Course Summary




Honors English differs from previous language arts classes in that there is not a clear separation of instruction in grammar, composition, literature, and public speaking.  Instruction in grammar, composition, and literary comprehension and analysis are integrated throughout the school year.  The approach is strictly college preparatory and will require a certain degree of maturity on the part of the student who wishes to succeed in the class.




Grammar instruction begins with a very brief refresher of basic grammar principles.  In-depth instruction may begin with a unit on verbals and verbal phrases and their uses in sentences.  Grammar tests are non-traditional and are designed to teach thinking skills as much as they are designed to teach basic grammar.  Classes will also focus on sentence construction and the importance of varying sentences in writing.


Also inherent in the teaching of composition will be instruction in subject-verb agreement, run-on and fragment sentences, general rules of punctuation and capitalization, proper sentence structure, and formal and informal grammatical usages.  One assumption of the instructor is that students who have elected to take English 10A have a mastery of basic grammar.  Students will be expected to use correct grammar in all class discussions and in all written work that pertains to the class.  Failure to do so will negatively impact the nine weeks’ grades.


The entire focus of this grammar instruction is to force students to use their language effectively to meet their communication needs.




Students will be assigned several short stories, novels, and one Shakespearean play to be read for class discussion and analysis throughout the school year.  When the assignment is made, a due date will be announced.  The reading must be completed by that date.  An exam, which will test simple comprehension to insure that what was assigned, has, in fact, been read, will be given on the date the reading is to be completed All students are expected to contribute to class discussions in an intelligent fashion.  Upon completion of class discussion, students may expect to be tested by both essay and objective tests.  Novels/plays to be assigned as class reading may be selected from the following:


                                    A Separate Peace – John Knowles

                                    Lord of the Flies – William Golding

                                    The Little Prince – Antoine de St. Exupery

                                    The Crucible – Arthur Miller

                                    All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Remarque

                                    Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo

                                    Death Be Not Proud – John Gunther

                                    Julius Caesar -- Wm. Shakespeare.


Students will also be required to do independent reading during the course of each 9 week grading period.  Students will select a novel from a list that the instructor will provide.  No two students can choose the same novel.  On the date the novel is to be completed, an objective (and perhaps an essay as well) exam will be given to insure that the reading assignment has been completed.  Compositions may also be based on this independent reading.



The class will focus very heavily on expository writing this year through a variety of types of writing:  essay tests, in-class paragraphs, take-home essays, and a final writing project near the end of the school year.  Writing will be corrected for major and minor grammatical errors.  Therefore, efforts should be made to write neatly, clearly, and correctly.




Vocabulary experiences are used in conjunction with grammar, literature, and composition instruction.  It is stressed that memorizing correct definitions is not the purpose of vocabulary study; rather, various word forms and word study skills will be necessary to determine definitions of unknown words in the context of reading assignments.  Vocabulary tests are designed to encourage the thought process – not the memorization process.




Journals are required for each novel discussed in class.  It is not required for the novels you read on your own.  The purpose of keeping a journal is to force you to think about what you are reading so that you can reflect upon, synthesize, and connect the reading to your own experiences and other reading.




The Socratic seminar is an alternative, performance-based assessment where students work through in-depth questions regarding required reading in a round-table group discussion.  The instructor’s only role is to record the text of the discussion.  The seminar requires that students use higher order critical thinking skills to arrive at logical explanations for the questions asked.  Students grades will be based on how often and how well they contribute to the discussion.  Grading scale is as follows:

60%     It is generally accepted that even though a person does not
             contribute at all to a discussion, or rarely comments on others’
             ideas without adding new or insightful information, he or she
             is nevertheless absorbing information.  However, because I
             cannot read what goes on in the mind, I will have no evidence
             that the student understands the material. 


           70%     Little contribution with few new or insightful information being


           80%     Some  contribution with some new or insightful information
                        being contributed.
           90%     Often contributes,  good contribution of new and insightful
                        information, furthers own or others’ ideas.
          100%   Obviously a leader of the discussion, continually contributing
                       new and insightful information, continually working to develop,
                       improve, and advance ideas.  Knows when the discussion is going
                       off topic and works to bring it in line with the purpose.