English 10: Mythology

English 10: Mythology and Writing

Course Outline

Black River English Department

Fall 2017

Mr. Colin McKaig


Be Here Now. What do these three simple words mean to you? To me they mean presence in this moment. They mean being able to focus on this place and what’s happening in it, and set aside all else. This is a guiding principle for our course. Let us understand how difficult this can be. In an age of instant communication (texting, instagram, snapchat, facebook to name just a few) being able to replace one way of being with another is very, very hard.

My work as a Rowland Fellow has shed considerable light on teaching and learning in the digital Web 2.0 world. Of particular interest to me is the mobile technology so many students carry in their pockets and the ways you use them, both socially and academically. I strongly believe that teachers and students need to have an ongoing conversation about how technology works in our classroom. Personally, I am really energized at the sight of so many students with two computers in front of them: their personal devices and the school’s Chromebooks. Figuring out how to best use these to achieve our goals might be the central question in education today. This is harder than it sounds; let’s help and teach each other.

This course is designed for sophomores who’ve successfully completed freshman English. The focus of the course is an in-depth look at Greek Mythology and the lessons it holds for us today. We will read closely a wide variety of stories, seeking to answer our guiding questions: What does literature teach us about living in the human condition today? How can we develop our reading, writing, speaking and listening skills using these stories? How can we use the screens in front of us to maximize our learning and engagement?

There will be a wide variety to our writing in this class. The objective of the course is to make you more competent writers, better able to handle your coursework as juniors and seniors. My goal is that you exit high school with superior writing skills that enable you to thrive in your chosen college or career path.

But if the primary goal of the course is for you to become a better reader and writer, a second goal is to assist your peers in doing the same. This is accomplished by using Hapara (similar to Google Classroom) and Google Docs, a process that will allow us to collaborate. Responding to the writings of others will not only help them become better but will help you in spotting strategies that might work for you.


After completing this course, students will be able to demonstrate proficiency when they:


Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.


Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.


Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.


Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.


Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.


Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.


Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.


Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.


Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Classwork, Homework and Grading. This is where students are likely to see the biggest change as we move towards Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements.

Handing in late work means that you’re struggling with the Transferable Skills. These are important and your inability to get work in on time will hurt your formative assessments (the practice we do in skill development) and, ultimately, your Summative Assessments which you’ll need to achieve in order to graduate. In the past, assignments completed and turned in on time receive full credit. Nearly completed homework turned in on time may receive 70 to 80% depending on your effort. Handing in no work meant you’d get a 0%.

Our grading system now divides all assignments into either Formative or Summative. Think of Formative assignments as practice and Summative assignments as the game or performance. Remember: in all grading systems doing no work (and getting zeroes) is the kiss of death! Any work is always better than no work.

And Lastly…

Students may eat during the first five minutes of class, usually our Do Now period. Please be neat and discreet. Please: make sure your drink containers have resealable lids and tops. No soda lids. (Drink water!) Also: write on paper only; throw nothing; respect yourself, others, me and this fantastic classroom and school.

Writing: As the name of the course suggests there will be lots of writing here. Mostly, this will center on the reading you do in the texts. Specifically, there are two types of writing you will accomplish. These are:

I. Informal writing: This has two purposes: as a place to practice informal writing and a place where you can reflect on your experiences with mythology, especially the plays we read. Grading will be based on neatness, completeness, and quality of content.

II. Essay writing. You will also be required to write several formal essays. These essays will be expository in nature, mostly responses to literature. That is, you will be trying to explain (or expose) your position on a topic or your answer to a question. Each essay may undergo several drafts. Essays will have a specific focus, but you will have lots of choice within the assigned topic. Essays may also have additional requirements, including length, structure and grammatical focus.

Portfolio using Google Sites: You will be required to submit a digital portfolio of your work. It is half of your final exam grade. I think we’ll be using Google Sites for this work, unless you have a compelling reason to use another platform.

Additional Assignments: In addition to the writing requirements, we will study areas of grammar and usage that appear to be major problems for the class. We will also study vocabulary, mostly words from our book as well as Latin and Greek prefixes, roots, and suffixes.