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Syllabus for: Blended US Literature and Composition

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” - Maya Angelou


“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world.” - James Baldwin

“Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills to be alone. It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin.” - Ann Patchett


“The American identity has never been a singular one and the voices of poets invariably sing, in addition to their own, the voices of those around them.” – Aberjhani


Our guiding questions


As we read our way through each text this year, each of which covers a definitive moment in American history and experience, we will ask:

       What does it mean to be American at this moment in history?

       Who gets to be American at this moment in history?

       What is the American Dream and how does one achieve it at this moment in history?


Our goals


By the end of the year, you will have:

       Become a deeper, smarter reader of literature and all texts

       Learned how to apply marxist, feminist, post-colonial, psychoanalytic, reader response, and aesthetic lenses to literature

       Become a confident writer, ready for the rigor of senior year and beyond

       Participated meaningfully in class discussions and small group conversations

       Improved your collaborative skills

       Developed your online literacy

       Grown into a student who can think critically about the American experience on all levels: literary, historical, political, personal, etc.




We will read texts that reflect the full breadth of the American experience, including novels, plays, and non-fiction documents. Texts include, but are not limited to:


The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

The Crucible (Arthur Miller)

The “Isms”

Puritanism: The Crucible (Arthur Miller)

Rationalism: Selected writings by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others

Romanticism: Selected writings by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe, and others

Transcendentalism: Selected writings by R. W. Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and others

Realism: Selected writings by Mark Twain, Jack London, and others

Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)

When the Emperor was Divine (Julie Otsuka)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

A Raisin in the Sun (Lorraine Hansberry) and Fences (August Wilson)

The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)

Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)        


Choice units: Young adult, Award winners, Drama, Modern memoir




This is a writing intensive course. You will be expected to write vignettes, literary analysis papers, persuasive pieces, informative essays, narratives, college application essays, poetry, and various forms of digital writing.




       Do assigned reading & always bring book to class

       Do other homework

       Participate regularly in class discussion both online and in class

       Be prepared for quizzes

       Plan ahead on big assignments

       Communicate effectively about needs  




A typical night of homework looks like:


       20-30 pages of reading

       Reviewing for a quiz

       Working on an on-going journal assignment

       Putting few minutes of work in on a draft of a paper


What you need for class


Necessary every day:

       A notebook

       Pens and pencils



Not necessary, but awesome and useful:

       Different colored pens and pencils



*Classroom donations are gratefully accepted at any point in the year. Particularly useful items include: loose-leaf college ruled notebook paper, Kleenex, glue sticks, markers, colored pencils, regular pencils and pens, scissors.


Classroom policies


Food/drink: Food and drink are allowed unless a) they distract you or your classmates and/or b) ANY trash is left in the classroom.


Phone: I will ask you once to put your phone away if it is distracting you from your learning. If I see it again after asking you to put it away, I will take it from you for the remainder of class. If we need to make other arrangements because this is not working, I will work with parents and admin to do this.




·         A point is a point. I do not weigh grades. More important assignments will be given a greater point value.

·         The final exams will go on second and fourth quarter.

·         Your semester grade (the grade that goes on your transcript) is 50% first quarter and 50% second quarter.

·         Grades will be reported every other week at minimum, but usually more frequently.


Contact me


Phone: (952) 848-3007

Facebook: Reiling English


Students: The student/teacher relationship as a collaborative partnership that thrives on honest and open communication. The more you view yourself as an active participant in that partnership, the more successful you will be in my class. Let me know when you need help; let me know when you need a challenge. The better I know you, the better I can teach you, so come see me!