course description and expectations
Mrs. Shalkoski and Mr. Padula (pd. 2)
This year will be starting out quite differently for me, as I am not officially returning to work until September 25th. In the time I have left on my maternity leave, I will be spending every moment I can with my 3 month old baby, Evan. That's him in the picture above on vacation on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina:
I hope that you enjoyed your summer and found some time to relax with family and friends. I also hope that you are back with enthusiasm ready to start a brand new school year. I say this at the beginning of every year, but the new school year is a GREAT time to set new goals, not only in the classroom, but with yourself outside of school. I hope that you will take some time to reflect on what you hope to achieve in this class and allow us to work together to meet these goals.
This class is meant to be student-centered and you will get out of it what you choose to put in. Everyday we will work on activities to best meet your learning needs. I encourage open communication at all times in regards to these needs. This means taking the time to conference, give feedback, receive feedback, and having a willingness to make changes as necessary.
Which takes me to the next most important part of any class.
Respect. In this class, we have a lot of open discussions, in small groups and in large groups. English classes have a way of leading to topics that can be sensitive to some of your classmates and we ALL (myself included) need to recognize this in our discussions. There is a need for everyone in this room to respect all viewpoints of each individual person in this room, students and adults.
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” - Henry David Thoreau
So, what are we going to be learning this year?
American Literature is my favorite class to teach :) Throughout this course, you will study several great American authors and focus on the theme of identity. We will study this theme looking at identity in community, gender, class, race, and nature. Each piece that we read will connect in some way to one of these types of identity. Each piece of literature we read comes from a different time period in American history, so we will also be studying the beliefs of each time period including: Colonialism, Realism, Gothicism, Transcendentalism, and Modernism.
Aside from literature, we will focus on your writing. Our goals for junior year are to write analytical pieces, a poetry analysis, compare/contrast, and argumentative essays. You will also learn the steps necessary in creating a research paper including: analytical assertions (thesis statements), finding primary and secondary support evidence, creating an outline, and drafting an analytical research essay. As a department, we have been working hard to include new types of writing and assignments that we hope you will find enjoyable and relatable.
We study content vocabulary with each new unit. This can be found in your American Literature textbook.
By the end of this course, I am hopeful that you will have learned new skills, as well as developed further previous skills which may include critical thinking and analysis, research writing, creating assertions, making connections to current events and the literature you are reading, building strong arguments and providing support for those arguments, and comprehending literature from various time periods in America.
Each of our units works towards Burlingon High School’s 21st Century Learning Expectations:
*It is important that you review the rules of the BHS handbook, as these do apply to all classrooms.
I just want to reiterate the idea of respect. See above for details.
You need to have a device to access work posted online. You are welcome to use your iPad, your own personal laptop, or your phone for schoolwork purposes only in this classroom. If any of these lead to distraction issues, we will discuss it at that time.
I post all assignments on Google Classroom, so you will need to download this app if you do not already have it.
Period 1 Class Code: yrszhgo
Period 2 Class Code: 8k1biho
You will also need to post your writing assignments on turnitin.com, so you will need an account set up for this class. Password is case sensitive. Make sure if you are creating a new account, that you use a personal e-mail address, not your school e-mail.
Period 1 Class ID:16113022 Password: room300
Period 2 Class ID: 16113063 Password: room300
*Make sure you are using the correct class ID!
I am going to ask that you use Notability to create a portfolio.. We will cover this more in the grading section.
*If you prefer printed copies of anything, you are responsible for printing it on your own. You are welcome to turn in paper assignments that are done neatly. This means you might need a folder/binder to act as a portfolio for this class.
You are required to have all materials with you, including the text that we are currently working with, each day in class.
Attendance is REALLY important in your education. If you are not in class, then you will fall behind, and then your make up work will pile on top of your current work and it becomes a problem. Your attendance can severely impact your grade and, as a reminder, you need to pass 4 years of English in order to graduate. So, come to class. On time.
Here is a poem I like regarding attendance (it’s funny):
Did I Miss Anything?Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours
Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent
Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.
Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered
but it was one place
And you weren’t here
However, if you are absent due to illness or any other excused absence, you can (and should) make up your work. You are required to turn in any missing work upon return. I do keep Aspen updated regularly and I will put a 0 in the assignment column in order to remind you that you need to see me to make it up. This 0 will be accompanied with a comment stating the very last day that the assignment can be made up. That 0 will not stay, we will discuss this more in the grading section.
Contacting me and other technology pieces:
I have a website and I have an Instagram account that I attempted to start using last year and made it through October-ish. I am hopeful to get that back up and running this year. I have e-mail. If you are looking to communicate with me, use my e-mail. My website has information about me, and basically this letter so you can refer to it at any time. See above for address. I WILL NOT POST YOUR HOMEWORK HERE - you can find that on Google Classroom.
Not tolerated. The department has this policy in place: https://bhsenglish.com/plagiarism-and-turnitin/ We will discuss in detail exactly what is considered plagiarism and why you should avoid it.
I’m not someone who believes you need to have homework every night. I do understand your schedules and am not here to bury you with “busy work.” You will need to read outside of class. You will know in advance of any reading assignments due and should plan your schedule accordingly. You are required to complete all assignments prior to coming to class and copied assignments will not be accepted. All homework assignments are independent, individual work unless otherwise noted. The only time you will receive a 0 for a homework grade is if you copy someone else’s work and hand it in as your own. Both parties will then receive a 0.
Late homework will be accepted up to one week late for partial credit.
I just want to start by saying that your experience in this classroom should not be defined by the grade on your report card. Our goal is understand that learning is a process, and my ultimate goal is for you to have left this class at the end of the year feeling confident in the skills you have learned. I encourage open communication regarding your grades - face-to-face communication, as I will not answer questions regarding your grade via e-mail. You will also have opportunities to continue developing assignments and discuss alternate assignments, as necessary.
My goal is to be able to conference face-to-face as often as possible. You will be required to keep an open journal on Notability. This will be used for reflection of skills and assignments each week. We will meet to discuss your journal and your grade will be decided by both of us at that time. This is new this year, and may be adjusted as needed throughout the course of the year.
Report cards are given quarterly. To best understand the grade you will receive in this class, keep track on Aspen. Grades are updated in Aspen, per the BHS handbook. In addition to the scores on Aspen, please keep an eye on the comments, as I will often provide feedback and make up information here.
Grading per Aspen:
This includes daily assignments given in class and homework assignments that should be completed before coming to class.
All assignments must be done on time and show a clear effort in order to receive full credit
Some assignments may be turned in late (no later than one week) and show a clear effort to receive partial credit
Some assignments MAY NOT be turned in late - I will let you know
25% Formative Assessments
Assessments given during a unit including, quizzes, drafts or papers, and revisions
These can be made up/re-submitted/or taken in an alternate format for up to a week after the original grade is given.
These types of assessments are intended to show progress and can be taken more than once.
You will need to meet with me before resubmitting an assignment
30% Summative Assessments
Assignments in this category include tests, major independently done projects, final drafts of essays.
These assessments cannot be re-taken and writing should be considered your final draft
Any assignment that is done collaboratively can fall under this category including discussion boards, Socratic seminars, and group presentations.
Each week, you will spend time reflecting on your work and your accomplishments. You will write this reflection in a journal using Notability. Your grade for this is determined together, with me, before the end of the quarter.
Most grades will be given by letter A, B, C, or D.
Rubrics will be given to give you a better understanding of how you are graded.
If any of your work falls below a D, you should meet with me to discuss make-up possibilities.
I know this is a lot of information. You can access this at any time in Classroom or on my website.
Please ask any questions as you have them!
See you all in a few weeks! :)
- Mrs. Shalkoski