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Welcome to high school English class, a workshop of your skills and interests, designed to invigorate your thinking and prepare you for the challenges of scholarship, college, and career!


I am a second-year teacher, if you consider that I have had 23 "first years" of experience as a teacher. Through my over two decades in the profession, every school year has been different, as has every child. Thankfully, that allows me to grow as well, becoming a different and hopefully better teacher each year.

My own two children, ages 9 and 14, attend school in Leander ISD, and my wife Rayla facilitates Quest at Pleasant Hill Elementary. The discussion of literacy permeates our lives, happily. Rayla likes to read James Patterson and Kate DiCamillo, among others. My favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Hunter S. Thompson, Joe Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ernest Hemingway. Chloe, age 13, prefers Kazu Kibuishi or J.K. Rowling at the moment. And my daughter Emme has reached an age where she reads absolutely everything she sees (with a preference for Steven Universe and Adventure Time).. Our family has lived in the Leander area for over 13 years, and my wife and I have taught here even longer, intending to stay here for a long time to come. My wife has blogged on the topic of education and I have goals of writing novels for my students and their parents.

"We teach students first, then curriculum." -- Penny Kittle

I believe that every one of us has both gifted and challenged areas of competency. We have never learned enough. My task is to meet each of my students at his or her current level of mastery, along a variety of language-based skills, and together with them discover the next plateau of learning. All I really desire, demand, and expect of my students is that they feel engaged by learning -- challenged enough to care and see the value of moving forward -- as well as safe as a learner -- supported by all shareholders through a respectful consideration of ideas and personal growth.

In order to invite parents and students to understand my goals and methods as a teacher, I will, from time to time, post quotations from and links to current experts in the field of education who inspire me. In the past couple of years, the works of Jeff Anderson, Kelly Gallagher, Gretchen Bernabei, Donalyn Miller, and Penny Kittle have helped motivate me to reassess the tenets of schooling, and examine carefully the wonderful collaboration that makes up teaching and learning.

2017-18 Syllabus: Rules and Procedures

posted Aug 19, 2016, 3:16 PM by Dan Rucker   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

Syllabus Addendum: English II

Cell Phones

  • This year, students may NOT USE CELL PHONES during English class.. Each student is required to bring a laptop (which may be obtained through the school) for the entire year, and laptops will meet our technological needs.

  • The teacher MIGHT occasionally allow a “tech break” during which students can check email and visit their phones.

  • If a student has a phone in use or at rest within sight of the teacher, the student must hand the phone over to rest in a phone caddy for the remainder of class, secure behind the teacher’s desk. The phone WILL BE RETURNED at the end of class. Refusal to hand over the phone for that time period results in parent contact and behavior consequences. The student receives a card in return for the phone, and hands the card back to the teacher for the return of the phone WHEN THE END-OF-CLASS BELL RINGS. If the teacher offers a “tech break” and the student’s phone has gone to the phone caddy, it may not be accessed that day.

  • Only the teacher may touch the phone caddy and access phones from it.

Late Work

  • When returning from an absence, a student has a number of days equal to the absence to make up the work. The student must keep up with assignments by checking the slide shows on the teacher website, and asking questions of the teacher to clarify instructions. Attendance at Pride Time or Tutorials is suggested, and sometimes required, to make up work. Parents and students may also email the teacher with questions.

  • Absences longer than a couple of days may require a teacher-approved plan for the student to catch up in a timely manner.

  • If a student does not turn in an assignment on the due date by the means required by the teacher (hard copy, Google Classroom, Turnitin.com, etc.), then the assignment is LATE.   

  • The student has only one class day -- the next class -- to get that late assignment to the teacher. The student receives full credit for the assignment, but a zero in the separate category for College & Career Readiness.

  • Work later than one day WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. If a student receives a zero for not turning the assignment in, the On-Time Performance grade is exempted, so the student is not penalized twice.

Grading Policy

  • Products

(Tests, Summative Assessments, Projects, Final Draft Essays) 40%

  • Process (Skills Practice, Daily Work, Formative Assessments) 50%

  • College & Career Readiness (On-Time Performance, Participation, Preparedness) 10%

Redo/ Retake

  • District policy states that students receive a period of five class days to redo or retake an assignment he/she did not master. The maximum grade of the redo is 70. The teacher may vary the delivery of the assignment for the redo, such as an alternate test covering the same skills/ standards.

  • An assignment not accepted due to lateness, earning a zero, is not eligible for a redo.

Under Construction

posted Aug 21, 2015, 8:54 AM by Dan Rucker   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 1:31 PM ]

I always have ongoing goals for my classes and this website as well.

During the month of September, I will update my curriculum pages so the Google site can function as the primary resource for planning and make-up work, as it did last year. Once I have due dates and assignment instructions posted to the site, I will expect students to use available technology to stay aware of ongoing plans.

I plan on exploring the use of a Goodreads site to provide students a forum to share their excitement about reading. Details coming soon.

Are there other areas of information you would like to see included on this site? 
Email with the subject heading "website suggestion" to


Always glad to hear ideas from tech-savvy students and parents, too!

Contact Information

posted Aug 21, 2015, 8:51 AM by Dan Rucker   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 2:20 PM ]

Leander High School, rm. 2213
Phone #512-570-5326, ext.41079

My email:

Email frequently offers the best, fastest way to contact me, as I rarely answer my phone during my posted teaching periods.

(And parents, please recall that it interferes with campus procedures and the progress of class to text or call your children on their personal phones during their posted class hours.)

Follow our classroom on Twitter:

Get texts from Remind:
English 2 Pre-AP/IB  text "@hf68fb" to 81010
English 2 text "@gfce4" to 81010

Tutoring Schedule

posted Aug 21, 2015, 8:50 AM by Dan Rucker   [ updated Aug 26, 2015, 11:15 AM ]

I strive to be available for students and parents whenever possible, within my understandable time constraints.

My official tutoring hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon, from 3:45 to 4:30pm.

In practice, I am here (in my classroom in room 2213) much more often than that. If a student or parent makes an appointment with me for another time I am available, especially if that is the only time you are available, I will be there. Please, when you do make special appointments to meet, realize that I have cleared my schedule to allow this. Much of my time, particularly in the morning, I meet with fellow teachers, plan lessons, grade, and arrange school club activities. 

Teaching Schedule

posted Aug 21, 2015, 8:49 AM by Dan Rucker   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 2:10 PM ]

First Period: English 2 Pre-AP/IB
Second and Fourth Period: English 2
Third Period: Conference/Planning 12:21 to 2:17pm

Sixth Period: English 2 
Seventh and Eighth Period: English 2 Pre-AP/IB
Fifth Period: Conference/Planning 8:40 to 10:00

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