Current Unit: Narrative Writing and Self-Select Reading
This letter is to give you some information about some things that will be going on in English class this year.
There is a great deal of information available regarding the decline of reading in our culture. As teachers we notice it every day as a larger and larger percentage of our students do not read for enjoyment, and often don’t read what is assigned to them.
There are certainly several factors responsible for this sad reality. One contributor, surely, is the world of social media which makes entertainment immediately available (think Youtube and Instagram, for example). Hardly any time is needed to watch a quick video, and entire movies are available on the phones we carry in our pockets. Technology, while it brings many benefits, has contributed negative things to our lives as well. However, we cannot turn back the tide of media and its presence.
So what can we do? One of the main goals of the English Department at SHS is to challenge, encourage, and lead our students not only toward stronger reading skills, but also toward a desire to read. To that end, we will be trying something new this year.
Based on the research and work of Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle, two highly esteemed educators (you can look them up- they’re amazing!), we are implementing the practice of giving our students some independence in their selection of readings. Our hope is that if they can choose topics they enjoy for their reading assignments, they may actually read more. There are three categories of reading assignments that we will be using this year.
Self Select- At times during the year, students may select a book of their choosing. During this kind of assignment, students will journal about their reading and participate in discussions about it. Assessment and evaluation (and grades) will come from these writings and discussions.
Book Club- At other times, students will have a selection of books to choose from. All students will choose from the list of books. Students who choose to read the same book will have “book club” discussions and writing assignments. The lists will include books that we have available at the school, but we will also include titles that students may purchase, check out from public libraries, or borrow from someone who owns them. This kind of assignment still provides some independence in student selection, but is a bit more directed. Some teachers may choose themes or topics for book club lists such as biography/memoir, fiction, social issues, etc.
Corporate Reading- There will still be times when the teacher assigns something that everyone will read together. This will look different from class to class, but there are still benefits to be found in a corporate reading experience.
We are excited to get started on this year’s journey. We encourage you to ask your students what they are reading and engage them to have conversations about their reading. Perhaps you have a book to recommend to your student, one you’ve loved or found interesting. Or maybe you’d like to ask your student for a recommendation. Our hope is that by the end of this year, our students who already love to read will love it even more, and that our reluctant readers will discover the power that reading can have in their lives.
Incoming Freshman Summer Reading 2018 - 2019 School Year
This summer the incoming freshman Honors English I students will be expected to read one of the books from the list below. I have included notes about the books to help you decide which book will best suit you. If a student has read one of the books on the list prior to this summer, he/she should choose a book that he/she has never read before. As students read, they should make annotations over the plot, characters, setting, figurative language, point-of-view and any other important details in the text. Students can take notes directly in their book or they may be handwritten in a journal. Students will be allowed to use these notes on a timed writing over the summer reading during the first week of school.
In addition to reading one of the assigned books, Honors English I students should read the following articles on the hero's journey and annotate them. I have included links to the articles below. Click on the link and it will take you to the article. We will use the information in these articles to help us discuss and study the hero's journey during our first unit.
English I students may choose to read one of the books from the honors list this summer as well. If students finish reading the entire book, they can attend a scheduled after-school discussion wherein they can receive a free 100 as a test grade.
Honors English I Summer Assignment Book List (Choose 1)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead." - Goodreads
Neverwhere by Niel Gaiman
"Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere." - Goodreads
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
"Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it.
It was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the king into marrying her, to get an heir that would rule Damar; and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son.
Aerin was that daughter.
But there was more of the story yet to be told; Aerin's destiny was greater than even she had dreamed--for she was to be the true hero who would wield the power of the Blue Sword..." - Goodreads