IMPORTANT: ESS Schedule Changes

Please take note: due to serious funding deficits, we have had to make some drastic changes to our ESS program. There will be no enhanced learning this school year. ESS will continue as long as the budget provides for it. At this time, these are the dates for the English ESS sessions:

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Week of September 11

9/11 Tribute In Light. NYC. Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center Tower One. Unique view at night. (From

As always, we have a lot on our agenda this week. Before I get in to our class information, I’d like to inform you that I will be asking students to join me in the observation of a moment of silence at the beginning of each class period. While there are official memorial times, our school schedule does not coincide well with those.

In this Message:

  • General School Announcements
  • Weekly Agenda
  • Vocabulary

General School Announcements

  1. This week is Spirit Week, culminating in our homecoming Pep Rally and football game. Our themes are: ‘Merica Monday, Twin Tuesday, Pajama Day Wednesday, Throwback Thursday (Decade Day), and Maroon/White Day on Friday.
  2. Student Council elections will be held this week in advisory.
  3. I will not be ZAPping students this week due to short administrative staff (but please join me in congratulating Christian Klaas on the birth of his daughter).
  4. ESS begins this week. I personally teach ESS on Wednesday mornings. This is a good time to make up or retake quizzes/tests or to get additional help with concepts (like diagramming sentences).
  5. Parents: on Mondays, I distribute your child’s folder with graded work and a copy of their most recent progress report. Any late assignments are indicated on this progress report. If a student gets ZAPped for an assignment but still does not turn it in by the end of the week, the grade remains a zero.

Weekly Agenda

In Class This Week (Pre-AP):

  • Monday – Bell ringer, overview of dialectical journals, grammar lesson (sentence types, diagramming questions)
  • Tuesday – Bell ringer, mini-lesson on absolute phrases, reading from anthology
  • Wednesday – Bell ringer, mini-lesson on appositives, reading from anthology
  • Thursday – Bell ringer, mini-lesson on gerund phrases, reading from anthology. We will have the Chromebooks – you will have a SHORT task to perform on the computer.
  • Friday – Study time for weekly vocabulary quiz. After the vocabulary quiz, students may work individually or in groups on the study guide for their novel tests.

In Class This Week (Regular) – CORRECTED 9/11

  • Monday – Bell ringer, Aristotle’s Elements Prezi, introduction to Antigone
  • Tuesday – Bell ringer, Read & discuss Antigone
  • Wednesday – Bell ringer, Read & discuss Antigone
  • Thursday – Bell ringer, Read & discuss Antigone
  • Friday – Study time for weekly vocabulary quiz. Complete Antigone


Pre-AP list:

  • Atrophy
  • Bane
  • Bashful
  • Beguile
  • Bereft
  • Blandishment
  • Bilk
  • Bombastic
  • Cajole
  • Callous

Regular English – Quizlet (

  • Drama
  • Prose
  • Acts
  • Scenes
  • Lines
  • Stage Directions
  • Aside
  • Protagonist
  • Tragedy
  • Tragic Hero


Keep Calm and Carry On

At this point, I’ve posted the first “real” grades for my English classes this year, and I’m going to ask that before you do anything else, you take a BIG HUGE BREATH. Just…

It’s easy to get upset about a less-than-stellar grade on a report card, no matter what you consider that to be. For some of you, it’s anything less than an A. For others, it’s grades of D or F.

Whichever camp you fall into, there are some things you need to keep in mind if things aren’t quite going your way:

  1. Week one grades aren’t really that accurate. When there are only a handful of grades in the gradebook, one really good grade or one really bad grade can yank the average out of control. Take a look and see what’s going on. Was it just one bad test or missing assignment, or are all of the grades equally poor? I give a LOT of grades (there are 12 columns in my paper gradebook already and we’re only on week 2). There’s usually time for a low grade to be evened out, provided the student makes some effort.
  2. Habits are more important than points at this stage. Missing and late work destroys a student’s average faster than anything else. When I grade work, I start by marking each assignment that I received with a “Turned in” flag. Missing assignments are flagged “missing” (which automatically enters the grade as a zero). When the assignment is turned in, the flag becomes “Turned in – Late”. Does your child have a lot of missing or late assignments at this early stage? If so, is there a good reason (such as absences)?
  3. Call/email early. If you have a question about a grade, please don’t wait until parent-teacher conferences to give me a call or send me an e-mail. It’s best to nip problems early before they become major issues.
  4. Ask for help. When ESS begins, students can come to my classroom on Wednesday mornings for ESS. That gives a student extra credit in the class and also gives you the benefit of one-on-one tutoring to help raise the grade. Students: don’t be afraid to ask for help studying or for a chance to retake a test or redo an assignment. The answer won’t always be yes, but don’t be afraid to ask. If you never ask, the answer is always no. 🙂

Finally, here are some quick answers to questions I’ve received about grading:

  • Summer reading test (Pre-AP only) – sorry, no retakes on this one. You were given a Quizlet with the exact test questions and answers.
  • Bell ringer quizzes – these are only worth a small number of points a week. One bad quiz won’t hurt you much (most worksheets are worth more than this). If you have a bad week, dust yourself off and study harder the next week.
  • Major Works Data Sheet – East of Eden (Pre-AP only) – some of you forgot to go back and finish this one, and therefore got a 45/60 instead of a 60/60. I will allow you to go back and do this, but it’s on you to let me know when it is finished. I will not go back and check on my own.
  • Syllabus – This is a grade and a requirement. You must turn it in. If you don’t, that will result in a consequence beyond a zero in the gradebook.
  • Extra credit – I don’t give a ridiculous amount, but I do give some extra credit here and there. There are several different ways that I offer extra credit to be fair to everyone (for example, bringing in supplies, donating books, completing extra work), and there is a cap on how much can be earned.