Honors Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition
Welcome to Honors Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition! I am glad each of you has risen to the challenge of continuing your Honors English experience. Our curriculum for this year will follow a chronological approach to British literature. We will study several novels, plays, and shorter works. You will also complete two research based projects and write a number of pieces, both fiction and non-fiction. Each of you will also be required to read several literary works of your own choice. Finally, you will all be working toward two culminating exams, the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam in May and the English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core Regents Exam in June. I am excited about the upcoming school year, and I am looking forward to getting to know each of you and studying literature together.
I am committed to helping you through this year by creating a curriculum and class environment in which each of you will be able to succeed. If you wish to succeed, then you should be prepared to read all assigned works, participate in class discussions, thoughtfully complete homework, quizzes, and tests, write and revise meaningful essays, and come to class prepared and ready to work. I will be prepared to create challenging and interesting lessons and assignments and to provide extra help or clearer explanations when it becomes necessary.
According to the Course Description for Advanced Placement English provided by the College Board:
Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students should consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.
Writing instruction includes attention to developing and organizing ideas in clear, coherent, and persuasive language. It includes study of the elements of style. And it attends to matters of precision and correctness as necessary. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on helping students develop stylistic maturity. . .
These statements reflect our goals for Advanced Placement (AP) Honors English this year, and class assignments will be designed to reach the College Board objectives. Throughout the year, you will read extensively, participating in class discussions and activities related to your reading, You should expect to read about one book per month in addition to reading various shorter pieces, writing essays, and completing projects. You will write, conference, revise, and re-write frequently, ultimately producing a body of work that demonstrates your breadth, depth, and growth as a writer.
This is a college level class for which many of you may receive college credit, so you should be prepared to purchase some of your own materials, register for the Advanced Placement (AP) exam and pay the exam fee of approximately $90 (due this month), do a significant amount of work both in class and on your own, and reach new levels of critical thinking, discussion, and writing.
A note about your schedule: in order to be approved by the College Board, this course must maintain a certain level of difficulty. Therefore, it will challenge your brain and require significant time in your weekly schedule. If you are in several Advanced Placement (AP) classes and many extra-curricular activities, I advise you to re-think your schedule now, at the beginning of the year. My advice, based on personal experience and many years of teaching Honors students, is that you prune your schedule so that you can do a few important things well, instead of doing many things halfway. Most colleges would also prefer to see applicants who demonstrate dedication and success with a few carefully selected activities, rather than mediocre participation in every possibly activity. Your year will be happier, calmer, and more successful if you take some time now to decide on your priorities.
For this class you will need a three-ring binder with loose-leaf paper and a bound composition notebook to use as a journal. I will collect and grade the journal periodically. Every day you should bring your binder, pen, and the book we are currently reading. You will not be allowed to go to your locker after the final bell has rung, so bring the right notebook and make sure your homework is in it. If you forget your book, you will not be allowed to borrow one, even in the event of an open-book test or assignment. These are the natural consequences of coming unprepared to class. You may bring food or drink with you as long as this does not become disruptive or messy.
We will be working on Regents review throughout the year. All Regents review materials will be on colored paper or otherwise clearly labeled. Save these materials for reviewing in June.
We will use the review book, Cracking the Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature & Composition Exam, by Princeton Review, throughout the year. Plan to buy this book by the end of October.
My grading policy is straightforward and should become clear early in the school year. I will grade on a point system, in which larger assignments are worth more points. For example, journal exercises will be worth about 10 points, homework assignments and quizzes 10 to 30 points, and essays and tests will be worth 50 to 100 points. At the end of the quarter, I will add up the number of points you have earned and divide it by the number of points possible. That percentage will be your grade for the quarter. Daily homework will be worth a maximum of 20% of each quarterly grade. The four quarter grades and your Regents exam grade will each be worth 1/5 of your final course grade for the year.
Prior to submitting each written assignment, you will receive oral and written guidelines in class. Rubrics will be used frequently to ease grading and provide useful, specific feedback for writing assignments. Each rubric used throughout the course is designed to be a flexible tool; occasionally, an assignment must be graded without the benefit of the usual rubric because the writer has not completely followed the assignment guidelines, has not demonstrated appropriate effort, or has not revised significantly. An assignment that strays significantly from the guidelines will not be graded; rather, you will have the opportunity to conference with me and re-write the assignment within a specified time period. Be assured that all assignments will be graded consistently and fairly, with the ultimate goals of helping you to grow as a critical and creative writer and earn the best possible score on the AP and Regents exams.
Each quarter, you will participate in one individual conference with me, in which we will discuss revisions that you have made to a recent piece of writing. You will be expected to incorporate elements of writing that we have discussed in class, such as organizational strategies, effective diction and tone, sentence variety, appropriate development, and stylistic maturity. These conferences will provide the opportunity to individually apply the general principles that we have covered in class. Following the conference, you will complete at least one more revision of that piece.
An important part of each quarter’s grade is your participation grade. Verbally participating in a discussion actually helps you learn the material and formulate your thoughts; it will be an important skill in many of your college classes. Every day in class, I will keep track of your involvement in class discussion and activities. You can raise your participation grade through paying attention throughout the entire block, demonstrating interest and enthusiasm, raising your hand and sharing your thoughts or questions when appropriate, providing written feedback at the end of class, and contributing to group activities. You will lower your participation grade if you work on other assignments during class time, talk to your neighbor rather than paying attention, put your head down, come unprepared to class, or act in a way that distracts the rest of the class from learning.
I may decide to offer a small number of extra credit possibilities throughout the year, but you should not rely on extra credit to significantly impact your grade.
I believe that homework is necessary in order to follow up a lesson, prepare for a lesson, practice a specific skill, or help you to think about a certain topic, so I will assign a significant amount of homework, usually long-term assignments. I expect assignments to be completed carefully and thoughtfully. Each assignment that you hand in should be your own original work; copying and plagiarism are serious offenses with serious consequences. If you hand in an assignment that is not your own work, it will receive a zero. If this happens again, the consequences will be more serious. You may work together on an assignment only when specifically stated by me.
Homework assignments will be accepted for full credit by the end of the day in which they are due. Late assignments will receive zero points. You will receive one free late homework pass per semester. Save this for an emergency.
Many of your assignments will need to be typed in Google Docs and submitted through Google Classroom, so build time into your day when you have access to a functional computer. In the case of a last-minute computer emergency, you will only receive credit if there is evidence in Google Docs that you had been working on the assignment AND you bring a note from a parent explaining the nature of the emergency.
The course syllabus and assignment due dates are designed to reflect a college syllabus. You will have fewer daily assignments than in most high school classes, but more long-term projects. Use this opportunity to learn how to juggle multiple upcoming projects and due dates so that you are prepared for that aspect of college.
In the case of an absence from school, the school policy for absences will be strictly followed. You must bring me your yellow card before our next class and complete work by the assigned due date in order to receive credit for that work. Do not ask me to sign your yellow card during class. If I do not receive your yellow card, all missed homework and classwork will automatically receive a zero. Absences that do not follow this procedure will negatively impact your participation grade.
Class attendance is critical to your success, so please do not schedule appointments or leave on a passport during English. In addition, you may not miss class in order to participate in an extra-curricular or junior class activity, such as selling tickets. If you are in school on a particular day but need to miss all of English class, that day’s homework assignment is still due. Bring it to room 104 or put it in my mailbox in the office, and remember to bring me your yellow card when you return to the building.
I check my e-mail daily and am happy to hear from you or your parents at any time. You may reach me at HKaminski@lakeshorecsd.org. This is generally an easier method than contacting me by phone, although you can do so by leaving a message on my voice mail, 716-549-2300 extension 2278. I will also communicate through Remind’s text messaging service. To subscribe to my text messages, send a text with the message @2bon2b to the number 81010.
If at any point in the year you feel that you are not able to succeed in this class, please discuss this with me so we can work out a plan together. I will be available for extra help after school almost every day. I would be happy to meet with any of you for any reason.