Syllabus for Freshmen English 1 


    Why is this class so important, Mrs. MacDonald?

                Passing four years of English is required for graduation from Liberty, and passing four years of English with a “C” at minimum is required for admission to a four-year college. Language Arts makes up a significant portion of the many standardized tests that you will take at Liberty, and those tests will determine your future beyond Liberty. Colleges and universities require the PSAT, SAT I, SAT II, or the ACT; community colleges and the CSU system require the Early Assessment Program placement tests; the ASFAB will be important for those going into the military. It’s just a fact that testing is an important part of your life! However, there is more to life than testing and having strong communication skills will help you in whatever career you follow. It is a crucial skill for your economic independence!


    How can I succeed in your class?

                First of all, be here! It is crucial that you attend class every day because the critical thinking that each assignment requires simply cannot be duplicated by reading the text and answering questions on your own at home. You need to be here to learn how to make inferences because this is the most difficult part of reading comprehension.

                Next, please try your best on every assignment!   I teach by taking small incremental steps that lead the way to the complex skills required by the California State Standards. Have a little faith in the process, try, and you’ll pass your standards with ease. Don’t hope that there will be an extra credit assignment that will miraculously pull you out of the black hole of failure. You will have to work with discipline and method in order to pass. You will need lined paper and a dark pen every day in class.

                Last of all, be nice to everyone in class! I have only two unbreakable rules: (1) Everything we do must promote learning and (2) The classroom must be a safe place for everyone.   We have so much material to cover that we have no time to waste, and no one has the right to prevent someone else from learning. The class must be a safe place, both physically and emotionally, for everyone. If people feel threatened or unsafe in any way, they simply cannot learn. Their brains shut down the learning areas and go into survival mode until the threat is gone. If either of these rules is broken you will have to face the consequences, and I will notify both of your parents at work that day about your detention or referral! If this kind of selfish behavior continues, you will be put on contract that may result in your permanent removal from the class.


    How much homework will we have?

       Expect homework every night to include grammar review, spelling/vocabulary, and sometimes reading. All rough draft writing is done in class in front of me; only your final drafts may be typed at home.   You should always review what was covered that day in class especially the extensive vocabulary we will cover.


    How will we be graded?

                Each assignment gives you practice in the California Common Core Standards on which you will be tested.  We will move quickly, so be here and keep up! I email parents every Friday with a weekly update of your grade, I post grades in the room each week, and you will get a personal hard copy of your grade frequently. I also have a “no fail” policy. You may always make up any assignment, test, or essay that you fail; therefore, no one should ever fail my class. However, it is up to you to come in to get the work or to get the help that you need. I do expect each student to do his or her own work, and I follow the Student Handbook guide on plagiarism.


    If I need extra help, how can I get in touch with you?

                Visit my web site accessed through the Liberty High School site under tab marked "Teachers"to see the agenda including homework. Look under “English I.” You can email me at macdonal@luhsd.net  for a personal response. You can come in for tutorial help every day at lunch and after school Monday-Thursday until 5 P.M. unless I have a meeting, so be sure to check with me. 


    What will we be reading this year?

                The District has adopted the Spring Board for freshmen as our basic text. The short story, poetry, and informational texts units will come from this anthology; we will also read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. If time allows we will read selections of The Odyssey  by Homer.

                Supplies are vital for this class. You’ll need a binder dedicated to English, lots of binder paper (not spiral bound), blue or black pens (pencil will be graded down), highlighter, and post-its. You will need at least four (4) pieces of lined paper and a pen every day!


    I need more detail on your rules. Can you help me out?

                Sure!   In addition to the general school guidelines (that I follow to the letter including the dress code) here are a few of the practices that I require of you in order to maintain my sunny disposition.

    1.      Respect everyone.

    2.      Use only beautiful English without the colorful expletives that we too often hear in the hall (that includes swearing and blaspheming).

    3.      Put gum, food, and drinks in the garbage cans outside. We have truly disgusting ant invasions in this room. Drinking water is just fine, but you do have limited bathroom passes (three per semester) so be careful.

    4.      Have pride in your classroom and keep it clean.

    5.      Use the restroom BEFORE you come to class.


    For every action there is a consequence. Over the years, these consequences have seemed most fair and appropriate.

    1.      Talking when I have called for your attention: the number of seconds it takes to silence the class is ADDEDD to the class period and can seem like an eternity.


    2.      Chewing gum or just looking like you are: one warning followed by a one minute after class detention.

    3.      Eating in class: one warning followed by two minutes detention unless you bring enough for everybody.


    4.      Inappropriate language: abusive language to a teacher or to a student requires an automatic referral; accidental outbursts get thirty seconds of detention per word. If I ever make a slip, I bring doughnuts for the entire class and apologize profusely.




    5.      Flying object in the room: two minutes detention. Treating the garbage can as a hoop results in two minutes if you miss the shot and one minute if you make it.


    6.      Restroom requests: everyone gets three passes per semester; after they are used you have a lunch/after class detention with me. You are stopping the learning process for yourself and others through these interruptions! However, if you have a special need or if you really feel sick all of a sudden, just run to the bathroom and explain it to me after the emergency is over.


    7.      Electronic interruptions/equipment: All cell phones, headphones, MP3 players, and other devices must be stowed in your backpack or purse and cannot go off in class. If I see a cell phone out in class or hear one, I will confiscate it until you perform room maintenance.  On the second offense I take it to the office and your parent will need to pick it up.   Is it worth it?

    For repeated infractions you will obtain automatic membership in the Bon Ami Club that meets at lunchtime and performs vital room maintenance. Failure to attend results  a call to both parents and a conference.

    Tardy/ Truancy Policy and Plagiarism: You must be here on time! You will be missing vital information and points if you are late, and this will negatively impact your grade.  See the Student Handbook for the specifics on plagiarim, and if you have a question, please let me know. 


    These practices are not meant to make class a prison, but a safe, productive learning environment. I hope it is a comfortable place without surprise rules or boundaries. Remember that I have dedicated my life to helping you get the education you need to open the doors to your future!


    Student Signature___________________________________________Date________


    Parent/Guardian Signature___________________________________Date________




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