High School English

November 18

Research paper is due, finally.

Final draft, and the rough draft that has been marked need to both come to me next week.

Then, you will be finished.

Checksheet below —

HSE Research Paper Checksheet

By the way, if you are confused at all about how to blend quotations, write a works cited page, format in-text citations or anything else, please contact me via email right way!

November 11

Draft your research paper.  Get it to me BEFORE next Tuesday and I’ll have a chance to comment on it.

November 4

Recall that I told you today how I wouldn’t let you fail the research paper assignment?  Wasn’t that magnanimous of me?  (Magnanimous = generous).  The catch is –and there’s always a catch — in order to not fail this assignment, you have to write well enough to receive a “C”, and if you don’t…I’ll just make you rewrite the paper until you do.  Most of you would prefer to do holiday things during your break instead of rewriting an English paper, so work steadily now and that won’t be an issue.

Also recall that I acknowledged that there is such a lot to remember when writing a longish paper like this one.  Big things, such as T-R-I-A-C and little things like hanging indents all combine into one ginormous issue for you when you write and for me when I grade your writing.  THEREFORE, I would very much like to have time to evaluate a draft before your final is due on November 25.  Please make arrangements to email this to me before November 18, or give me a paper copy before then.  Thanks.

I bet you’re wondering when I’m going to get to telling you about this week’s homework, yes?

Here ’tis:

1. Write a thesis.

2. Outline your paper.  Both of these can be accomplished by printing and completing this form, right here — Research Paper Organizer

3.  Write.  Write, write, write.  Write those main body paragraphs!

4.  Pronouns test next week.  Go see more practice quizzes in grammarbook.

October 28

It’s all about making yourself look smart, ya know?  Credibility is the ticket when writing a research paper, and yours will be strengthened when you give a nod to the opponent.  Yes, it’s true that raising the driving age to 18 will inconvenience many families, and yet…

Write your counterarument paragraph this week, following the T-R-I-A-T-R-I-A-C model on the handout I gave you today.  (I’ll link it below just in case…)  This is a rough draft, but take it seriously and you’ll be that much closer to the end of your research paper.

Structure of Counterargument Paragraph

Also, go to grammarbook and work some more pronouns quizzes.

October 21

I distain cold swimming water. If the temp is not at least 820 F, I see no reason to take a dip, and even then will enter the pool gradually – preferring to acclimate my body to the frigid liquid one toe at a time rather than to just dive in and get it over with, like the rest of my family does.

In keeping with this attitude, I am asking you to dip your toe into the research paper pool this week and write one – just one – main body paragraph. If you do this correctly you will be nearly 15% closer to the finished draft. (Admittedly this doesn’t sound that breathtaking, but hey. Fifteen-percent off of a $100 pair of shoes brings their price down to $85, and that’s always nice.)

Write one main body paragraph for your research paper, following the T-R-I-A-C style and integrating quotations correctly. Below is the link to the information we discussed in class today regarding quotation integration. As I mentioned, the T-R-I-A-C style is too skimpy for the final draft of a weighty paper such as yours, but for now it’s fine. (Later you’ll expand to T-R-I-A-I-A-C

Quotation Integration handout


Please write both a down draft and an up draft for this paragraph. In other words, draft it, print it out, edit it, and then make it better. This is not a final draft, but a second draft, which will be better than the first draft but not perfect yet. Both drafts are due next week.

Also check grammarbook.com for your next grammar quizzes.

October 14

Ladies and gentlemen, we are so close to writing the research paper. So close. But first, just a bit more planning and organizing has to happen.

Today I discussed the Works Cited page and had you look at the sample research paper entitled, “The Blame Game”. We looked at “in-text citations” and “works cited entries”, but concentrated mostly on the works cited entries, which are included as the last page of your paper.

This week write a rough Works Cited page, citing all of the articles I have given you for source material. These are listed below.

  • “Is Online Social Networking Good or Bad?”
  • “Does Facebook Replace Face Time or Enhance It?”
  • “Clinical Report: The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families”
  • “Social Networking Benefits Validated”
  • “Facebook and Bebo Risk ‘Infantilising’ the Human Mind”
  • “’Flocking’ Behavior Lands on Social Networking Sites”
  • “Bullycide: A Brief History of the Phoebe Prince Phenomenon”

The general rule for citation entries is this –

Author’s last name, author’s first name. “Title of article in quotation marks.” Name of web site in italics. Date of publication DD MMM. YYYY. Web. Date of access DD MMM. YYY.

Which looks like this –

Palmer, Josephine.  “The Life of a Flea.” Insects.  17 Feb. 2013.  Web.  4 Apr. 2013

Then, I need you to get serious about the prompt, “Is social networking good for our society?” and choose a side to support.

Prompt: Is social networking good for our society?

What is your position on the prompt? Beneficial? Detrimental?

No matter which position you take, you will have to make claims and back them up with specific evidence. We did an exercise a few weeks ago about claims/evidence; this time your evidence will come from your source texts. Below is an example; use it to see how I would like you to list at least three claims for each side and evidence from your reading to support it.


Position: Social networking is beneficial to society.

Claim #1: Social networking connects people with like interests.

Specific Evidence: From “Social Networking Benefits Validated” – “before social networking, the one kid in school who was, say, a fan of Godzilla or progressive politics might find himself isolated. These days, that youngster has peers everywhere.”

Continue, with at least three claims and specific evidence for each.

Ready…go. Tell me your position. List at least three claims to support your position. List specific evidence from your source texts that you could use as examples.

In review:

  1. Create a rough Works Cited page. Do it according to the MLA style we discussed in class today (just mimic the one on “The Blame Game” for spacing and format).
  2. Pre-plan your position on the prompt by jotting your ideas on paper, just like I did above.

October 7

Good news! After you annotate and take notes (with your preferred note-taking method) on the two articles I gave you today – “Bullycide” and “Flocking Behavior” – you will be finished with note taking. Whew.

Unless, of course, you did a mediocre job and realize later that you need more source material. If that happens, you’ll be backtracking, backpedaling, redoing, catching up, shifting ground, doing an ‘about face’ and – aren’t synonyms amusing? – working harder later.

Ahem. Your assignments this week are

  • Take notes on the above-mentioned articles, and show them to me on 10/14.
  • Prove to one of your parents that you have developed a system of organization by completing the chart I emailed to them. This requires a parent signature.
  • Studying for the subject-verb agreement test we will have on 10/14. You will do this by checking your grammarbook account, and by reviewing the section on “subject-verb agreement” in Chapter 1 of your Blue Book of Grammar.

Have a good week. I will be out of email contact for a few days beginning Thursday, so if you have questions about anything relating to English homework, please contact me ASAP or be patient. Thanks.


September 30

Steady as we go! Continue taking notes, this week on “Social Networking Benefits Validated”  and the study from the Pediatric Journal. Remember that you only need to take notes on information that will apply directly to the prompt: Is online social networking good for our society?

I showed you the “note page” method of note taking today. You have a choice of using note cards, electronic note cards, or note pages for this paper. Just be sure that you choose ONE method and stick with it.

Next week show me a page of notes using the note page method. Be sure and include source information AND section divisions. Do this for either of the two articles I gave you. Then, if you have decided to use note cards, take notes on the other article using them. If you’ve decided to use note pages, take notes on the other article using the note page method. At any rate, I need to see your notes for both articles next week.

Also, I encouraged you to develop a system of organizing all of your articles and notes in one place — a binder with dividers, perhaps.  To check up on you, I’m going to personally visit your house NOT! ask your parent to verify that you have a system of organization.  They will receive an email from me in a day or so with instructions about that.

We’ve taken a little break from grammar.com, but we’re good now. Go to your account and take the tests that are there. If you’ve done them all, take the practice tests in your blue grammar book, pages 78-81. The answers are in the back of the book, so check yourself after you do the questions. We will have a grammar test on October 14.


September 23

Here’s a new term for you: grunt work. Defined, it is “an expression used to describe thankless and menial work. Grunt work can also refer to jobs that lack glamour and prestige or are boring and repetitive. This term may be derived from the slang term “grunts,” which was used to describe low-ranking American soldiers during the Vietnam War.”  You are about to engage in weeks upon weeks of grunt work, which (regrettably) you cannot get out of if you intend to succeed in high school English.  (I had the ultimate “grunt work” job once; ask me about it next week.)

I refer to the tedious task of taking notes.  Today I explained one system of note-taking for research papers:  note cards.  Your homework is to take notes, using note cards only, on the Time, Inc. article, “Does Facebook Replace Face Time or Enhance it?” and the Discovery News article, “Is Online Social Networking Good or Bad?”  I gave both of these to you today.

First, however, you must annotate both articles.  When you annotate, you are actively engaging your brain to comprehend the article.  Underline catchy phrases and important points.  Ask questions – write them in the margins.  Use symbols — numbers, whatever you need to make sense of the text.  Some think annotation is also grunt work.  Others think it is torture.  Sorry about that, but it must be done.

In short, do this for next week:

  1. Check grammarbook.com for your practice tests.
  2. OOPS.  Apparently my subscription to the site has expired.  I will renew…but not until this weekend.  Take a break.  No grammar quizzes due this week.
  3. Read both articles.
  4. Annotate both articles.
  5. Make source cards – one for each
  6. Source cards must contain, in order:
    1. Author’s name
    2. Article title
    3. Place article was found
    4. Date article was published
    5. Web? Print?
    6. Publisher
    7. Date accessed
    8. URL
  7. Take notes on both articles using notecards. (“How many” you ask? As many as necessary.)
  8. Note cards must contain information about where the note was from (article), what “section” heading it might belong to in your paper (Greenfield’s Qualifications, for example), and a page number if the text is numbered by pages.
  9. Remember the weird way of using quotation marks.
  10. Notecards are due next week. I’ll be evaluating them for proper headings, use of quotation marks, etc.

September 16

This morning I demonstrated how to login to GrammarBook.com and find your very own student account.  To access the quizzes I have put in your folder, enter your first initial and last name (lowercase, no spaces) and the 4-digit number I gave you for your password.  You will have two quizzes to complete, and your scores will be sent to me.  These must be completed by next week, as part of your homework.

Are social networking sites good for our society?

Well, are they?

In class we developed a list of “benefits” and “detriments” to social networking. Rewrite that list with at least five points for each side. This is your “brainstorming list” which you will keep in your notebook; however, I will ask to see it next week. Then, choose two claims on opposite sides of the argument – two benefits and two detriments – and think about how you might support them with specific evidence. This evidence must come from your own personal schema (background knowledge), so don’t do any research. Here is a link to a worksheet that might help you know how to organize your thoughts, although I think the paper itself doesn’t give you enough room to write on. Use it if you wish, or make your own.

Social Networking ex 1,2

Finally, read “Facebook & Bebo” and answer questions below. Please write in complete sentences.

Facebook and Bebo

  1. Who is the author of this article? Where did this article appear?
  2. Define these terms (you may use a dictionary or online resource): infantilizing, sensationalism, empathize, attention-deficit disorder.
  3. Who is Lady Greenfield? Does she appear credible? Explain?
  4. Lady Greenfield (from now on, she will be “LG”) expresses several points against social networking. List three of them.
  5. According to LG, how do social network sites put attention span in jeopardy?
  6. How is playing a computer game to rescue the princess different than reading a book about a princess who needs to be rescued?
  7. How do social networking sites erode our identity?
  8. Overall, what is LG’s main concern about social networking sites? What do you think about her opinion?



September 9

You survived your first day of high school English, didn’t you?  Yes.  Now to work!

First, linked below are the two handouts I gave you in class today, just in case yours disappear.

MLA Style Guidelines for English Papers

High School English Expectations

As for homework, it is twofold:

1. Write a fat paragraph explaining the difference between a “basic essay” and a “research paper.”  I discussed this with you in class, and you took notes.  Use your notes to refresh your memory, and simply explain the difference to me, following all of the formatting rules (look at the handout).

YES.  You need a rough draft, edited, and a final draft.

A fat paragraph is 10-15 sentences long, with a clear topic sentence, details or examples in the middle, and a clear clincher sentence.  Grammar, spelling and punctuation count, as always.  See the check sheet, linked here, to know how I will grade your paper.

Fat Paragraph Check Sheet

2.  Read little Bethany Tugan’s research paper, “The Blame Game” which I gave you in class today.  (I cannot link it here, so if you were absent I will give you a copy when I see you and this assignment can wait until then.) Answer these questions about it, on your own notebook paper:

a. How long is this paper?  Pages?  Paragraphs?  Words (take a guess)?

b. Estimate the font size.  Is it the same throughout?

c.  What is the writer’s thesis statement?  Copy it onto your paper.

d. According to the author, what are the “basic flaws” in our immigration system?

e. What is the author’s stated position on immigration?

f. Who wrote “Immigration Benefits America”?

g. Was the quote from Patrick Buchanan in print or electronic?

h. When was The Economist published online?

And, that’s all for this week.

August 15, 2014

Dear Future High School English Students,

Summer is waning,

Our hours be few,

‘Tis but a moment,

And then I’ll see you.

Fortunately, though, poetry is not among our topics for the new year.  Research paper writing is, so play hard these last three weeks –you’ll be working hard come September 9.

I look forward to our year together!  You’ll need The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Strauss (if you have this from last year, you do NOT need a new copy.)

Mrs. B