• Course Syllabus for English 10A

    Instructor: Ron Witherow, Jr.


    Mr. Witherow’s schedule for Spring 2017 semester:

                1st block— Planning/Non-Teaching Assignments

                2nd block— English 10A

                3rd block— Dual Enrollment English 12A

                4th block— English 10A


    NOTE: If you would like a telephone conference, please call the main office 540-245-5050

                between 8:30-9:30 AM and have me paged, OR you may leave a message and

                I will call you back during my next available planning period.  Also, you can arrange

                a telephone conference by e-mailing me at the address noted above.


    Course Description:

    English 10A is an optional accelerated course, which requires considerably more reading and more advanced written assignments than the English 10 course.  The 10A course is geared to push Fort’s very top language arts students who will take the advanced English course track (11A or 11AA and then English 12A or DE English 12A) in their high school careers and who are pursuing an advanced high school diploma.  Consequently, the literary selections they will be expected to study will be more intellectually challenging and provocative than in a regular English 10 course, and we will move through these works at a relatively fast pace.  Additionally, assessments will be challenging, requiring advanced study skills and the regular use of them in order for students to receive high grades on quizzes and tests.


    English 10A stresses three related goals: to enable students to interpret literature critically, to compose student writing coherently, and to edit that writing effectively.  The course covers essential elements, genres, and themes of literature.  Additionally, the course uses literary works as models for students’ writing, introduces basic forms of narrative and expository writing, teaches writing as a process, and requires frequent writing—both formal and informal—for learning activities as well as for formal assessment. 


    Instructional Philosophy:

    Reading, writing, and oral communication skills are essential in all areas of the high school curriculum; therefore, English 10A is a course which has direct implications for learning and development in the students’ other classes.  Just as important, critical literary and language concepts and skills must be mastered early in high school.  Several major testing benchmarks come in the final two years of secondary education.  In the eleventh grade, students will take their final two English SOL tests and— if they plan to attend college—the SAT or ACT tests.  For these reasons, English 10A must prepare students for formal assessments that seriously impact their futures.


    Finally, students need a safe, well-managed, and structured classroom to learn.  The social skills, self-discipline, and critical thinking skills essential to success in life must be fostered and reinforced daily.  I take very seriously my status as an adult role model in the lives of my students and as one of the first college-preparatory instructors that they may be encountering as sophomores.  My students find me above all to be professional in demeanor and serious in manner about the work they do for this course.  They will also find me to be one of the more demanding teachers they will have worked with to date—one who sets high standards and expects them to be met.  While I will be accessible and encouraging, I do make it a point to be honest with students (and their parents) about the quality of their work and effort in this course.

    Course Overview:

    Our English 10A class meetings will focus daily on three primary curricular strands:

    (1) reading comprehension and literary analysis, (2) vocabulary growth and mastery, and (3) composing and editing techniques.  This means that the student can expect to complete assignments daily which relate to all three areas—sometimes separately but often through overlapping activities.


    Student Evaluation:

    Students in my classes will be evaluated based upon the following grading breakdown:


    1st 9-week Grading Period                          2nd 9-week Grading Period

    Assignments & Activities……..30%               Assignments & Activities…….22%

    Quizzes………………………..30%                Quizzes………………………..22%

    Tests……………………….…..30%                Tests…………………………...21%

    Book Project…………………..10%                Research Paper..……………..18%

                                                                            Book Project…………………..10%

                                                                            Drafting of Research Paper…...7%


    At the end of the course, students will take a cumulative examination which will count 20% of their grade for the course.


    I will expect to see evidence of the development of advanced critical thinking skills and written expression by each student during this course.  Superficial recall and a general level of reading and writing competency will not be enough to enable a student to excel in English 10A.   Likewise, students who typically put in only a minimal effort when meeting course expectations will almost certainly not do well in English 10A and should reconsider enrolling in the class.


    While I typically enter grades in my Infinite Campus online grade book within two to three days of the completion of the majority of activities and assessments in English 10A, major projects like the

    I-Search research paper and tests with substantial essay questions will obviously take significantly longer for me to evaluate.  Additionally, I will not post any final grade for an activity until all absent students have made up the work that they missed.  Students and parents should keep these things in mind when checking grades for English 10A.  


    Bonus points/ Extra credit assignments:

    In addition to getting students ready for the rigors and increased expectations of college-preparatory course work, the English 10A course is a benchmark intended to accurately assess where the students stand with regard to (A) effective, active study skills, (B) maturity and personal accountability, (C) organizational skills, (D) test-taking ability, and (E) the writing and editing skills requisite for students who are going to be capable of succeeded in college.  If students are deficient in any of these vital areas, the various requirements of the course will clearly indicate those weaknesses.


    Consequently, I do not give extra credit assignments or offer test or quiz “retakes” to inflate a student’s grade beyond what his or her academic work in my class indicates the grade should be. 

    I will include one or two assignments each grading period that primarily reward students who are meticulous and hardworking, since those, too, are assets that enable the college-bound student to thrive with in advanced classes.  However, the bottom line is that students who cannot do advanced work in English won’t be able to compensate for their deficiencies with bonus points that mask their true performance in English 10A.



    Course Content:

    I. A short stories and poetry unit featuring 5-8 short stories and poems—instructional emphasis will be on reading critically and analyzing these works based upon the following literary concepts and terminology:

    protagonist                        themes & motifs          types of irony               parody

    antagonist                          symbolism                   setting                          satire

    types of conflict                 suspense                      allusion                        anachronism

    characterization                foreshadowing             allegory                       point of view

    comparison                       contrast                       legends & myths          tone

    connotation                       mood                           figurative language     imagery

    simile                                 metaphor                     personification             plot elements

    rhyme scheme                   internal rhyme            narrative poetry          lyric poetry

    epic poetry                        blank verse                  couplets                       puns

    consonance                       assonance                    alliteration

    II. A thematic unit on utopian/dystopian novels in which two classic literary works will be read, analyzed, compared and contrasted.  The two to be studied this year will be Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Students will consider how satire and irony are used for social criticism and commentary in such works.


    III.  One or two drama units (time permitting) will be completed including the following:

                A. Shakespearean tragedy unit focusing on The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.

                B.     A contemporary drama unit focusing on the play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose.


    IV.  A unit on the tales/legends of King Arthur.  Reading will focus primarily on John Steinbeck’s translation of Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.  Students also will consider how the elements of the Arthurian legend have been treated in a variety of film adaptations.


    V.   Vocabulary instruction will be ongoing throughout the semester.  Students will work toward mastery of 20 words weekly.  Learning and review activities will take place daily with a weekly quiz to come at the end of each weekly unit (typically on the final day of the week).  Follow-up mastery testing will occur every 4 weeks.  Students will complete 12-14 twenty-word units during the semester.


    VI.  Composition and editing instruction will also be ongoing throughout the semester.  In particular, students will complete written projects focusing on their individual reading of a different student-selected book during the first two of the three grading periods. 

    NOTE: Each of the written book projects is required; students who do not complete both of them will receive a grade of “Incomplete” for the course.


    VII. A multiple-draft, formal research writing project—an I-Search paper—will be completed prior to the conclusion of the course to demonstrate mastery of the composition, formatting, and editing skills emphasized throughout the semester. 

    NOTE: Students who do not completing the research project will receive a grade of “Incomplete” for the course and will repeat tenth grade English.






    Student Expectations:

    Each student should have a three-ring binder specifically for English 10A.  I will recommend a method of organization for this binder, and a minimum of four dividers is advised.  I also suggest that each student has an assignment book (like a “weekly planner”) to record upcoming assignments, due dates for projects, and announced quiz and test dates.


    Students in English 10A must attend class regularly.  This will not be a “correspondence course” for which I can simply dole out worksheets and homework assignments while hardly ever seeing the student; my interaction with each student (and their interaction with each other) will be essential to learn the concepts and demonstrate mastery of the material in this course.  Extended or frequent excused absences will seriously undermine the student’s likelihood of performing at a high enough level to pass the class.


    I expect students to meet all deadlines and to address completely my clearly-outlined expectations for all projects and assignments.  My promise is that our daily schedule will be full and fast-moving, that I will challenge the students academically, and that I will esteem my 10A students as the very best and brightest at FDHS.  Students should be aware of these expectations and adjust accordingly. 


    I expect students to take responsibility for their own learning.  It will be each student’s job to complete assignments properly and on time, to get makeup work whenever class is missed, to see me for extra help when it is needed outside of class, and to exhibit the proper habits and the classroom behavior essential to academic success.  Students who have not yet developed the maturity and initiative to be responsible for such matters should NOT enroll in English 10A.


    Finally, I expect the utmost academic integrity from students enrolled in my classes.  The consequences will be severe for any who violate the honor code of this school by cheating (or attempting to do so), by plagiarizing the work of others, or by helping other students to do so.  


    Materials Needed for the Class:

    ·         A LARGE three-ring binder specifically for the English 10A course alone—we will fill it during the semester! 


    ·         At least FIVE dividers for the binder, since I will also be teaching organizational skills typical of college-preparatory students. 


    ·         A calendar book (a “weekly planner”) to record upcoming assignments, due dates for projects, and announced quiz and test dates.  Again, I will be teaching          students who want to be successful in advanced-level courses how to use such organizational tools in order to succeed in school and beyond.


    ·         Eight highlighters—two each of the following colors: yellow, green, blue, and orange or pink.