A vision for the course

While one obvious goal of Advanced English 11 is to prepare you as students for AP Literature and college courses, the ultimate goal is to advance you towards lives of quality and purpose. Intellectually, a life of quality involves being reasonable, adept, and thoughtful, and enables you to be vigilant citizens of your community.

Skills that will prepare you to live such a life include the ability to reason carefully (part of what I mean here is often referred to as critical thinking), to think agilely (within this is the idea of problem solving), and to reflect deeply. These skills and the knowledge base needed to sustain them are best attained through an interdisciplinary, liberal arts study, but to advance them via our course, you will evaluate how others express their thinking and precisely what thinking is expressed. In concert with that evaluation, you will attempt to express substantive ideas in clear and convincing ways. Said another way, you will examine to what extent others have expressed beautifully that which is true, and attempt yourself to express truth beautifully.

More specific objectives

  • Students will learn the history of movements in American literature and interact with their characteristics and historic influences.
  • Students will improve their writing by composing a range of essays addressing various topics, meant for differing audiences. They will learn to consider rhetorical strategy through the lens of invention, disposition, and style.
  • Students will increase the maturity of their writing and speaking voices through acquisition of literary terminology and basic vocabulary.
  • Students will become familiar with format and content of the AP Language and Composition exam.
  • Students will learn to analyze literature of various genres and forms.
  • Students will participate in meaningful dialogue with peers, contributing to the understanding of others through interaction.

Literature students will read

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Four novels of student's choosing from options offered by Mr. Sheehy
  • Various poems and short stories, primarily drawn from American literature

Writing texts

  • Cobbler Style Guide (introduces MLA style guidelines required for our class)
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (not required but I highly recommend that college bound students obtain a copy of this book, which costs less than $10)

Major Assignments

  • Literary Analysis:Each quarter students will be required to write one or two essays analyzing literature read within the quarter.
  • Research: In the spring students will write a large-scale term paper on American literature
  • AP training: in the first semester students will write a range of essays that will introduce them to the free-response section of the AP Language and Composition exam.
  • Poetry: in the spring students will create a project connected to their reading of American poetry.


Your grades for this class will be categorized, with each category constituting a particular percentage of your grade.

  • Formal Writing: 30% (Called "Writing Workshop" in Skyward)
    • This category consists of typed formal writing assignments and term papers, of which you will typically submit four or five per quarter. During the quarter you write a major research paper, the research paper will constitute most of the category.

  • Reading Analysis: 30% (Called "Reading Workshop" in Skyward)
    • Work typically making up this category: reading journal assignments, in-class reflections, tests on literary periods or books, in-class activities analyzing things we've read, work on literature terms

  • Reading accountability: 15% (Called "Daily Reading" in Skyward)
    • Examples of work for this category: reading quizzes, page checks, objective tests on books

  • Discussion and participation: 15% (Called "Participation" in Skyward)
    • This grade will be entered into Skyward as one assignment and can and will fluctuate through the quarter, depending upon your performance in class.
    • Areas I will be considering when assigning this grade: your attentiveness, your constructiveness, your participation.
      • Examples of behavior that will lead to a high grade in this category include taking notes during teacher-lessons, listening closely to classmates during discussions, asking questions and contributing comments to class discussions, and being constructive and on-task when working in a small group.

  • Vocabulary: 10% (Called "Vocabulary" in Skyward)
    • Examples of work for this category: vocab exercises, practices, quizzes, and use of words in your writing.

General Policies

Late work procedures

Any late work will receive up to 60% credit if turned in within the quarter it is assigned. At the beginning of each quarter, students will receive one late coupon; they can attach this coupon to a late assignment and receive no penalty for that particular assignment. Please realize that the coupons may not be redeemed on the research paper or speeches.

Skyward and missing assignments

Throughout the year many questions will arise regarding assignments that are listed as missing on Family/Student Access, particularly as students often insist to parents that they handed an assignment in. If a student hands an assignment in to me late, it may take some time before it gets graded and entered in to Family/Student Access. If a parent would like confirmation about whether that assignment was submitted, the student should bring me a note or printed copy of the Skyward display for me to initial when the assignment is handed in.

Typed assignments

I ask for many assignments to be typed and expect students to have a plan for accessing a computer. I encourage students to email assignments back and forth between school and home or to invest in a portable flash drive so they can work on them in both places.

Please also note that any typed assignment that is from one to three pages cannot earn an A if it has more than two grammar or spelling errors.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is defined as the passing off of someone else's work as one's own. That means that not only is copying an essay from a web site considered plagiarism, but simply copying another person's answer for an in-class assignment (when not part of the instructions) is considered plagiarism. If a student is caught plagiarizing on a daily work assignment (what is commonly referred to as "copying homework"), that assignment will receive a zero and may not be made up for credit. If a student is caught plagiarizing on a formal paper (re: typed) or assignment, that paper will receive a zero that may not be made up for credit, and I will turn the work in to an administrator. Further consequences may then apply.


If you have an excused absence, you are responsible for visiting the class’s calendar. I will have posted a description of our activities for that day on the homework calendar, and if you have specific questions about the content there, you may see me during a free moment – NOT during the first moments of a class period. If you ask me casually at the beginning of class what we did, I will likely respond by mumbling something about the website. If you are absent with an unexcused absence, you cannot receive any credit for that day. I might also add that students who are absent a lot tend to do poorly in my classes.


I expect students to be on time. Students arriving late need to enter, hand me their pass, and sit down quietly, refraining from explaining to anyone why they were late. Please see school policies for further information on tardies.

General Map of the Year:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Racialization, the American reality (8/26-9/27)
      • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (8/26-9/6)
    • Rhetoric (9/30-10/18)
    • Age of Reason (10/21-10/31)
  • Quarter 2:
    • Age of Reason (cont'd)
    • Romanticism (11/4-11/26)
      • The Scarlet Letter (12/2-12/20)
    • AP Writing Intensive (1/2-1/9)
  • Quarter 3:
    • Realism (1/21-2/28)
      • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1/21-2/14)
    • Modernism (3/3-3/28)
    • The Research paper (3/3-3/28)
  • Quarter 4:
    • Modernism cont'd
      • The Great Gatsby (3/31-4/30)
    • Poetry intensive (5/1-5/19)

Previous years...

Quarter 2 dates to remember

Reading journal collection (6 new entries for each collection):
  • R, 11/1; W, 11/2
  • R, 11/28; W, 11/29
  • R, 12/20; W, 12/21

Page checks (200 pages each time) (dates given are red days)
  • R, 10/30; W, 10/31
  • R, 11/13; W, 11/14
  • R, 11/26; W, 11/27 (for this date only 100 pages will be required as we'll be starting Huck Finn)

  • Independent novels wrapped up: 11/26 (this is a squishy date--it's when we'll begin Huck Finn)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: R, 12/18; W, 12/19

Presentation on theme

Vocabulary tests
  • Unit 1: R, 11/9; W, 11/12
  • Unit 2: R, 11/30; W, 12/3
  • Unit 3: R, 12/14; W, 12/17

Quarter 1 dates to remember

Writing Workshop
  • Article 1: R, 9/5; W, 9/6
  • Article 2: R, 9/17; W: 9/18
  • Article 3: R, 9/27; W: 9/28
  • Article 4: R, 10/10; W: 10/11
  • Article 5: R, 10/22; W: 10/23

  • Slavery account (Douglass or Jacobs): R, 9/7; W: 9/10
  • Segregation account (from given options): R, 10/12; W: 10/15

Presentation on theme (assigned individually): Beginning R, 9/5; W, 9/6

Reading journal collection:
  • R, 9/13; W: 9/14
  • R, 9/25; W: 9/26
  • R, 10/12; W: 10/15