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Freshman English (English 9)

English 9

Course Syllabus


English 9

Course Syllabus


Course Description: 


English 9 is a full year course that focuses on writing, literature study, oral communication,  (both formal and informal) and media literacy.  We will work on writing skills to prepare for future high school courses, post-secondary education, daily use, and state testing.


Materials required: Students will need their technology, including Chromebooks as well as the “old school” lined paper and pens for handwriting. All of the formal essays and major assignments are required to be typed and shared on Google docs; however there will be short response and many reflective pieces written out in longhand on paper.  Pencils ARE NOT acceptable, and NO written work in pencil will be accepted for credit.  Blue or black ink pen on white or off-white lined paper is required.






Students will write essays and papers on a variety of topics with a variety of goals in a variety of styles including but not limited to expository, descriptive, narrative, creative, and persuasive.




Based on information garnered from the Teacher in the Workplace program, the ability to read and write cursive handwriting has deteriorated to a point where this need must be addressed at the high school level. Thus, we will spend a significant amount of time practicing the writing and reading of cursive, something the majority of ninth grade students have not done since third grade.




The study of literature in ninth grade English will include the elements of literature, works of fiction including short stories, poetry, and major works; nonfiction including essays, speeches, and biographies will be read. Major works of literature studied in Freshman English include Romeo and Juliet and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Also, students will choose their own reading materials for a number of independent study projects. We will use over 10% of the class time reading of choice or assigned materials. While reading may not be one of your favorite activities, it is a major requirement for success in school and life, no matter what your chosen profession.


Oral Communication


The oral communication unit will consist of formal and informal speaking, including introductory and persuasive speeches, informational speeches, processes or how-to speeches, as well as individual presentations, and the ever-popular Tell-a-Joke Tuesday.


Media Literacy (advertising, media consumerism)


This unit will take a hard look at the marketing techniques commonly used in America today.  Why do we want certain products or services more than their competitor’s products or services? What are the methods of convincing us their products will complete our lives, or at least make them better? Students will create a new product and a marketing campaign to “sell” their classmates.


Independent Study Projects


In addition, students are to complete an independent project each quarter based upon expectations outlined by the instructor.  First and third quarters the I.S.P. relates to the reading of a student-choice novel or nonfiction book. The other two quarters students may complete a project of their choice that is not related to their independent reading. All projects must be as approved by the teacher.


Classroom behaviors


 Expectations for behavior are standard for the public school setting. Assigned seating and attendance procedures will be explained and practiced the first days of school. “Playing nice” is the goal. No name-calling or bullying will be tolerated. Group work is a common practice, and all students must learn to work with all others, regardless of likes and dislikes. Classroom policies and procedures are modeled after the Four Agreements of don Miguel Ruiz, as follows:


                                                The Four Agreements


    1.  Be Impeccable With Your Word


    Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. 


     2.  Don’t Take Anything Personally


    Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.


       3.  Don’t Make Assumptions


    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.


       4.  Always Do Your Best


    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


Work submission:


•Work that is late is subject to deduction.  Late daily work and minor writing assignments are given a 50% deduction from the first day late with no submission after 1 week.

•Major works receive a 20% deduction the first week, and a 50% deduction after this.

•Arrangements may be made for additional time under special circumstances.

•Essays, papers, and other major writing assignments must be submitted word processed via google docs. Handwritten work of major assignments will not be accepted.  Plan accordingly to allow time for word processing.


Grading Policy:


•The standard grading system will be used.  Students will be assessed based on the quality of work according to expectations and mastery of assigned material.

•Assessment guidelines will be shared when an assignment is given.

                       95-100%       A                                  77-79%          C+

                       90-94%          A-                                74-76%          C

                       87-89%          B+                               70-73%          C-

                       84-86%          B                                  67-69%          D+

                       80-83%          B-                                 64-66%          D

                                                                                   60-63%          D-

•Grades are NOT rounded up; EVER!

•Extra credit opportunities are available from time to time.  Students will not receive extra credit if assignments are missing.


Academic Honesty:


Students are expected to do their OWN work.  Any issues of academic dishonesty (cheating on a test, copying homework, plagiarizing portions of an essay) will have severe consequences.


    The first incident will result in a zero on the assignment with a possibility to make it up for half credit.


    The second incident will result in a zero for the assignment, no chance for redemption of the grade, and a report to the office.


Further incidents will result in parent conferences and potential removal from the course in addition to the above consequences.


Instructor information


 Mr. David Blanchard


•B.A. -  Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa: 1995

•Driver Education licensure from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota: 1999

•M.A. in Education: Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, Minnesota: 2004

•M.A. in Differentiated Instruction: Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minnesota: 2013


Assistance needed?

During the school day, I can be reached during fifth and seventh period.

•Other times I am available by appointment.

•Contact me by phone at the following numbers:

           School:  732-2194 ex. 1308

           Home: 732-8100 (Please call before 9:00 pm).
            Cell:   320 874-0931

           Email: dblanchard@lpge.k12.mn.us


Please continue for further information about English 9


Course Specifics

Literature Studies:  In English 9 students will engage in comprehensive literature studies for three of the major classics in the freshman canon.  In order this year will be William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  A major work literature study consists of reading the work of literature, somewhat individually and somewhat as a class, studying the vocabulary necessary to ensure comprehension of the text, writing a paper or creating a project related to the text and its literary elements, and taking quizzes and a final test based upon the work and its literary elements. Discussion of the work will be ongoing, as well as student-performed skit/parodies/recitation of portions of the text(s).

In addition to the above mentioned major literature studies, the freshmen will read and discuss many shorter works. Generally requiring 1-2 class periods to complete, many of these minor literature studies afford the class members choices regarding which particular element of literature on which to focus their attention.

Writing Studies:  In freshman English students will continue their advances from learning to write to writing to learn.  Major works of writing will be a regular part of their studies, with up to three major works of writing expected each quarter of the school year. These will be essays, works of fiction, interviews and editorials. In addition to the major works of writing, there will be countless numbers of minor works.

           Another significant part of the writing study is grammar. Incorporating our new Chromebooks, students will login to a specified grammar site and work their way through the grammar tutorials at their own pace.  Student mastery of grammatical concepts will be demonstrated through quizzes, where each student will achieve a minimum of 75% correctness on each quiz before moving onward to the next concept.

           One new concept coming to the freshman curriculum this year is in response to the anecdotally noted deterioration of penmanship among high school students today. Relatively brief moments of instructional time will be spent writing in cursive for the purposes of human niceties such as thank you notes to your grandmother and aunties, as well as workplace communication when electronic means are unavailable. The Penmanship Unit will be introduced during the first quarter, but will NEVER go away in freshman English and handwriting in cursive will be a part of every quarter’s grade.

           New to the freshman curriculum as well this year will be a planned anthology of students’ best works, published as an electronic book using publishing software.  This allows each student to showcase their best writing, with an example of original works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In addition, every student can use original artwork or electronic photography to illustrate his or her original prose.


            Media Literacy

           The media literacy unit takes a long hard look at advertising in America, as well as the techniques used in persuasive writing. We will also consider the phenomenon known as “spin” or perspective, considering the same news article from differing editorial viewpoints. Each student will conduct historical research on how this phenomenon has changed in our country, from unbiased to highly biased, or even if it has changed.

           Planning Deadlines

           Since research indicates that having input helps students with deadlines regarding projects, our classroom’s calendar including due dates of major work and quizzes, tests, etc. will be established with student input. For the immediate future, the first freshman English assignment will be the peer introduction “speech”, which consists of merely introducing one of your classmates to the rest of the class.  Your partner for this minor assignment will be randomly assigned, and you will have time in class to prepare and present.