Greetings, Phoenix students and parents!
This year awaits us with great delight! Whether you see yourself as a talented reader and writer or one who struggles with anything related to English, I assure you that everyone can be successful in our English class, provided you are willing to work, and work hard. Good writing, thinking, and critical reading are very important skills to develop, but you won’t be alone in the learning process. That’s why we have this time together! We meet so we can better ourselves as writers and readers in all different genres, so we may become stronger speakers and listeners, and so we are able to think about issues more deeply.
Our English classroom is not a competitive place where some students are smart and others are not. Rather, I hold the assumption that all of you have something quite unique to offer: writing poetry, hunting or fishing, quoting lines from movies, remembering song lyrics or baseball statistics, making three-pointers in basketball or building something from scratch. All of these things are worthwhile and essential for building an interesting English classroom environment. If all of you were exactly alike (and liked the same things I did, for example), what would be the point of seeing one another each class period? If you’re a shy person, now is the time to start opening up a bit more; if you’re loquacious, now is the time to share but also to listen to those around you more frequently.
Please don’t hesitate to see me if you need extra help, whether it’s to go over reading comprehension strategies, discuss an excellent book you’re reading or sit and revise a paper together. I am available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday after school. We also have a team homework club that meets Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays that is monitored by one of the Phoenix Team’s teachers. Make sure you ask your parents/guardians ahead of time to make sure it’s okay that you stay! We have a classroom telephone you may use.
Take ownership over your learning by bringing what you need to class each day:
Tiger Powerbook (MUMS assignment book)
Pen or pencil
Throughout the school year, you will be expected to read outside of the school day; texts will include books, articles, and short stories. Most of the time, you will have some element of choice. Occasionally, I might assign a specific genre, but usually, you will be permitted to select a text that interests and challenges you personally. I will ask you to interact with these texts in a variety of ways, often in your thinkers’ notebooks, which we will keep in our classroom.
During the course of the year, you will write pieces that illustrate a developing understanding of how to respond to literature; express yourself creatively; and create good, solid arguments that will influence your audience of readers. You will begin many of your writing assignments in class. Then, after opportunities to conference on your writing with me (and your peers, in some cases), you will complete a final, best-effort draft. A best-effort draft is the absolute best writing, revising, editing, and thinking you can do without somebody standing over your shoulder saying, “Hmmm…did you forget to capitalize the first word of that new sentence or are you doing it on purpose to torture Mrs. Sears so she will run out of the classroom screaming?”
For each unit taught in English, you will receive a unit overview sheet. We’ll go over it in class and you are then expected to bring it home and explain it to your parents/guardians. It will also be posted on the MUMS Student/Parent Portal, which is an online tool for your family to use to access your scores and course information. The unit overview is a great way to let your family know what we are studying in English.
You will learn many, many new vocabulary words this year. Our vocabulary program focuses on Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, suffixes, and derived words. We will have class word walls: one for our new vocabulary words and one for roots. These walls turn into tremendous resources for us!