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Middle College
Senior English - 2016-17

Mr. Greg Lance, San Mateo Middle College
Office: East Hall Building 12, Room 205
Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 8-11 am, 2-3 pm, and by arrangement 
Office Phone (w/ Voicemail): (650) 574-6537 

Senior English focuses on the reading and understanding of a variety of , vocabulary development, writing, and skills of rhetorical analysis. Course goals include:

• furthering your appreciation and understanding of literature;

• developing your writing, reading, researching, thinking, and speaking skills;

• expanding your knowledge about psychology, sociology, and philosophy and how they might be applied to literature

• preparing you for college level work, the SAT, and perhaps even the AP Language Exam

Literature- We will use literature to improve your reading and critical thinking skills and identify and discuss two large themes: the search for self/identity and the search for meaning. We will explore questions related to how society shapes the individual and how individuals shape society. Literature we read this year will include: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Kahled Hosseini; Hamlet by William Shakespeare; Oedipus Rex by Sophocles; The Stranger by Albert Camus; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey , and Siddartha by Herman Hesse. We will also work with a variety of poetry, short stories, essays, and speeches.

Writing—You will frequently be asked to write both short and extended essays. In particular, focus will be on

• writing to support a thesis while doing literary or rhetorical analysis

• analyzing and synthesizing different sources in writing a research paper

• practicing timed writing in preparation for the SAT/ACT tests

• writing personal essays for college applications and scholarships

• some creative and poetry writing where we can fit it in.

The Internship Project: While this will be primarily handled by Mr. Clardy, there may be parts of it that count for English. More to follow.

Vocabulary- You will have vocabulary quizzes every two weeks or so. A strong vocabulary will unlock higher levels of reading for you, improve your writing and speaking, and raise your scores on SAT exams. You are encouraged to add to these lists above and beyond what you are assigned in class. Hard work can really pay off here. Flash cards are not required, unless you have scored less than a C on a previous quiz.

Critical Thinking- One of the goals of reading and discussing literature is to hone your thinking skills, to develop your ability to look closely at what you read and notice patterns and flaws. Literature can sometimes provide the opportunity to reflect and apply those same skills to our own lives. We will also develop your skills of rhetorical analysis, breaking down the strategies a writer or speaker is using to influence the audience in politics, advertising or everyday life.

Class Projects/Community Service: Literature has the potential to inspire action. In the past, students in my courses have put on a Kite Festival that raised a thousand dollars for an international aid organization. I look forward to seeing where literature takes us this year!

Course Expectations for Senior English:

Trying—In this class we have a rule; you have to try. The only failure is to do nothing. To come into class having misinterpreted but attempted an assignment is not a failure. A blank piece of paper is. Actually, your “misinterpretation” may sometimes be a unique insight. Try.

Reading--You are expected to read, cover to cover, the novels and other forms of literature assigned. Your opinion on the text is not valid, your experience is incomplete, your integrity has been compromised if you try to somehow get by without actually engaging in the lives and world’s this literature offers up to you. Read.


Often, cheating or plagiarism happens in moments of desperation. Part of maturing from adolescence to adulthood is being able to seek help or act before things become desperate or managing your life so that the moment of desperation doesn’t come. If you are confused, overwhelmed, or kind of bored, come to me or your advisor sooner rather than later. I have all the respect in the world for those who will do this. On the other hand, copying the work, words or thoughts of your classmates, scholars, SparkNotes, etc. and offering them as your own is disrespectful and an affront toward your teacher, your self, and your education. Work that is the result of dishonesty will receive a zero with no opportunity to make it up. Be honest and seek help early to avoid this.

Late Work—I want students to learn to behave as responsible adults. Students communicating about an occasional problem in an honest or straightforward way will have no problems. Chronic problems in this area will result in penalties. Major deadlines for essays, tests, and projects must be met.

Materials: For the most part, it is up to you how you organize yourself. You may find a 1” binder with a few dividers and a notebook of college-ruled paper that has three holes to fit in the binder useful.

Grading: Projects/Tests/Essays are 50% of your grade, homework is 35%, Vocabulary and Reading Quizzes are 15%. An “A” indicates excellent/model work. A “B” indicates good, solid work. A “C” is average work. Passing grades are A, B and C. No Ds are issued as final grades. Turning in work matters, and so does its quality!

Attendance: You are expected to be in class and on-time.

Contact: I am in my office by 8:00am most days and many afternoons until 3:00. I check email several times a day and sometimes at night. Send emails to . My phone is 574-6537. An email alerting me to a message you have left will result in my calling back sooner. Students, please don’t hesitate to ask for help! Parents, please feel free to contact me for any reason! I am excited to be a part of the Middle College and look forward to a great year working with you!