English II HonorsCourse Expectations2014-2015
Mrs. Melissa Wilcox
*Email: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
Google Docs: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
School phone: 816.942.3282, ext. 1159
(*best way to reach me)

"A novel is not an allegory...It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing." Azar Afisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

Course Philosophy/Description
The main goals of this class are intertwined: you will learn to think more critically about the texts you read in this class; you will learn to develop your writing skills; and you will learn to voice your ideas about American literature in a more articulate and precise manner. This is a rigorous honors-level course (pre-AP); therefore, the requirements will be demanding. The reading, albeit rewarding, is also very complex, challenging, and frequent. The writing, for the most part, is analytical and will require critical and independent thinking. Discussion will be a large part of the class; your intelligent interpretations will help you and your peers move from literal levels to more interpretative levels. It will be incumbent upon you to take charge of your learning, read actively and closely, and come to class ready to discuss your insights and revelations.


  • Students will read challenging works of recognized literary merit from the canon of American literature;
  • Students will read both traditional and contemporary works in multiple genres (novels, short stories, plays, poems, and essays);
  • Students will read actively: critically, closely, and carefully;
  • Students will articulate responses during small as well as large group discussion.
  • Students will write in a variety of forms, for a variety of purposes;
  • Students will write intelligent and insightful responses and analyses of literature in both impromptu and prepared essays;
  • Students will strengthen vocabulary through reading and formal vocabulary study.

Summer Reading: The Maid's Version, The Gangster We Are All Looking For, and The Glass Castle.
Writing & Grammar: Crafting Expository Argument, 5th ed.
Vocabulary: The Scarlet Letter: Kaplan Edition.

Literature: The Things They Carried; The Crucible; Grapes of Wrath; The Glass Menagerie; Their Eyes Were Watching God; The Great Gatsby; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; and various short stories, essays, poems made available on my website in PDF format throughout the year.

Types of Activities/Assessments
  • Reader Response—dialectic journal, reading log, questions, What Does Your Character Want?
  • Writing Portfolio
  • Poetry response/discussion
  • Alternative assessment and research
  • In-class timed writings & practice pre-AP questions
  • Creative writing and a research paper
  • Participation—group work, discussion, Socratic Seminar, etc.
  • Tests and quizzes (literature, vocabulary, literary terms)
  • Reading—every night

Supplies Needed
  • 1” binder (optional)
  • Composition notebook
  • College-rule loose leaf paper
  • Blue/black pens
  • Post-it notes
  • Flash drive

Guidelines & Procedures

Classroom Expectations

In order for you to attain the most from your classroom experience, the following rules, based on general courtesy, will be enforced:

  • Respect the teacher, your classmates, the administration, and yourself;
  • Be on time and in your assigned seat by the time the bell rings;
  • Bring all necessary materials to class;
  • Proper manners, language and behavior are not only expected but required;
  • Technology devices will be allowed on an as-needed basis at my discretion (if I haven’t given permission, it’s best not to have it out).
  • Adhere to the uniform guidelines in and out of class during school hours;
  • With the exception of clear water bottles, please leave all other food and drink in your locker or cafeteria.


· Assignments are due at the beginning of the hour, no exceptions.
· One "Oops" pass may be used if you don’t turn in an assignment the day it’s due. Listen carefully for specific details. If you turn all your work in on time and still have your "oops" pass at the end of the semester, you may turn it in for extra credit.
· Take responsibility for your learning. If an assignment is typed, please back up your files to a flash drive. Print hard copies of each typed assignment before you come to class. Learn how to create PDF files. Email and formatting problems are no excuse for not handing in an assignment on time (see information below). We will be using Google docs throughout the year so make sure you have a Gmail account. Occasionally, I will accept major assignments via Gmail/Google Docs: mwilcox@ndsion.edu
· Format: Papers must have MLA formatting. Soon, you'll be submitting major papers to Turnitin.com but more information will be forthcoming. Mose major papers will be submitted via Google docs as well as turning in paper copies. Assignments completed in class must be written in blue/black ink. Make sure to include first and last name, the date, hour, and subject of assignment on all your work.


Attendance is essential for your success in this class. While students will be afforded the opportunity to make up missed assignments for excused absences, interaction during discussion is invaluable and difficult to replicate. If you have a field trip, retreat, etc., please see me in advance to arrange make up times for quizzes, tests and assignments. If you have more than three absences in a quarter, extra work may be implemented at my discretion. Think carefully before scheduling doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, etc.
Once class has started, unless there is an absolute emergency, you may not be excused from class. Use your five-minute passing period wisely.

Absences and Make-up Assignments

· Please, please check the website before you ask me if you missed “anything” in class. If you are ill, and I haven’t posted an assignment, feel free to email me.
· If absence is excused, students will have two days for every day absent.
· Unexcused absences will result in an automatic zero.
· After your “oops” pass has run out, the following policies will be implemented:
Major assignments unrelated to absences will be lowered 10% for each day it is late.
Late work will not be accepted on daily homework.
If you have a serious problem with an assignment’s due date, you must see me before the due date so we might collectively formulate an alternative.


“Plagiarism refers to a form of cheating that has been defined as ‘the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own. To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is to plagiarize. Plagiarism, then, constitutes intellectual theft.” (MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th edition, page 30).

Plagiarism not only cheats the author from whom you stole, but it cheats you out of an educational opportunity to grow and learn. Anything deemed as common knowledge does not need to be cited. If you are unsure whether or not to cite a source after quotations, paraphrasing, or summarizing, please clarify with the instructor. If you do plagiarize, accidentally or maliciously, you will receive a zero for that assignment without the possibility of revising.

Unless I mention otherwise, it is understood all required assignments, those both inside and outside of class, will be completed by you independently.

Other forms of cheating will also result in a zero. Parents, counselor, Division Head (Mrs. McDonough), Dean of Students and Academic Dean will be notified.

· Grades will follow Sion’s grading scale
· Quarter grades are based on total points (homework is not weighted less than papers and quizzes)
· Semester grade= Q1 (40%) + Q2 (40%) + semester exam (20%)
· Rubrics will accompany most, if not all, writing assignments

No opportunities for enrichment will be extended until all required assignments are completed and turned in, even those that will not earn credit because of excessive lateness.

Mentoring/Conference Sessions
Office Hours: Before or after school (please let me know ahead of time) or I'm available during 3rd hour and 7th hours (room #206).
If you need help with your literary analyses, essays, or other writing assignments, I will be glad to offer help during study hall, before or after school. Please schedule an appointment with me. This any papers can only be revised if you see me to discuss problems/solutions. Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely said, “Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories.”
While we all have high expectations for ourselves, it’s healthy and normal to make mistakes and learn as a result of them.