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Welcome to Grade IX English Seminar!

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Ellen Desmond

on 7 September 2013

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Transcript of Welcome to Grade IX English Seminar!

A Few Various and Sundry Details You Should Know About Ms. Fries
- I have a dog, Basket; a cat, Ginger; and, of course, a daughter, Hazel Calliope. I imagine you will hear lots about them this year.

- I will do my very best to get your papers back in a timely manner.

- I am a grammar and mechanics stickler. You will hear a lot about why.

- I love to draw and write; all kinds of fonts and handwriting are my specialty. I also spin (with an old-school spinning wheel), cook, sew, knit, garden and bake. I have dreams about farming and making art (calligraphy, clothing, mittens...) when I retire from teaching.

- I also love to read.

- I am a vegetarian and I don’t own a TV.

- When I was in ninth grade the cool thing to do was to “peg” your pants. I think it is coming back in style...I’ve seen a couple hipsters in Somerville with this going on. I will demonstrate some day.

- I can switch very quickly between being silly and being serious. What I believe: both humor and seriousness are necessary to get through any sort of thing.

- I believe that two of the most important qualities of an exceptional student are being curious and listening carefully.

- My favorite foods? Peaches and olives. (Not together, of course.)
Welcome to Grade IX English Seminar!
...is the way to grow insightful discussion.

Most days in class we’ll be having a discussion about books we’re reading or writing we’re writing. You are responsible for understanding the topics and viewpoints we discuss in class. You are also responsible for keeping your ears and your mind open to different opinions. Everything we talk about around our table is potential fodder for future assignments and writing ideas. We will expect and help you to take notes during our discussions, but ultimately what you “take away” will be decided by you.

Participation in class is NOT optional. It is a major component of your grade. Not to worry, though -— we will work on it together. If you’re a shy type, we will be encouraging you to find your voice and chime in with thoughts. If you like to talk often, we'll be urging you learn ways to listen to your classmates.

And of course, not to beat a dead horse, don’t forget about "SEMINAR."

What to Bring to Class
1. A place to stow your homework, returned assignments, and handouts.
The best thing is a binder or pocket folder. This needs to be cleaned out at the end of every unit. Trust us: the more you keep work organized and accessible, the easier essays, major projects, and tests will be.

2. A notebook exclusively for English.
We have one for you! Please do NOT use it for anything but English. Please DO have it EVERY DAY.

3. A good supply of pencils and pens.
You are, after all, in high school. Enough said.

4. Your homework.
Your homework will often be the spark for our class discussion the next day. This is hugely important!!! You need to have whatever it is printed out by the time you walk into class. Seriously.

5. The text we’re working on.
An absolute necessity. Please have YOUR copy.

6. A zip/thumb/whatever-it's-called drive AND/OR a fully up-to-date fileserver.

7. An assignment book.

8. A ready, willing, and open mind.
Probably the most important thing. It's amazing how a positive attitude can enhance your learning experiences!

You will have about 40 minutes of work most nights. Sometimes you’ll complete short-term assignments; sometimes you’ll work in steps on bigger projects.

Everything should be typed and double-spaced with your name in an upper corner, unless otherwise indicated.

There will be consequences for not having your homework. Excuses are NOT legit, unless you have a note from a parent or guardian.
A Friendly Reminder about Plagiarism
This is a pretty hot topic in education across the country and at all levels. At some points, I'm sure I will muse with you about why this is the new trend, but at this moment, you need to hear from us -- as you read in the handbook -- that plagiarism of any kind is not OK.

Committing plagiarism is a cry for help in a way, and we want you to know that we would much rather hear that cry -- any of your teachers would -- than try to help you unravel the tangle that happens when you plagiarize. This act is a crime; it will get you kicked out of later schools; and unfortunately, as we will discuss, there are lots of ways to be tempted into trying it out. Please, please: if you are confused about plagiarism, think you might accidentally plagiarize, or worry that you are heading down that road because of a stressful assignment you don't feel you can do -- TALK TO US.

FY I-- Plagiarized work will receive a failing grade. You will be expected to redo it, but that redone work will not be able to exceed a 70 (C-). There may also be other punishments, such as suspension from school.

Just do your OWN work to the best of YOUR ability!

Define: "Seminar"
(noun) A conference or other meeting for discussion

ORIGIN: late Middle English (denoting a seed plot): from Latin "seminarium" = ‘seed plot’

Why did I give you the definition? How could this word -—both the dictionary definitions and the looser definitions I gave you in class —- inform and guide our work, hopes, dreams, plans, goals and souls?
First, it’s important to note that simply completing your work does not earn you an A. An A means that you have somehow gone above and beyond what was required.

As we discuss this, I hope that all of you will get excited and begin to practice what going above and beyond looks like in the world of English class.

Keeping up with homework, taking risks, pushing yourself, advocating for yourself in areas you need help, participating in class, and diving into new experiences are great ways to perform well.
Getting Help
What to do when you’re lost? Have no clue about the assignment? Don’t know if you’re on the right track?

Well, certainly it’s our job to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, but you play a part in this too. When you’re lost, it’s hugely important that you advocate for yourself. This might be the biggest, most important lesson of high school. Tell us what’s up with you as soon as you can. Emailing is OK, but it’s possible we might not get it in time to help. You can also always catch us before or after class, grab us at TEACH, or come visit us in the English office.
...And Some Fun Facts About Ms. Desmond
- I share a birthday with Will.I.Am and Kevin Youkilis..."beware the Ides of March!"

- While I studied abroad in college, I hiked part of the Camino de Santiago for a month.

- I'm a musical theatre buff, and I direct youth theatre in the summer.

- I absolutely love flying and think the airport is one of the coolest symbolic settings for short stories.

- I wrote my undergraduate thesis (huge final paper) about Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE; I love the book, and I often refer to KV as if we're old friends.

- When I was in ninth grade, Facebook was only for college kids, and everybody who was anybody had a Livestrong bracelet.

_ When I grow up, I want to be an educator/screenwriter/videographer/co-owner of a B&B with my sister/etc. My career goals are constantly evolving!

Let's make it a great year!
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