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2nd Quarter, Language Arts 12

0.00 Start Here (English 12)

Course Description


The skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate in this class have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace.

In this class, students:

  • undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature.
  • habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally.
  • actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.
  • reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic.

In short, students who meet the the requirements in this class develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.


The "parental notification" file provided at the top of this page will show you how to set up ways to keep track of your student's progress.


Class Overview

WHAT THIS CLASS IS: This class is another way for you to earn your English 12 credit.   This is a one-quarter (.25 credit) class. You will work on your reading, research, writing, viewing, listening and speaking skills as specified in the Utah State Core Curriculum for Language Arts.

WHAT THIS CLASS IS NOT: This class is NOT an easy way to get your English credit without doing any real work. If that is what you are looking for, you will be disappointed. Plan on spending approximately the same amount of time on this class as you would in a traditional English class.


At least 11th grade level reading and writing skills.


To take this class, you will need:

  1. A computer with internet access.
  2. Word processing software to type your assignments. Microsoft Word is best.  

    You MUST have the ability to submit documents in one of the following file formats: .doc/.docx (Microsoft Word), .ppt/.pptx (PowerPoint), or .pdf. 

    If you use another program such as Pages or Open Office, make sure that you save your documents in one of the above formats before you upload them.

     *****! ! ! ! Contrary to what you read in the "homework note" in Module 1, DO NOT use "Notepad" or "Text Edit." (that note is intended for classes other than this one). I would prefer all documents to be submitted in one of above three formats as attachments or uploads.

  3. A .pdf converter if your word processing software doesn't allow you to save in one of the above fiile formats. Several are available free online from sources such as adobe, nemopdf, cutepdf, etc. 
  4. Acrobat Reader, Quicktime reader, and a PowerPoint reader (all available free online)



Each quarter will include the following requirements:

Reading Assignment.  A full-length book (or 2 plays--4th quarter). Details are given in the first overview of the quarter.  Many of the assignments you do throughout the quarter will relate to the book you are reading, requiring that you get a copy and get into it quickly.  You will also be required to respond to questions given on the novel study guide.  So you will need to copy it to your computer or print it out to have it available as you read.

Unit assignments:  These assignments are varied and are based on the skills outlined in the Utah State core.  Because the assignments are designed to build upon previous assignments, make sure that you do them in order (unless otherwise instructed.)  Most assignments require material that is available at links given.  Make sure that you access all required links. The information there is links is essential to completing the assignment accurately, and most of the quiz questions come from this material.

Vocabulary:  Vocabulary words are found on reading guide and/or the first overview of the quarter.  You will need to master these words--understand them and be able to use them in your writing.  These words will show up in quizzes and tests.

Skill Builder assignments:  These are mandatory reviews of writing skills or mechanics, usage, and grammar rules.  The are all are based on skills needed to complete an assignment and/or the most common errors in student writing.  Each review will come with explanation, and links for more help.  You will find many quiz and test questions coming from these reviews as well.

Literature Connection:  Within each unit is an assignment which will connect the ideas/skills from that unit to the novel you are reading.  These assignments are designed to help you read with more focus and skill and also to write effectively on the book.

Quizzes & Tests:  There will be quizzes for each unit and one final exam.  The final exam will need to be supervised by an approved EHS proctor.  The instructions at the "arranging to take your proctored final," will explain how to set up and take the test.  Note:  You must pass the final exam with a 60% or higher to receive credit for the course.

SUBMITTING ASSIGNMENTS:  Read instructions carefully to make sure you have fulfilled the requirements of each assignment.  Make sure that you do all your work on your own word processing software first. This way you will have access to the spelling and grammar checkers typically offered with this software and you will be able to archive your own copy of each assignment.  Unless you have made other arrangements with me, plan to save each of your assignments as .doc/docx, .pdf, or ppt/pptx files and submit as attachements or uploads.


With each activity, I’m looking for in-depth, critical thinking, creativity, and clear expression of ideas. The rubrics for each assignment will vary slightly depending on the objective of the lesson, so read each rubric carefully before you even put pen to paper, or in this case, finger to keyboard. This is much like the six-trait assessment you may have had experience with. Each assignment has a version of the rubric below.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Thesis statement is clear and all requirements for assignment are met.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

What do the numbers mean?

  • 4 – Great – Did what was required and did it well.
  • 3 – Good – most of requirement elements there.
  • 2 – Fair – missing several of the required elements.
  • 1 – Needed much more work to be satisfactory.

If you think better in the A,B,C,D arena, you can correlate each number with a grade.


Important: because learning and writing are processes, you may always submit a revised, improved version of any assignment to improve your grade. Your final grade is determined by your average on assignments and quizzes, as well as your final test grade. The assignments and quizzes count 75%, and the final test counts 25%.

Grading scale:

  • A 90-100*
  • B+ 86-89
  • B 80-85
  • C+ 76-79
  • C 70-75
  • D+ 66-69
  • D 60-65
  • No credit - below 60

*Note:  An A grade will not be awarded to a student with zeroes on any of his or her assignments.

Time Requirements:  You have 10 weeks to complete the course.  You will have 2 weeks to complete each unit, and 2 weeks to get your final exam taken.  My suggestion:  Get out of the gate early--don't procrastinate.  Invariably, complications will arise in your life, and if you have given yourself a time-cushion, you won't get stuck with too much to do in too little time.  Even though you have 10 weeks, you may certainly choose to complete the course faster than that.

Suggested deadlines are as follows:

Unit 1, including the "About me," novel choice, and overview assignments:  2 weeks from the day you are enrolled in the course.
Unit 2 - 4 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 3 - 6 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 4 - 8 weeks from enrollment date
Final Exam - 10 weeks from enrollment date

The syllabus will give you an approxmiate length of time each assignment may require to complete.  Keep an eye on those time estimates to help you judge your time wisely.  There is also also a reading requiement (novels in quarters 1-3 and 2 plays in quarter 4).  You will also want to allow for 5-10 hours of reading time for the quarter reading assignment as well.

I'm glad to have you in my class.  Please review my contact information and feel free to contact me whenever you have questions or concerns.

00.01.01 Student Software Needs


Students need access to a robust internet connection and a modern web browser.

This class may also require the Apple QuickTime plug-in to view media.

For students using a school-issued Chromebook, ask your technical support folks to download the QuickTime plug-in and enable the plug-in for your Chromebook.


00.01.02 ABOUT ME

Write a short paragraph to the teacher. Introduce yourself. Use proper sentence structure including capitalization, punctuation and spelling. In this paragraph please also include the following information:

  • What year you are in school. 
  • Name of High School you attend.
  • Your counselor's name and email address.
  • The number of quarters of English 12 you will be taking from EHS and when you expect to graduate.
  • Parent's name and contact information.
  • A contact phone number for you.
  • Any specific information that would help me to understand how best to support you in this class.
  • IMPORTANT:  Click on the "How to review your assignments" link at the bottom of the page.  Review this short video and then include a sentence in your response letting me know that you understand how to see comments and feedback for your assignments.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT:  By submitting your "About Me" you are agreeing to the stipulations set out in the "start here" section and to abide by the EHS honor code:  "As a student of the Electronic High School, I agree to turn in my assignments in a timely manner, do my own work, not share my work with others, and treat all students, teachers and staff with respect."

Make sure you've carefully reviewed all information in the "Start Here" section--especially the Course Requirements--and let's get to work.


05.00.00 - Individuals Matter: People that Change the World

"Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world."
                                                                                          Nelson Mandela

Reading Assignment – Biography

In this quarter you will take some time to look at how people and ideas change the world.  First, you will need to find and read a biography on a person of notable significance from the last few hundred years.

Your biography subject needs to be chosen from the list at the .pdf file attached above. This is a list compiled from LIFE Magazine's articles "100 People Who Changed the World" and "Top 100 People of the Millennium." Look to select a person whom you find intriguing and whom you feel has made a positive contribution to the world.

Important:  The biography you choose must be one written for an adult audience and be approximately 200 pages or longer.  You can't get by with an enclyopedia article or a book written for kids.

You should choose your subject and biography promptly, as several of the assignments for this quarter require a detailed knowledge of the life of your subject as well as your evaluation and review of the biography itself. 

You will also see an attachment above called "New Quarter Two Reading Guide."  You will need to copy/download this reading guide and complete it as you read your biography.  Your responses on the reading guide will also help you accomplish each of the “literature connection” assignments you will encounter.  There will be times when I will tell you what to write on your reading guide, but I will rely on you to fill most of it out on your own.  Hold on to the guide until the end of the quarter and turn it in with your final assignment.


Informational text structure:  Most of what we are required to read in school (and in life) is informative and explanatory text (often referred to as expository). In this type of writing, clarity is the thing--clear thinking, clear evidence and clear writing. Our attention for this quarter is going to be focused on this type of writing.  While there are many organization styles for expository writing, this quarter we will highlight 4 basic expository  text structures: process narration, cause & effect, classification & analysis, and problem/solution.

Effective writing—In  your writing, I will look for interesting introductions, strong thesis statements, effective transitions, clear argument & support for claims made.

Critical reading—In your reading I want you to focus on evaluating writing for an author’s purposes (claims), writing style and strategies, and effectiveness.


Since "structure" is a primary focus this unit, we're also going to spend some time on word structure.  You will find a .PDF file at the top of this page which will give you a list of  common root words and prefixes.  Learning these word stems can give you a measured advantage in vocabulary acquisition throughout your life.  Take some time to review these word stems, memorizing any that you do not, know before each quiz.

05.01.00 - It's a Process

The first unit begins with a look at process writing, or process narration.   Basically, it’s just what it says--narration of a process. But our purpose here is to move beyond the “How to make Chocolate Chip Cookies” essay you wrote in junior high, and to be able to write about a process in a way that is both instructive and interesting. If you think about it, a good deal of the writing you read in your math, science, and social studies courses is this type of more sophisticated process writing.

So to begin, I’d like you to read a process essay titled “Writing Drafts.”  Copy the questions between the asterisks into your own document.  Complete your work and save a copy for yourself.  Then when you have successfully answered each question, submit your work to me.


1 What is his Marius’ thesis--what is the point he is trying to make?

2 What are the three main steps in writing drafts? (He refers to them as the first, second and third drafts.)

3 What did you feel was most instructive or valuable to you as a writer? (include paragraph number)

4.  Just so I can better follow your progress this quarter, include here the title and author of the biography you have chosen to read.




teacher-scored 12 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows you read and understood the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized—didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

05.02.00 - WHAT MAKES A HERO?

My 5-year-old nephew spends most of his waking moments marauding as the “superhero” of the day.   He asked my daughter the other day who her favorite superheroes were and she responded, “Wild Kratts” (characters in a PBS kids show).  By the look on his face, she could tell that he was genuinely puzzled—the guys that run around the world studying animals were clearly not his idea of heroes. What are your thoughts on the subject of heroes?

This activity will have two parts.

A.   First, I’d like you to try out the first step Marius suggested.  I’d like you to do some brainstorming on the topic:  “what makes a hero?”  Then follow his first step and create a list or outline of the ideas you had.

B.  You’ve thought a little about heroes and perhaps thought about those who you would consider your heroes, but now we’re going to use the term “hero” in the more traditional, literary sense. Heroes have always been a part of our literary tradition. The stories of Greek mythological heroes such as Hercules, Jason, and Theseus have been told and retold for hundreds of years. Though some tend to view such myths as quaint tales for children, many would suggest that these stories serve as cultural looking-glasses that help define and nurture the values and ideals cherished by a given society. Perhaps some insight into who we are and what we believe can be gained, consequently, by examining the fictional heroes of our own era.

Mythologist and educator Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, asserted that there is an archetypal pattern for heroes which appears again and again throughout world mythology. This archetypal pattern is referred to as the "Hero’s Journey."

Looking at the story of the hero in mythologies from around the world, Campbell found great similarities. "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons upon his fellow man."1

The second part of this assignment is going to require another type of list—the type you do when you are writing based on research.

First, go to the chart at the “Hero’s Journey” link to see a description of the steps in Joseph Campbell's hero's journey.  Be prepared to understand and discuss each of these steps. 

Storytellers and movie makers have recreated this journey for us over and over—just with new faces and new backdrops. Next, to better illustrate this pattern, choose one of the videos which outlines the steps. They don’t all have the same number of steps, but the same ideas are represented.

Now create a list which will show the steps in the hero’s journey—Campell’s “what makes a hero” process.

         1Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, 3rd edition, Phil Cousineau, editor. Novato, California: New World Library, 2003, pp. 186-187.



teacher-scored 8 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Lists show well though-out ideas and accurate understanding of hero's journey.   /4  
Clarity   Information presented is clear and easy to navigate   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

05.03.00 - THE HERO WITHIN

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." -- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

What does the hero’s journey have to do with you? Campbell asserts that it is a journey we all need to take at various times in our lives. To explore this idea, go through each of the 3 steps below:

A.  First, read the first section from the excerpt from "The Power of Myth" which is an interview Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell. (You’ll want to pause the video so that you can concentrate on the words.)  Then watch the video: "The Hero's Journey in Modern Life."

For this portion of the exercise, once again, copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document. Respond, save a copy for yourself, and then submit your work to me.


1. What are the two types of deeds that define a hero?

2. What does Campbell mean by the “soul’s high adventure"?

3. What does Campbell call “your dragon”?

4. What is the major "claim" Bidlack is making? (It is implied throughout the speech, but stated directly as his closing comment.)

5.  Make a list of experiences when you elected (or were perhaps compelled) to stretch and to grow—learn something new, step out of what is comfortable, go beyond what you though were your limits.


One of the arguments Benjamin Bidlack was making was that perhaps the archetype of the Hero's Journey has transcended time and place because it touches on the very essence of human experience. People everywhere throughout time have experienced crises and "calls to adventure." To accept such calls is to embrace growth, change, and transformation. An awareness of the Hero's Journey, consequently, provides us a map to understand and interpret our lives. As we learn to view life as a journey, we become better equipped to give life-enhancing meaning to our experiences.

Not all of life's calls and challenges are of epic proportion. Indeed, virtually anything that requires us to move out of our comfort zone--a challenging class, a new job, even writing an essay--may serve as a catalyst for personal development.

B.  You’ve created a list of experiences where you have been stretched beyond your comfort zone.  Now, choose one of those experiences and create an outline that shows how you might begin to craft a process narration essay based on this experience.  Because the Hero’s Journey archetype is also mirrored in the challenges and triumphs of real-life, as part of this outline, make sure you include which elements of the Hero's Journey were present in your ordeal. (i.e., what kind of preparation did you have? Were there any helpers or mentor figures? How did the trial test you? Did you encounter disappointing setbacks or periods of self-doubt? How did you grow or develop as a result of the ordeal? With whom did you share your ultimate success with? How did they benefit as a result?)

C.  Now for the next step in the writing process Marius discussed in “Writing Drafts”—writing a first draft.  Keep in mind the objective for this first draft is to just get all your ideas down.    Remember Marius’ suggestion: “write your thoughts quickly. Let one sentence give you an idea to develop in the next.” 

For this assignment submission, you need to include all three parts--the questions you answered, your outline, and your rough draft.  A revision or final draft of this assignment will be required later.

This is one of the assignments which must be turned in as a .doc/docx or.pdf file attachment.


05.03.02 - Additional Resources


teacher-scored 12 points possible 45 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Answers to questions, outline and rough draft included.   /4  
Support   Questions are answered completely, and your rough draft shows a clear thesis and at least 2 body paragraphs with detail which is specific & directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   The ideas are clear.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

05.04.00 - LITERATURE CONNECTION - Real-life Hero's Journey

Because Marius suggests that you step away from your rough draft for a space before you start to revise it, let’s take a minute and fulfill a literature connection assignment.   You have looked at the steps in Campbell’s hero’s journey archetype, you have looked at a hero’s journey you, yourself, have experienced, and you have begun reading about an individual who is considered a “hero” in our society.   Now take a look at the journey this hero has undertaken.  There is a hero’s journey chart on your reading guide.  In the left column, list the main steps in the hero’s journey and in the right column, describe events in your biography subject’s life that might correspond to each step.  Refer again to the list you made in assignment 5.02 and the chart given in that assignment.

I realize that you probably haven’t finished the book, so you don’t know how this hero’s journey ends.  I also realize that you may not be able to find events for all the steps, but keep working on this chart as you read the book and try to get your chart as complete as possible.

So, for this assignment you can just send me a copy of that chart you filled out showing the steps in the hero's journey and the events in your biography subject's life which correspond to those steps.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 50 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   List shows knowledge of both the hero’s journey and your biography subject.   /4  
Support   Events from biography subject's life included to support the steps in the hero's journey.   /4  
Clarity   Ideas are clear and logical.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.

05.05.00 - Drafts Continued

Now for Marius' next step--revision.  Look at the essay you wrote in Assignment 5.03--The Hero Within.  Look over the comments I made.  If I have not yet graded that assignment and made comments about your rough draft, skip this assignment and come back to it when you have my comments.

Note:  I will ask you to turn in both your rough draft as well as the final

A.  In revising this essay, I want you to start with the introduction.  Use the information at the link, "Writing Catchy Introductions," to revise your first paragraph.

B.  Now revise the rest of your essay using Marius' suggestions.

Think about:

  • Content:  Did you say enough/too much?  Did you stay on track or digress in places?
  • Clarity:  Does the introduction explain clearly where your paper is headed and do your supporting ideas come through clearly?
  • Support:  Is it balanced?  Have you cut where ideas don’t clearly connect to your main idea (thesis)?  Do you have sufficient descriptive detail?
  • Organization:  In this case, the organization is a process narration, so is the process made clear?
  • Conventions:  Last step—read for and edit out all errors with mechanics, usage, grammar, spelling, etc. (editing checklist)

Review any comments I made on your rough draft (5.03) and continue to work on your essay until you feel it is the best you can produce.  Highlight or underline places where you made revisions from your rough draft and turn it in.

Once again, this assignment needs to be saved as a .doc/.docx or .pdf file and submitted as a file upload.



teacher-scored 20 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:


Content   Interesting, unique introduction with an easily identifiable purpose or thesis.   /4  
Support   There is enough descriptive detail to explain the ideas introduced.   /4  
Clarity   Ideas and reasoning is clear.   /4  
Organization   The process is clearly outlined.   /4  
Conventions   There are no significant errors in usage, mechanics or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.


06.00.00 - UNIT 6: CAUSE & EFFECT

  • What were the causes of World War II?
  • What are the effects of watching too much television?
  • Why doesn’t it snow at the equator?
  • What events brought about the recent economic downturn?
  • Do antioxidants prevent cancer?
  • What explains the results of your lab experiment?

A great deal of the questions you are presented with every day are of this type--cause & effect.  In this unit you will spend some time looking at the world you inhabit and culture in which you are immersed. While expanding your "cultural literacy," you will also get practice reading and writing informational text organized in a cause and effect structure.


06.01.00 - Lesson 1: “WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE”

So what kind of world did you inherit when you were born?  The singer Billy Joel wrote the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and in it he chronicles some of the people and events that figured significantly in the latter part of the Twentieth Century--roughly from 1950 to 1989. You can become more culturally literate by checking out the various historical allusions in the song.

This assignment has three parts.

A.  Since the song ends with events from 1989, it does not account for the people and events of the 1990's or the first of the 21st Century. For the second part of this activity, you must take on the role of songwriter and finish the job Joel began. You will need to select from the numerous players and events that have had an impact in the last 10-20 years to compose an additional verse to Joel's song. In addition to selecting what material to use, you should try to imitate the style and rhythm of the final verse of the original song.

B.  You've listed some signficant people and events, and as you were doing so, you probably had a very clear idea why you felt they were significant.  For the next assignment, I'd like to be able explain what impact a couple of those events had on the world, or perhaps on you.  But before you begin, I'd like you to review a writing skill that can be especially helpful in this type of writing: using transitional devices. Take a look at the "transitional devices" link provided below.

C.  Now choose two events—either from the original song or from the verse you composed--that you find interesting and write a short explanatory paragraph explaining what impact each event has had on the world today. Don't just give a summary of the event, but rather discuss what effect that event or person has had on you or your world. As you might guess, I am also looking for well-crafted transitions between ideas. There are some links following this assignment which you may find helpful.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Song verse includes a variety of events from the last 20 years, and paragraph details the impact of two events.   /4  
Presentation   Verse is true to the style and rhythm of the original song.   /4  
Clarity   Clear transitions between two events.   /4  
Conventions   Paragraph has no significant errors in mechanics, grammar, or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 3 of your enrollment date for this class.

06.01.03 - Helpful links

06.02.00 – Lesson 2: ANALYZING CAUSE & EFFECT

In the first assignment I asked you to start thinking about causes and effects of events in our world.  Much of the informational reading you do, and will do, is written using cause and effect structure. The trick in analyzing this type of reading is looking for the relationships. In a good cause & effect essay the author will effectively prove that the “causes” really did produce the “effects” claimed. Think about the cause and effect connections you made in the previous activity. Were you able to show a clear connection?

Before I have you do some more of this type of writing, I’d like you to analyze how well another author did with this task.  The link below will take you to an essay titled “Cold Comfort.” Read the essay carefully taking advantage of the information at each of the magnifying-glass icons and answer the questions within the asterisks.

For this portion of the exercise, once again, copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document. Answer the questions, save a copy for yourself, and then submit your work to me.


1. What is the author’s thesis (what does he claim)?
2. Explain two major cause and effect relationships claimed by the author—cause, effect, and the evidence the author gives to prove the cause and effect relationship?
3. Are the author’s arguments credible? Why or why not?
4. What solution does the author propose?
5. Look back at the techniques the author used in the introduction.  What made it an effective introduction?




teacher-scored 12 points possible 40 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows you read and understood the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Responses are clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Support   Evidence given for each answer or claim made.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 3 of your enrollment date for this class.

06.03 Lesson 2 - SKILL BUILDER - Sentence Combining

Most of the writing exercises in the quarter will require informational rather than fictional writing.  In fact, most of the writing you will do, not only in school, but also throughout your life will be this type of writing.  The trick in informational writing is to communicate the information clearly and effectively.  This requires that you not only have a good handle on the content, but that you can structure that content so that it accessible and interesting to your reader. 

For informational writing, I want you to think of three C's

Concise—to the point

Clear—accessible & understandable

Captivating – interesting & relevant


Good sentence combining skills come in very handy with this type of writing.  In this lesson, we're going to spend a little time reviewing and practicing sentence combining.

A.  For this assignment, you must first view the attachment "Sentence Combining 6.03" above.

B. Then once you have studied the information in that attachment (hint: several quiz and test questions are found there), craft a paragraph using all of the sentences below.  I will grade you on your ability to

  1. Show you can use common coordination and subordination constructions;
  2. Create clear, interesting sentences;
  3. Use the punctuation rules you have just reviewed; and
  4. Make these ideas more concise.  These sentences combined have 165 words.  The paragraph you write must use fewer words.


The National Forrest service makes fire-fighting decisions.

They make their decisions based on the cause of the fire. 

They also base decisions on weather conditions.

They make every effort to put out a fire that is started by humans.

A fire started by lightning is a natural occurrence

Most of the time a lightning fire is allowed to burn until it threatens buildings or people.

Wind and dry weather increase the chance that a fire will be more dangerous.

This type of weather increases the likelihood that more effort will be made to control the fire.

The 1988 fire in Yellowstone was a started by lightning and was allowed to burn.

The Yellowstone fire quickly got out of control.

The Yellowstone fire burned far more acreage than was expected.

Periodic fires are healthy for a forest environment.

The Yellowstone fire burned so large that the ecosystem was threatened with long-term harm.

The National Forrest service changed its policy about allowing natural fires to burn uncontrolled.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 45 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Paragraph shows understanding of sentence combining and uses both coordination and subordination constructions.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear and concise and shows variety.   /4  
Conventions   Punctuation rules, as well as other standard conventions rules have been followed.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.

06.04.00 – Lesson 4: COMPARING 1900 AND NOW

Now you give it a shot.  For this assignment, I’d like you to examine some data and speculate on some cause and effect relationships on your own. As you looked at events of the last couple of decades, it is obvious that the world is changing. For this assignment I’d like you to look at the data included in the link "comparing 1900 to today."

If we examine the facts carefully, we might get gain a better understanding of where we've come from--and perhaps even get a sense of where we're headed. As you look carefully at the data there, choose to focus your analysis either on the United States, the World, or both. Next, look for general trends that the various pieces of information seem to point toward. Then, having inferred a generalization that is grounded in the data, write an essay that introduces and supports your idea, using specific examples from the chart.

Be careful not to just rehash facts and figures--seek to establish a major idea, an “effect” that governs much of the data. Although none of the data should directly contradict your thesis, you do not need to use every bit of information provided. Instead, selectively choose evidence that most effectively illustrates the generalization you seek to support. There is no single, correct generalization, but remember the idea you seek to assert is only as strong as the evidence you cite in support of it. I do not expect you to consult any sources beyond the data provided to accomplish this assignment.

A.  To begin, create a chart.  In the center column put an event/statistic from the data.  Then fill in the other two columns with possible causes and/or effects of it.  Some of the causes and effects may be evident in the data, but others may come from your own background knowledge and reasoning.  Here's an example of a chart you could create:

Cause   Statistic   Effect  


B.  Now write your cause & effect discussion of the data.  Your analysis will need to

• Compare the world of 1900 with contemporary reality.
• Include a thesis based on provided data.
• Cite specific information from the provided data to support your thesis.
• Establish what you see to be potential cause/effect relationships
• Utilize effective transitional devices



teacher-scored 16 points possible 50 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Strong thesis statement as a part of an interesting introduction, and the essay details cause/effect relationships.   /4  
Support   The cause/effect relationships are described and supported by the data.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear and there are clear transitions between ideas and paragraphs.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.


Now I’d like you to analyze cause and effect in the life of your biography subject.

For this assignment, I'd like you to write an essay that identifies what characteristic or personality trait was an essential attribute for this individual. Ask yourself, “What traits made the person successful or influential--what caused the successes this person experienced?

Once you have identified a trait that you feel your subject demonstrated, look back to your biography to identify specific instances when your subject displayed that characteristic or trait. For example, if you identify perseverance as your subject's essential trait, cite times where her or she demonstrated a steadfast belief in certain goals and dreams. Note times when he or she held to a course of action, even though success seemed unlikely.  If ingenuity is your subject's essential attribute, provide examples of inventive skills, imagination, and the ability to solve problems with creative solutions. Try to provide as much evidence as possible to support your assessment of this persons "essential" trait.

Here are a few characteristics that you might want to consider: intelligence, integrity, determination, industriousness, perfectionism, assertiveness, eloquence, creativity, ingenuity, courage, persuasiveness, compassion, open-mindedness, and responsibility.

For this essay, I'd like you to take the time to craft a clever, intriguing introduction. Rather than starting the essay: “The essential trait exhibited by ___________ was _____________,” give the reader a 'hook,' or attention grabber, as an incentive to read what you have to say. Refer to the the “Introductions” tip sheet before you revise your introduction. I won’t ask you to turn in your drafts this time, but use the same process you practiced in unit 5 to compose your essay.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Essay has a strong thesis statement as a part of an interesting introduction. and writing shows knowledge of the biography subject’s life and achievements.   /4  
Support   The cause and effect relationships are clear and well supported by events or experiences from the subject’s life.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear and there are clear transitions between ideas and paragraphs.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.


07.01.00 - Lesson 1: CLASSIFICATION & ANALYSIS

You have now looked at two ways authors can organize informational text, process narration and cause and effect. As a writer, using an organizational strategy can help you get your ideas across clearly. As a reader, knowledge of organizational strategies can help you more easily analyze what an author is trying to say to you.

A. In the next couple of lessons, we will look at an additional informational text structures—classification/analysis. Classification and Analysis writing--well it's pretty self-explanatory. But to get a clear picture of what you will be looking for in this type of writing, read the introduction at the link: “Classification and Analysis." As you read, think about what a classification and analysis type of organization is and why a writer would use it.

Now that you have a good idea regarding the structure and purpose of classification/analysis writing, read the essay there, "The Geography of English 102."  As you read the essay, answer the questions within the asterisks.


     1.  What are the main divisions into which the author divides students and what does she claim about the people in each of these divisions? (As you review these, ask yourself why the author chose to present the divisions in this particular order and evaluate the effectiveness of her choices.)

     2.  The author states that she has no "statistical analysis" to back up her claims, so what would you say the purpose of this essay was?  Give an example from the text that you think best represents this purpose.


B.  Next, list some other situations where you have observed people or their actions falling into distinct classifications. 

C.  Finally, chose one of those situations and write an outline which shows how you might craft a classification/analysis essay on that topic. 

Your outline should include:

Thesis:  A statement explaining the claim you would like to make regarding this particular group of people or their actions.
Supporting ideas:  One or two sentences per division which label the divisions and also the characteristics of the people in that division.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 30 minutes


Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Support   Both the answers to questions and the items in your outline have enough detail to support your ideas.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 5 of your enrollment date for this class.

07.02.00 - Lesson 7: “Reading a Classification & Analysis Article

Academic writing is often organized into a classification and analysis style--where a writer breaks down a topic and examines its parts, methods, types, etc.--especially if the topic is complicated.  In this type of writing, writers will often use more than just words to explain their ideas.

A.  Look at the first article below, "Untangling the Roots of Cancer," to answer the first 2 questions.

B.  Choose to read the rest of this article or one of the other articles listed and answer questions 3-6

For this portion of the exercise, once again, copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document. Answer the questions, save a copy for yourself, and then submit your work to me.


1.  Read the first the first page and a half of "Untangling the Roots of Cancer"  On a scale of 1-10 rate the text for difficulty—how hard it is to read and understand.

2.  Scan through more of the article, "Untangling the Roots of Cancer," and list three things the author has done to make the content more accessible--easy to comprehend--and explain how these techniques aid understanding of the material?

3.  Which article did you choose to read in its entirety?

4.  What was the main idea or thesis of the essay?

5.  Explain whether or not you thought the author had enough information to clearly support his/her thesis

6.  In a paragraph, respond to this article--was the classification and analysis of the topic clear and did the author succeed in his/her explanation of the thesis?  




teacher-scored 8 points possible 20 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Shows knowledge and understanding of the selection.   /4  
Support   Answers given show thought and effort and include specific references to the text.   /4  
Clarity   Responses are clear and focused.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 5 of your enrollment date for this class.


Now for your practice with classification and analysis.  This exercise is based on informal interviews you conduct with various generations of people in your family or community. The idea is to find out their feelings about the history of science, technology, and invention. Simply pose the following questions to as many different individuals and generations as possible:

  1. What do you feel are the most important scientific discoveries, technologies or inventions in history?
  2. What scientific discoveries, technologies or inventions have had the greatest impact on your life?

Try to have each person you interview provide at least three examples in his or her answer, and make a record of the various responses in two charts--one for "history" and one for "life." The charts should have column headings for each generational group: peer, parent, grandparent and perhaps, even great-grandparent.

Now, spend some time comparing the data. What trends do you notice for each question? How often do the "history" examples duplicate the "life" examples? Are there similarities in the responses for the different age groups? Do you think the responses would differ if the interview subject lives in a rural, urban or suburban setting? Are there certain points in people's lives when new technologies tended to have especially important influence, such as upon entering the workplace or at the time of a medical crisis?

For this assignment you will need to combine analysis with the data charts you generated with your interview into one coherent presentation. Be as creative as you’d like


teacher-scored 12 points possible 90 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Shows the required inquiry and research.   /4  
Presentation   Presentation of data and analysis well organized and engaging.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 6 of your enrollment date for this class.

07.03.01 - Graphing links


For this assignment, I'd like you to use the classification/analysis structure in a little different way.  Select a pivotal moment in the life of your biography subject. It could be a moment of great triumph, extreme despair, or some other point of great significance. Then, using what you've learned from your research, get inside your subject's head, and, in his/her voice, write a one-two page monologue that reveals your subject's thoughts, feelings, and insights at that moment in time.

Additionally, provide a prefatory paragraph or two that establishes the particulars of the event you are using as the basis for your monologue. Comment on why you consider it to be such an important moment in your subject's life.


teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Explains a pivotal moment--a success or a failure--and analyzes the impact of it.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 6 of your enrollment date for this class.


Much of what drives thought and discussion in our country are the challenges, the problems.  After the work you have done this quarter, some of those challenges should be running around in your head a little. You’re part of the generation to which will be relied upon to attack these issues, so it’s only appropriate that you begin to form opinions about them. 

The heroes for our future will have to present solutions for the issues and challenges of the future generations. In this unit we will focus on problem/solution text organization and you'll be aksed to look at the future from a "problem/solution" perspective.

08.01 Lesson 2: ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE.

To begin to prepare for the main writing assignment for this quarter, I'd like you to identify an issue, problem or challenge we will face in the upcoming century and then begin to research that issue to identify its main characteristics.

For this assignment, I'd like you to conduct an exercise often called an "I-Search."  Read through and carefully follow the 4 steps below:

A.  List four or five of the most challenging issues or problems you see for the future and explain why you feel they are important issues to resolve.   Watch the news, peruse news/opinion sites like or use some of the links below to help you determine which issues seem most challenging and important to you.  For each issue consider: Why is it a problem? Why should it be solved? How did this become a problem? What are possible solutions?

B.   Choose the one issue you find most interesting.  Write a paragraph explaining what you know about this issue and why you feel it is significant.

C.  Research that issue* and construct an annotated bibliography including at least 4 sources.  You will find Pioneer Library, Utah's Online Library, to be very useful in your research. (You will find the link below.  Please contact me if you need the username/password to log in.) Here you can find articles in local, national, and international newspapers as well as scholarly articles about a host of social issues. Given the nature of this assignment, the EBSCO and SIRS sections of Pioneer Library may prove especially useful. Your research, however, doesn’t need to be limited to the internet, try to access books and magazines as well. Conduct your own interview or research if you can. The idea is to get a good grasp of the problem and to start formulating solutions for it. 

*Since some of your sources will likely come from information on the Internet, be mindful of issues of website credibility. Given the nature of your topic--something on which many have strong opinions--you will want to evaluate your sources carefully.

Remember to:

Evaluate the reliability of the source.
Look for bias that can’t be backed up by reasonable evidence
Examine the author’s intellectual or academic credentials

(Use the “website credibility” link for additional help with this.)

An annotated bibliography includes the complete source citation (using MLA format) and an annotation--a paragraph that summarizes the content of the source. See the links below for more instruction on creating an annotated bibliography.

A typical annotated citation, using “MLA documentation” would look something like the following example:

Doe, J. T. and Williams, W. R. "Parental supervision of television viewing and aggressive behavior in children", Journal of Television and Violence, 51 (1996): 534-540.  

The authors, researchers at Western State College, collected data from a group of 8 year olds to test their hypothesis that the amount of violence children saw on television relates to the aggressiveness of their behavior. They found that children who were allowed to watch evening police dramas and "made for TV" specials with abusive situations demonstrated increased aggressive behavior over children who were not permitted to watch these programs. The researchers did not find a connection between aggression in children and television violence as displayed in cartoons and news programs. Another study, conducted by Smith and Wesson, showed that the amount of television violence viewed by children does correlate with aggressive behavior. Smith and Wesson, however, do not consider the type of program viewed. The article by Doe and Williams is one of the few studies that examines aggressive behavior as it relates to different types of television programs.

For further help with annotated bibliographies and citing sources in MLA format, use the links listed below.

D.  In two-three paragraphs, compare what you originally thought about your subject with what you have learned. Include personal commentary and draw conclusions. You should use the information you found in your research, and you should include at least two textual references in your discussion.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

For this assignment, make sure you turn in all 4 steps

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Annotated bibliography shows the required research and includes at least 3 sources.   /4  
Support   Annotations include a solid summary with information that is relevant to the topic.   /4  
Clarity   Annotations are clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   Citations given correctly--following MLA format.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.


In this lesson, I’m going to ask you to take a look at problem solution writing from a couple of different angles. 

A.  The first is a traditional article found in the Salt Lake City newspaper, The Deseret News.  Read the article and answer the questions below.


1.  What is the author’s claim—what is the main issue or problem?

2.  Organization--What does she do to show you the significance of the problem?

3.  What solutions does she offer?

4.  Did you find the article interesting?


B. I realize the focus of this quarter has been expository writing, but for a second example examining problems and solutions, we’re going to drift into the world of fiction.  The relationship between scientific discovery and fiction is an interesting one. Some might say that scientific innovations inspire fiction writers to project current trends into the distant future. Others could rightfully claim that, in many cases, scientific discovery is an outgrowth of fiction speculation.

The French writer Jules Verne, author of classic science fiction works like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and A journey to the Center of the Earth, was one of the first to consciously intertwine fact with fantasy. His scientific adventure stories proved to be not only universally popular, but also almost unbelievably prophetic. Indeed, the realization of many of Verne's imaginative creations provides insight into the relationship between science and science fiction even today.

In any case, science fiction is a great way to get people thinking about the future of mankind. It is a forum where readers can envision possible futures, extrapolate trends, and voice concerns, all in a spirit of adventure. Additionally, science fiction gives us a sense of perspective, by reminding us that it's a big universe we're in but a small planet we're on.

For this second part of this assignment, please read the science fiction short story entitled "Harrison Bergeron" written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  Then respond to the following questions:


  1. What do you think about this author’s view of the future? Is he really proposing that as a possibility?
  2. What are the “real-life” issues in our society the author is addressing? Think about the purpose of the handicaps in this fictional society.
  3. The author is using a type of hyperbole, an exaggeration, to make a point. What would you say his point is?
  4. What are some of the details in the story which show the point the author is trying to make?
  5. What do you think the author is inferring as a “solution” to the problem he is discussing




teacher-scored 16 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the selections.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized—didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Support   Adequate information is given to explain ideas. /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.

08.03 Lesson 3: FUTURE HEROES

For assignment 8.01, you identified and researched what you feel to be a significant issue facing us in the future.  Now that you have had some time to research and analyze this problem, I'd like you to address it in a writing activity.

For this assignment, you have two options:

08.03.01 Option 1

teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

Option 1:    As you have looked at causes and effects of the problem you identified in 8.01, you probably have some ideas on how this problem could be solved in the future.  If you choose this option, assume the persona of a nationally recognized writer for a professional journal some time in the future.   Your job is to write an article for that journal explaining a technological breakthrough that has solved your “issue of the future.” Use the research you did for assignment 8.01 and any additional research you would like to conduct.  Your article must include:

  • The name of the journal in which your article appears. The journal should appropriate to the subject of the article. For example, for a medical breakthrough might be reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association; a scientific study might show up in Scientific American. Below is a link to an extensive list of "academic journals"
  • Detailed explanation of the issue and the challenges that issue presented. Here is where you include the information from your research.
  • The solution to that problem--what has occurred to resolve that problem in our society, such as scientific breakthroughs, political solutions, changes to the structure or attitudes within society, etc.
  • At least one graph or chart which helps illustrate your data.

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.


08.03.03 Option 2

teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

If you choose this option, you will create a science fiction narrative. You have researched the issue you identified in assignment 8.01 and should now understand it well. You should also have a sense of what the implications would be if this issue is not resolved some time in our near future. So, for your narrative, assume the issue hasn’t been resolved and has progressed to an “unforeseen” extreme. You may write this as either a first person third person narrative and it should describe a day in the world where this problem has progressed to an exaggerated extreme. This narrative should include the major "elements of fiction." (See the link for a review) In your narrative you might also want to include a "hero" of the future that can take on this challenge. Review the steps in the "hero's journey" in unit 5.

Before you hand in your assignment, review the requirements for the option you chose to make sure you have addressed them adequately.  At the top of your assignment submission, identify the problem you chose to address.

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.


08.04 Lesson 4: Who is TED?

The exciting thing about the future is that it is populated with ideas and possibilities and modern heroes who fight society’s "dragons." Perhaps, this mission is in your future. For this next assignment, I’d like you to listen to some of the people who are sharing some interesting ideas and solutions. At (link below), choose a speech to listen to. There are many from which to choose representing a number of topics and interests, so pick something that looks interesting to you. Each is about 10-15 minutes long.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 40 minutes

For this assignment I’d like you to outline the speech and include the following:

  • Title and speaker
  • How did the speaker 'hook' you at the beginning?
  • The speakers thesis, or claim
  • Support for the idea—data, examples, reasoning, etc.
  • Implications of this speaker’s ideas--is there something that the speaker doesn’t say, but implies; is there a call to action, or an assumed imperative (something the speaker is suggesting that needs to be done)?
  • Your opinion – did the speaker make his or her case in a believable way? Why or why not?

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each point is addressed completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well-organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.


Now you try. As an expert now on the life and accomplishments of your biography subject, you have been selected to nominate that person for LIFE magazine's Top 100 People of the Millennium. For this assignment create a short two to three-minute speech explaining why this person should be included in this prestigious list. Review “How to give a good speech” as you begin to draft your speech.

Your reading guide should have a lot of the information you need for your speech.  Make sure your reading guide is finished and turn it in here when you finish your speech.



teacher-scored 36 points possible 50 minutes

You have several options in presenting the speech:

  • You may call my google voice account and present it to me.
  • You may do an audio or video recording and send me the file or the link.
  • You can record it on your phone and email it to me
  • You can even save it to disc and snail-mail it to me.
  • If you need help coming up with an option that works for you, let me know.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Claim is clear and is supported with logical, well-developed reasoning.   /4  
Support   Convincing evidence given for nomination.   /4  
Clarity   Speech is focused and well organized.   /4  
Presentation   Speech includes a strong beginning and conclusion. Speaker is confident, calm and easy to follow.   /4  
Additional Requirements   Reading guide is complete and shows effort.   /20  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.