Course Overview

Units of Study

You will be issued a school copy of all books, so you don’t need to purchase your own unless you’d like to write/highlight in them.


  • Survival through Story:Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    • Reading Focus:Text Structure and Character Development
    • Writing Focus:Descriptive Writing with Precise Language


    • Cultural Conflict:Night by Elie Wiesel and excerpts from My Forbidden Face by Latifa
      • Reading Focus:Diction and Narrative Style
      • Writing Focus:Literary Analysis


      • The Art of Persuasion:The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (Acts 1-3) by William Shakespeare
      • Reading Focus:Point of View, Claims, and Rhetoric
      • Writing Focus:Rhetorical Analysis


      • Inquiry and Research:Nonfiction Literature Circles
        • Reading Focus:Analyzing a Complex Argument
        • Writing Focus: MLA Research Paper

  • Archetypes and the Hero’s Journey:The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and excerpts from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s The Odyssey, and Dante’s Inferno

    • Reading Focus:Textual Evidence, Central Idea, and Text Structure
    • Writing Focus:Personal Narrative


    • Speaking Truth to Power:In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez

      • Reading Focus:Point of view and text structure
      • Writing Focus:Sequencing of complex ideas


      • Coming of Age:Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
      • Reading Focus:Characterization and theme
      • Writing Focus:Narrative techniques


      • The Search for Meaning:Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

        • Reading Focus: Analyzing cultural experiences
        • Writing focus: Developing a claim with relevant details


Policies and Procedures

GradingGrades will be earned according to the grading scale of Buncombe County Schools.  Late work is not accepted for credit on any assignment.

A: 100-90            B: 89-80              C: 79-70              D: 69-60              F: 59 and below

Student performance will be assessed through daily assignments, essays, quizzes, projects, and seminars.  These are grouped into the two categories below and weighted as follows:                             

Classwork/Practice: 40%                            Assessments/Mastery:  60%

I allow revisions only on essays or research papers.  Classwork/Practice assignments may not be revised for the sake of increasing your grade, but I always encourage you to review mistakes or shortcomings in your work for the sake of learning and growth.  I'm also happy to work with you one-on-one to talk through some strategies that will help you on future assignments.

I will not grade every single thing I assign to you.  However, that shouldn’t impact your level of engagement or effort with the course work.  I design assignments that are intended to develop your skills as critical readers, writers, and thinkers.  I don’t believe in assigning “busywork,” so be assured that all assignments, regardless of whether they’re graded, have a purpose in helping you grow as a learner.  The level of effort and engagement you put into this course will have a direct correlation to how much you are enriched by it.     


- School-issued laptop

- Paper and pencil/pen

- Text we’re currently reading

- A notebook (optional)

- Wishlist: tissues


Per district policy, students can miss no more than five days in a semester-long course.  If you are absent, you are responsible for asking me when you return to school about makeup work.  To receive credit for makeup work, you have an equal number of days to make up work as days you are absent (i.e. absent 2 days, work must be turned in within 2 days after returning to school).  Any work assigned before an absence must be submitted immediately on the day of return.  Exceptions to this rule will be considered in extreme cases.

Bottom line:  You are accountable for all course material regardless of attendance.  Be responsible and contact me for support in getting caught up after an absence.

Cell Phones:

Please refer to the student handbook.  Don’t have them out or use them during class (this includes charging them in the classroom).  If cell phone use during class is a consistent problem, your phone will be confiscated and held in the office until the end of the day. 


Please refer to the student handbook.  Other than a water bottle, food and drinks are not allowed in the classroom.  This includes cups from the café. 


My philosophy is to maximize class time for working on all assignments.  At times, however, you will need to complete unfinished class work, reading, or writing/research at home.  Please note that if you are frequently off-task during class, you will frequently have homework.

Bathroom/Break Policy:

You will have a 3-minute break during class.  Please use this time for getting water or going to the restroom.  If it’s urgent and you need to leave the room before or after the break, please ask me at a time that will cause minimal disruption to class activities. 


I use Canvas as the online platform for posting class assignments and files.  If you have technical difficulties with using Canvas to submit work, let me know ASAP, and in the meantime, send me an email with the assignment attached so you receive credit for completing it on time.  


I expect your best effort always, regardless of your skill level or abilities.  If you find yourself struggling for any reason, please reach out to me as soon as possible.  Never be afraid or unwilling to ask for help.  I am dedicated to helping you succeed and excel!