In preparation for Independence Day events (and being a musician, I’m well-occupied with performing), someone remarked to me that the Fourth marks the halfway point of summer. I think this is about right: I have only about 5 more weeks of work before I have my open week to make final preparations for the beginning of the school year on August 17th. That’s only six weeks to get the rest of my curriculum planned and to get my organizational stuff in order.

It’s a little scary.

I am almost done with my sophomore lit selections from the textbook, although I keep thinking about what skills would be useful to help 10th graders with so that they don’t have to be crammed so much into the last two years of high school, things like critical reading and thinking skills. I also discovered that I probably didn’t have enough literature from the initial units I picked, so I’m going through and adding some more, including a unit on “genre fiction” that will allow us to compare literature from a variety of genres. The first selection is a short story called “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury – an excellent start.

As for the novels, I think I’ve got my selection nailed down to these works:

  • Farewell to Arms
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Crucible [Edit: Actually, this  is taught in junior English now]
  • Animal Farm
  • 1984
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Great Gatsby
  • A Separate Peace

1984 is still iffy – I haven’t asked for a class set yet. (I don’t want to seem greedy!) Nevertheless, I’m going to try and work it out.

Edit: I notice that most of these works are American lit, with the exception of the Orwell novels, most are twentieth century, with the exception of the Hawthorne novel, and all of them are written by male authors. I hate to say it, but I’m probably going to end up teaching Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights out of the necessity of another non-American, non-20th century, non-male novel. I know that there are others I could probably choose – and would prefer – but I have class sets of both novels currently. At least I can limit my chick lit selections to one novel. Further edit: OR – I could try to get Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! That would be a brilliant and far preferable selection – it would be pre-20th century British novel by a female author, and it fits somewhat into the science fiction genre while still covering issues of humanity and the idea of anxiety toward science. If I can, I think I’ll try to get a class set of this one instead and possibly teach it right before Of Mice and Men, which to me resonates along the same lines (humanity, longing for acceptance).

I still have the semester-long writing elective and my senior English to determine, although I have a good idea about what I’ll do for both classes: memoirs, profiles, some form of professional writing (cover letter, resume, etc.), reflective writing, possibly a creative piece that incorporates research (following an EJ article by Linda Hammond on this subject), and of course some more conventional forms like essays, possibly including a college application essay, for the writing elective; an autoethnography project and probably some cultural projects for senior English, as well as a college application essay, a persuasive essay, and a major research paper (I will probably include a literary analysis essay in here, depending on what I decide when I get to know this senior English class better).

Maybe I’m halfway done, but I doubt I’m nearly half-ready. We’ll see.

Farewell to Arms

Of Mice and Men

The Grapes of Wrath

The Crucible

Animal Farm


The Scarlet Letter

The Great Gatsby

A Separate Peace