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       Literature and the American Character

 English 11

This semester we will be exploring what our rich literary history tells us about our growth and character as a nation. We will examine the different ideas that have shaped the American Experience, and underlie the American Dream. We will be studying American thought as expressed in short stories, poetry, novels, historical documents and essays as a means of developing reading, writing, and speaking skills. There will be an emphasis on rhetoric, composition, and reading critically.

This course will focus on writing, reading, and critical thinking skills that are necessary for successful completion of a four-year high school program. It includes reading, discussion, and analysis of texts. Students will learn and demonstrate their ability to summarize, explain, analyze, synthesize, and organize information logically, and to propose and defend original ideas in writing assignments totaling 2,500 words, including four essays.

 You will:

Learn to analyze non-fiction using the lenses of author’s voice, audience, message, and purpose

2.    Learn to read, reread, highlight and annotate, and understand the importance of these skills

3.    Identify and understand logical fallacies and how they work

4.    Learn summarizing and paraphrasing skills, and know when each is appropriate to use

5.    Research, analyze, and evaluate material from multiple sources for credibility, relevancy, and accuracy, and learn to document sources.

6.    Write four essays (3 essays will be worth 200 points each, and the Junior Research Paper will be worth 300 points):

a.    A persuasive essay on an historical speech

b.    Two Literary Analysis essays. One on Raisin in the Sun, and another one on Life of Pi

c.    A persuasive essay on the American Dream

Course Literature

 Essays, stories, poems, and other documents from American literature

  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

 I will provide copies of all stories, non-fiction writing, and speeches that you are required to read. Additionally, I will provide copies of The Crucible, and Raisin in the Sun. Students may find it preferable to obtain their own private copies of Life of Pi and of The Things They Carried in order to highlight and annotate those copies, but the department can loan copies of those books to students who prefer to take notes in separate notebooks.

Course Outline

 The American Ideal

·    Understanding the origins of the American culture.


American Philosophical and Literary Movements

·    Puritanism - The Crucible

·    The Age of Reason

·    Romanticism

·    Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism

·    Realism and Naturalism

·         Modernism


The Dream Deferred

·    Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

The Modern Era


·         Life of Pi – Yann Martel

·         The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien



Grading Policy

·         Cheating and/or plagiarism will result in no credit for the assignment, and referral to the office. Please read the English Department Academic Integrity Policy.

·         Course credit will only be issued at the end of the course with one Final Grade to go on the student’s transcript.


English 11 is a required class for graduating from Del Oro and for college admissions. Students who do not earn at least 60% require some form of credit recovery, which could involve repeating the class. Additionally, most colleges do not accept required classes as completed if students do not earn at least 70% overall. 


While doing the work is a necessary part of the process, student grades reflect their current skills in reading, writing, editing, listening and speaking, as measured by Essential Skills Assignments




A+ = 98% - 100%

A = 93% - 97.9%

A- = 90% - 92.9%



B+ = 88% - 89.9%

B = 83% - 87.9%

B- = 80% - 82.9%



C+ = 78% - 79.9%

C = 73% - 77.9%

C- = 70% - 72.9%



D+ = 68% - 69.9%

D = 63% - 67.9%

D- = 60% - 62.9%

Not Done Yet / 

Credit Recovery Needed


F = below 60%


Grading is divided into two categories: Essential Skills Assignments (ESAs), and Skill Building Assignments (SBAs). ESAs include essays and tests. All other assignments – quizzes, worksheets, discussions, etc. – will fall into the SBA category.

ESAs will be weighted at 80% of the grade.

SBAs will be weighted at 20% of the grade.


Opportunities for Improving Grades


There are several ways for students to bring up grades.

·         Enrichment/Intervention period is open to students Tuesday – Friday for help from student mentors and/or an English teacher.

·         An English teacher is available after school in the Library on Fridays

·         Revision of essays

·         Seeking help from me


Academic Intervention


The purpose of academic intervention is to support students in reading, writing, listening and speaking. In intervention, the student’s job is to work hard to get out of intervention. Students who do not contribute to a focused working environment during academic intervention block may be referred to administration. 


At any point during the term, students may be assigned into an English 11 academic intervention block:

·         if their overall grade falls below a C- (70%)

·         if a major ESA assignment is missing or earning less than a C- (70%)


In general, students who demonstrate improvement in their reading and writing (as measured by ESA remediation, retakes and rewrites) and bring all ESA and overall course grades up to at least a C- (70%) may exit English intervention.


Revision of essays

     Students may revise their essays for higher grades by following these steps:

1.    Review my feedback

2.    Produce evidence of completed SBAs that build toward the essay

3.    Revise the essay and turn in a hard copy with all revisions highlighted by the given deadline.


Office Hours

          I will usually be available before and after school on a drop-in basis. However, if meeting with me is important, I suggest you make an appointment so you will be sure to have as much time with me as you need.



          Mutual respect between all scholars is essential to foster academic freedom. Students are expected to come to class prepared. This particularly applies to reading assignments which will be discussed in class. A productive discussion is possible only when all participates have read the material, and are prepared to listen to and contribute to class discussions.


All Del Oro student policies will apply in the classroom at all times, including the policy prohibiting the use of cell phones for any reason during class.


Classroom Policies



You may be tardy three times during the course of the semester. With the fourth tardy, you will be referred to the office.  



One student at a time may leave the room with a bathroom pass. Please don’t disturb other students. Wait for an appropriate time to go. Do not go during lectures or class discussions.


Cell Phones

All cell phones will be deposited in a provided Cell Phone Pocket Organizer before the beginning of class, and may be retrieved only at the bell, or with teacher permission. Students who violate the cell phone policy will have their phones turned into the office where a parent will have to come in to pick up after school.

Click here for online Parent/Student Verification Form  Respond by Friday, August 23, please.