Honors English I -- Honors Portfolio
Honors English I
Below, you will find specifics regarding Honors English I. This will include what to expect throughout the course and what extensions an honors student will receive in this class that is not taught in the general level class. If you have questions regarding the following, please contact the course teacher.
Honors English I is a course taught at a more rigourous pace for freshmen students that fulfills the English I graduation requirement. This course is best suited for students who enjoy reading and desire to challenge themselves to deeper analysis and literary investigation. Students will complete all English I assignments and assessements to master the Common Core State Standard for English Language Arts for grade 9. The course aligns with our CCS Curriculum Maps for English I; however, students will be expected to learn the basic standards quickly and should be ready to dig deeper into content through our Honors English I extensions. These extensions are designed to prepare students for future honors and Advanced Placement courses within the English pathway and across other subject areas. Honors English I is a recommended pre-requisite for all subsequent Honors English courses, especially the yearlong English II Pre-AP pairing with AP World History, so vertical alignment is applied when applicable to multiple courses.
Throughout the course, students will read the majority of our course texts outside of class. They will work independently and collaboratively during class to think critically to determine author’s purpose, evaluate the effectiveness of specific textual details, and make thematic connections between all texts within each unit. Students will learn in a variety of methods including (but not limited to) independent reading comprehension, thought provoking activities, class discussions, research, projects, and group work. Honors students will work in an assigned “learning team” for each unit to reinforce the importance of establishing group norms, contributing meaningfully in a group setting, maximizing time management skills, and presenting.
Standards and Objectives
English I is designed with a thematic approach to literature. The reading and writing assignments that are included in our standards create a foundation for literary analysis; however, mastery of these skills is imperative for a student to be successful in subsequent honors and Advanced Placement English courses. The majority of the Honors English I extensions involve additional reading and analysis designed to build a foundation for understanding how to investigate a text, think critically, evaluate an author’s purpose, etc. Each unit focuses on building these skills through independent basic comprehension and then working collaboratively in a learning team to analyze the text with close literary investigation.
According to the AP Language Guide from College Board, “there are no prerequsites for an AP English Language and Composition course.” However, “students who have had experience in rhetocial analysis, argument, and synthesis may more easily address the objectives of the course. Such skills may be introduced as early as middle school level.”
Likewise, the College Board AP Literature Overview reports that “there are no prerequisite courses for AP English Literature and Composition. Students should be able to read and comprehend college-level texts and apply the conventions of Standard Written English in their writing.”
While there may be no required pre-requisites for these courses, we believe that aligning our Honor English I extensions with the goals for both AP Literature and AP Language our students will be more successful in their future academic endeavors. Both Advanced Placement courses require close reading and critical analysis of text; therefore, we approach the Honors English I course as the foundation for these skills and work to become better readers, writers, and literary analyst.
Click here to access the Parent Curriculum Documents.
Instructional Materials and Methods
English I has four thematic units: Choices and Consequences; Circumstances Beyond Your Control; Leaders, Followers, Bystanders; and Success versus Failure. In each unit, Honors students will read an additional text to conduct their literary analysis and make additional thematic connections.
Unit One: Choices and Consequences
In the unit, honors students will be introduced to the importance of close reading. Throughout the unit, the textual analysis will be in completed in phases to build the critical reading skills for literary analysis.
Phase one of this unit text is “Separating the Pieces” of the text. In learning teams, students will look beyond the plot to closely investigate the text to identify different literary elements including symbolism, flashback, color motif, character changes, setting, historical context, etc. Each learning team will be responsible for one element from the text and will report out to the whole class their findings. Each student will be responsible for all details discussed in class, reinforcing the importance of paying attention during class presentations/discussion, asking questions, and presenting details clearly.
The second phase is “Putting the Pieces Together”. In learning teams, students will review the “pieces” from phase one and evaluate how the author connects the details to enhance the meaning and impact the reader. Teams will analyze how the individual textual details work together and impact one another. Students will create a symbolic visual conveying the novel’s meaning. The visual should demonstrate the interconnectedness and importance of the author’s choices throughout the text to impact the novel’s meaning.
The last phase for this project is “Reflection on Author’s Message and Choices.” In this showcase of each group’s visual, students evaluate the effectiveness of each learning team’s visual by taking what they have read, what we have discussed in class, and what they have learned through their own unit group analysis to draw a conclusion about what they perceive to be the author’s message as conveyed by the unit group’s visual. During this “Gallery Walk”, students individually critique each visual providing positives and suggestions to consider. They are not evaluating the “artwork” but instead they are evaluating the analysis of the text that the visual conveys. Following the individual evaluations, learning teams reflect on their peers’ critiques for their team's visual. Before submitting final visual, learning teams will have a chance to reflect on constructive peer feedback and make any changes on their own visual.
Unit Two: Circumstances Beyond Your Control
In this unit, students will be required to complete their research projects individual with much of the work completed outside of seat time. Simantaneously, students individually read a class novel. They will be assessed on basic reading comprehension from the text prior to analyzing as a class. At the conclusion of the novel, the students will conduct their own analysis within learning teams to trace the impact of one literary element throughout the course of the text and evaluate how it impacts the author’s message. They will build on the skills learned from Unit One to determine which literary element was most impactful. They will then determine three ways the literary element impacts the message. This framework becomes the thesis and content for a literary analysis presentation. (ie: Ray Bradbury, in his novel Farenheit 451, uses the changing motif of fire to ignites Montag’s personal questioning about his society, fuel Montag’s desire for learning, and show the change Montag undergoes at the end of the novel.) Learning teams will receive the expected format for their presentation but they will be responsible for all literary analysis, as well as presenting it to their peers.
Unit Three: Leaders, Followers, Bystanders
To Kill a Mockingbird is the English I novel for this unit. While this novel will be read in all English I classes, Honors student read the entire text mostly outside of class. They will be assessed on their reading comprehension of the plot and details throughout the reading. Students will analyze multiple plot lines and discuss how they connect in the final chapters. Students will also closely examine key passages and symbols. Author’s choice of flashback and word choice will also be evaluated and discussed throughout the novel. Students will also read and analyze other songs, poems, articles, etc to connect to the text. When reading poetry, students will use the College Board suggested strategy -SOAPSTone. At the conclusion of this unit, Honors students will be asked to look at “Human Nature” through the characterization throughout the novel. A “Character Continuum” will be completed in learning teams. Students will then participate in a Socratic Seminar to connect the unit topic of Leaders, Followers, and Bystanders to Harper Lee’s interpretation of Human Nature through her novel. Students will be discussing Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings from all three units in connection with the text and supporting their responses with textual evidence.
Unit Four: Success versus Failure
Students will independently read a text in a learning team where they will apply all analysis skills previously learned throughout the course. Students will read, understand, discuss, evaluate, and present their textual findings to the class. Students will have a choice in which book they read and how they present, but presentations are expected to address the Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions from the unit, as well as evaluate the author’s message and the key literary elements that help the reader derive that message.
Students are assessed in a variety of ways throughout the course. Students will receive daily grades for in class assignments. Quizzes will be used to assess understanding throughout each unit and test will measure the application of the standards. At the end of each unit, Learning Team projects will assess the overall understanding of thematic connections and literary analysis expected in the Honors extensions. Students will be assessed for their learning team’s performance throughout each unit, as well as receive an individual grade for their personal contributions to the group.
At the end of the semester, all English I students will take the NCFE for English I. This exam will not include any Honors extensions and will count for 25% of the students final course average.