Welcome to English A! I am thrilled to teach this class and hope to make it as enjoyable as possible.
Since we meet only once a week, I’m happy to be available on other days via email or phone. If you have questions about homework or have concerns about something else, please contact me as necessary. I teach three other classes at TC, so I’m also available to meet in person most Thursdays if you let me know ahead of time.
Phone: (423) 503-7971
I will post a class update every Friday by noon so parents and absent students know what we covered on Thursday and what’s expected for homework the next week. Students are welcome to access the page independently with parents’ permission.
No cell phones or other devices are needed in class, so please keep those items tucked away in backpacks so no one is distracted. Thank you!
August 16: Today we covered basic expectations for the class so students know what to expect. Taking notes is important since each of the three papers they write this semester will correlate with our discussions.
I went on to introduce the first novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I included biographical information about the author since she, like many writers, pull from real life when writing fiction. Jackson suffered from agoraphobia, which meant her small-town life in Vermont and its specific struggles influenced her writing heavily. (Students who’ve taken a class with me previously should recognize the author as the one who wrote “The Lottery.”)
Homework for August 23:
1) Write a 500-word (approximate) essay about your three favorite books (or something literary-related) and submit via email by Tuesday, August 21, at midnight. This assignment will help me gauge where everyone is writing-wise.
2) Read Chapters 1 and 2 of Castle. Then, create a Google Document and answer the following response questions. Be sure to share the document with me so I can reply to you. Submit your substantive responses no later than Wednesday, August 22, by 3 p.m.
- In the first paragraphs of the book, we learn a lot – Merricat and her sister Constance live together with Uncle Julian and the rest of the family is dead. The Blackwood family has always lived in that home and in that town, so their history is long and sordid. There are clues in the text which give hints to Merricat’s state of mind. What is your initial impression of her? What passages flesh out her character for you?
- “She took the groceries carefully from the bags; food of any kind was precious to Constance, and she always touched foodstuffs with quiet respect. I was not allowed to help; I was not allowed to prepare food, nor was I allowed to gather mushrooms, although sometime I carried vegetables in from the garden, or apples from the old trees.” (Page 20) Why do you think Merricat wasn’t allowed to prepare food or be a meaningful part of kitchen work?
- When Mrs. Wright and Helen Clarke come for tea, Mrs. Wright talks to Uncle Julian about the day of the poisoning, and evidence against Constance is laid bare. (Pages 36-38) What do you think about Constance’s responses to the women and conversation as a whole? What does her role in the conversation say about her?
Students will start reading through The Elements of Style next week, so please make sure you have a copy. (You don’t need to bring it to class.)