Welcome to 11th grade English and History at Academy of the Canyons. This class is year-long, and is taught as a team, ensuring that content and assignments from both classes will carry over to or correspond with what is being taught in the other class.

This year we will be exploring our nation’s history, literature and culture from the ideological origins of independence from Great Britain through the events of the past decade. Our central focus will include the following: examining past events and tying them to our contemporary world, integrating literary analysis in a historical context, developing your critical reasoning and argumentation skills, and improving your skills in writing, reading, presentation, and research. Additionally, projects and assignments will be designed to improve students’ understanding of technology, encourage inter-personal communication, and facilitate meta-cognitive reflection.

Plagiarism and Cheating

All student work must be her or his own, except in cases of group work. If a student is caught plagiarizing or cheating, whether it is on a homework assignment, quiz, project, or essay that student will receive 0% for that work, the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student or students involved will be contacted, and a teacher’s report will be submitted to the principal according to Board Policy 5011. Additional incidents of plagiarism or cheating will be addressed according to school and district policies and may result in student removal from AOC.


Students’ academic development will be monitored through a variety of ongoing assessments including formal examinations, oral and written language applications, presentations/projects, independent and collaborative group activities, and standardized tests. Assessments are designed to determine a student’s progress toward fulfilling the course objectives and her/his mastery of grade level standards. Grades will be based on a weighted grading system; each assignment and class activity will be given a point value and will contribute to a total-points average in one of the following categories (respective % value of total grade per class is provided in next to the category title):

  • Assessments (Essays, Midterms Projects): There will be 3-4 major assessments and/or projects throughout each semester. The projects will be designed to evaluate student progress in organizing and presenting information, critical thinking, research and utilization of sources to support conclusions. All major projects will require students to undergo a formal process for organization, planning and execution, regardless of the format that the project is ultimately presented in. Smaller projects, including 3-4 White Papers, will be collected throughout the semester, and are designed to provide students with regular feedback on their learning as well as support larger learning objectives in English and US History. A joint midterm exam will be conducted once a semester, and will be used to evaluate student progress relevant to content and/or skills practiced to that point. [45% of grade]
  • Course Assignments: Regular assignments include textbook notes with a comprehensive summary of the reading, annotations and analysis of primary sources and scholarly articles, critical thinking assignments, and other miscellaneous assignments. ALL written work, including notes/summaries, will be submitted digitally through [10% of grade]
  • Geography/Vocabulary Quizzes: Foundational skills and content provide context for students to better access, synthesize, and remember the primary content within a discipline. In English, vocabulary serves this purpose by creating a means through which students can breakdown and decode the origins and context of language, their primary cognitive tool for learning. Similarly, geographic knowledge is essential to historical inquiry and provides an essential building block for learning within social studies. Proficiency will be evaluated through regular in-class quizzes. [10% of grade]
  • Quizzes and Tests: There will be periodic quizzes and tests to assess content knowledge and reading comprehension. [20% of grade]
  • Final Exams: A joint final exam will be given that is based upon the Performance Task Model. [15% of grade]

**All written work must be submitted through by start of class on the day the assignment is due. A 10% grade reduction will be applied for everyday that the assignment is not fully submitted.

Strategies for Success

Junior year is considered, by the state as well as various universities, to be the most rigorous year of a student’s high school experience. In addition, our students are often experiencing more advanced or a greater number of college classes than they have been used to. In order to be successful, students and parents are strongly advised to consider the following strategies to ensure their success:

  1. Utilize a planner or other scheduler, to ensure good time management.
  2. Practice good note taking and annotation habits, and avoid procrastinating in studying for exams and completing major projects.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and ensure you get a good sleep each night before a school day.
  4. Follow the established Writing Guide

Note Taking and Study Skills

Note taking is perhaps the most essential skill for academic success in any class. Not only have good notes been shown to increase knowledge retention, but there is also strong evidence that note taking reduces stress, increases personal confidence, and helps students to make connections that they would otherwise miss (ie. increasing analytical skills).

Notes in these classes will require the following elements:

  • Use of an appropriate personal note taking strategy.
  • Identification of any words or phrases that are teacher provided, new, unknown, and/or confusing in the text.
  • Questions that address issues with the text or historical event(s) in question (at least 2 questions per chapter/text).
  • A comprehensive, well thought out summary that begins with a FATt sentence, and additionally includes a connection to your life or contemporary events (3-5 sentences long).
  • Be concise. Notes should be no more than 2 pages (1 sheet front and back) per chapter/text!

Students are strongly advised to:

  • Read and take notes in a quiet place on the day that reading is assigned.
  • Read first before taking any notes.
  • Only answer comprehension or analysis questions after all required reading is done.
  • Take breaks and do not work on school work late at night (get a good night sleep)
  • Review notes on a regular basis and do not wait until right before a test to review notes.

Controversial Topics

Students and their parents should be aware that the study of history and literature is rife with controversial topics, of political, social or cultural origins. Such topics covered in these classes may include race relations, gender relations, changing sexual attitudes and religious beliefs, as well as the merits of political decisions. Every effort will be made to present both sides of every topic and to allow students to decide for themselves how to interpret their world.

In-Class Videos

On occasion videos will be shown in class in attempt to provide greater historical or literary context for a text or topic, or provide additional means by which to engage students in active learning. While documentaries and public broadcasts are the most common video elements used in our class, on occasion full-length feature films will also be shown. These movies may be rated G, PG or PG-13. If any student or parent has a concern regarding video selection, please contact either Mr. Wilhelm or Mr. Walker as soon as practical.


Technology is an ever present component of our world today, and the appropriate and effective use of technology (especially computer and internet technology) is an essential skill for modern learning. In an effort to promote digital citizenship and literacy, most (if not all) research, projects, and assignments in 11th grade will require students to use digital tools, collaborate electronically, and present their views and research through a variety of digital platforms. The William S Hart Union High School District now provides wireless access at AOC and the other schools in our district, with the expectation that computer technology is extensively integrated into lessons. This year all 11th grade classes will be participating in a pilot of Go Guardian, a student safety and classroom management program. This program requires students to use school-provided Chromebooks in the classroom. Additionally all 11th grade students will be taking the CAASPP in the spring semester which also requires students to use the school-provided Chromebooks. The extensive use of technology utilizing school property over the course of the year requires students to exhibit maturity and respect so that all students can continue to enjoy full access and use of the provided equipment.,

Final Words

Parents/Guardians are an integral part of their child’s educational experience. Your support to maintain academic and social standards will be greatly appreciated. We look forward to communication concerning your child’s development and needs. We welcome and encourage your comments and questions, so please contact either of us anytime via email (preferred) or leave a message on the office phone.

For your convenience we have developed a joint class website for both U.S. History and English 11 that includes class assignments, announcements, and helpful links to assist student performance and parent/guardian awareness.

As President Lincoln once said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” Every student is capable of success, and in the end, every student is responsible for her or his own success.