English Language Arts 8

Purpose of Course  showclose

Eighth-grade English Language Arts will provide you with a strong foundation for high school. Grounded in Common Core State Standards, the content of this course emphasizes critical reading, writing, and thinking. You will read and analyze high-quality literary and informational texts. You will write original texts in multiple genres. Language and its conventions will be emphasized throughout, and opportunities to examine the spoken word will be provided as well.

Whether you choose to pursue higher education or the world of work, or both, you will be expected to have certain basic skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. While you probably won’t be expected to write a poem on command, you will have to be able to express yourself clearly when you write and speak. This course includes challenging material which will help you build the skills you need to begin high school. As you progress through your remaining years as a student, you will continue to add and build upon the skills and knowledge you gain from this course.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to Grade 8 English Language Arts. This course consists of five thematic units. Each unit utilizes high quality literary works to help you build your reading skills. There are several writing tasks, intended to review skills you have probably already learned, while also learning important new concepts. Speaking, listening, and language skills are incorporated into each unit.
 
Course Designer: Ms. Tracy Derrell
 
Primary Resources: This course has been created using free online texts and tutorials. All of the texts come from Books Should Be Free, while most of the tutorials are from SOPHIA and MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching).

Requirements for Completion: In order to successfully complete this course, you will need to work through all of the assigned readings and associated tasks. In addition to the assignments, which will help you learn the skills and concepts from each unit, you will need to complete brief assessments. Each unit includes two assessments, one focusing on reading and writing, and the other one focusing on speaking, listening, and language. Though the final exam will be the only graded task, completing the assignments and assessments is necessary, as they will help you evaluate your learning.
 
In order to pass the course, you must earn a grade of 70% or higher on the final exam. You may take the exam more than once, if necessary.
 
Time Commitment: Completing this course should take you a total of approximately 69 hours. Each unit includes a “Time Advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. It is recommended you devote about an hour a day, five days a week, to working your way through the course. This is the same amount of time you’d spend in a typical English class. If you are able to complete your studying at the same time every day, this will go a long way toward helping you develop strong study habits.
 
Tips/Suggestions: There will be many occasions where you will need to take notes, and you will also frequently be writing responses to literature. You should have an ample supply of pens and pencils, as well as paper. A loose-leaf notebook may provide you with the most flexibility for organizing your notes; making a divider for each unit is a good idea. Some of the readings will be challenging; if needed, you can complete them in multiple sittings. 

How to take notes in a digital text:

Scrible
If you are using a computer, you can use Scrible, which is a toolbar that you save as a link. It allows you to edit any webpage by highlighting sections, leaving notes, changing the color of text, and so forth. As you work your way through Saylor’s courses, Scrible allows you to leave the pen and notepad at home and take notes directly on the screen you’re learning from. Save a tree and Scrible away! 

Adobe Reader App (Android) or (iOS)
If you are using an iPad, iPhone, or any android type device, you can use the Adobe Reader app. Similar to Scrible, the Adobe Reader app will allow you to highlight, draw on, and add text to PDFs (one form of media Scrible does not work on). For example, say you’re taking K12ELA11: American Literature which relies heavily on Scott McLean's Writing for Success text, one of Saylor.org’s many complete texts available on our Bookshelf. If you had this app downloaded to your mobile device, you could import that PDF text and voilà!
It’s easy to mark up the text for later review.
 
VideoNot.es
This has the same idea as Scrible and the Adobe Reader App, but this tool lets you take notes on videos. With this tool, you can say goodbye to constantly pausing the video lecture you’re watching to take notes. It features side-by-side note taking, and it’s all saved in the cloud!
 
GoodNotes
If you have an iPad, you may want to use GoodNotes, which is an app that allows you to write notes, highlight text, and export your files to Dropbox for continued use on other devices. GoodNotes also allows you to import files from iTunes, which means you can access all Saylor files currently uploaded to iTunes U.
 
Evernote
Evernote is an app available for Windows, Macintosh, Android, and iOS devices. The app allows you to import documents that you can then annotate, highlight, and save for later reference. Evernote also updates documents across all of your devices, so if you are working on your iPad and decide to switch to your computer, you can start right where you left off.
 
NOOK
If you have a NOOK tablet, you can create notes and highlight text right in the device. Just right click inside a text and begin writing notes. If you want to highlight, you can drag your finger across the text, and right click to highlight. 
 
Kindle
If you have a Kindle tablet, you can import, annotate, and highlight all within your Kindle device. Kindle also offers reading apps for Android, Apple, and Windows devices so that all your works can be shared across any device. Within the reading apps, you can continue where you left off, with all the annotating devices you find within the device. Even if you do not have a Kindle, the app can be used just by itself to annotate, highlight, and take notes.

 
A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • Evaluate similar themes in literary works of different genres.
  • Use reading comprehension strategies to acquire new information.
  • Write original texts by following the steps of the writing process.
  • Generate ideas for writing shorter and longer pieces of writing.
  • Show understanding of conventions of language, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
  • Define unfamiliar words by using context clues and/or knowledge of Greek and Latin roots, and increase academic vocabulary.
  • Identify the characteristics of good oral presentations, and create original presentations.
  • Use listening skills for a variety of purposes, including note-taking.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have completed seventh-grade English.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close


Expand All Resources Collapse All Resources
  • Unit 1: Rising To Challenges  

    This unit features a full-length classic novel, The Swiss Family Robinson, and excerpts from a nonfiction work, South: Journal of His Last Expedition to Antarctica, by Ernest Shackleton. Both texts deal with people facing challenges to their survival.
     
    In addition to addressing the theme of survival, both texts feature people facing challenges. Your reading of these stories will be extended by a narrative, or story, you’ll write about a challenge you faced. You will review the steps of the writing process, from pre-writing, to drafting, to editing and revising, to publishing. You will begin this essay during this unit and complete it during Unit 2.
     
    As you read the selected texts, you will encounter many new words. This unit will also emphasize vocabulary and teach you strategies you can use for understanding new words while you read. The strategies you learn in this unit will help you throughout the course.
     
    Finally, you will also receive what is likely a reintroduction to the writing process. You will begin working on a full-length narrative essay that will be concluded during Unit 2. This will provide you with an opportunity to fully absorb the information. The language aspect emphasizes vocabulary, where you will learn strategies for understanding new words that you will use throughout the entire course. 

    Unit 1 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 1 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 Reading Informational Text: Excerpts from South: Journal of His Last Expedition to Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton, Chapter 3: “Winter Months”  

    You will read a key section from the nonfiction book, South: Journal of His Last Expedition to Antarctica, by Ernest Shackleton. This text was chosen as an excellent example of informational text; it will also help you develop background about history and notable explorers. As you read through the selection, you will build reading comprehension and analysis skills, which you will continue to develop throughout the course. 

  • 1.1.1 Reading Comprehension  

    This part of the subunit will emphasize important comprehension skills. You will view and listen to a tutorial that shares information about these skills. After completing the tutorial, you will practice the skills by reading the excerpt from South: Journey of His Last Expedition to Antarctica. 

  • 1.1.1.1 Tracking Comprehension  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Tracking Comprehension Tutorial”

      Link: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Tracking Comprehension Tutorial” (HTML) (MP3)
       
      Instructions: Read the tutorial and listen to the audio component. The tutorial suggests taking notes in the margins of your books. However, since you will be working primarily with electronic resources, taking notes on paper will be sufficient. You should organize your notes chronologically, or in time order, to make it easier to relocate the parts of the text the notes refer to.
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to read through the tutorial, listen to the audio component, and to take notes.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.1.2 Reading “Winter Months” from South: Journal of His Last Expedition to Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton  
  • 1.1.1.3 Author’s Purpose  
    • Explanation: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Author’s Purpose”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Author’s Purpose” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: This document features explanations of the three main reasons, or purposes, why authors create their texts. You may want to refer back to this as you read through the text. Which of the three main purposes does South fit? Does the text fit into two categories? You should be able to cite specific elements from the text that lead you to your decision.
       
      It should take approximately 15 minutes to read through the document, make a choice, and find evidence to support it.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.1.4 Sequence of Events  
  • 1.1.1.5 Cause and Effect  
    • Explanation: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Cause and Effect”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Cause and Effect” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: This document provides a brief explanation of cause and effect. South is a great piece of text to review when discussing cause and effect, as it is full of events that lead to other events, which is what cause and effect is all about. As you read, take note of examples of cause and effect.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read through the document and find two to three examples of cause and effect.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.2 Literary Analysis  

    This subunit will continue to use the excerpt from South as its reading content. However, the skills to be learned in this subunit will require you to reexamine the text more closely. You will look at Shackleton’s voice as a writer, analyze the events, and identify the theme.

  • 1.1.2.1 Voice  
    • Explanation: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills” (PPT)
       
      Instructions: Read through the second slide, entitled “Voice,” which has a brief explanation of voice and its role in literature. The slide also includes questions connecting the concept of voice to the excerpt from South. Respond to the prompts in your notebook, which will help you refine your understanding of voice and its role in this literary work. You will want to have the text nearby for reference. Write down your responses to the questions about how Shackleton’s personality came through in the text.
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to complete this activity.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.2.2 Analyzing Events in a Text  
    • Explanation: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills” (PPT)
       
      Instructions: Read through the third slide entitled “Analyzing Events in a Text.” It explains why this is important and includes some questions to guide you through the process. You should respond in writing to the questions, as they will help you develop your skills.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to study the slide, review the text, and note your responses.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.1.2.3 Determining a Central Theme  
    • Explanation: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Literary Analysis Skills” (PPT)
       
      Instructions: Read through the fourth and final slide, entitled “Determining a Central Theme,” and revisit the text if necessary. What do you think is the central theme or message in South? The information on the slide will give you some tips on how to identify theme in a work of literature.
       
      It should take approximately 15 minutes to identify the theme, since you should be very familiar with the text by now.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.2 Reading Literature: The Swiss Family Robinson  

    The Swiss Family Robinson is a classic work of literature and inspired a crop of novels with a survival theme. You are going to read the novel, which will help you build your knowledge of literature. You will also continue to build your reading comprehension and analysis skills. 

  • 1.2.1 Reading Comprehension  
  • 1.2.1.1 Previewing a Novel  
    • Activity: Books Should Be Free: Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson

      Link: Books Should Be Free: Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson (HTML)
       
      Instructions: You are going to take a few minutes to preview The Swiss Family Robinson. Previewing is a way to gain very basic information about a work of literature. The Books Should Be Free page for the novel features a cover illustration and a brief synopsis, or summary, of the story. Study the cover and read the synopsis. In the next activity, you will be revisiting what you read and observed and writing about it. Previewing the novel should take you about fifteen minutes.

      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.2.1.2 Predictions  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Making Predictions”

      Link: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Making Predictions” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This tutorial gives details about making predictions before and during reading. Being able to make predictions is an important skill. It requires you to think about what’s going to happen in the story. More importantly, however, it makes you think about why you’re thinking as you do. This is a sign that you are thinking deeply about the text. Please read through the tutorial. Respond to the “Before You Read” prompts in your notebook, which will require you to recall the information you gathered while previewing the novel.
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to read the material in the tutorial and write down your responses to the prompts.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Project Gutenberg: Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson

      Link: Project Gutenberg: Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link above, and read Chapters 1 - 3 of The Swiss Family Robinson. When you have finished reading, revisit your responses to the “Making Predictions” activity from the earlier part of the subunit. How accurate were your predictions? In your notebook, write a paragraph about how your predictions compared to what actually happened in Chapters 1 through 3.

      It should take approximately 1 hour to read the chapters and write your paragraph.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.2.1.3 The Main Idea  
  • 1.2.1.4 Compare and Contrast  
  • 1.2.2 Literary Analysis  
  • 1.2.2.1 First Impressions  
  • 1.2.2.2 Character Development  
  • 1.2.2.3 The Role of Setting  
  • 1.2.2.4 Themes  
    • Explanation: Ferrum College: Tina L. Hanlon’s “Guidelines for Reading and Analyzing Literature”

      Link: Ferrum College: Tina L. Hanlon’s “Guidelines for Reading and Analyzing Literature” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Theme is always one of the trickiest literary elements to identify. Now that you have finished reading The Swiss Family Robinson, you are in a good position to think about the lessons from the novel. You will revisit the above tutorial for the final time to get some useful tips on identifying theme. Please click on the link entitled “Step IV: Themes,” and read this section thoroughly. Respond briefly in your notebook to each of the questions, using examples and details from The Swiss Family Robinson. When you have finished, condense your ideas about the novel’s theme into a page in your notebook.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read the material in the tutorial, review the novel, and write your response.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.3 Writing  

    This unit on writing exposes you to knowledge that can be continually applied as you work through the course. The unit begins with a review of the writing process, which you will use several times throughout the course. You will then work through the initial stages of writing a narrative essay. 

  • 1.3.1 Steps of the Writing Process  
  • 1.3.2 Strategies for Finding Writing Ideas  
    • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “Pre-Writing Activities”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation's “Pre-Writing Activities” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Read the document, which gives some great strategies for finding writing ideas. There are two practice activities, which are modified to fit our purpose. Since your narrative is going to be about a challenge you faced, make a list of three or four possible ideas. Use one of those ideas for “Practice I: Freewriting.” Use another idea for “Practice II: Idea Wheel.” If one of those ideas seems to generate enough potential for your essay, move on to “Practice III: Moving From Pre-Writing to Writing.”
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read through the material and complete Practice I and Practice II. If you need to complete Practice III, add on an additional 15 minutes.

      Though this is a large chunk of time, planning your writing before you begin is an important investment and will likely result in a better finished product.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.3.3 Planning and Writing a Draft  
  • 1.4 Speaking and Listening  

    Though often overlooked, good speaking and listening skills are important to academic success. In college, professors often use lecture as a teaching method, requiring students to identify key ideas and take notes. This subunit will help you improve these important skills.

  • 1.4.1 Preparing for an Author Interview  
  • 1.4.2 Conducting a Successful Interview  
  • 1.5 Language  

    The ability to identify new works and use them to create meaning as you read are essential to reading comprehension. This unit, although focused on language, also has a strong connection to comprehension. The skills you work on in this unit will help you as a reader by giving you strategies for working with unfamiliar words. You will also review the different types of reference books you will encounter as you continue your education. These books are available electronically and also potentially available in your library as printed copies.

  • 1.5.1 Defining Words Using Context Clues  
    • Activity: Curriki: Liddy Gerchman Barlow’s “Context Clue Worksheet”

      Link: Curriki: Liddy Gerchman Barlow’s “Context Clue Worksheet” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Download the worksheet, which features steps you can use to define unfamiliar words in context. Print out a copy (or two) of the worksheet, and as you encounter words you don’t know, use the worksheet to help you determine a workable definition. When you use context clues, you don’t have to come up with a perfect dictionary definition; you just need the gist of the word. Going to a dictionary should be your last resort.
       
      It should take approximately 5 minutes to define each unfamiliar word.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.5.2 Identifying Greek and Latin Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Ms. K’s “Prefixes and Suffixes”

      Link: SOPHIA: Ms. K’s “Prefixes and Suffixes” (HTML and YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Study the tutorial. In your notebook, make note of the terms prefix, suffix, and affix. Take some time to read through the lists of prefixes and suffixes, and watch the video. If there are any prefixes or suffixes that regularly give you trouble, you may want to list them in your notebook.
       
      It should take approximately 15 minutes to study the material and watch the video.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.5.3 Selecting Appropriate Reference Books  
  • 1.6 Assessments  

    This subunit contains some assessment tools to help you evaluate and monitor your learning.  You are going to be reading an excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and complete questions which will require you to write short responses. Then you will respond to some additional questions emphasizing speaking, listening and language.

  • 1.6.1 Reading and Writing  
  • 1.6.2 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
  • Extension Resources  

    If any of the readings in this unit have inspired you to learn more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library. 

    • Reading: The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

      This is the true story of an 1820s whaling ship that was rammed and sunk by an angry whale. Twenty-one crew members, including a 14-year-old boy, escaped into three lifeboats. The Revenge of the Whale tells the story of the crew’s struggle to stay alive while adrift at sea.

    • Reading: Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

      This book, which mixes narrative and informational text, tells the story of American aviator Amelia Earhart, whose feat as one of the first women to fly a plane was eclipsed by her mysterious and unsolved disappearance. To this day, the story of her final flight continues to captivate readers.

    • Reading: Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

      Jack Gantos is best known as the author of the Joey Pigza and Rotten Ralph books. This memoir for young adults tells the story of a part of his life that most of his young fans probably know nothing about. In 1972, Gantos, then 20, began a six-year prison sentence after being convicted of drug smuggling. Hole in My Life tells the story of that bleak period and how books and writing helped Gantos survive and make a life for himself after prison.

    • Reading: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

      Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle was supposed to sail from England to her family in America with two families her parents trusted. However, an unexpected turn of events places her on a ship with an angry captain and mutinous crew. When Charlotte is accused of the captain’s murder, she must use all of her resources to prove her innocence and stay alive until she gets home to her family. This exciting tale has many twists and turns. 

  • Unit 2: The World of Art  

    This unit features a full-length nonfiction text about the role art has played in our world. In addition to providing you with needed opportunities to practice reading nonfiction, it exposes you to interesting content you likely have not seen before. By the end of this unit, you will have improved skills and a deeper knowledge base, which includes a substantial amount of new vocabulary. Skills acquired in the first unit will support you as they tackle new words.
     
    You will continue through the writing process, using editing checklists and rubrics to help you evaluate the first drafts of your narrative. By the end of this unit, your final draft will be completed.
     
    The language portion will include a review of key conventions, including capitalization, punctuation, and spelling rules.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 2 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 Reading Informational Text: The Book of Art for Young People  

    This unit will expose you to informational text, allowing you to develop and practice important reading skills that you will need for the rest of this course. In addition to reading skills, you will also develop a strong knowledge base in the history of art, a valuable topic to know about.

  • 2.1.1 Reading Comprehension  
    • Reading: Books Should be Free: Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway’s The Book of Art for Young People

      Link: Books Should be Free: Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway’s The Book of Art for Young People (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Before you read, spend some time previewing the text. Previewing helps you get a better idea of what you’re going to be reading. Since this is an art book, follow the link in the text box at right and spend some time examining the 16 accompanying paintings. Also, read the titles to the book’s 15 chapters listed in the “Stream Audiobook” box on Books Should be Free.

      • What do you notice about the way the authors chose to organize the information in the book?
      • What places are mentioned?
      • What historic periods are referenced?
      • What ideas do you already have about The Book of Art for Young People?
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to preview the book and respond to the questions.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core): Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.1.1 Author’s Purpose or Point of View  
  • 2.1.1.2 Fact and Opinion  
  • 2.1.1.3 Classifying and Categorizing Information  
  • 2.1.2 Analyzing the Text  
  • 2.1.2.1 Meanings of New Words  
  • 2.1.2.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Text  
    • Activity: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “T-Chart Organizer for Reading and Writing”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “T-Chart Organizer for Reading and Writing” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: You have now read two complete digital texts and an excerpt from a digital text.

      • How would you describe your experience?
      • As you have worked through these texts, what advantages have you found?
      • What disadvantages have you found?
      Click the above link to take you to the t-chart organizer. Note two to four advantages of digital texts and two to four disadvantages of digital texts as a prewriting activity. Then use those notes to help you write a well-organized response.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to complete the prewriting activity and write the draft.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core): Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.2 Writing  

    During this unit you will continue to work on the narrative essay you started in Unit 1. Your first draft should be complete or nearly complete. You will proceed through the next stages of the writing process and soon have a finished piece.

  • 2.2.1 Proofreading, Editing, and Revising  
    • Did I Get This? Activity: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Checklist for Evaluating Writing”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Checklist for Evaluating Writing” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: You are going to be proofreading, editing, and revising the draft you created during Unit 1. Click on the link above to access the checklist, which contains the same elements as the rubric, and read through it. The checklist’s purpose is to help you review your writing by identifying its strengths and weaknesses. Each element also includes tips to help you improve your draft, which you should revisit as you revise. After you’re familiar with the checklist, use it to help you edit and revise your paper. If you are comfortable with the idea of a friend or parent reading your draft, you should let that person look at it and give you some feedback.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to review your draft with the checklist and identify and make the necessary revisions.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.2.2 Choosing Appropriate Vocabulary  
  • 2.3 Speaking and Listening  

    During this subunit, you will learn how to write and deliver a speech. You may have already been assigned to give a speech in class, but if you haven’t, you probably will soon. It’s an important skill; students and people in a wide variety of professions are often called upon to speak in public.

  • 2.3.1 Writing a Short Speech  
    • Activity: Curriki: Mr. Harpine’s “Speech Writing Outline”

      Link: Curriki: Mr. Harpine’s “Speech Writing Outline” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Download and read this document, which contains details about the organization of a speech. You will find that it’s basically identical to how you organize an essay, with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. After you read the information, use the bottom half of the page to help you draft an idea for a speech. You can talk about anything you like - maybe a special person or place, or maybe you’ll talk about a topic or activity that’s important to you. For this activity, the focus is on learning how to format and deliver a speech. Select a topic you already know a lot about so you can place all of your energy on learning the proper format for a speech.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to read the document and draft your outline.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.3.2 How to Give a Speech  
  • 2.3.2.1 Fear of Public Speaking  
    • Reading: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Speaking in Class”

      Link: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen's “Speaking in Class” (HTML) (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Read through the beginning of this tutorial, which addresses the common anxieties experienced by students who have to speak in front of large groups. After you have read through the material, watch the video, and then read through the additional tips that come below the video. When you have finished, write a short reflection in your notebook where you discuss your thoughts about the topic and how they apply to your own feelings toward public speaking.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read through all the material, watch the video, and write your reflection.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.3.2.2 Evaluating a Speech  
  • 2.3.2.3 Delivering a Presentation  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations”

      Link: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations” (HTML) (PPT) (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: This tutorial has information about the basic components of a presentation, along with tips on delivering a presentation. Read the text at the top, then view the slide show, “Top Ten Tips for Giving a Presentation.” The slides contain additional information, which you should summarize in your notebook. Finally, watch the video, which features additional public speaking tips.

      It should take approximately 20 minutes to read the information, study the slides, and watch the video.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4 Language  

    This subunit will delve into some important skills that you should be able to master quickly. You will review capital letters in depth, and learn about proper uses for commas and end punctuation. Finally, you will get some helpful tips on proper spelling.

  • 2.4.1 Demonstrate Knowledge of When to Use Capital Letters  
  • 2.4.2 Use Punctuation to Indicate Pauses and to End Sentences  
  • 2.4.3 Apply Rules to Ensure Proper Spelling  
    • Web Media: TED-Ed: Gina Cooke’s “Making Sense of Spelling”

      Link: TED-Ed: Gina Cooke’s “Making Sense of Spelling” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: This short video has some important information and ideas to help you spell better. When you have finished watching the video, complete the five multiple-choice and three open-ended questions that follow.
       
      It should take approximately 10 minutes to watch the video and respond to the questions.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.5 Assessments  

    This subunit contains some assessment tools to help you evaluate and monitor your learning. You are going to read an excerpt from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie and write short responses to questions. You will also complete assessment items focusing on language and spelling. 

  • 2.5.1 Reading and Writing  
  • 2.5.2 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
  • Extension Resources  

    If any of the readings in this unit have inspired you to learn more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library. 

  • Unit 3: What is Courage?  

    You will gain critical reading and viewing skills in this unit, with a focus on true stories. This unit’s materials feature two important periods in American history. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs is a first-person account of a young woman’s life in slavery. In addition to this text, you will examine letters from World War II, from soldiers to their loved ones, and study some of the persuasive posters that were used to inspire patriotism and boost morale during the war. The letters and posters will give you the opportunity to explore nontraditional texts that still convey important stories and information. As with the previous units, the texts will give you the chance to practice important reading comprehension and literary analysis skills.
     
    This unit’s writing task is an argumentative essay. You may already have some topics you feel strongly about; if so, you should jot some of them down now for future exploration. If you don’t have any ideas now, you will have time when you get to that part of the unit. You will also learn about the difference between verbs and verbals and the importance of subject-verb agreement.
     
    You will also get the chance to incorporate art into your study of language and literature by creating a persuasive poster. This project will require you to use critical thinking skills as you figure out how to visually represent your message. 

    Unit 3 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 3 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 Reading Informational Text: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs  

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs tells the true story of a young woman’s experiences in slavery. Published in the years leading up to the Civil War, it provides a first-person account of what it was like to be a slave. As you actively read Harriet’s story, you will continue to develop reading comprehension and literary analysis skills. You should have a notebook nearby as you read so you can note anything you want to remember or write about in more detail at a later time.

  • 3.1.1 Reading Comprehension  
  • 3.1.1.1 The Main Idea  
    • Reading: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

      Link: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (HTML)
       
      Instructions: From your previous study, you know the main idea of the text refers to what the text is mostly about. Before you start reading, it’s also helpful to think about your prior knowledge in order connect your previous ideas to your new learning. Think about what you already know about slavery, specifically the day-to-day experiences of slaves. Then, read Chapter 1 through Chapter 12. After you complete a chapter, summarize the main idea of that chapter in a sentence or two.
       
      It should take approximately 3 hours to read and write a brief summary of each chapter.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.1.1.2 Sequence of Events  
    • Reading: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

      Link: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Read from Chapter 13 through Chapter 26. As you read, focus on the sequence of events in the story. What were some of the key events in the story’s first 12 chapters? How do you think the middle of the story will proceed? Identify events you think are important. In the next subunit, you will focus on cause and effect again, so as you identify events, think about the connections between events and causal relationships.
       
      It should take approximately 3 hours to read this part of the text.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.1.1.3 Cause and Effect  
    • Reading: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

      Link: Project Gutenberg: Harriet Ann Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Read Chapter 26 through Chapter 42, which is the end of the book. During your study of South: Journal of His Last Expedition to Antarctica, you read a short document about cause and effect. If you need to review it, you can find it here. As you read the last several chapters of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, try to identify some of the cause and effect relationships from the text. You aren’t limited to this final section; you may go back to earlier parts of the text. What are some of the “chains” of events, where one thing happens as a result of something else? Write down your responses in your notebook.
       
      It should take approximately 3 hours to read and respond.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.1.2 Literary Analysis  
  • 3.1.2.1 Character Motivations  
  • 3.1.2.2 Identifying Themes in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Laura Knifflin’s “Common Themes in Literature”

      Link: SOPHIA: Laura Knifflin’s “Common Themes in Literature” (HTML) (PPT) (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Read the content in the slide show and watch the 10-minute video, which uses popular movies to illustrate the themes. Then think about which theme (or themes) best applies to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Choose one or two themes. In your notebook, write a page about what elements of the story support your decision.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to read the slides, watch the video, make your decision about the theme, and write your response.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2 Reading Informational Text: Accounts of World War II  

    We are going to jump ahead, chronologically and historically, for the next set of readings. This part of the unit features letters and artwork from World War II. Like Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the letters will provide you with a firsthand account of wartime experience.

  • 3.2.1 Reading Comprehension  

    In this part of the unit, you will be introduced to a new type of informational text: letters. You will read two letters written during World War II. Though we are moving to a new historical period, the emphasis will continue to be on reading skills.

  • 3.2.1.1 The Main Idea  
    • Reading: Internet Archive: Kurt Vonnegut’s “World War II Letter to His Family”

      Link: Internet Archive: Kurt Vonnegut’s “World War II Letter to His Family” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007) was an American author, whose novel Slaughterhouse-Five is frequently cited as one of the best books of the 20th Century. After you follow the link, choose your preferred format from the “View the Book” box on the left side of the page. The letter details Vonnegut’s experiences as a POW (prisoner of war) during the last months of World War II.

      As you read, think about what his letter is mostly about. In your notebook, describe the main idea of the letter in a short paragraph. Then explain whether or not you feel some of Vonnegut’s details were irrelevant or unnecessary.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read and respond to the letter.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.1.2 Cause and Effect  
  • 3.2.1.3 Compare and Contrast  
    • Reading: WWII Letters: “Sailor Describes Sinking of USS Princeton 1944”

      Link: WWII Letters: “Sailor Describes Sinking of USS Princeton 1944” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Read this letter written by an American soldier to his wife or girlfriend back home. When you are finished, create a Venn diagram in your notebook. Revisit the letter by Kurt Vonnegut. What are the main similarities and differences in the experiences of the two soldiers? After you’ve created and completed the Venn diagram, write a response of one to three paragraphs where you explain which letter affected you more.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to read this letter, review the Vonnegut letter, complete the Venn diagram, and write the response.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.2 Poster Art of World War II  
  • 3.2.2.1 Part 1: Images of Strength  
    • Web Media: National Archives: “Poster Art from World War II”

      Link: National Archives: “Poster Art from World War II” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: View the posters and read the accompanying text. It gives additional information about each poster, its purpose, and the reason it was created. Look at the images and colors chosen by the artists. How were the creators of the posters trying to persuade people? What was the message?
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to view the posters and read the text.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.2.2 Part 2: Images of Peril  
    • Web Media: National Archives: “Poster Art from World War II”

      Link: National Archives: “Poster Art from World War II” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: You will be doing nearly the same task with the second set of posters. View each one and read the accompanying text. How do the images and colors differ from the posters in the first set? How did the creators of these posters try to convey their message? How were the messages in these posters different?
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to view the posters and read the text.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.2.3 Responding to the Art  
    • Activity: Evaluating Persuasive Artwork

      Instructions: You just finished analyzing two collections of posters from World War II. Each set used a different emotion to motivate the audience. The first set appealed to feelings of strength and patriotism; the second set appealed to fear. In your opinion, which set of posters was more effective? Why? Write an informal three-paragraph essay where you introduce the topic, explain your perspective, and create a strong conclusion.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to complete this activity, which includes time for quickly reviewing the posters.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

  • 3.3 Writing  

    Argumentative essay writing is the focus of this subunit. Knowing how to craft a strong argument by organizing your key points and anticipating counterarguments is an important skill. You will be supported through this process by an excellent tutorial that breaks down the information so it’s more manageable. You will revisit this tutorial throughout the process, focusing on different parts of it as you work. Note: We will not be studying the tutorial in order. It seemed to make more sense to address counterarguments sooner rather than later.

  • 3.3.1 Writing an Argumentative Essay  
  • 3.3.1.1 Overview of Argumentative Essays  
  • 3.3.1.2 Identifying Counterarguments  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: LaShanda Lawrence’s “Writing an Argument Paper”

      Link: SOPHIA: LaShanda Lawrence’s “Writing an Argument Paper” (HTML) (PPT)
       
      Instructions: As indicated earlier, you are going to skip ahead temporarily in this tutorial. Go to the section titled “Addressing Counter-Arguments,” read the content on the three slides, and begin thinking about possible counterarguments for your topic.
       
      It should take approximately 5 minutes to read through this material.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.1.3 Structuring, Outlining, and Writing  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: LaShanda Lawrence’s “Writing an Argument Paper”

      Link: SOPHIA: LaShanda Lawrence’s “Writing an Argument Paper” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: The final part of this tutorial features an excellent graphic organizer you can and should use. Now that you have learned how to write an argumentative essay, it’s time to begin writing. Once you have selected a solid topic, use the graphic organizer displayed in the “Argument Outline” section to help you keep track of your ideas. Your first draft should be between 300 and 500 words.
       
      It should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to read through this material, begin your outline, and write the draft of your essay.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.3.2 Editing, Revising, and Sharing the Argumentative Essay  
    • Activity: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s Checklist for Revising and Editing the Argumentative Essay

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s Checklist for Revising and Editing the Argumentative Essay (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Use the attached rubric to help you zero in on what you have done well and what you need to improve. Rating your paper with the rubric for support is a great way to help you strengthen your paper. When you have finished, you will have a solid idea of what you need to work on in order to write a better paper. After you have identified your paper’s strengths and weaknesses, use that information to help you write a second draft.
       
      It should take approximately 1 hour to rate your paper and write a second draft, depending on the amount of revisions needed.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Activity: Sharing and Publishing

      Instructions: Share your writing with a friend or family member. Ask for feedback: What did you do well? What do you need to improve? Before you begin, you can ask your audience to focus on specific parts of your argument. Maybe you want to make sure your counterargument was effective, or maybe you want to make sure you described your topic well.

      It should take approximately 1 hour to share your writing with a friend or family member and listen to their feedback. 

      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

  • 3.4 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
  • 3.4.1 Differentiate among Forms of Verbs and Verbals  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Lawrence Pizzi’s “Intro to Verbals and Participles”

      Link: SOPHIA: Lawrence Pizzi’s “Intro to Verbals and Participles” (HTML) (YouTube)
       
      Directions: Watch both videos. The first one addresses verbals; the second one deals with participles. You do not have to complete the quiz at the end, but you should take notes about the three types of verbals and identify the participles in the sentences from the video.
       
      It should take approximately 25 minutes to view both videos and identify the verbals and participles.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.4.2 Showing Understanding of Subject-Verb Agreement  
    • Reading: SOPHIA: Dan Reade’s “Subject-Verb Agreement”

      Link: SOPHIA: Dan Reade’s “Subject Verb Agreement” (HTML) (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Read the information at the beginning of the tutorial. It discusses subjects, verbs, and the importance of agreement between the two. When you have read through the material, you may want to think about taking notes on the key details. Then you should view the video, which is about five minutes long, because it offers additional illustration of the concept.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read through the introductory material and the slides, view the video, and take some notes.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.4.3 Creating a Poster Presentation  
    • Activity: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Create a Poster Presentation”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Create a Poster Presentation” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Choose a topic you feel strongly about. Some possible examples include bullying, healthy eating and exercising, using social media and the Internet responsibly, and working hard in school. The topic you choose will become the subject of an original persuasive poster that you create. The link above will take you to a document that includes additional information and resources for creating your poster. Your goal is to create something intended to affect someone’s thinking about your topic, similar to the World War II posters. You can refer back to them if you need some ideas or inspiration.
       
      It should take approximately 2 hours to complete this poster project, but you may find that you need or want to work on it over a longer period of time, doing a little in each session.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.5 Assessments  

    This Subunit checks your understanding of Unit 3 concepts from a speaking, listening, and language perspective.

  • 3.5.1 Reading and Writing  
    • Checkpoint: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Reading and Writing”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Reading and Writing” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link above to complete the assessment, which is designed to test your understanding of the skills and concepts in Unit 3. It is recommended that you print these pages and do the work directly on the page. If you are unable to print the page, you may copy the tasks into your notebook and complete them there. To check your answers, click here.
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to complete these tasks.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.5.2 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
  • Extension Resources  

    If any of the readings in this unit have inspired you to learn more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library. 

    • Reading: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

      One of the most enduring stories of the Holocaust, The Diary of a Young Girl is a first-person account of Anne Frank, who spent two years in hiding. After leaving Germany for the Netherlands to escape growing anti-Semitism, Anne and her family led a carefree life until the Nazi invasion forced them into hiding. They spent two years living above her father’s office, until they were captured and arrested. 

    • Reading: The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

      This is a fictionalized account of the life of Helmuth Hübener, a 17-year-old German boy who undertook a truth-telling campaign against the Nazis. Using an illegal radio and his typewriter, he anonymously wrote newsletters, hoping to get his neighbors and friends to see the truth. His capture and its aftermath is a chilling account of the lengths Hitler’s Nazis were willing to go to in order to maintain control over the people of Germany. 

    • Reading: Bull Run by Paul Fleischman

      This novella, told by 16 diverse characters hailing from the North and the South, provides a fictional account of the first battle of the Civil War. Each character provides unique perspectives of the experience of war, with vivid and harrowing details. 

    • Reading: Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton

      This is a collection of three dozen biographies of well-known and lesser-known slaves, as well as whites who risked jail to help them. It stretches back to the pre-Revolutionary era through the Civil War. 

  • Unit 4: Tales of the Strange and Weird  

    Many students your age are curious about otherworldly topics and creepy stories. This unit provides those things, along with opportunities to build upon earlier skills while developing new ones. The informational piece deals with beliefs about ghosts in Ancient Greece and Rome, and the literature component features “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allen Poe and “The Adventures of the Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Connan Doyle. Both of these classic short stories are as popular today as they were when they were published, inspiring many modern writers.

    You will write a short literary response, choosing one aspect of one of the stories, such as characterization or plot development, to analyze. 

    One of the stories will be presented in an audio format, giving you a chance to improve your listening skills. You will continue to develop and reinforce your ability to correctly use conventions of language, as well as adding new words to your vocabulary.

    Unit 4 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 4 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 4.1 Reading Informational Text: Excerpt from Greek and Roman Ghost Stories: “The Belief in Ghosts in Ancient Greece and Rome”  

    This unit will continue the course’s emphasis on informational text with a social studies-related reading. Though the question of ghosts cannot be definitively answered, ancient cultures had some very clear ideas about ghosts. The excerpt you are going to read discusses attitudes toward ghosts in ancient Greece and Rome.

  • 4.2 Reading Literature  

    You will enjoy reading these classic creepy tales: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allen Poe and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” a Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As you begin the second to last unit, you may appreciate a break from informational text. These two tales have captivated audiences through the years, remaining popular and providing inspiration to modern authors.

    • Reading: Books Should Be Free: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

      Link: Books Should Be Free: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link and view your options for reading the text. Your choices will include an audio version as well as versions for different e-readers (scroll down) as well as text files. You may choose to do it in multiple sessions. In your notebook, write a one-page summary, including your observations and ideas about the characters, the plot, the setting, and the theme. In the next Subunit, you will be selecting one of these elements from either this story or the next story you read, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” to examine more closely.
       
      It should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to read this story.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above. 
                                 Lexile Score: 510

    • Reading: Books Should Be Free: Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: “The Adventures of the Speckled Band”

      Link: Books Should Be Free: Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link and view your options for reading the text. Your choices will include an audio version as well as versions for different e-readers (scroll down) as well as text files. You may choose to do it in multiple sessions. In order to read “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” you will need to scroll down, as it is the eighth story in the collection. In your notebook, write a one-page summary, including your observations and ideas about the characters, the plot, the setting, and the theme. In the next subunit, you will be selecting one of these elements from either this story or the previous one to examine more closely.
       
      It should take approximately 1 hour to read this story.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.
                                 Lexile Score: 1120

  • 4.3 Writing  

    In this subunit, you are going to combine your writing and reading skills to write a short response to literature. You will continue to use the steps of the writing process to guide your work.

  • 4.3.1 Writing a Response to Literature  
  • 4.3.1.1 Selecting an Element to Discuss  
    • Explanation: cK-12: “Writing About Literature: The Basics”

      Link: cK-12: “Writing About Literature: The Basics” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Read this webpage. Stop at the “Young Goodman Brown” reading exercise. Pay particular attention to the sections on character, plot, setting, and theme, as you will be choosing one of those elements to write about. Before you go on to the next step, you should have selected a chapter or section of one of the texts you have studied in this course as well as an element to focus on.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to read through this material.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.3.1.2 Steps of the Writing Process  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Melissa Stephenson’s “Organizing Your Paper”

      Link: SOPHIA: Melissa Stephenson’s “Organizing Your Paper” (HTML) (FLASH)
       
      Instructions: Watch the video that accompanies this activity. It will show you the best graphic organizer to choose for the type of writing you’re going to do. Review the types of graphic organizers and choose the one you feel will work with the type of response you’re going to write.
       
      After you view the video, it should take an additional 10 minutes to choose and copy your graphic organizer into your notebook. From here, you will write your draft.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to write your draft.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.3.1.3 Sharing the Final Product  
    • Activity: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations”

      Link: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations” (HTML) (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Authors and poets often stage public readings of their works to generate interest and sometimes get feedback. Find some friends or relatives who you would like to hear your finished product. Even though your completed response is not a speech, you can review the material, linked above, which you studied in Subunit 2.3.2.3. The video, “Tips for Public Speaking,” will be especially useful.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to review the material, watch the video, prepare yourself, and deliver your reading.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Activity: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations”

      Link: SOPHIA: Nikki Hansen’s “Presentations” (HTML) (PPT)
       
      Instructions: If you would like additional information review the linked tutorial, which you looked at in Unit 2. It has information about the basic components of a presentation, along with tips on delivering a presentation. Read the text at the top, then view the slide show, “Top Ten Tips for Giving a Presentation.” The slides contain additional information, which you should summarize in your notebook. Finally, watch the video, which features additional public speaking tips.

      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.4 Speaking and Listening  

    The emphasis in this unit is on listening, because listening skills are important for success in higher education and the world of work. You will review some tips for listening to an audio version of one of your readings and learn how to use a graphic organizer to help support understanding.

  • 4.4.1 Strategies for Listening  
    • Reading: SOPHIA: Meghan Hatalla’s “Active Listening”

      Link: SOPHIA: Meghan Hatalla’s “Active Listening” (HTML) (PPT)
       
      Instructions: Read parts 1 and 2 of this tutorial. It contains helpful tips for listening in a variety of contexts. Then, read through the “Five Elements of Active Listening” slide show, taking brief notes about each element.
       
      It should take approximately 15 minutes to work your way through all the material and take any needed notes.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.4.2 Taking Notes during an Audio Presentation  
    • Web Media: Librivox: Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

      Link: Librivox: Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” (MP3)
       
      Instructions: In your notebook, create a chart with the following elements: Character, Setting, Conflict, Sequence of Events, Resolution, and Theme. Leave a few spaces after each element. As you listen to this audio performance of this well-known story, use the strategies for active listening from the previous subunit to help you identify and write down the key parts of the story. When you are finished, use the information from the graphic organizer to help you write a short summary of the story.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to create the chart, listen to the story, and write your summary.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.
                                 Lexile Score: 850

  • 4.5 Language  

    This subunit focuses on the grammar and punctuation errors most often found among students, with tips for helping you avoid them. In addition to grammar and punctuation, you will spend some time playing an interactive vocabulary game, which will help you learn new words. You can return to the game as often as you like.

  • 4.5.1 Knowledge of Conventions of Language  
  • 4.5.2 Continue to Learn and Use Grade-Level Academic Vocabulary  
    • Activity: Free Rice: “Vocabulary Game”

      Link: Free Rice: “Vocabulary Game” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This game helps you practice and build vocabulary. Each time you correctly define a word, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme. You will also get progressively harder words, making this activity educationally beneficial as well.
       
      You should play for at least 15 minutes, but you can continue longer if you wish.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.6 Assessments  

    This subunit contains some assessment tools to help you evaluate and monitor your learning. You will read a classic short story, O. Henry’s “After Twenty Years,” and respond to some questions that are based on the skills you learned in unit 4. You will also respond to questions about writing and punctuation.

  • 4.6.1 Reading and Writing  
  • 4.6.2 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
    • Checkpoint: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Speaking, Listening, and Language”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Speaking, Listening, and Language” (PDF)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link above to complete the assessment, which is designed to assess your understanding of the skills and concepts in Unit 4. Question 1, which will be about a paragraph in length, should be completed in your notebook. The remaining questions can be completed directly on the page, or you can copy the items into your notebook and complete them there. To check your answers, click here.
       
      It should take approximately 30 minutes to complete this assessment.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Extension Resources  

    If any of the readings in this unit have inspired you to learn more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library. 

    • Reading: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son by Lois Lowry

      This dystopian quartet is set in a futuristic world characterized by repression and fear. Each interconnected novel features a different main character who must navigate a challenging world that’s nothing like our own.

      The Giver - Lexile Score: 760
      Gathering Blue – Lexile Score: 680
      Messenger – Lexile Score: 720
      Son – Lexile Score: 720

    • Reading: Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman

      This book is a collection of short tales chosen by Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline. Each story features fantastical creatures and situations that can only exist in our imagination.

      Lexile Score: 840

  • Unit 5: Oral Traditions  

    This unit focuses on stories that evolved from storytelling traditions, exposing you to classic tales that have inspired many of the modern works we enjoy today. You will end the unit with a piece of creative writing, which will provide you with a little more freedom and flexibility than previous assignments. Folk and fairy tales are typically a good place to find figurative language, which is also an important part of this unit.

    Unit 5 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 5 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 5.1 Reading Literature: Grimms’ Fairy Tales and The Arabian Nights  

    You will take a literary journey in this subunit by reading from two notable works of literature. Grimms’ Fairy Tales, whose influence began in Germany during the early 1800s, still makes for exciting reading today. The Arabian Nights is a collection of stories gathered over several centuries from Asia and Africa. Many of its stories have worked their way into popular culture. It is also a great example of a “frame” story, also called a “story within a story.”

  • 5.1.1 Reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales  
  • 5.1.1.1 Reading Comprehension  
  • 5.1.1.2 Literary Analysis  
  • 5.1.2 Reading The Arabian Nights  
  • 5.1.2.1 Understanding the Frame Story  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Frame Story”

      Link: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Frame Story” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Read the information provided by the tutorial. Pay particular attention to the examples using The Arabian Nights. These examples will help you understand the structure of the collection. This tutorial should be completed before you read The Arabian Nights.
       
      It should take approximately 15 minutes to read the material.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Reading: Books Should Be Free: The Arabian Nights

      Link: Books Should Be Free: The Arabian Nights (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Click on the link and view your options for reading The Arabian Nights. Your choices will include versions for different e-readers as well as text files you can read on your computer. Since an audio version is available, you may use that option as well. Before you begin, you should decide how you are going todivide the reading. You can work in blocks of time, for example, you may want to read for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Or you can decide to read a certain number of tales in each of your reading sessions.
       
      It should take approximately 5 hours to read the text.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.1.2.2 Literary Analysis  
    • Web Media: SOPHIA: Nichole Carter’s “Responding to Literature”

      Link: SOPHIA: Nichole Carter’s “Responding to Literature” (HTML) (YouTube) (PPT)
       
      Instructions: Disregard the instructions from the teacher who created the tutorial. You have two choices: watch the video or read the six slides. The content is the same in both presentations. If you feel it would help you to take notes, please do so in your notebook. You may also refer back to the tutorial on an as-needed basis. Choose ONE tale from The Arabian Nights. Ideally you should choose one that you especially enjoyed. Identify the theme of the tale, and write a paragraph about it, following the guidelines in the presentation.

      It should take approximately 45 minutes to study the tutorial, select a tale, and write your response.

      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.2 Writing  

    This subunit will give you a chance to do some creative writing. You will return to some of the ideas from earlier in the course. Specifically, you will need to generate possible ideas for a short story. After you have selected an idea, you will use the remaining steps of the writing process to develop an original short story.

  • 5.2.1 Writing an Original Literary Text  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: Kristina Blasen’s “Paper Writing-Creative Writing

      Link: SOPHIA: Kristina Blasen’s “Paper Writing-Creative Writing” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: This tutorial addresses different types of creative writing, including memoir and creative nonfiction. It includes great examples to help you get an idea of what each creative genre looks like. After you have read through all the information, complete the creative writing exercise in your notebook. You can either write from your own experiences or fictionalize an experience. The content you develop for this exercise will be used later in the unit as part of a multimedia presentation.
       
      It should take approximately 1 hour to read through the material and complete the exercise.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.2.2 The Steps of the Writing Process  
  • 5.3 Speaking and Listening  

    This subunit will extend some of what you learned during the previous parts of Unit 5. You are going to create a multimedia presentation of a family story. You will also learn about storytelling, which requires a great story as well as presentation skills. 

  • 5.3.1 Storytelling Basics  
  • 5.3.2 Creating an Audio/Multimedia Retelling  
    • Activity: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Creating a Multimedia Retelling”

      Link: The Saylor Foundation: Tracy Derrell’s “Creating a Multimedia Retelling” (PDF)
       
      Instructions:  Think about experiences your family has lived through that you'd like to share with others. All families have their share of funny, moving, and tragic stories. What kind of story will you tell about your family? If you need some direction, try doing some freewriting, which may help stir up some memories and ideas. This document provides four platforms for creating your interactive story. Choose the one you think will help you best tell your story. The length of time for this activity will vary depending on how creative you wish to be.
       
      It should take approximately 45 minutes to create your presentation.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.4 Language  

    In this subunit we will discuss figurative language. Though figurative language is featured most prominently in poetry, authors also use it in nonfiction and fiction to enliven their words. Therefore, readers need strategies to help them determine how to comprehend different types of figurative language.

  • 5.4.1 Figures of Speech  
  • 5.4.2 Connotation and Denotation  
    • Explanation: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Connotation & Denotation”

      Link: SOPHIA: Sydney Bauer’s “Connotation & Denotation” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Understanding the difference between connotation and denotation is an important language skill. This tutorial addresses the differences between connotation and denotation and illustrates the concepts with examples. When you are finished, think of three to five more words with similar denotations but different connotations.
       
      It should take approximately 20 minutes to complete the tutorial and generate the additional examples.
       
      Standards Addressed (Common Core):

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.5 Assessments  

    This subunit contains some assessment tools to help you evaluate and monitor your learning. You are going to revisit Grimms’ Fairy Tales and The Arabian Nights, and write some short essay responses. In the second part, you will write short responses to some questions related to speaking, listening, and language.

  • 5.5.1 Reading and Writing  
  • 5.5.2 Speaking, Listening, and Language  
  • Extension Resources  

    If any of the readings in this unit have inspired you to learn more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library. 

  • Final Exam