Advanced Composition

Instructor: Denise Boiko

Course Length: Two Semesters

Type of Class: Group class through HEART Academy

When: Fridays, 8:45-10:00, Period 1

Cost: $75/ month

Credit Classification: 10 credits of English

Materials Fee: $15, one time only; Essay grading fee $50, one time only.

Minimum & Maximum Class Size: 8 and 12

Questions: Email Denise Boiko at or phone (408)375-5189.

Prerequisite: Experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing (or equivalent training in style) at junior high or high school level OR HEART Academy Intro to Classics, Intro to Writing, Intermediate Composition, or Literature in Critical Perspectives OR another high school English course with writing. Since this is an advanced class, student should already be a confident writer. If in doubt about a student’s readiness, parents may submit a previous essay by the student for teacher’s evaluation.

Grade level: 10th-12th grade, or advanced 9th graders with teacher’s approval. Ideal for 11th graders.

Other requirements: Use of basic technology applications (word processing applications, email, internet research). A willingness to work on writing assignments each school day during the week. In addition to class time, this subject will require a workload of at least one hour a day, five days a week, 120 hours for the year. Students should be prepared to write at least one 2-4 page typed essay per week (sometimes more) and to revise one previously written essay per week.

Course Description: Advanced Composition is a college prep honors course designed to teach students writing skills required for a variety of types of academic essays, including expository essays, timed SAT essays, research papers, and personal essays used for college and scholarship applications. The course is designed especially for 11th and 12th grade college prep students who are serious about improving their writing skills. Motivated 9th and 10th graders may also be admitted. Honors credit: By default, the course will be considered an honors course, and thus students should be prepared for fairly rigorous assignments. Those desiring to opt out of honors credit may choose a more flexible standard of grading and/or number of assignments. Topics to Be Covered: Academic essays (various types such as comparison/contrast, descriptive, cause/effect, process, and persuasive) 2-part essay strategies SAT and ACT timed essays College application/scholarship personal statements or application essays Literary analysis based on selected short stories Research paper using MLA format, with long term assignment goals and checkpoints Subject-specific essays (such as those encountered in AP exams) Writing techniques to complement writing assignments in other HEART classes Crafting a strong, arguable thesis Freewriting and prewriting techniques for content and organization Extensive attention to the revision process Students will be given instruction and examples in thesis development, essay organization, transitions, introductions and conclusions, rapid writing for essay exams, and style techniques.

Note: HEART classes will be on break during the holidays, from before Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day. Some homework assignments will be given during this time.

Class Expectations: • Attendance and punctuality (very important). Please be in class on time, ready to start, and prepared for the day’s material. • Participation in discussion. • Completion of assigned papers, textbook reading, and other homework (on time!). Specific assignments will be given weekly by email and by handout. Please stay caught up! • You will work on your own with your parent’s help as needed during the week.

My commitment as your instructor is to provide weekly instruction, examples, and encouragement to you and to evaluate your work. I will be available to help you develop skills in writing, from the pre-writing stage through the revision process. Please feel free to come to me with questions or email me during the week, so that this can be a team effort in learning together! An assignment sheet will be made available every week. It is designed as a communication device for you, to clarify your weekly work process and help you focus on the topics we are discussing in class. Please read it at the beginning of every week and use it as a working guide. Once you have read the assignment sheet, please store it in your binder for future reference.

Handing in Assignments: Assignments are due at the beginning of class. All work should be done neatly and reflect your best efforts. Strive for excellence and do your best work. A limited amount of extra credit will be available for students who need to enhance their grades.

Bring to class every day: 1. A 3-ring binder with spine size approximately 1 1/2” to 2”. (Binder may be shared with that of another class you are taking.) Insert two plastic sheet protectors at the front of the binder to store latest assignment sheet and important reference information. If it is a view binder, you may decorate the cover page any way you like. Have a supply of college-ruled paper available, and insert dividers, labeled as follows. a. Notes and handouts b. Essays in progress c. Completed essays d. Ideas e. Research paper 2. Pens, as well as sharp pencils with good erasers. 3. Zippered pocket for pencils, erasers, etc. 4. Textbooks (see curriculum, below) need not be brought to class but should be available at home. 5. You should also have access to a good dictionary and a thesaurus at home.

Workload: Workload will vary with the type of essay being taught, but a typical weekly workload will be: Read 1-2 chapters of the textbook or writing handbook, as assigned. Write a 2-4 page typed, double spaced essay of the format being focused on that week. Students may skip one essay per semester (research paper may not be skipped). Revise a previously written essay to turn in for a second evaluation. You will be encouraged to write something every day, since this is the best way to improve as a writer. Research Paper Tasks – You will prepare a research paper of approximately 4-6 pages. Instruction will be given on thesis development, outlining, drafting, revising, footnoting, and creation of Works Cited page, and you will keep up with the checklist on this longer term project while you are also working on your normal essays. If you are taking other courses at HEART that require a research paper, you may turn in a single research paper that meets the requirements of Advanced Composition and the other course requiring a paper.

Grading and Assessment: Each essay will be evaluated, and revisions will be required. Teacher evaluation will be based on improvement after revision and on incorporating suggestions from the first draft, as well as using these suggestions in future essays. End-of-semester evaluation will be largely based upon displaying consistent and measurable improvement throughout the year (rather than on “perfection”). By default, the course will be considered an honors course. Those desiring to opt out of honors credit may choose a more flexible standard of grading and/or number of assignments, but the course will still be rather rigorous. Parent involvement in discussion and evaluation of students’ work is strongly encouraged. I will be available to parents as needed, to assist in evaluating performance against priorities, to answer questions, or simply to be a sounding board for discussion. I want to do everything I can to assist you in this endeavor. A teacher-created evaluation will be provided for every student, which may be used as a record of accomplishment for students planning to attend college, and as an aid to help parents ascertain grades for report cards. All evaluations include the number of assignments completed, a description of challenges and accomplishments, a review of student’s progress and performance, and recommendations for future work. The student name and course, date of completion and instructor signature are also included. While the parent gives the actual letter grade, this evaluation will be an individualized assessment of the student’s progress and effort and will assist the parent in assigning a grade. The basis for this assessment will be the following items (this is an approximate breakdown and may be subject to change): Weekly Essays and Revisions: 75% In-Class Effort, Discussion, and Participation: 10% Research Paper: 15% Extra credit, as applicable, will add on to student’s existing point total

CURRICULUM REQUIRED: The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne (Signet, 1969). ISBN 0451627121. Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning by Patrick Sebranek, Dave Kemper, and Verne Meyer, published by The Write Source, 2005 version. ISBN-10: 0669529958 ISBN-13: 978-0669529951 Older versions are fine – check with me for adjustments on page numbers for reading assignments.

Contacting the Teacher: Please contact Mrs. Boiko (course questions) or Mrs. Allen (administrative questions) if there are any questions during the year. The best way to contact Mrs. Boiko is via email at The next best way is by phone at (408)375-5189.

Assignments for the first week: (to be completed prior to the first class) Read Chapter 1 of The Lively Art of Writing. Read pp 1-20 of Writers INC (“Understanding The Writing Process” and also pp 121-123 for topic ideas (“Writer’s Resource”). Read pp 135-138 of Writers INC, “Descriptive Writing.” (If you have an older version of Writers INC, consult me for proper page numbers.) Come to class with: 1. Some input and ideas to share about what parts of the writing process you personally find most challenging. 2. One or two topic ideas for a descriptive essay (pp 121-123 of Writers INC should help). In class, we will be discussing this reading, talking about how to construct a thesis, and helping you plan a descriptive essay for the next week’s homework.