Class Websites

Course Study Materials

  • Don’t know where to start an assignment?
  • Have a big test and find yourself discouraged the night before?

Before dashing off to social media to find comforting words from friends, click through the links below. Your answers might be closer than you think! You will find our weekly vocabulary lists with study games, links to the text of some of the books we read, and examples of grammar and writing, just for starters. If there are other types of resources you need, email your suggestions.

Reading influences writing. When writers read quality literature, they find that the literature influences their thoughts and expression. Listen to Lisa Bu explain what reading means to her. How does it compare with your feelings about reading? If you are not as enthusiastic, why? What could we do to improve your experiences with reading?


Class Websites

Google Classroom

Grade 9 Classics to Modern Literature

Grade 11 American LiteratureAmerican Literature

Grade 11 B

Grade 12 British & World Literature

Creative Writing

AP Language & Composition

College Composition

The following video gives you some great advice about how to do what is called a “close reading.” Close reading is reading carefully and in ways that allow you to notice meaning and features of the writing that you might not skimming text.

I will follow their podcast to see what they have to say next.

Writing is a useful tool for learning because we process ideas and their significance as we write. Once we have committed a stream of ideas to a page, those ideas need to be reviewed, refined and reorganized so they are clear to our readers.

The series of elements below help writers improve writing. The first is “Relevant Detail.” Expect “What’s Your Point?” (Main Idea, Thesis, Focus) “Where are Your Going with That? (Organization) “You Just Said What?!” (Word Choice, Sentence Structure) as upcoming attractions.

Relevant Detail

We often have a great deal of Read More information, but the key is to select from that pool the most relevant information needed to support our specific thesis or main idea. For example, I may know all of the historic details of President Obama’s life, but to explain his qualifications to be president, I would not necessarily include his basketball experience, but would include his years as a professor of constitutional law. As you review your drafts, consider whether or not you have given readers irrelevant information, enough information, the right information or sufficient background to understand your main idea. Consider these questions: Who is your audience? What is their purposes for reading? What do they need to know to be persuaded that your stand in your thesis is right?

“Throughout Hemingway’s career as a writer, he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing — that it takes off ‘whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.'”


 Six Traits of Writing

Many schemes have been devised to help writers review their work for the essential elements of good writing. One plan was developed by Education Northwest with grant money from the US Department of Education. The plan suggests that writers should develop the core elements of what they have to say – main ideas, developed content, organization – then review for word choice (with voice considerations), sentence fluency and grammar and mechanics.  When you are revising your next piece, use this Six Trait guide for the WriteSource as a checklist for your revision.

Sentence Revision Example

You should wear your seatbelt or you’ll crash.
Drivers should wear seatbelts so they will be protected in case they crash.


What is the generalization in the sentence?
The generalization is that all drivers who do not wear seat belts will crash.


What is second person?
Second person is the use of the pronoun “you.” Second person is in contrast to first person (I, we) or third person (he, she, it).


What idea is not developed?
Even though readers may be able to infer the connections implied in the sentence, the writing itself does not clearly state the connection between seat belt use and crashes. By adding the idea of protection in the revised sentence, the writer has taken away the need for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Content Development with Acronyms

Writers often overlook logical gaps in their writing because they know what the writing is supposed to say so their own minds fill in the missing ideas.  Acronyms can serve as writing checklists to guide revision because they list key elements thorough writing should have covered.  The first two, PIE and AXES are relatively simple; if you are interested in a more rigorous model, page through the Prezi on TRIAC.

Try P.I.E. here.

Try AXES here.

Ready for rigor? Click through the TRIAC presentation.

Doing the weekly vocabulary exercises maximizes your learning because you read the words in context, practice using them as the proper parts of speech and you are exposed to synonyms and antonyms. Download the form below, if you need one at home. It is the same form issued in class for “Choosing the Right Word,” “Synonyms and Antonyms,” and “Completing the Sentences.” The exercises are due the day of the quiz, but do one a day so you are ready for class time review.

If you think paper dictionaries are a thing of the past, you may be right. Read this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education to learn why even dictionary companies are following this trend.


Vocab Textbooks

Today, most universities have drop in or by appointment writing centers to help students during their time at the university. In addition, the university writing centers feature useful links on their websites for students to access 24 hours a day. Here are some from the Connors Writing Center at the University of New Hampshire.

For those who remember facts when they are set to music, the “Parts of Speech Rap” overs a quick outline that I hope will ring in your minds when you need it most.

Knowing the names of the parts of speech and being able to identify them in sentences is not useful unless that knowledge and understanding helps you improve your writing. The Guide to Grammar and Writing by the Capital Community College Foundation is easily searchable for its clear, practical grammar and writing explanations.The St. Martin’s Grammar Guide is another respected source you can rely on. Look through them now so you are familiar with the resources before you wind up with a looming deadline and nowhere to turn!

Grammar Guide

St. Martin’s Grammar Guide

Finding information used to be a kind of scavenger hunt, as the video shows. Note that it makes the case that today, information finds us!

The ability to engage critical thinking to solve problems has been identified as a “21st Century skill” high school students need to cultivate as well as the ability to engage in creative thinking to develop new ideas.  However, the terms “critical” and “creative” can be hard to pin down: exactly how should we think “critically?” What does it mean to be “creative?” The authors of The Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity posted definitions, exercises and puzzles to show readers the difference and to allow them to practice. Try some at their website, The Critical Thinking Web.

Allusions, cultural literacy – all the references that we hear when we know the back story and are deaf to when we don’t – make being in the know a great feeling – like inside jokes and light bulbs of understanding. Once in a while, I come across some interesting stories to share.

Poet and teacher Richard Blanco is the youngest poet (so far) to be invited to write a poem for an inauguration, when he was asked by President Obama to write a poem for Obama’s second inauguration January 2013. In some ways, Blanco’s poem “One Today” reminds me of Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,”  but Blanco addresses a kind of tension I think Whitman’s does not.

Compare and contrast the two poems. What do you think? What aspects of each can you relate to?

Another example of old and new together is this example of popular culture and great literature working together. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie talks to NPR about lyrical inspiration from Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald. They even posted the song.