English 10

Fiction is truth's older sister

- Rudyard Kipling


English 10

Writing the Essay

Public Speaking

Civilzations & Literature

For Parents


English 10 is required of all sophomores. A major focus of the curriculum is driven by the state's CAPT exam, which all of Connecticut's 10th graders are required to take in the spring. Some helpful information from the state of Connecticut about CAPT. We spend time reading, writing and discussing literature in class. All of our writing is maintained within an in-class writing portfolio, which will then be part of a final assessment in June.

Students enrolled in English 10 have the option of taking the Honors Option, which involves completing additional work to show a larger breadth and depth of course content and skills. Information on the honors option is detailed here.

The following links should be checked regularly for updated assignments and resources needed for class:

The following units are some of those covered in the class.

A Separate Peace

Set during the height of World War II, John Knowles' novel tells the story of two friends at a private boarding school in New England. Gene Forrester, the narrator, looks back on his high school days, reflecting on his guilt and pain from a traumatic experience involving a close friend.

Students pursuing the honors option will compare A Separate Peace to The Kite Runner, a novel that explores many of the same themes. Both novels explore many of the same themes of jealousy, redemption, guilt, and friendship. Some of the essential questions for this unit include:

  • What causes jealousy between friends?
  • What factors seem to be a threat to friendship?
  • Is war a necessary evil?
  • Is redemption possible?
  • How should we deal with guilt?
  • Does competition bring out the best or worst in people?
  • Is the loss of innocence inevitable?
  • Do we need to accept the reality of evil in the human heart & world to survive?

List of ongoing vocabulary

The major assessment of the unit will be a comparison essay. Click here for the assignment. (word document)

In preparation for the essay, students generated quotes from the novel related to Gene and Finny or connected to The Kite Runner.




Short stories

A major emphasis of sophomore English is the reading of short stories. On CAPT, students will encounter a short story in the response to literature portion and be asked to answer four questions. Our work in class will help us prepare us both for that experience, and, hopefully, for a lifetime of fuller reading enjoyment. Many of the writing assessments will be graded following the state's CAPT expectations.

  • One group of stories we will read will focus on the family. As we prepare and read the texts, we will also explore our own family histories and memories. We will read the following stories: "The Moustache" by Robert Cormier, "Through the Tunnel," by Doris Lessing,  "Marigolds," by Eugene Collier, "Initiation," by Sylvia Plath, and "Rules of the Game," by Amy Tan.
  • Vocabulary for quizzes will come from the short stories and past words. Here is the cumulative list of vocabulary words this year.

As you read, you must make notes to record your thinking about the story. Click here to see the different types of thinking good readers do, which we have discussed in class.

Additionally, there will be a compare/contrast essay required as part of the unit. Your essay needs to focus on significant elements of the stories, for example the conflicts, characterizations, symbolism, or themes.Click here to see the assignment. (Word document)


Note: Most short stories are taken from Contemporary Short Stories (McDougal, Littell: 1993)



 A Midsummer Night's Dream- "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" As we read and act out Shakespeare's great comedy, we'll see just how true those words are. One significant resource I am using this year is The Folger Library's Shakespeare Set Free. Periodically throughout our study, students will be required to post regularly to the class blog here. In addition, check out the following helpful links:


Note: the model is best if downloaded into Google Sketchup and viewed in 3-D mode. Sketchup is a free download.


Alienation & Isolation Literature Circles unit The thrust of this unit will focus on the three novels listed below. Students will participate in classroom discussions based on the Literature Circle model. Each group will also be responsible for posting evidence of thinking and learning on the class wiki project page.

  • Frankenstein
  • The Color of Water
  • Black Boy

As usual with all units, students should regularly check the classroom blog for homework prompts and other assignments.


Poetry: Sound & Sense - For two weeks, we will explore the sound and sense of some pretty special poetry. A major focus will be on poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance, and consonance, but many of the poems also contain similes and metaphors, two of the most common literary devices. Much of this unit is based on ideas from NCTE's wonderful ReadWriteThink.org page. The two major assessments will be a collaborative poetry analysis and three original poems. And don't forget to check the classroom blog for the latest homework assignments.

  • The poetry analysis assignment will be a collaborative venture in which student partnerships will work together and write the analysis on a class wiki.
  • There will be three brief poetry analysis papers due - each one about 200-250 words. Click here to see guidelines (.pdf file)
  • The poetry-writing assignment calls for three original poems of 6-7 lines that use alliteration, assonance, and consonance. The rubric for poems from ReadWriteThink.org page


The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds - A play with a long, strange name. The play, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its author Paul Zindel, tells the story of the Hunsdorfer family. At times disturbing and hilarious, Gamma Rays shows us just how fragile human beings can be.

  • Start off reading some background information on Gamma Rays and dysfunctional families, which is linked here through the class blog. We are posting our findings and connections between the two.
  • Vocabulary for quizzes will come from the readings, the play, and past words. Here is the cumulative list of vocabulary words this year.
  • An anticipation guide for the play. (Word document)
  • Throughout our reading of the play, you will be required to post your homework responses in response to posts on the class blog. Check here for the latest prompts on the blog.


"The Future is ... Now?" - The guiding questions ask: Is freedom more important than safety? How much power can or should a government have? What power do individuals have against the government? In groups, students divided their books into five parts to correspond with each discussion day scheduled.

  • 1984
  • Fahrenheit 451

To explore these questions, students choose from one of two futuristic classic novels, organize themselves into discussion groups and off they go. See also my Lit Circle resource page.

  • We start the unit off with a reading of the first chapter of each novel, then choose one on which to complete the prediction assignment(Word document) before you make your selection.
  • Halfway through the novel, complete the following mini-essay assignment(Word document)
  • Some student-generated I Wonder Why...? Questions from both novels.
  • The final essay is a topic chosen by the students relating to the novel. Click here for the assignment (.pdf file) and essay rubric. (.pdf file)


Media Debate Unit - Be ready for the class debate about video games and popular television. What responsibility does society have for what teens do or watch? Here is the assignment. Check here for some potentially helpful links. Many of these documents are in Microsoft Word 2000 format.

  • Before getting started, ask yourself some questions about the impact and credibility of video games and television. Anticipation Guide(Word document)
  • Here is a list of resources to use as part of your research. It includes links for both television and video game research. This would be an excellent place to begin.
  • Here are all the materials needed for the debate, including an overview of the unit, the format of the debate, rubrics and checklists for research(Word document) and performance in the debate.
  • Debate essay assignment Write a letter to Sen. Joe Lieberman and let him know what your opinions are and back it up with facts from your research. Read some model examples from Nicole and Marta that we sent to Lieberman.
  • Debate CentralThe folks at the University of Vermont have put together some information to help you prepare for the big debate.


Dead Poets Society - The film provides a wonderful opportunity  to "Seize the Day" and make a speech in front of your classmates. There are numerous options - a eulogy for Neil, love poems, readings of classic poems, even a graduation speech. And of course there's that silly Shakespeare play that you may have heard about...


The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros' touching and realistic story of a young Hispanic girl is told in a series of moving and enlightening vignettes. Cisneros uses a rich, poetic language to paint a picture of the poverty-stricken, gray world of Esperanza. We, too, created vignettes of our own.

During the unit we are guided by the following essential questions:

  • How do our personal stories help reveal who we are?

  • How do we figure out who we are? Why should we?

  • Why use figurative language to help tell stories? Does it help?


First week of class- Get to know what's going to happen in English 10. First, you will write your parents a letter that explains important expectations and impressions of your sophomore English class.  And, of course, it's time to hand in your summer reading essay and get ready for your summer reading quiz.


Culminating Assignments

Portfolio project in Word 2000 or PDF

What Grade Do I Deserve? Essay



 In some cases there are PowerPoint presentations as links. If you don't haveGet Acrobat Reader PowerPoint, click here to download the free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft. Many documents are also in PDF version. Click on the Acrobat Reader icon to download free Acrobat Reader.



All materials on this page were created by Christian "Bing" Miller, unless otherwise noted