Everything English

UCPS English Curriculum News and Events

January 2016

Dear English Teachers,

Happy New Year! Welcome back to school after what I hope was a restful and reinvigorating break.

In January, we have the significant task of finishing up and reflecting on the first semester, all while preparing for the second semester. As we head into this transition period, please let me know if you need any help assembling resources or preparing your units. If you need help setting up Canvas for your second semester classes, I am glad to assist you. If you find that you need textbooks, please contact your department chair first.

I will keep you apprised of our progress, but we are in the process of revising the benchmarks for English I and II on SchoolNet. The revised benchmarks will be ready for you to use during second semester. We will also have English III benchmarks ready for use in the second semester. The first English III benchmark will be the ACT writing assessment, and the second will be modeled after the NC Final Exam. See below for dates for all benchmarks.

Additionally, a small team of English IV teachers will be collaborating with SPCC English teachers this semester; that team will be learning about the SPCC English curriculum and sharing our English IV curriculum. We will also be thinking of ways we can facilitate the transition from high school to college for UCPS students. There are one or two spots still open on this team. If you are interested, please let me know as soon as possible.

As always, please let me know about anything that should be included in this newsletter. In particular, if you would be willing to share a book (or other media) recommendation, please send the recommendation with a bullet review. Thanks!

Have a wonderful month!


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Second Semester Benchmark Schedule

English III Benchmark #1 (ACT Writing Assessment): February 8-9

English I and II Benchmark #1: March 14-24

English I, II, and II Benchmark #2: May 9-20

Save the Date: February 15

On Monday, February 15, from 8:30-11:30, we will have the following PD offerings available:

  • Conversation and pro tips on ACT and SAT writing assessments
  • English II District-wide PLC meeting

Online Book Study Opportunities


Dr. Adam Tarlton is Teacher of the Year at CATA!

Online Resources

  • Writing Reviser through SAS Curriculum Pathways: This is an excellent tool, but keep in mind that students must be 18+ or have parents activate their accounts. Keep this in mind as you prepare your beginning-of-the-semester materials for parents.
  • 10 Fun-Filled Formative Assessment Ideas: Useful post.
  • Books-to-Games: Transforming Classic Novels into Role Playing Adventures: This article discusses how students can take novels and turn them into games. Fahrenheit 451 is used in the example, but I could imagine this working for many books. The article contends that this is a great way to develop critical thinking skills; plus, in additional to critical reading, students do a great deal of writing as they develop these games.
  • Podcast on writing from Texas A&M University: This podcast includes interviews with teachers about teaching writing. Thanks for the recommendation, Samantha Niday!

I'd love to hear about it, if you try any of these!

What I am Reading (and Listening to)

  • Hamilton (the musical): It's amazing. The musical tells the story of immigrant and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through a blend of traditional musical tropes and hip hop. This is a link to the lyrics, which are open to collaborative annotation. I've included one of my favorite songs below.
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: Not coincidentally, I am reading the Hamilton biography on which the musical is based.

All of this would be a very cool interdisciplinary project. The status of immigrants is a big deal in the world right now, and this musical connects history to modern events in an exciting and literary way.

The Room Where It Happens