10th Grade English II


Cody Shilling | cshilling@chinquapin.org

Class Syllabus:

The main goal of this class is to challenge you to improve your reading skills and writing abilities. You will walk out of this class prepared for the upcoming AP classes and college English classes.

Reading and writing (or “doing English”) are skills that must be practiced, honed, and trained the same as tennis or soccer or that other really popular sport with an oval ball you carry around that has a misleading name. Some people find reading easy and enjoyable on its own. Some people feel the same about writing. For them, those specific parts of English classes come more easily; but just because it isn’t natural for you or you think that you aren’t a “reader” or a “writer”, that doesn’t mean you get to avoid it. There are not “readers” and “non-readers”. There are people more practiced at reading and people less practiced. This class will be about the practice it takes to become good and “get English”, the same as you have to do for a sport or any other skill.

We have three purposes for this year:
  1. Reading for meaning and purpose. We will study reading for content as well as analyzing why an author would even write something in the first place.
  2. Reading for method and techniques – the “how” writers write to try and win at English.
  3. Practicing at the sport of English ourselves. You will be writing in different styles with different purposes, reading different genres for different purposes all to improve your English skills.

We will read a variety of different books and short stories and essays from multiple different genres (bland opening sentence). So far our units are (which may/will change as the year goes on):
Quarter 1
Methods and Meanings
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • Various short stories and poetry
Quarter 2
How Do They Do It?
  • Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Quarter 3
Rhetoric and Persuasion
  • Works by Langston Hughes, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others
  • Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
Quarter 4
I Need to do Research?
  • A book on Latin America?
  • Reading related to your research paper

The primary focus of writing in this class will be “academic writing”. This is not the “best” kind of writing or the easiest, but improving your ability to express yourself in a way that is not natural will raise our English Skill hugely.

You will revise. Period. We will sometimes revise small writing assignments done in class. You will certainly revise major papers multiple times. We do this because revising and returning to your work later makes it better. Period. No matter how much you claim “Cody, my first draft is perfect!”, it isn’t.
For specific topics in writing, we will be using both guides made by me and by Tim. In general, each paper/unit/draft we do will focus on one particular skill, building up such that by the end of the year, I will expect you to be practiced at all.

You will discuss and think and engage with each other and me other the course of the year. Some people are more comfortable speaking up, while others prefer to slide into the background. I will not expect everyone to contribute in the same ways all the time, but expressing your ideas verbally – especially with your peers – helps flush your ideas out immensely.

Expect to be required to speak up in discussions, more formal seminars we hold, and any time during class. This means you must be prepared and read and think about the readings. You all are sophomores in high school; my expectations are going to match.

My key word is “respect. Everyone in here (myself included) will treat everyone with respect: their classmates, their teacher (Ese soy!), themselves, and their property (personal and school). You all are 15-16. I don’t need to spell out what this looks like in specifics. If we have an issue, it will be dealt with.

This includes plagiarism. Plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work as your own. It is lying. It is dishonest. It is disrespectful, and as such it will not be tolerated. Working with others in studying for vocab or preparing for a discussion or editing each other’s essays or what have you are not just acceptable but are commendable. Writing each other’s essays or getting them online are not.

I expect everyone to be ready in class by the time the bell rings. This means turning stuff in, getting situated, having read and thought about the reading before the passing period. Again, this is an issue of respect. If you show up unprepared, you will be doing a disservice to your classmates, showing me you don’t respect my efforts, and disrespecting yourselves. Let’s not have that be an issue :-).

Homework and assignments will be posted on the homework calendar and the Google Classroom page.

Grades in my class will be based on a point system (point amounts may change depending on the specific assignment):
  • Each daily writing/homework assignment or participation grade will be out of 5 pts.
  • Each weekly writing assignment/vocab quiz will be out of 10 pts.
  • Each major writing assignment (such as research projects or original work with multiple revisions and days devoted to it) and test will be out of 25 pts.
Some work I will be grading on effort. Some I will be grading on skill. I will always let you know ahead of time how I will be grading an assignment. If I forget to, remind me. Ask me.

Timeline for Returning Graded Work:
Daily writing, homework
3 days
Weekly writing, vocab quizzes
1 week
Major writing, projects, tests
2 week
If, for some reason, you do need to turn something in late, there is a penalty to keep it from becoming a habit. Every day late is 20% off. After one school week, it will be a zero. I do not accept missing work at the end of the semester.

Tim Holm

Course Overview

This year, our course focused on the human experience as expressed across time and place. Students were exposed to a variety of texts written by natives of four continents over a span of nearly three thousand years. Effort was made to roughly follow the timeline and subject matter of the 10th Grade World History course. Special emphasis is put on independent reading. Students may read anything they choose, and are given a class day every week or two in class to enjoy that, as well as being urged to do so daily. Students are required to choose at least one title from works appearing on past AP Literature exams, and at least one non-fiction title, in an effort to develop them as readers, even as they choose which specific books they read. In addition, they must read a biography for a research paper for both English and World History (see below).

The class included an intensive focus on writing, and in particular academic, critical analysis. Our discussion of writing included frequent writing assignments, drafts, and writing drills. Though the traditional essay was the emphasis, other forms of verbal expression were explored, including freewriting, fictional prose, personal essays, poetry, and dramatic performance. Some of these assignments are guided by the idea of imitation of a classic work (such as developing a "Uscholia" in the mode of Utopia). In the fourth quarter, students write a research paper in conjunction with World History.

In partnership with both reading and writing, the class includes a third major emphasis on developing vocabulary. Students are tested over vocabulary as they encounter it in their readings. Vocabulary is significantly reduced – but not eliminated – in the spring, when sophomores are taking the vocabulary-intensive SAT Prep course.

Primary Texts:

Fall Semester
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (summer reading; Broadway, 1998)
  • The Book of Genesis (ESV - used with permission)
  • The Good Earth by Pearl Buck (Simon & Schuster, 2005)
  • Utopia by Sir Thomas More (Penguin classics, tr. Paul Turner)

Spring Semester
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Folger's)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner/Simon & Schuster, 2003)
  • The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Shorter 5th edition)
    • Readings from Shakespeare and Donne through the Romantics, Modernists, and contemporary poets
  • A book-length biography of a major historical figure (selected by student)


I do not weight grades by category, but instead assign homework, papers, and tests a certain number of possible points that denotes their relative weight. For example, vocabulary tests and essays are out of 20 points, reading quizzes (usually offered once or twice a week) are out of 5-10 points, and simple homework assignments 2-5 points. The advantage of such a system is that a student may affect his or her grade with every assignment – for better and worse – thus emphasizing the worth of every assignment.