In Context

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.

~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.