Welcome to English 7/8!

Miss. Finkelstein

Welcome to the English 7/8 Class Website!
This site has ALL the information you need to be successful in this course!

*Click on the "What's Happening" tab to find class assignments and weekly announcements.


1. Click Here! for College Essay Tips to help you get started

2. Click Here! for sample college essays


Click Here! for a sample of writing in MLA format

CLICK HERE! for an AUDIO VERSION of 1984 :)

Click here! for a COMPLETE online version of 1984!

CLICK HERE!!! for 1984 George Orwell Chapter Summaries:

If you have any questions EMAIL me at: efinkelstein@mhacademy.net

Course Syllabus-English 7 (12th Grade)

Essential Questions:         How can we define dystopia?

                                    Why are dystopia and utopia such common themes in literature?

                                    How does history create literature?

How does biographical information inform our understanding of an author’s literary choices?

How can we write an effective college application essay?

                                    How do we write a literary essay?

                                    How do authors use symbols?

                                    How can we see the concept of totalitarianism in 1984?

How can we make connections between totalitarianism and our own lives?


Course Rationale:

This semester we begin the journey of preparing for college. This will include working on college admissions essays, as well as in depth research and college level essay writing. Towards this goal we will begin the first stages of a senior research project, as well as work on critical reading and writing skills, in accordance with the Common Core Learning Standards and rigorous academic expectations. We begin this journey by starting our yearlong exploration of dystopias and how they are represented in a variety of literary and media genres. We will start with several short stories and poems that investigate dystopias and work our way towards reading George Orwell’s 1984. Along the way we will watch movies (The Planet of the Apes) and TV shows (The Twilight Zone) that also explore society in its various nightmarish forms, as well as listen to music such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and even sample contemporary art and music.


Skills that will Be Gained by taking this course!


1)     Evaluation of non-fiction and informational texts

2)     Analysis of literature for advanced literary elements

3)     Speaking and listening in a college environment

4)     Research writing for college

5)     Use of research to write persuasive arguments

6)     Understanding of dystopian literature and themes

7)     How to successful write a personal statement for college

8)     How to successful write an essay for a college application



Important Standards For this Class

Common Core Reading Standards for Informational Text 11-12

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
a. Develop factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions for further exploration of the topic(s


Common Core Standards for Literature 11-12

Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


Common Core Writing Standards 11-12

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.       


Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening 11-12

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Course Materials:

  • A pen or pencil must be brought to class everyday. (blue or black only)
  • A binder with a section for English must be brought to class everyday.
  • Loose leaf to be refilled throughout the year. (college rule only)
  • A USB drive to store work
  • Headphones for use during independent work periods
  • One standard 2 pocket folder (to stay in binder)
  • A positive attitude and willingness to learn.


Grading Policy:

This school year we will be using a Mastery Based Grading Scale. I will assess your individual progress on a 4 point rubric based on the different skills and standards we will cover each unit. This means you won’t be getting grades out of 100% anymore, but rather a 4, 3, 2 or 1.  We will discuss this more in individual conferences and in our first few weeks of class J.

4= Exceeding Standards

3=Meeting Standards

2= Approaching Standards

1= Not Yet Approaching Standards


Class Goals:

1.     Prepare to be successful college level readers and writers.

2.     Continue to develop our vocabulary in order to better express our thoughts and opinions when speaking and in writing. This includes class discussions, debates, and presentations.

3.     Improve our analysis of literature by examining historical context and biographical information and use this analysis to write college level essays.

4.     Using college level research to support claims in our arguments, both written and verbal.

5.     Continue to improve our grammar, spelling, and writing mechanics towards developing our own style.

Murray Hill Academy Classroom Procedures

1.     All students must have a binder and a pen/pencil on their desk at all times.

2.     Students must sign the late book.

3.     No eating in class.

4.     Students must ask and sign out the bathroom pass.

5.     All students must communicate appropriately in class: raise your hand, stay in your seat, no cursing, and keep your hands to yourself.    

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at Murray Hill Academy, at (212) 696-0195. You may also contact me through email at


Click here to read about Why George Orwell Wrote 1984

NYC Research Essay:

Your research proposal should only be ½ a page in length.


Step 1: State your position/Claim.


Step 2: Based on your research findings explain a few reasons in your own words that support your claim. (These can be bullet points or full sentences)


Step 3: Copy and paste 3-5 weblinks for the sources you found to support your claim


 Sample Research Proposal:

  1. Claim- New York City is a Utopian society for many reasons.
  2. Reasons- Diversity, transportation, and cultural opportunities makes NYC what it is today.

      Explanation-NYC has many things to offer too. Transportation is something many places have but not like NYC. It literally goes around all boroughs to help many people get to where they have to. There are many food and cultural varieties because New York City’s unbelievable diversity.  Whenever you need something to go out you can always find a store to shop in whether its to cheap or expensive.

  1. Sources:




NYC Research Notes Guidelines:

 For full credit, you must complete 3-5 research notes based on the websites you’ve chosen as your sources.


Your research notes should follow this format:

1.     Copy and paste the link for the website you have found

2.     Summarize in a few sentences what this website is about

3.     Copy and paste quotes from the website that you could use as evidence to support your claim

4.     Include your analysis of each quote - Put each quote in your own words


Sample Research Note:


This website contains several visuals that help prove that NYC is a dystopia. The author creates a grid of NYC and shows all the different problems associated with each area of the city.

       “ bla bla bla bla bla”(Author).

      This quote saying... This is important because... This proves NYC is a utopia/dystopia because...

       “bla bla bla bla bla” (Author).

      This quote saying... This is important because... This proves NYC is a utopia/dystopia because...

Steps for Successful Analysis:  

Analysis should be thorough and fully explained. Make sure you are always answering the question “so what?”

1. Explain what the quote is saying in your own words (This is saying… This means…)

2. Explain why this piece of evidence is important, relevant or useful (This is important because…)

3.Relate the explanation of evidence back to your claim (This shows how NYC is a … because…)

Guidelines for Introductory Paragraph:

Your Introductory paragraph should move from general, broad information to more specific towards the end when you get to your claim.

1. Mention that there are two sides to this argument - People have been debating over whether or not NYC is a utopian society or a dystopian society...

2. Define Utopia or Dystopia (based on your claim) A utopia/dystopia is...

3. Explain some reasons for each side without saying YOUR side yet... Some people believe NYC is a utopia because... Others believe it is a perfect place because...

4. State your claim  It is clear that NYC is a ____ because....

Tips for Effective Body Paragraphs:

1. Break up your ideas into separate body paragraphs
–If you are writing about how NYC is a dystopia, then discuss ideas like “pollution” and “gang violence” in separate paragraphs.
2. USE YOUR RESEARCH NOTES! – You’ve already done a lot of the work!
– You should be copying and pasting your explanations of each website, the evidence, and your analysis of the evidence
3. Include topic sentences at the beginning of each body paragraph and transitions between paragraphs
4. Make sure your body paragraph sticks to one topic and doesn’t stray too far off from your claim
Tips for Effective Counterclaims
Don’t discredit YOUR claim with your counterclaim
If you are arguing that NYC is a utopia, don’t all of a sudden talk about how terrible NYC is in your counterclaim paragraph.
Mention that some people may disagree with your claim and mention some of their reasons
Try to incorporate evidence in your counterclaim to show that people believe the opposing side, but ultimately show how they are wrong

Some sentence starters:

 Some people argue that NYC is a…. They believe that.... Ultimately, they are wrong because….


Guidelines for College Essay Writing: 

Introduction Guidelines:

1. Introduction should start with a hook. This can be a question, quote, personal anecdote, etc.

2. It should be very detailed and specific. Ex. Provide specific dates, etc.

3. Introduce your obstacle or significant event and make sure you stay on topic.

4. Limit your use of  personal pronoun "I".

5. Should be about 5- 8 sentences.

6. Make sure you are using proper punctuation after every thought.

Body Paragraph Guidelines:

qA topic sentence that expands your theme and makes a transition from the previous paragraph.
qDevelopment of ideas that support your essay’s theme.  ( Supporting details.) 5-8 sentences at minimum.

qAn ending sentence that wraps up the paragraph and helps transition to the next paragraph.

Body paragraph I: How this significant event changed you in a positive way?

¢Topic sentence
¢Evidence that supports your opinion

Body paragraph II: How has this experience demonstrate your work ethic, determination, personality, or any other specific quality?

¢Topic sentence
¢Evidence that supports your opinion

Conclusion Guidelines:
q1.  Your conclusion should restate your thesis.
q2.  Your conclusion should be concise
q3.  Refer to the main points in your body paragraphs
q4.  End with a “punch” – a strong, concluding sentence.