Mrs. McCranie's

English Classes

Welcome to Mrs. McCranie's website!

Mrs. McCranie has been an English teacher at West Mesa High School for 4 years. She loves coming to work everyday, leading students to be the best they can be!

Below you will find a calendar with important dates and a brief overview of important information regarding Mrs. McCranie's classes in general. Please refer to your specific class' website for syllabus, class calendar, etc. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at kristal.smith@aps.edu


Let's have a great year!

A note from Mrs. McCranie:

All of my classes are a 1-1 classroom, which means that every student will have access to a ChromeBook while in my class. Because of this, we will be incorporating many different online components into the class, including, but not limited to Google Classroom, GoogleDocs, GoogleSlides, SpringBoard Digital, various online sources including blogs for educational purposes, and YouTube for educational purposes.

WMHS Summer Reading 2017

Summer Reading!

Every English class at West Mesa High School participates in the Summer Reading Project. This means, everyone, no matter what class you are going to, is expected to read a book over the summer and complete a project. To the left is the flyer given to each student going into a regular English class.

**If you are in AP or honors, please see individual class pages for the specific summer reading assignment**

Grading Practices

My classroom is not what you would call a "traditional classroom." Education for me is all about preparing the next generation with the skills they need to be able to communicate effectively, both in writing and orally, and help them to become life-long learners. Because of this, my philosophy on grading is different than most classrooms.

After 5 years of teaching, I've come to realize that students seem to care less about what they're learning on a day-to-day basis, and care more about the grade they earned. This system of grades-based learning wouldn't be an issue if there was a standard to grading. We all have the assumption that an "A" means the student has mastered everything the teacher has asked of them, whereas a "C" is simply "adequate performance" in the class (whatever that means). And of course, the "F" is usually interpreted as "this student does not have the skills to move on to the next level of the class."

The problem is, that's not always the case. Anyone who has been in contact with the education system in any way (whether a teacher, student, or parent/guardian) knows this to be true. A brilliant student who's bored and a struggling student who tries their hardest on everything could ultimately end up with the same "C." Add extra credit, and grades don't mean anything anymore.

So I asked myself the question: what are grades for?

Ultimately, I believe they are to communicate how a student is doing skill-wise in my class to their parents/guardians, and especially for themselves. If a student doesn't know where they are in relation to the information or skills they are supposed to be learning, how can they improve? If they don't know what they've mastered, and what they still need to work on, how can they master anything new?

Does an "A" tell them they've mastered all the content? Does a "C" communicate they're struggling in the class?


That's why I decided to create a gradeless classroom.


What does this mean for students? Ultimately, this means students will be required to be more involved in their learning. This will be hard at first, and there will be many students who are good at playing the game of "education" that will struggle with this. Specifically, it means students will be reflecting on their learning everyday. They will be using an evidence binder to keep track of their work, and a portfolio in GoogleDocs that shows mastery of their skills. Every 6-weeks, each student will conference with me about their performance in class, and we will decide their 6-weeks' grade together. They will be required to complete a pre-conference sheet with the grade they think they deserve based on the evidence of their work. This evidence is much better at communicating their learning and performance in my class than a letter grade, percentage, or even a rubric score. This does NOT mean students can get away with not doing work. On the contrary, expectations are raised because the responsibility of their learning is placed on the students.


What does this mean for parents/guardians? It means I will not be posting grades in Synergy for assignments. In ParentVue, the only grades that will be posted will be the 6-weeks grades and any common assessment scores. The common assessment scores will not affect the grade, but it will be posted for student/parent/guardian information. Because I won't be using ParentVue as often, I have incorporated other tools for communicating student achievement and progress.

  1. Google Classroom: Students will be using Google Classroom for online class discussions, quizzes, surveys, etc. I will send out a weekly report to parents/guardians via email. This report will include a summary of their student's performance in my class through the Google Classroom site. This will NOT include anything we do in class.
  2. Remind/Email: I am reachable through my email (kristal.smith@aps.edu) or through Remind (see class syllabus for information on how to sign up), so please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding you student's performance in my class.
  3. Student Evidence Binders: Every student will be required to maintain an evidence binder with everything he/she has completed throughout the year. This evidence binder will be kept in the classroom unless otherwise specified. Students are encouraged to take home their evidence binders in order to communicate their progress and achievement with parents/guardians, but they are to be brought back to class everyday.
  4. GoogleDocs/Portfolios: We will be using GoogleDocs extensively for longer writing projects. Students are asked to share their class folder in GoogleDocs with their parents/guardians so they can be involved in the process of writing, and they will be able to check in on each particular assignment. Throughout the year, students will be compiling different writings into a single portfolio within GoogleDocs. This portfolio will follow them to the next grade level to show growth over the course of their high school career. This portfolio (with revisions and reflections) will be their final at the end of the year.


I want to be as transparent in my teaching and grading practices as possible, AND I want to make sure that the focus of school is no longer the grades students are getting, but the learning they are achieving.