In Context

Friday, December 12, 2008

December 15, 2008

Because You Asked about the Line
Between Prose and Poetry (1980)

by Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

Accessed from
December 12, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 NCTE Annual Convention Awards

Best Books and Journal Articles
Celebrate the many teachers, authors, and researchers who received awards this November during the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. On November 25, 2008, the online issue of NCTE INBOX featured some of the award winners.
  • Orbis Pictus Award--Look to the Orbis Pictus Award to find the best nonfiction titles for students. See "The 2008 Orbis Pictus Award Collection of Nonfiction Literature for Children" from Language Arts for details on this year's winning books.
  • Edwin M. Hopkins Award for articles in English Journal written by non-classroom teachers--"Writing Like a Good Girl," from the January 2008 issue, illuminates the subtle yet powerful and often detrimental messages to girls that silence their public and private voices and diminish their opportunities to question and learn.
  • Paul and Kate Farmer Writing Awards for articles in English Journal written by classroom teachers--In "The List," from the November 2007 issue, the author shares his list of fifteen reasons to keep teaching. In "Literature into Film (and Back Again): Another Look at an Old Dog," from the September 2007 issue, the author provides a variety of literature, film scenes, and classroom activities to introduce literary, cinematic, and theatrical elements.
  • Richard Ohmann Award for an article in College English--In "Transnational Feminist Rhetorics in a Digital World," from the May 2008 issue, the author proposes a new methodology for analyzing the processes through which the modes of global circulation of digital representations become rhetorical and, ultimately, political actions.
  • English Leadership Quarterly Best Article Award--In "The Way We Teach Now: Teachers of English in the New World of High-Stakes Assessment," from the October 2007 issue, the authors share some findings from a study of how English teachers are responding to state-mandated standards and their accompanying high-stakes assessments.

Copyright 2008 National Council of Teachers of English NCTE, 1111 W. Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801-1096; Phone: 800-369-6283; Email:

Monday, November 3, 2008

English Technology Inservice 11.03.08

  • 6+1 Writing Traits--Continue emphasizing these traits as a followup to middle school emphasis. Use in rubrics as well as during instruction and editing.
  • High School Writing and Style Guide--Please distribute and regularly incorporate into writing instruction. Students should write their names on copies and keep in looseleaf binders for use in all content areas. Students are expected to keep these booklets from year to year. They may print replacements from the following link:
  • INTRANET Access (CLC name and password) and Content
    E-Guides--Curriculum lessons for grades 9 and 10.
    DR Access
    Process to unblock sites--Call number on blocked page.
    Air Card from Verizon--Offers internet access anywhere.
    Kindles ( electronic devices for downloading etexts; may benefit nontraditional readers.
  • Grades are due to ITLs by 10:00 AM Thursday morning, November 6 this week.
  • NO Department Meeting on November 11 by consensus of the group in attendance.
  • Instead, ETS Training for Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Program will be held November 17 for all English teachers of Grades 9 and 10; Regular and Review Classes.
  • Instead also, CPR Rhetoric Group will also meet sometime this month.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 20, 2008

I. Departmental Features
  • Welcome to Rachel Grap--Longterm Sub for Kristen McManus
  • September Minutes--Val Watson
  • ETS Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Program
    Grades 9 and 10; Regular and Review Classes

II. The Nitty Gritty

  • ACCUPLACER--English 11 Classes
  • English SIT Objectives 08-09
  • INROADS--Accountability and Planning Data
  • High School Writing Manual and Style Guide
  • PTA Reflections Program
  • Grub Street Poetry Competition-- Towson University
  • NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing 2009--Juniors
  • English Academic Support Day: Oct.22
  • End of First Quarter (47 days): Oct. 31
  • Reminders--
    English Course Placement Review Folder 08-09
    English Web Page
    Language Arts Expectations
    Teacher Web Pages
    Student Aides—Attendance, Activities, Grades
    Substitute Lesson Plans
    Writing Folders Swap

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thinking Ahead

Poets are always ahead of things in a certain way,
their sense of language and their vision.
Jim Jarmusch, American Director, Born January 1953

October 2, 2008

English Teachers are all in the midst of one of our busiest times of the academic year--preparing students for the SAT, PSAT, HSA retakes, and quarterly assessments in grades 9, 10, & 11 this year; proctoring; finalizing student recommendations; editing college essays; updating grades and our web pages online; organizing Homecoming activities; and finalizing first quarter curriculum activities--over the next few weeks.

In the heat of all of these pressing, existing commitments, it is certainly a challenge to take a breath and pause to look ahead. Several tenured members of the department have already committed themselves to doing just that, either through a Portfolio Evaluation or by participating in a Cooperative Program Review (CPR) focused on Rhetoric.

In addition, the department has two upcoming opportunities that will impact English classes this year, and teachers are currently discussing and planning the best ways to utilize each of these programs with our students.

1.) ETS Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Program—Dr. Perkins has agreed to fund the majority cost of this service for ALL English 9 and 10 classes (regular and review levels). The program provides a bank of essay topics and writing modes, planning organizers, performance summaries, revision opportunities, a writer's handbook, and specific feedback to students. A Holistic Score evaluates basic Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Organization & Development (introduction, thesis, development, conclusion), and Style (sentence structure and repetition). River Hill has used this program in the past and is planning on continuing it this year. There will be one after-school online training session for Grade 9 & 10 Regular & Review English teachers to attend here at CHS. Additional info is available at the following website:

2.) ACCUPLACER—This is a college readiness placement test developed by ETS and used by Howard Community College. It includes a reading test to evaluate comprehension skills and a sentence skills test to evaluate writing skills. The Secondary Language Arts Office is coordinating the administration of the test in ALL English 11 classes (regular level) this fall. The test is untimed and takes approximately two hours to finish. Students will complete the test at CHS online, and HCC will grade it. Feedback includes a College Readiness Assessment ranging from "See Counsel" to "On Track" to "College Ready" as well as a broad (not diagnostic) Skills Profile Sheet of strengths and needs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 22, 2008

I. Departmental Features

  • Guidance
  • Media--Linda Norris
  • CHS Book Club--Jill Eisner
II. The Nitty Gritty
  • Staff Advisory Committee Update--Judy Ryan
  • Publications & Technology Update--Rus VW
  • English HSA Mastery Class Update--Kelli McDonough
  • HSA Workshop at Linden Hall on September 23--
    Ben, Corey, Kelli, Judy, Ted
  • CPR (Cooperative Program Review) Evaluation Option
  • ETS Criterion Online Writing
  • Towson University Online Writing Support Website
  • Grade Level Book Usage Charts
  • Writing Folders Swap
  • English Course Placement Reviews for 08-09
  • Reminders--
    PSAT Booklets & Prep for October 15
    Book Orders
    The English Web Page at
    Teacher Web Pages
    Language Arts Expectations
    Student Aides—Attendance, Activities, Grades
  • Substitute Lesson Plans
    Classroom Folder

    Teacher Schedule
    Class Lists
    Attendance Mat'ls.--Per. 1
    Seating Charts
    IEP & 504 Info
    Fire Drill Directions/Map
    Current Lessons
    Teaching Materials
    Student Handouts

Thank you for all that you do each day for our students and for CHS.

Monday, August 18, 2008

August 18, 2008

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. The Nitty Gritty

  • Classroom Supplies
  • Equipment--LCD Projectors
    Signing Out Materials
    Book Orders
  • Wednesday, August 20th County Language Arts Inservice at Long Reach High School
  • English Department Meeting Schedule—Room 209
    Recorder; Refreshments
    Monthly Departmental Features Recommendations
  • Final English Department Schedule
  • CHS English AP Scores--May 2008
  • The English Web Page at
  • Teacher Web Pages
  • TeacherEase at
  • Writing Folders--Language Arts Expectations
    Sample LA Lesson Plan Format
  • Current Addresses/Birthday Celebrations
  • Student Aides—Credit, Attendance, Activities
  • English Activity Fee--Vocabulary Workshop Books; Cuckoo's Nest for 12 Honors: Vicki Sattler will visit classrooms to collect payment from students; fees cover the cost of each text, plus shipping and tax
  • Syllabi, Etc.—3 copies to ITL
    Include Grading Policy, Class Procedures, Expectations, Materials, Departmental Plagiarism Policy, and turnitin
  • Substitute Lesson Plans—Keep updated and current in a folder on the Teacher’s Desk in classrooms--Include Syllabi, Objectives, Seating Charts

3. Grade Level Meetings

  • Book Charts--Please check for balance and diversity as a team (Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Time Periods, Genres)
  • Check current English Book Inventory Binder in 601 for ordering needs

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Reading Suggestions

Thursday, June 5, 2008

June 9, 2008

  • Please remember to update your web page
  • Copies of May Minutes--Kristin Shipp
  • Summer Reading Info--Corey O'Brien
  • Fond Farewells to Cerise Ashburne and Michael Clark
  • Happy Summer Birthdays
  • Closing Business/Checkout Info--
    End of Year Exit Conference with ITL (by June 16)
    Final Exams (copy and answer key) to ITL (by June 16)
  • Student Debts--English Student Obligations due
  • Book Inventory--Thank you for promptly returning books to the bookrooms so we can complete an accurate inventory; literature anthologies, grammar books, and dictionaries may stay in classrooms as usual
  • Student Writing Folders--Please update, label, and store in your classroom
  • Classrooms will be painted this summer: store teacher materials; remove all materials from walls; cover materials to be saved on bulletin boards and open book cases; cover computers
  • Recent Department Documents/Updates posted on our Web Page: English Awards; CHS Summer Reading List 2008; AP Lit & Comp Book List 1981-2008
  • Happy Summer, Everyone!

~Thank you for all that you do for CHS and for our students.~

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

English Awards 2008

Congratulations, Seniors!

CHS English Award:
Carla Alexandra Lake

HoCoPoLitSo All-County Writing Awards:
Promise & Achievement--Jessica Holzberg
Promise & Achievement--Emily Wilson
1st Place Poetry--Emily Durbin
3rd Place Poetry--Carla Lake
1st Place Personal Essay--Luxi Wang
2nd Place Personal Essay--Emily Wilson
3rd Place Personal Essay--Bryan Arnett

Wingspan Newspaper Awards:
Most Valuable--Robyn Bosica
Most Improved--Christina Czabaranek
Best Leader--Karen Turner

Eyrie Yearbook Awards:
Excellence in Publications and Design--Kerri DeVries
Excellence in Publications and Design--Katherine VanLent
Aura of Eyrie--Katherine Marshall

Maryland Voices Creative Nonfiction Awards:
Excellence in Graphics and Design--Emily Durbin
Editorial Excellence--Carla Lake

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008

CHS Articulation Day Activities
  • English 9 Teachers visit feeder middle schools
  • English 10-12 Teachers meet in teams
  • Discussion of curriculum plans for 2008-2009
  • Research paper expectations--Objectives/Criteria, Assignments/Prompts, Lesson Plans, Teaching Materials, Student Handouts, Rubrics, and Model Student Papers
  • CHS student English placement levels for 2008-2009

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 5, 2008

  • April Minutes

  • Student Writing Folders--Culminating Activities/Samples--Judy Ryan: CHS English 10; Kristen McManus: CHS English 10 & SAT

  • 6+1 Writing Models for Grade 9--Jenny Bartkus: CHS English 9 & Journalism

  • English HSA--Tuesday, May 20, 2008
    Parent Meeting held April 23 at 6:30 pm

  • APRIL 24 Professional Development FEEDBACK--"Curricular Connections to the Real World"; Long Reach Sessions & Off Site Field Trips

  • Proposals for CHS Summer Reading List 2008; Reading Lists from the International Reading Association; Book Lists from NEA's Read Across America, May 2008

  • May 16 CHS Articulation Day--Grade 9 Teachers visit middle schools; Voluntary Technology Meetings; Final Course Enrollment for 08-09—Teachers check grade levels & ability levels; Grade Level Team Planning for 2008-2009 and Research Paper Dialogue

  • June 9 Department Meeting--Closing Business/Checkout & End of Year Evaluation;
    Student Debts; Classroom and Book Inventory; AP English Exam Essays 2008; Updated AP Book List 1981-2008

  • Reminder--LA Summer Curriculum Writing Workshops ($125 per day); see the Summer 2008 Professional Development Catalog

  • Media Center will close June 2

  • Classrooms will be painted this summer: remove all materials from walls and bulletin boards

Friday, April 11, 2008

April 14, 2008

  • March Minutes

  • "Teaching Rhetoric in HCPSS: Helping Our Students Embrace the Benefits of Persuasive Writing That Transcend the Traditional Classroom" .ppt--Rus VanWestervelt: CHS English 11, Yearbook, & Photography

  • "Teaching Strategies for Persuasive/Argumentative Writing" Handout--Tres Wright: CHS English 11 & 12

  • Nominations for Senior Awards

  • APRIL 24 Professional Development--"Curricular Connections to the Real World": Long Reach Sessions & Off Site Field Trips

  • LA Summer Curriculum Writing Workshops ($125 per day)

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 10, 2008

  • February Minutes
  • APRIL--National POETRY Month
    2008 Poster Online
  • "LIFE/LINES--Vital Words" Project;
    "Poem in Your Pocket" Day--April 17
  • POETRY APPRECIATION Presentation--Dr. Michael Clark: CHS English 11 & 12; Advanced Composition
  • HCPSS Secondary Language Arts Teacher Survey
  • Spring 08 Department Meeting Dates/Plans
  • English Numbers 08-09
  • English Presentation to CHS PTSA on March 12
  • CHS English Web Page--English Placement Resources
  • Week of March 25--Junior RESUME Writing Week Reminder:
    Teacher taught in ALL English 11 classes;
    Graduation requirement for Junior Interviews
  • HoCoPoLitSo 2008 Writing Contest--Entries due April 2nd;
    Promise & Achievement Awards (2)
  • APRIL 24 Professional Development--"Curricular Connections to the Real World"; Online Registration THIS WEEK

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 11, 2008

  • January Minutes

  • MSDE HSA Bridge Plan Info
    County Assessment Data--Second Quarter--Grades 9 & 10
  • HSA Review Sessions begin in MARCH/Parent Meeting to be scheduled in APRIL with the 10th Grade English Team

  • NCTE National AA Read-In Feedback from 2.04.08
    CHS Literacy Committee initiative

  • Teacher Schedule Requests for 08-09

  • English Spring Birthday Lunch Mania--Get Ready!
    March (3), April (1), May (3), June (2), July (2)

  • HoCoPoLitSo 2008 Writing Contest--Entries due April 2nd; Promise & Achievement Awards (2)

  • English Department Award 2008 (1)

  • Grammar for Writing Textbooks & Website
    ALL grades at CHS now have one class set per teacher!

Friday, January 18, 2008

January 15, 2008

  • USING ONLINE DISCUSSIONS--"Catcher in the What? Tenth Graders Discover Discussion Through an Online Forum": NCTE Convention Presentation (November 2007)
  • Corey O'Brien: CHS English 10
  • Designing Online Forums: Considerations and a Live Demo; Online discussion forums at (Pennsylvania State University, University Park) provide familiar discourse spaces for adolescents' conversations.
  • Discussing literature and responding to peer writing in these digital spaces outside of the classroom expands students' thinking, social interaction, and audience and rhetorical awareness.

  • Monday, February 4, 2008--NCTE National African American Read-In: Brainstorm ideas for English classes to support this CHS Literacy Committee initiative

  • 08-09 SCHEDULING
    Teacher Signature Days--January 28-30 (MTW only)
    Criteria for English level recommendations--B average or higher for Honors and GT placement

  • Thursday, January 10, 2008--8th Grade Parent Orientation Feedback

  • Materials Recently Ordered--
    MagnetSlates and magic magnet pens--Grade 10
    Grades 11 & 12 Grammar Books--One class set per teacher
    Ordinary People--Grade 12
    Spoon River Anthology--Grade 11
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--Grade 11

~English HSA Online Resources~

~English HSA Online Resources~

  • Maryland HSA Overview & History
  • Class of 2009--First Class Required to Pass Tests for Graduation
  • High School Testing Content & Data
  • High School Assessment Testing Calendar
  • Publicly Released Test Forms--2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
  • Answer Keys & Scoring Rubrics
  • Online HSA Courses
  • Testing Options/Accommodations
  • Contact Information
~from The Tragedy of King Richard II (Act 3, Scene 3) (1623) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Yet looks he like a king: behold, his eye,
As bright as is the eagle's, lightens forth
Controlling majesty: alack, alack, for woe,
That any harm should stain so fair a show!

~from Moby-Dick (Chapter 96: The Try-Works) (1851) by Herman Melville (1819-1891)

There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

~from Love's Phases (1899) by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Love hath the wings of the eagle bold,

Cling to him strongly
What if the look of the world be cold,
And life go wrongly?
Rest on his pinions, for broad is their fold;
Love hath the wings of the eagle bold.

~from What the Eagle Says (1999) by Xi Chuan (born Liu Jun, 1963)

Among men there are men who are not men, just like among eagles there are eagles that are not eagles: there are eagles that are forced to pace up and down the alleyways, and there are men who are forced to fly through the air.