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Honors English IV- N. Foster


 Alfie Kohn, in a collection of essays called What to Look for in a Classroom, reminds us that "a course is created with and for a particular group of students" and that we need to focus on the learner more than the teacher.  The first two paragraphs of this book are so relevant to creating or planning a course that I'm going to include them here: "From 1979 to 1985 I taught a course on existentialism to high school students.  It was not only [my first] teaching experience but it was far and away my favorite.  Between terms I fine-tuned the reading list and perfected the lectures, looking forward to the next year when I could teach it again--rather as one might tinker with a new car in the garage before proudly bringing it out.  It wasn't until years later that I began to realize just how little I understood about teaching.  The idea of a teacher with a ready-made course just waiting to be taught makes about as much sense a young, single person with a ready-made marriage who needs nothing more than a partner to have it with.
       “Once I was out of the classroom, I came to understand that a course is created for and with a particular group of students.  I didn't see it that way before because I wasn't thinking about learning, only about teaching.  I was trying to find the most efficient way of giving students the knowledge and skills I already had, which meant that I was treating the students as interchangeable receptacles--as rows of wide-open bird beaks waiting for worms, if you will." 


 Please consider this quotation and realize its truth. That being said, the syllabus is a work in progress. Rest assured we will get as much accomplished in learning to think, speak, listen, write, analyze literature, view with discernment, etc. as we possibly can.


 I hope you are as excited about the beginning of the year with Honors English IV as I am! This will be a wonderful, challenging, productive, and interesting year. The course is designed for college bound seniors interested in a good, solid background for college. As per the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, we will do a survey of British literature, working both chronologically and thematically, and selected outside readings. The outside readings will not necessarily be of the same time period we are studying in our survey course, but will be novels highly recommended by colleges and universities as works with which all incoming students should be familiar [see list in the third paragraph]. Our writing will combine personal essays, sample college application essays, literary essays, and the research paper. Vocabulary will come extensively from the reading though I will use some lists.


 The course will also involve participating in the Senior Project experience which will prove to be one of the most enjoyable and esteem-building experiences you and your students have been involved with. At your convenience you can see some old samples at Almost all materials students will get in class can be found at


 The novels we will read this year, several of which it may be necessary to purchase or obtain from libraries or friends,  will come from the following list: Summer Reading: Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Heller’s Catch 22 , and Hardy’s The Return of the Native. Also we will choose from Gardner’s Grendel, Shaw’s Pygmalion, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello, perhaps Hamlet, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Should I consider other novels, the students will let you know and ask for your input. At this point, if you should object to any of these listed novels, please let me know within the next week. I am still in the process of firming up our plans for the year, and changing now will not be a problem. Later in the year, changing plans will create great problems for me and the students involved. Do not buy any of these at this point as I will supply as many as possible.





Text Box: The text for the class is Prentice Hall’s The British Tradition, but we will supplement that with outside novels.


Our tentative syllabus is

Marking period 1       Old and Middle English; Sr. Proj. research & project


Marking period 2       The Renaissance, 17th Century, Restoration & Satire; Sr. Proj. research paper is due and physical project is due


Marking period 3   18th Century  and Romantic Period, Victorian period  and Twentieth Century; Sr. Proj. portfolio is due and Boards are held



 We will have memory work requirements for each marking period that count 10% of the marking period grade. The first set will go out within a week of school’s starting and students may begin reciting them at any time thereafter. The due date is the last day I will take these.  If your student should complain, remember that completing the assignment is a 100 for 10% of the marking period!


 Extra credit: I give extra credit opportunities as they occur to me, but I never give them just for one person who has not achieved what he needed to achieve earlier. My web page is  [note: no www].  On my page I will often put extra credit opportunities. I will also post many of the handouts, lists, etc. You may want to check out what we’re involved with. Go to the page and then click on English IV. From there you can see where else you may want to go.


 I respect and value your input. If at any time you need to talk to me, if you will either send me a note by your student or call my school voice mail [Box 333] with the message to call you, I will do my best to get up with you within 24 hours. Please leave any numbers and the times those numbers are valid. [For example, if you want me to call you at work, I may or may not be able to do that, so leave home numbers, etc. Also, if you cannot be reached before say 6:00 p.m., please let me know that.] Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to reach me is via e-mail. My e-mail address is .  I check my e-mail most every day, so hopefully I will get it in a timely fashion. Please use a subject line as my e-mail is quite prolific. If you send me your e-mail address I also can contact you quickly if you check your e-mail regularly.


 Tentative percentages: Tests/Compositions/Speeches – 50%- 60%ocabulary – 20%, Memory work – 10%, Pops/Daily/Journals – 10-20%.  I reserve the right to vary the percentages for the best of the majority of students and because of what kinds of activities we do.




 Please cut off, sign below, and return to me. Feel free to write me any questions you have.


English IV Honors – N. Foster

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English IV