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Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328

WALC American Literature Syllabus

I. Course Themes:
1st Semester
Sense of Place: How do we find ourselves and the various peoples of America within this country’s literature? How
is American literature a search for a Sense of Place, for characters within literature but also for the authors, poets and
playwrights? How do both characters and authors establish connections with the land itself?
Balance/Imbalance: As we search for that Sense of Place, how do we also seek to achieve balance mentally,
physically, emotionally, and spiritually? What causes imbalance? How do characters deal with this struggle, and how
do authors address this struggle throughout American literature?
2nd Semester:
Interconnections: Once we’ve begun to establish our own Sense of Place and to balance ourselves, how can we see
the various interconnections of the various environments we inhabit? How do characters develop and deal with such
awareness? How do authors address this issue through their writing?
Diversity: As we establish those connections, what role does diversity play in the strength and complexities of those
connections? How does diversity affect our Sense of Place and balance? How do authors deal with this issue in a
nation that has become both more diverse and more homogenized over its history?

II. Course Description:

Welcome to WALC American Literature. While concentrating on meeting the learning objectives listed
below, we will also focus on exploring American Literature from an ethnic studies/environmental
perspective. We will explore the questions above as we read short stories, poems, novels, essays, plays and
more. As we do so, you will see many connections emerge, both explicit and implicit, between this class
and your two other WALC classes.

III. Learning Objectives:

1. Students apply their knowledge of word origins to determine the meaning of new words encountered in reading
materials and use those words accurately.
2. Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They analyze the organizational patterns, arguments, and
positions advanced.
3. Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their
studies of history and social science. They conduct in-depth analyses of recurrent themes.
4. Students write coherent and focused texts that convey a well-defined perspective and tightly reasoned argument. The
writing demonstrates awareness of the audience and purpose and progression through the stages of the writing process.
5. Students combine the rhetorical strategies of narration, exposition, persuasion, and description to produce texts of at
least 1,500 words each. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard American English and appropriate
research, organizational, and drafting strategies.
6. Students write and speak with a command of standard English conventions.
7. Students formulate adroit judgments about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations that
convey clear and distinct perspectives and demonstrate solid reasoning. They use gestures, tone, and vocabulary tailored
to the audience and purpose.
8. Students deliver polished formal and extemporaneous presentations that combine traditional rhetorical strategies of
narration, exposition, persuasion, and description. Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard American
English and appropriate organizational and delivery strategies.

IV. Materials to bring to class every day:

I) Balboa Planner (You will copy your homework everyday)
II) Class-specific Notebook
III) Binder, with lined paper and sections for Handouts and Ongoing Work
IV) Pencil and black or dark blue pen
V) DEAR book and DEAR Journal
VI) Any books assigned at the time
VII) Any homework assignment due
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328

V. Course outline
Textbook: Language of Literature, McDougall-Littell
I. Overview of American Literature SPRING SEMESTER
II. Native-American Experience IV. African-American Experience cont’d
Fools Crow by James Welch Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday V. Latino/a-American Experience
III. European-American Experience Latino Boom (anthology of short stories and poetry)
The Crucible by Arthur Miller The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Colonial, Revolutionary & Transcendental literature VI. Asian-American Experience
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan
IV. African-American Experience The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

VI. Evaluation and Grading:

You may always check your assignments and grades at the following website:
The school will provide you a username and password

Grading scale: Assignment Categories

All assignments are given a point value based on All assignments fall under one of the below
difficulty and effort required. categories, adding up to your final grade.
90-100% = A Baseline Requirements 60%
80-89% = B Participation 20%
70-79% = C Other Class- & Homework 20%
60-69% = D TOTAL 100%
59% and below = F

Category Explanations:
Baseline Requirements (BR): Baseline Requirements are the assignments deemed most important for
demonstrating achievement of the class and/or pathway learning objectives and standards. As such, you
must complete these assignments in order to earn a minimum passing grade of a D.
1) Notebook: Your notes and interactions will demonstrate learning of much of the reading and listening objectives listed
above. In addition, you will complete Do Nows, Journals, and other assignments in your Notebook.
2) Papers: You will be assigned regular papers throughout the year, to develop your voice and ability to write for a variety
of purposes. These papers will be explained and given values on an individual basis.
3) Group projects: You will also be assigned occasional group projects that will carry group and individual grades and will
be given values on an individual basis.
4) Tests: To assess your learning, you will have regular tests on content and skills you will learn in class. As such, keeping
up with reading, note-taking and written assignments is crucial.

Participation (P) is determined by your attendance and behavior in class and on field trips as well as your
contributions to class and group discussions. I will keep in mind improvements in your amount and quality
of participation as the year progresses. While regular participation is important, over-doing it and trying to
hog a discussion or a Q&A session will only hurt your grade. In addition, interruptions, cross-talking,
shouting things out, swearing and any other negative participation will lower your grade.

Other Class- & Homework (OC) includes all other work in each class not falling under the above
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
requirements, such as nightly Reflections and Analysis. Doing these basic assignments can easily add
points to your overall grades.
VII. How to compute your grade using returned work:
1. Add up all Baseline Requirement points possible: __________
2. Add up all Baseline Requirement points you earned: _________
3. Divide the result of # 2 by the result of #1: _________
4. Multiply the result of #3 by .6 : __________
5. Add up all Other Class/Homework points possible: __________
6. Add up all Other Class/Homework points you earned: _________
7. Divide the result of # 6 by the result of #5: _________
8. Multiply the result of #7 by .2 : __________
9. Add up all Participation points possible: __________
10. Add up all Participation points you earned: _________
11. Divide the result of # 10 by the result of #9: _________
12. Multiply the result of #11 by .2 : __________
13. Add the results from #4, #8, and #12 to get your overall percentage: ______
Note: Papers and other larger pieces of your grade (Notebook & DEAR Journal in particular) are often due
at the end of the grading period, and therefore can greatly affect your grade. These are often assignments on
which you must work throughout the term. Ignoring them can drastically affect your grade. In other words,
if you do not work on your Notebook, DEAR Journal, etc. consistently you are setting yourself up to fail.

VIII. Basic written work requirements:

These requirements must be met or you will receive a zero.
• All work must have a title that is specific to that assignment (not “Homework” or "Classwork”).

• Your name, class period and assignment date must be in the upper right-hand corner of the paper.

• All written/typed assignments must be in organized TEA paragraphs.

• Writing must be free of basic spelling and grammar mistakes.

• It must be legible & in either dark pencil or black or blue pen.

• Paper must be clean and professional looking, free of “shreddies,” stains, etc.

• Paper must meet page length requirements.

IX. How to write nightly homework assignments:

I assign certain regular nightly assignments, called “Reflection/Reaction” or “Analysis.” Below are
specific explanations for how to do these assignments. If you follow these, you will score well. Some of
them will be longer than others.
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
Reflection/Reaction – Write an organized piece in which you explain your thoughts, questions, and ideas
about whatever we are reading/discussing in class or for homework. What do you think about it? Why?
What don’t you understand? Why? What questions do you still have? What do you think it might mean?
Why? What connections can you make to other ideas we have studied? Quotes and/or specific details are
required to receive a score of 70% or above.

Analysis – Write an organized piece in which you ANALYZE whatever we are reading/discussing in class
or for homework. What does it mean? Why? Take the text/discussion/idea and break it down and explain
what you think it actually means and why. You must provide evidence from the text and analysis explaining
how your evidence supports your ideas. Do not use yourself in this paper. It should be objective (no “I,”
“me,” “my opinion,” etc.). Quotes and/or specific details are required to receive a score of 60% or above.
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328

X. Specific on-going assignment explanations

DEAR: You will participate in DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) throughout the year. You will read
books of your own choosing that are appropriate to your reading level and interest. DEAR will occur the
first fifteen minutes of each class. When the bell rings to begin class, you must be in your seat and reading
silently to yourself. You will read for ten minutes and then write a Reflection for the last five in your DEAR
Journal. At the end of each term you will submit your DEAR Journal to be graded.

DEAR process/scoring:
1. Choose a book you are interested in and which is appropriate to your reading level.
2. Bring your DEAR book every day to class and read silently every day during DEAR time. (10
Participation Points each day - Missing class, being tardy, or doing anything other than reading
silently will cause you to lose points.)
3. Write in your DEAR journal each class period (10 Other Class/Homework points for each entry,
which must be a Reflection of at least one TEA paragraph [up to 240 points in a term]).

Notebook: You must have a spiral Notebook specifically for my class. You must use it take notes and
complete assignments as instructed. All notes, unless otherwise indicated, must be Interactive Notes.
Without Interactions, your Notebook cannot receive higher than 75%. Your Notebook will be worth
between 100 and 400 Baseline Requirement points each term. It will be due the final week of the term.

XI. Attendance/Tardy Policy:

• You are required to be in class everyday on time, ready to begin class with all required materials.
• If you miss a class, until you bring an excused absence re-admit slip, it is considered an unexcused
• If you are tardy, you will lose points on your Do Now or DEAR proportional to how late you are.
• 3 or more tardies or 3 or more unexcused absences in a grading period will result in a U citizenship
mark on your report card.

XII. Late Work Policy:

• Each assignment is given a specific due date when assigned. It is due that specific date at the
beginning of the period unless otherwise indicated. Anything after that is late. All late work will be
marked down ten percent for each day (including Saturday and Sunday) it is late.
• In the case of an unexcused absence, you receive no additional time. Tests/quizzes/classwork missed
during unexcused absences may not be made up. Work due on the day of an unexcused absence
receives a grade of zero.
• In case of excused absences, you have two extra days for each excused absence not counting the
day of your return.
• Notebooks and DEAR Journals are not accepted late.

XIII. Expectations:
I expect you to
• behave appropriately and follow all school rules,
• participate constructively in class,
• complete all assigned work,
• use this syllabus as a guide for how to do well in this class,
• to see me for help and to ask questions, and
• keep on top of your progress in class.
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328

XIV. How to contact me and get help

Please do contact me and see me for help or to answer any questions.
• You may always email me at gonzalezk@sfusd.edu
• You may call me at school at 415-469-4090 during school hours or at 510-502-9936 before 9 pm.
Please leave a message if I cannot answer.
• You may come to my room at lunch for help or just a place to study/ read.
• I encourage you to take advantage of Balboa’s After School tutoring program, available Monday
through Thursday.
• Please make an appointment if you absolutely need to see me, as I often have meetings both during
lunch and after school.

XV. How to pass and earn high grades in this class:

1. Be on time every day
2. Bring all materials to class every day
3. Do all DEAR reading and Journal entries for full credit
4. Copy down your Homework into your Balboa Planner
5. Complete all classwork, especially your Interactive Notes in your Notebook
6. Participate constructively (be respectful of others, ask and answer questions)
7. After school, complete the Homework assignment you copied into your Balboa Planner
8. Submit your Homework to your class’s tray when it is due
9. Keep all returned work in your class portfolio
10. Monitor your scores on returned work and always check your progress on the Gradesheets I hand
out every 2 to 3 weeks,

Parents: How to register for SchoolLoop, SFUSD’s online grading/communications system
1. Go to SchoolLoop’s homepage: http://bhs-sfusd-ca.schoolloop.com/

2. Click on “Register Now”

3. Click on “Parent Registration”
4. Fill out all fields
5. Click “Register”
6. One of your child’s teachers must verify you through SchoolLoop,
and then you will be able to sign on with the login name and
password you chose as you registered, at the same website as
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
Balboa’s Policy on Cheating, Plagiarism & Academic Dishonesty

As a student in the San Francisco Unified School District, you are required to maintain Academic Honesty.
The SFUSD Student handbook reads as follows:

“All students are expected to complete their academic assignments and examinations without cheating. Any
papers completed by a student who has been caught cheating are not valid. At those times when a student
is caught cheating, that student will be disciplined.”

Consequences include:
• Receiving a failing grade for the assignment
• Receiving a failing grade for the entire course
• Being suspended from school

To be very specific, please consult the list below for examples of Cheating, Plagiarism and Academic

1. Copying, in part or in whole, from someone else's test;
2. Submitting work presented previously in another course, unless approved by both teachers;
3. Altering or interfering with grading;
4. Using or consulting, during an examination, any sources, consulting with others, use of electronic
equipment including cell phones and PDAs, or use of materials not authorized by the instructor;
5. Committing other acts that defraud or misrepresent.

1. Incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts of another person's writings, without
appropriately citing sources, and representing the product as your own;
2. Representing another's artistic or scholarly works as your own;
3. Submitting a paper purchased from a research or term paper service, including the Internet; or
4. Undocumented Web source usage.

Other Specific Examples of Academic Dishonesty

1. Purposely allowing another student to copy from your paper during a test;
2. Giving your homework, term paper or other academic work to another student to plagiarize;
3. Having another person submit any work in your name;
4. Lying to a teacher, counselor, or administrator to improve your grade;
5. Stealing tests;
6. Forging signatures on school documents; or
7. Collaboration without permission of instructor.

This policy is designed to make clear both the nature of Academic Dishonesty and its consequences. It is
particularly important that you understand this before leaving high school; as such acts in college or the
business world are considered fraud. Offenders can be expelled, lose tuition, fined, and even prosecuted.

As adapted from the Foothill College Academic Honor Code,, http://foothill.edu/services/honor.html
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
Classroom Expectations Signature Sheet

Please discuss this packet, then sign this sheet and remove it from the packet. You should keep the packet
at in your binder for reference, and return this signed sheet by Friday.


I, __________________________, have read the course expectations and syllabus, and agree to follow
these expectations.

X_______________________________________ Phone number: _______________________

Email address: ____________________________


I, __________________________, have read and understand the course expectations and syllabus.

X ______________________________________ Phone number: _______________________

Email address: ____________________________

Notes, questions concerns:


Parents: How to register for SchoolLoop, SFUSD’s online grading/communications system
1. Go to SchoolLoop’s homepage: http://bhs-sfusd-ca.schoolloop.com/

2. Click on “Register Now”

3. Click on “Parent Registration”
4. Fill out all fields
5. Click “Register”
6. One of your child’s teachers must verify you through SchoolLoop,
Mr. Gonzalez, Balboa High School, room 328
and then you will be able to sign on with the login name and
password you chose as you registered, at the same website as