Evan McCowan
[email protected]

Course Description: 
This course is designed to develop student ability to critically evaluate literature from different genres including fiction prose, nonfiction prose, poetry, and drama.  Students will develop skills in critical analysis, evaluation, and application of these different texts while enhancing their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary development.  In addition, this course is also designed to enhance formal writing skills and development of a narrative voice while presenting outside research.  Proper grammar usage and mechanics, cohesive and transitional writing structure, and rhetorical/argumentative writing skills along with expository writing will also be points of emphasis.

Texts:  Holt McDougal Literature: British Literature

            1984 by George Orwell

            Other novel(s) yet to be determined

Class Materials Needed:

  • Pencil or Pen
  • Notebook or paper
  • 3-Ring Binder (this will be where you will keep all notes, assignments, and returned quizzes, and tests.  You will be graded on binders so it is imperative that have one and keep it organized.)

Course Goals: 

  • To conduct a higher level of thinking and reasoning.
  • To read, comprehend, evaluate, and critique works of literature, including drama, prose, and poetry.
  • To become competent, if not expert, writers of all rhetorical modes including narration, description, exposition, and persuasion.
  • To develop better research and study skills using both technology and traditional methods.
  • Develop vocabulary through analysis of the word and other development tools.
  • Accomplish the Standards of Learning objectives for 12th graders set forth by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Grading:  Grades will be earned based on the following assignments.

  • Daily Work (including quizzes, daily assignments, and class participation)  35%
  • Test Grades (including essays, journals, book reports, and research paper)  40%
  • Binder, Daily Writings, and Homework  25%

According to the new attendance policy, one whole point will be deducted from the student’s final average at the end of each nine week grading period per unexcused absence.  For example, a student that has a final average of 93 (A-) and 4 unexcused absences in that specific block at the end of the first nine weeks would receive a final grade of 89 (B).

Class Rules:

  • Come to class prepared and on time.
  • Have all work ready to submit on the assigned day.
  • No leaving your seat or talking without permission.
  • No food, CD players, I-pods, cell phones, or any other electronic devices are allowed in class.
  • Participate in class and class discussions, complete all scheduled assignments, prepare for all tests and quizzes, and enjoy your time in English 12.

Class Content:

  1. Grammar and Writing
    • We will roughly spend half of almost every day covering proper grammar usage and mechanics along with writing.  Parts of speech along with sentence form and structure will be major emphasizes.  We will also spend time incorporating original writing such as journals, poetry, and various essays.  Expository and informational writing will be major points of emphasis.
  2. Literature
    • The other half of the day will be spent on studying literature.  We will explore a variety of British literature and evaluate common threads between different cultures and historical periods in the approach to drama, prose, and poetry.  The student will also develop analytical and rhetorical skills in evaluating literature, recognizing universal archetypes, and identifying literary techniques such as figurative language, diction, syntax, and various other devices.  We will be using our textbooks along with various supplemental texts.
    • The thematic literary units we will cover are:
      1. The Origins of a Nation:  The Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Periods 449-1485
      2. A Celebration of Human Achievement:  The English Renaissance 1485-1660
      3. Tradition and Reason:  The Restoration and the 18th Century 1660-1798
      4. Emotion and Experimentation:  The Flowering of Romanticism 1798-1832
      5. An Era of Rapid Change:  The Victorians 1832-1901
      6. The Power of Research
      7. New Ideas, New Voices:  Modern and Contemporary Literature:  1901-present



  3. Daily Writings
    • Every day there will be a quote, question, or problem on the board.  Students are responsible for copying the quote or question and then responding to it in three to five lines. 
  4. Quizzes and Tests
    • Every so often, I will give a quiz over past vocabulary words or terms.  Don’t worry; I will always go over with you the day before what terms you can expect to see on the quiz the following day.  We may also have quizzes over what we have covered or read in class on a given day.
    • Tests will be given following certain units or topics.  For instance, we may have a comprehensive test over the unit of “Beowulf”.  I will give you a study guide before every test and review with you what you can expect to see on the test.
  5. Journals
    • Students will write on a variety of topics.  Each journal should be one full page in length.  The number of journals varies each nine weeks.  Students should write legibly and sensibly.  Any attempt to writer larger than unusual or to skip lines will result in a grade deduction.  Remember, journals are graded as test grades.
  6. Essays
    • We will be writing numerous essays and the revision process is sometimes a lengthy one.  You will need to keep each draft of every essay.  This section will also include notes taken concerning the different rhetorical modes and helpful hints to guide you along the planning, writing, and revision process.
    • We will also have an oral presentation as part of expository/persuasive writing.  Students will choose a topic, research, and present a persuasive presentation.  Students will also participate in the constructive, critical evaluation of these presentations.
  7. Research Paper
    • A research paper on an approved topic will also be a part of course requirements.  The topic must be verified by me and must be completed in MLA of APA documentation citation format.
    • Along with a general research paper, students will also be asked to complete a research report over one of the major authors in British literature.  This report will include information on the author’s life, writing style, major works, and contributions to the literary world.
  8. Binders
  • As was mentioned, all notes, assignments, journals, essays, quizzes, and tests will be kept in your binder.  Students are asked to keep an organized binder as it will be periodically checked for completeness and accuracy and graded.

If you every have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I am available for conferences during my planning period from 12:15 to 1:50 and can be reached at 926-8400.  I encourage any student who needs extra help, has any questions, or concerns to please talk to me as they feel necessary, either before or after class or during my planning.  Thank you and I look forward to a great year!

Evan McCowan

[email protected]