned the plot handouts from last class, we went over notes on plot, and students worked in groups to find examples of each plot element in “The Most Dangerous Game.” 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.

Wednesday, 9/4

Classes were shortened today due to our late-start schedule. We wrapped up the last of the Bio Bag presentations, and then discussed everyone’s discussion question answers from “The Most Dangerous Game.” This led into a review of elements of plot, beginning with a pre-assessment of what students remember from studying this in middle school.

Friday, 8/30

Students finished reading “The Most Dangerous Game” at the start of class. Then we switched gears to complete more of the bio bag presentations. And then we went back to the story, using everyone’s questions to guide our discussion.

Wednesday, 8/28

We worked through several Bio Bag presentations during the first half of class today. We then returned to “The Most Dangerous Game.” Students wrote questions they had from the part of the story we read on Monday, and the discussed these questions in groups. Then students read silently by themselves, recording additional questions as they went. Most did not have time to finish the story by the end of class.

Monday, 8/26

After reviewing the qualities of a good oral presentation, students practiced their Bio Bag presentations in groups today. A few students gave their presentations to the entire class — we will continue doing several presentations a day for the rest of the week. At the end of class, we began reading “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Thursday, 8/22

We reviewed elements of good public speaking and oral presentations today. Then I introduced the rubric and assignment for the Bio Bag oral presentation project. I modeled my own bio bag, students assessed me, and then they began brainstorming their own objects/stories for their presentations. Homework: bring in the items for your bio bag, along with the completed organization handout, on Monday.

Tuesday, 8/20

After having yearbook photos taken, students helped me learn their names. We also reviewed the course norms and expectations for the year. Homework: students need to show the norms and expectations handout to a parent or guardian and bring back a signed slip saying they read it.

Friday, 8/16

For our first actual day of classes, students completed a writing sample and we discussed the new school-wide policy on personal electronics.

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