Course Description

Honors English 12: 2014-2015                                                           Mr. Bill Brown

course blog:

Course description                                                                             

Much of this course focuses on poetry–how to analyze its composition and effects, as well as how to create original poems. We read poems from around the world, while being sure to study some prominent British poetry, fiction and drama. The year ends with a biography unit piloted by the Class of 2013.  As time allows, we will read material not listed below.  For example, we may read a modern American play related to themes in Hamlet, and we may read stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners.  Our early focus will be on poetry, and that study-thread will continue throughout the year. We will write often. Be prepared to write and rewrite, to read your peers’ writing, to read literary criticism—all of which contributes to your growth and maturity as a thinker and writer. It is critical that students continue learning how to collaborate productively, and it is equally important to learn how to learn—you can teach yourself many things.

Essential Questions

Much of our course work will orbit around these three questions:

How do we handle struggle—external and internal?

Where do we see monsters, or demons?  (What makes them so?)

What influences our responses to these demons and struggles?


Texts; Beowulf (translated by Seamus Heaney); Frankenstein (Longman Cultural Edition); Hamlet (newest Cambridge School Edition).  


  • Typically, assignments receive scores on a 4.0 scale, given the rubrics’ four-column design. (For example, see the often-used “content-writing rubric” below.) The default equivalents entered in the electronic grade book are as follows:  4.0 = 95% (A), 3.7 = 91% (A-), 3.3 = 88% (B+), 3.0 = 85% (B), 2.7 = 81% (B-), etc. In some cases, since the school handbook lists the A range as 93-100, an exceptionally masterful performance may warrant a number higher than 95%.
  • Assignments typically fall into one of three categories.  “Class Preparation” includes the shortest exercises like emails, quizzes and short responses.  “Minor Grade” includes medium-length exercises like paragraphs, developed short-answer sequences, poem or story analyses, early drafts, class-period presentations and regular reflections.  “Major Grade” includes work like full essays and developed presentations.  For the overall course grade, these categories are respectively weighted ten, thirty and sixty percent.

Grading policies 

LATE WORK:  I do not always accept late assignments, and certainly no late assignment can qualify as proficient (a “B” or above).  Homework, as well as major papers and projects, are due at the beginning of class, unless otherwise stated.  If you do not have the assignment ready on time,  you may lose some or all credit for that work.

Due dates are posted.  With longer assignments you may receive a negotiated due date, given extenuating circumstances and proper communication (that means you have to tell me before the day the assignment is due). Typically, common sense produces fair resolutions. Students may occasionally be invited to, or request to, rewrite an assignment. Usually, the new grade represents an average of both versions.

The Integrity Code

Keep in mind this code, as you prepare written work for submission.  Also, know that you are expected to submit written on the prescribed template with a pledge-header and acknowledgment-footer.  

The Integrity Code definitions are: Lying is making a false statement or intentionally omitting information that would create a false impression. Stealing is taking the property of another without consent. Cheating is unauthorized assistance sought, received, or offered on any type of schoolwork that could result in an unfair advantage. It is the representation of another’s work as one’s own.


Arrive on time, which means by the time the bell has rung.  After that is tardy.  To receive credit for the class, arrive before ten minutes have elapsed.  For details about the official tardy policy, see the Upper School Handbook.


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