End-of-Year Assessments

It’s time to look way back to September 2009 and see what we’ve accomplished.

To that end, please write two final posts on the blog.

1. How have you changed as a reader?

Think about where you were as a reader in September, and where you are now. How are you different? What has caused the changes? What reading experiences this year have been most important to you? If you have not changed, why not? How do you see yourself changing as a reader in the year ahead? Finally, what are your summer reading plans?

2. How have you changed as a writer?

Has your writing changed this year? Has your attitude toward writing changed? You might want to go back and look at your first few blog posts to see if you can find any differences. Do you use different strategies now than you did in September? What are your strengths as a writer? What are your weaknesses? What do you need to do to improve? Finally, what are your summer writing plans?

As always, please tick the appropriate category for each post. :)

Final Examination

  • Your final exam for English 9A will be Monday, June 7, in the morning.
  • Length: 2 hours
  • You must answer two essay questions.
  • Question 1: What Is Justice?
    • You must refer to at least one of the four texts we read for class study this year: The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, or The Merchant of Venice. It is recommended that you refer to only one of these four.
    • To prepare you should think deeply about such key terms as equality, prejudice, fairness, law, power, needs, rights, desires, money, merit, and social status in relation to justice. The more deeply you think about justice, the more powerful your essay will be. A superficial, surface-level essay will not receive top marks!
  • Question 2: A surprise!
    • To prepare for Question 2 you should think about all the texts you read this year for English, including your Independent Reading books. Re-reading your journal entries is a good idea. Any text you have used to answer Question 1 may not be used in your answer to Question 2.

Finishing Up the ‘Names & Faces’ Project (26 May 2010)

Please complete all of these tasks within the next few days:

  • Complete your self-evaluation and hand it in.
  • Post your personal response on the blog, answering the four questions I have given you.
  • If you made a PDF of your article, please print it in colour. We can then have it laminated and you can present it to the person you interviewed as a small thank-you gift.
  • If you did not make a PDF, consider doing so: they really add to your profile! Apple’s Pages has a nice set of templates that make designing an attractive layout very easy.
  • Da Duplicate Boys need to produce new profiles.
  • Please read all the posted profiles on the Names & Faces wiki and leave comments. The comments all have to be approved by me first, so they won’t appear immediately after you write them. As you read the profiles, prepare to answer the question: which is the best one?

Independent Reading: Final Deadline

All Journal Entries must be posted on the class blog and all entries completed on the Rating Sheet no later than 10 P.M. Sunday, June 6. Entries completed after that date will not add to your mark for Independent Reading.

Points to Remember:

  • Marks will be computed on 41 weeks total.
  • If you don’t finish a book, either because you don’t like it or because you run out of time, you can still earn credit for the pages you did read by writing a journal entry and putting the information on the Rating Sheet.
  • You should write Journal Entries immediately upon finishing each book, not all at once just before the deadline.
  • Final marks will be based on the whole school year, beginning in September 2009. However, consideration will be given to students who have significantly improved in the second semester.
  • Use the ‘Term 2′ Rating Sheet to enter information for each book you have read.

Names & Faces

The project is described in the one-page PDF I sent out by email.

Assessment Criteria

These are posted on the Zoho spreadsheet that I created, “Names & Faces Assessment” ( If you can’t view the spreadsheet, let me know.


  • Each group needs to hand in either paper or digital copies of
    1. Your initial interview questions.
    2. A complete transcript of the interview.
  • Each group needs to send the finished article plus at least one photo of your subject to me as email attachments (be sure the article is an attachment, not pasted into your email message). The subject line of your email should be “Names & Faces / [your names]“. For example, Larry, Moe, and Joe’s subject line would be “Names & Faces / Larry, Moe, Joe”.
  • Each individual student needs to complete the Self-Evaluation. The questions for this are on the Zoho spreadsheet, but I will send them to you via email when the time comes to complete your self-evaluation.
  • Each individual student needs to write a personal response on the class blog that responds to the following questions:
    • What was the biggest difficulty you encountered in this project?
    • What was the most enjoyable aspect of this project?
    • What will you remember most about this project?
    • What have you learned from this project?

Timeline & Due Dates

  • Complete transcript of questions & answers due: May 12 (LEA) or May 13 (RN).
  • Finished article submitted to me: Sunday, May 23.
  • Re-writing (as needed), self-evaluations, personal responses: May 24-28

Speaking Shakespeare / April 2010


Recitations: 9LEA students will perform their speeches on Tuesday & Wednesday, April 6-7. 9RN students will perform their speeches on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, April 5, 6, & 8.


After you have performed your speech from The Merchant of Venice, write a post on the blog in which you respond to this question: “What did you discover by memorizing and performing your speech that you did not realize beforehand?” To put it another way: it’s one thing to watch a play; it’s another thing to read and discuss a play; but to perform a play—or even one speech from a play—is something else again. How would you describe the difference between merely hearing, reading, and discussing a speech, versus memorizing and performing the speech?

Your blog post should be one single paragraph, about 100 words long. Be sure that it is organized very well, with a clear assertion at the beginning, followed by all the evidence, argument, and explanation needed to support your assertion. Since this is just one paragraph—not an entire essay—you don’t need to worry about an introduction or a conclusion. This paragraph is a chance for you to improve your marks for Criteria B (organization) and C (use of language), so organize your thoughts, arrange the ideas in your paragraph logically, provide evidence & explanation, and proofread to make sure your writing is clear and correct.

Please be sure to tick the “Speaking Shakespeare” category before publishing your post.

Due date: your paragraph must be posted on the blog no later than Thursday night, April 8th.

Independent Reading for the April report cards

Journal entries and corresponding entries on the Rating Sheet must be completed by Monday, April 5 to count on the April report card. Anything completed after that date will be credited on the final report card at the end of the school year.

Environment Essay / January-February, 2010


Write an essay responding to the question, “How does our environment shape who we are?”

You may refer to three written sources in your essay: 1) Lord of the Flies, by Wm. Golding; 2) “Nature & Nurture” (Washington Post, 1998); 3) “Identical Twins Not As Identical As Believed” (Science Daily, 2008). You may also drawn on any personal experience or information that may be relevant. For example, if you, your mother, and your grandmother all hate the taste of papaya, that may be relevant.

Length: Around 1000 words. Less than 500 words is not acceptable; more than 2000 words will not be read.

Due Dates

9LEA: By 10 P.M. on Wednesday, February 3.

9RN: By 10 P.M. on Thursday, February 4.

Format: You must submit your essay to me as an email attachment. DO NOT simply paste it into an email message; if you do, I will send it back to you. Write your essay using any word-processing software you like, save the document, and attach it to your email message. If you need help figuring out how to send attachments, ask!

Civil Rights Song Pastiche

For this assignment you may use as your model any of the following songs:

“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

“If I Had a Hammer”

“Birmingham Sunday”

“Blowin’ in the Wind”

The songs and song lyrics are available for download from my ‘public folder’, here:

Songs: Audio / English Audio / Songs and Sounds of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Song lyrics: Handouts / English 9 / To Kill a Mockingbird / Civil Rights Songs.pdf

Your task is to choose ONE of the four songs listed above and write at least two new verses for the song, using original lyrics. Your lyrics may continue the ideas in the original, or they may be completely different from the original. Humour is welcome, but it must be in good taste. If you are not sure whether your humour is in good taste . . . it isn’t.

Your two new verses must be singable. That is, they must fit the rhythm and rhymes and melody of the original.

The purpose of this assignment is to give you more experience paying attention to the rhythms of language. Since song lyrics and their rhythms are usually simpler than the words and rhythms in serious poetry, this task will be easier than the poetry pastiche we did earlier in the year.

When you finish your two new verses, you must either (a) sing them, or (b) have a classmate sing them for you, so we can judge whether they do indeed match the rhythms of the original. You will not be graded on your singing ability.

This assignment is an opportunity to practice an important skill and have fun at the same time. Have fun!

To Kill a Mockingbird: Book vs. Movie (10 November 2009)

When you have finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, write a post for the blog in which you compare the book with the movie. You should try to answer these questions: What are the most important differences between them? How do these differences change the way you are affected by the book, as compared with the movie? Does one version make you feel differently, or think about different things? Finally, which version do you prefer? Why? Remember to check the correct category before you post your response.

Independent Reading: 1st Assessment

The cut-off date for Independent Reading to be counted on the November report card is

Saturday, October 11

Any work submitted after that date will not be counted until the next report card.

For your reading to count, you must a) post a Journal Entry on the class blog, and b) fill in one line per book on the Independent Reading Rating Sheet (at

As of October 11, you will be responsible for 7 weeks of Independent Reading (except for Ina, who arrived late; Ina, you will be responsible for 4 weeks). This means that to earn a low 5/10, you must have read at least 350 pages (50 pages per week). To earn a 10/10, you must have read at least 1,330 pages (190 pages per week).

If you have questions about any of this, email me!


October Holiday: Independent Reading Marks (and writing assignments)

As November report cards are fast approaching, any books you read after the October Holiday will not be counted until the second report card, in January.

This means that to earn credit for the November report you must post your journal entry on the class blog and you must enter your page totals on the Google Docs “Independent Reading Rating Sheet”.


At the end of the October Holiday I will temporarily block access to the rating sheet so that it cannot be changed until I finish calculating marks.

To find the rating sheet, go to Google Docs ( and log in using the email address you gave me (it does not have to be a Gmail address, but it does have to be the same address you gave me). If you don’t have a Google account, you will be asked to create one before you log in. If you have trouble with any of this, email me and I will help you.

Finally, you must complete all of your writing assignments by the end of this week, i.e., before you go to camp: (1) your ‘personal response’ to The Catcher in the Rye, (2) your pastiche of Catcher, and (3) your poetry pastiche. By the end of the holiday, if everything goes well, I will have all of them marked.

Oh, and don’t forget: the clock keeps ticking on Independent Reading during the holidays, so use them to do even more reading than you are able to do when school is in session. At a minimum, read every day as you usually do, and for an extra 45 minutes at least one day a week.

September 22, 2009: Pastiche of a poem

While out of class you finish your personal response to The Catcher in the Rye and your pastiche of J.D. Salinger’s style in Catcher, in class you are going to work on another pastiche—this time, of a poem.

Choose a poem from The Dragon Book of Verse. It will be easier if the poem has a distinctive style: repetitions of words or phrases, for instance, or a peculiar structure. Your pastiche should be at least 14 lines long (the length of a sonnet) and no more than 30 lines long (we’re looking for quality, not quantity). When you are done, post both the original poem (or at least enough of it so we can understand the style you are imitating) and then your pastiche of it.

I’ve done a pastiche of John Milton’s sonnet “When I Consider How My Light is Spent”, also called “On His Blindness”, which provides one example of one way to write a pastiche of a poem—but it’s not the only possible approach.

September 17, 2009: Pastiche on The Catcher in the Rye

Your pastiche can be on any topic, but it should imitate Salinger’s style so that when we read it, we ‘hear’ Holden talking to us and recognize his voice. The better pastiches will also echo Holden’s typical attitudes and views, so that when we read them we think, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what Holden would say on that subject.’

Length: 300-400 words.

Due date: Please post your pastiche on the class blog no later than Thursday night, September 24th.

Remember to check THREE categories before you publish your pastiche: your name, ‘Catcher in the Rye’, and ‘Pastiche’.

First assignment: who are you going to be?

All of you are in the process of becoming somebody. Who are you going to be? By this time in your life you have met a lot of people, some in person, and many more in stories, movies, on TV, etc. Among all the people you have met, seen, spoken with, observed, where will you fit in? Are you going to be someone who’s best known for intelligence? good looks? success? kindness? Are you going to live your life rather selfishly, or will you devote at least some of your energy to making the world a better place? Will you have a quiet life, or an exciting one? A long life, or a short one? Will you spend most of your time at home, or out of the house? Alone, with just a friend or two, or surrounded by lots of other people? What kind of job or career will you have? Will you marry? Have children? Be rich? Famous? Will you achieve great things, or lead a rather quiet life?

Who are you going to be?

Of course you don’t know, so use your imagination. Be serious—don’t just make jokes. Try to imagine the person you will become, the life you will lead, and describe it all in as much detail as you can. You know yourself very well, so just move yourself into the future and see who you will become.

Write your response in a new post on this blog. You can either write your response here, in WordPress, or you can write it it using any word processor and then paste it into WordPress (though if you use MS Word, it may do weird things when you paste it, so paste it first into Notepad or something similar, then copy it from there into the blog).

When you have written your post, check two categories: 1) your name, and 2) the topic. In this case, the topic category is ‘Who Will I Be?’

300-500 words should do it, but don’t worry too much about length. Careful thought and good writing are more important. If you get stuck, drop me an email.

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