American Lit II

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Course Description

In American Lit II, you will read and analyze modern American classics while continuing to develop your writing ability and facility with the English language. By requiring you to flex both creative and scholarly muscles, the ultimate goal of this course is to give you the broad range of language arts skills that will serve you in whatever career path you choose.

Essential questions to be explored include big ideas about the American Dream and social justice, as well as personal, introspective questions inspired by the journeys of central characters. Here are a few examples: In what ways is American society preoccupied with wealth, materialism, and excess, both in the 1920s and today? How does The Great Gatsby use images and symbols to develop its central themes? How can we tell if relationships are beneficial or detrimental to us? What experiences in our past account for our actions today (and in the future)? How is social justice connected to food? How are teenagers and children specifically affected by the culture of fast food in America?


GCAA School Wide Standards

  • As a school we have established a set of basic expectations that all of us are held accountable to. You are expected to follow these rules everyday. The GCAA School Wide Standards are:
  1. Report to class on time and attend all classes regularly.
  2. Accept responsibility for your learning:
    • Complete homework assignments.
    • Bring required materials to class each day.
    • Be attentive in class and listen, speak and discuss when appropriate.
    • Be open to acquiring and using new knowledge. Connect what you learn in one place to that which you learn in another.
  3. Respect the teacher’s position as leader in the classroom:
    • Follow the teacher’s direction.
    • Adhere to individual classroom guidelines.
    • Be positive about learning.
    • Build strong relationships with teachers and other students.
  4. Respect the authority of any adult in the building:
    • Comply with the directions and requests of any adult in the building, whether or not you know them.
    • Learn to value the dignity and worth of all individuals in the school community.
  5. Be considerate to and respectful of others:
    • Refrain from teasing, interrupting, or criticizing others.
    • Refrain from using vulgar or obscene language.
    • Refrain from acting out anger and frustration through fighting or other inappropriate behaviors. \
  6. Be considerate to and respectful of others CONTINUED:
    • Keep all food and drinks in the cafeteria except when authorized by a teacher and take responsibility for any wrappers, etc. of food eaten between classes.
  7. Cooperate with the specific rules of the school:
    • Dress in appropriate attire which does not distract or offend others (see Dress Code section of handbook).
    • Refrain from running in the halls, speaking loudly and banging lockers while classes are in progress.
    • Assume responsibility and accept consequences for your own behavior.
  1. Ask for help when you need it.
    • Your teachers, counselors, and administrators are here to help you; your activity sponsors and older students are resources.
  2. Respect the rights of others, especially to learn, by not creating excessive disruption in the halls, library, cafeteria and other common areas.
    • Obey the laws of society, including prohibitions against assault, theft, vandalism, possession of illegal substances and possession of weapons.

To honor and integrate the GCAA School Wide Standards into our classroom, we will adhere to the following rules in English III:

Listen the first time.
Follow classroom procedures.
Ask for help when you need it.
Express yourself in appropriate ways.
Come on time; come prepared.

 Course Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • apply conventions of standard English in writing and in discussion.
  • develop written and verbal arguments about texts integrating details from the text.
  • make connections between texts and yourselves, the world (past and present), and other texts in writing and in discussion.
  • analyze how characters, themes, and motifs are developed throughout texts.
  • recall the plot of various texts.
  • notice stylistic choices made by various authors and analyze their effects.

Instructional Materials
The following materials and supplies will be needed daily:

  • Copy of the text we are currently reading
  • Three ring binder provided by the student for looseleaf paper and handouts
  • Pens and pencils

Scope and Sequence:
The semester will be divided into three units. They are as follows:

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Unit I: Their Eyes Were Watching God, a novel by Zora Neale Hurston

Essential Questions: How does conflict between security and freedom to make one’s own choices influence a person’s experience in life? How can we tell if relationships are beneficial or detrimental to us? What experiences in our past account for our actions today (and in the future?) How do you draw upon material in a text to write an essay?

At the end of this unit, you will be able to: recall the story of Their Eyes Were Watching God, identify and evaluate the different relationships that Janie has in her life, respond correctly to “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” questions for each chapter, perform a close reading analysis of a passage and generate a thesis, write a thesis driven essay that traces the development of a symbol throughout the story

Your end-of-unit project will be a thesis-driven essay that trace the development of a symbol throughout the story.

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Unit 2: The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Essential Questions: What was life like in the 1920s/Jazz age? How does The Great Gatsby reflect this society? How does American society today compare to American society in the 20s? In what ways is our society preoccupied with wealth, materialism, and excess? What argument does The Great Gatsby make about materialism and excess wealth? About the American dream? What questions and considerations go into annotating a text? What is the difference between a reliable and an unreliable narrator? How do readers determine whether a narrator is reliable? How does The Great Gatsby use images and symbols to develop its central themes? How are marriage and romantic relationships depicted in The Great Gatsby? How does the character Gatsby and his dreams reflect our current society? Who are the Gatsbys of contemporary American society?

At the end of this unit, you will be able to: annotate texts for various themes, paying attention to specific details to make connections across a text and between the text and the world, participate effectively in small group and whole class discussions of a text, drawing on specific quotes to illustrate their ideas, use context to determine the meaning of unknown words, recall the meaning of new words introduced in The Great Gatsby and use them in writing, recall what life was like in the 1920s and make connections to contemporary American society, write organized, well supported, carefully planned arguments about The Great Gatsby, apply what you know about creative writing to rewrite the ending to The Great Gatsby from another character’s point of view, read, annotate, and analyze excerpts from non-fiction books and make connections to The Great Gatsby, recall the plot of The Great Gatsby and answer questions analyzing why the author makes certain choices

Your end-of-unit project will be to prepare and participate in a summative, formal Socratic seminar comparing and contrasting the themes in The Great Gatsby with the same themes in Their Eyes Were Watching God, articulating how each of these texts uses themes, symbols, and motifs to communicate the quests that Gatsby and Janie are on.

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Unit 3: Fast Food Nation, a nonfiction book by investigate journalist Eric Schlosser

Essential Questions: What makes a food healthy or not? How is social justice connected to food? To what extent does our government encourage health or disease? To what extent does our public educational system encourage health or disease? How are teenagers and children specifically affected by the culture of fast food in America? What political action needs to be taken to improve young Americans’ health? How do you educate children about making healthy food choices in an engaging, creative way?

At the end of this unit, you will be able to: articulate the effect that processed foods have on our bodies, argue specific ways that the federal government colludes with corporate food giants to encourage a culture of fast food, recall the history of how America developed its fast food culture, analyze how fast food companies market to children and argue why this is unethical, analyze the ways in which working conditions for fast food workers is unethical, analyze the ways in which America’s fast food culture disproportionately affects teenagers and children in negative ways, identify and create solutions for changing America’s fast food culture, both individual and political, define “healthy food,” recall information about Upton Sinclair and The Jungle, develop teaching strategies for making food education “palatable” to young audiences

Your end-of-unit project will be to educate children (ideally, GCAA middle schoolers) about the connection between food and social justice in a 7-minute lesson with a visual aid of your choice and at least one food item.

Grading and Evaluation:

The following is a breakdown of semester one grading according to GCAA policy:

Homework: 10%
Classroom Assignments & Formative Assessments: 30%
Summative Assessment: 60%

Absence Policy

Your attendance in this class is crucial to your learning. If you miss class due to an excused absence, please check in with me during the next class period about what you missed. The work that you missed will be promptly due the following class period; after that it is considered late and credit will be docked. We won’t talk about missed work at the beginning of class; I will give you a packet of any missed work with your name on it that you can review independently after your warm up. Then, during independent work time, we’ll discuss your questions. If you miss class due to an unexcused absence, we will need to have a conversation about your circumstances to determine if your work can be accepted.

Late Work Policy

If you turn in late work the same day it was due (even if it was not complete during class), you can still receive up to 100 percent on the assignment. Otherwise, the highest you can receive for late work is a C.

School wide Grading Scale:

A       90-100%
B       80-89.9%
C       70-79.9%
D       60-69.9%
F       0-59%

School wide Plagiarism Policy:


GCAA values academic integrity and honesty. They are fundamental to the teaching and learning process. Teachers and administrators have the full expectation that all work be entirely the result of the student’s own efforts. Plagiarism, cheating or other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Collaboration and cooperation are not the same as cheating or plagiarism. Teachers will inform students when collaboration is an acceptable option. The determination that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty will be based on specific evidence provided by the classroom teacher or other supervising individual. Students found to have engaged in academic dishonesty will be subject to disciplinary action at the classroom and/or building level, specified in the plagiarism policy that follows.

Examples of Academic Dishonesty (not exhaustive)

  • Copying someone else’s homework and/or giving your work to another to be copied
  • Working together on a take-home test or homework unless specifically allowed by the teacher
  • Looking at another student’s paper during an exam
  • Looking at your notes when prohibited
  • Taking an exam out of the classroom unless specifically allowed (either in person or by using electronic means)
  • Using notes or other outside information on an exam unless specifically allowed
  • Giving someone answers to exam questions during the exam
  • Passing test information from an earlier class to a later class
  • Giving or selling a paper or class work to another student
  • Quoting text or other works on a paper or homework without citing the source
  • Handing in a paper purchased from a term paper service or from the Internet
  • Handing in another’s paper as your own
  • Taking a paper from an organization’s files and handing it in as your own
  • Changing a test, a paper, and claiming it had been graded incorrectly
  • Presenting another student’s work as your own

Examples of Acceptable Behavior in the Creative Process

  • Discussing the assignment with others for clarification
  • Discussing ideas and details for understanding
  • Exchanging drafts of work for critical peer response
  • Participating in classroom activities pertaining to the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing

Consequences of Plagiarism

  1. Whenever a teacher reasonably believes, based upon significant evidence, that a student has plagiarized part or all of an assignment or infringed upon copyright protection, the teacher shall evaluate the nature and extent of the plagiarism or copyright infringement, advise the student of the existence of the violation, and state the penalties to which the student may be subject:
  • Indicate in writing to the student and the student’s parents, with a brief statement of the circumstances, that the teacher has a reasonable belief that the student has engaged in a violation.
  • Require the student to rework the assignment entirely, using his/her own ideas and style.
  • Refer the student to the proper school authority for any additional counseling or discipline consistent with any other policy of GCAA.
  1. Whenever a teacher reasonably believes, based on significant evidence, that a student has knowingly assisted another student in plagiarizing part or all of an assignment, the teacher will evaluate the nature and extent of the assignment lent to the student who plagiarized and inform the student that he/she may be subject to the following penalties:
  • Indicate in writing to the student and the student’s parents, with a brief statement of the circumstances, that the teacher has a reasonable belief that the student assisted another student in plagiarizing.
  • Refer the student to the proper school authority for any additional counseling or discipline consistent with any other policy of GCAA.
  • In addition to disciplining the student according to the provisions of the policy, the teacher will continue to emphasize to the student the value of honest authorship.