Due 12/7/2015

  1. 12-C.4: Compare passages for tone
  2. 12-C.1: Identify audience and purpose
  3. 12-W.1: Transitions with conjunctive adverbs
  4. 12-B.5: Transition logically between claims, evidence, analysis, and counterclaims

11/9/2015 ACH

DUE 11/16/2015
  1. Study for the test.
    • The test will be 75 questions, broken down as such:
      • 29 questions from the English section of an ACT exam (2 of 5 passages)
      • 11 questions on vocabulary, drawn from the “100 College Level A Words” list assigned.
      • 35 questions on other grammatical skills we have learned, drawn from or similar to IXL practice.
    • To study, review notes & homework (accessible on the ACH work page) from 10/12/2015 until present. Only grammar, vocabulary, and ACT questions will appear on the test.
      • Just re-reading or re-reading & re-writing notes is an ineffective way to study. Neuroscience shows that it is, essentially, a waste of your time. Here are some more effective study techniques:
        • Do practice problems (either IXL or the non-IXL I have listed on my Materials page)
        • Practice writing sentences with the relevant grammatical component (e.g. a sentence with an introductory prepositional phrase)
        • Practice sample ACT problems on the subject (e.g. Google ‘semicolon ACT practice questions’)
        • Relearn the topic from another explanation (e.g. an online resource linked to on my Materials page). Keep your notes open for reference.
        • Make your own study guide, with all the material & examples summarized for easy review. Many consider the process of making a study guide to be one of the best ways to study.
    • Study tips in the Modifiers, Transitions, & Diction presentation:
  2. Makeup missing assignments to earn credit. Let me know when you have made up assignments.

10/26/2015 ACH

Due 11/2/2015

For help on any of the below work, please first see my Materials page (presentations, etc.), then message me.

Earn at least 95 Smart Points on the following IXL skills:

Work 10/19/2015 ACH

DUE 10/26/2015

For help on any of the below work, please first see my Materials page (presentations, etc.), then message me.

Earn at least 95 Smart Points on the following IXL skills:

Work 10/12/2015 ACH

  • Starting second quarter, late work will only earn you 50% credit (rather than the previous 100%).
    • I will only check makeup work at the same time I check regular work.
  • I  will share with you my rubric for grading, and it will be more rigorous than first quarter.
  • Tests will be curved so that the lowest score is now a 50% rather than 60%.
DUE 10/19/2015

For help on any of the below work, please first see my Materials page (presentations, etc.), then message me.

Earn at least 95 Smart Points on the following IXL skills:

Work 10/5/2015 ACH

DUE 10/12/2015

For help on any of the below work, please first see my Materials page (presentations, etc.), then message me.

  • Change your vocabulary.com account password to “student”.
    • Go to My Account > Password > Change
    • If you haven’t made an account, please make one.
    • Please use this form to tell me the email associated with your vocabulary.com account.
  • Master vocabulary from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on vocabulary.com. Make sure to log into your account so I can track your progress.
  • Read the Gettysburg Address for comprehension, i.e. make brief annotations in the margins summarizing main points
  • Write a rhetorical analysis of Gettysburg Address

Work 9/28/2015 ACH

WORK (due 10/5/2015)
  1. Notes on comparative / superlative adjectives and capitalization.
  2. Achieve at least 90 Smart Points on IXL
TEST next monday (10/5/2015)

Like the last test, this one is inclusive. That means it will cover everything we learned so far.

The following topics will be on the exam. (Note: Nothing below will be counted in your Work grade. The IXL skills, for instance, are only for your practice to review material from the first test. They are not assignments.)

  • You mastered last week’s IXL skills to 90%. Earning those last 10% on each IXL skill will serve as a great way to review.
    • Always attempt IXL with the relevant notes open in front of you. When you get an IXL question wrong, always see why (in orange at the bottom). If you do not understand that explanation, review the relevant rules (given in blue). This is guaranteed the fastest way to get through IXL work; you will also learn the material, so you can ace the tests.
  • Use your resources, including your notes, Mr. S, and the Materials page. Materials has links to definitions & explanations of everything we’ve done, as well as Power Points, IXL and non-IXL practice.
  • Review every night. The only homework you have this week is Monday’s lectures and a rhetorical analysis. Put off the vocabulary & annotation until the weekend and spend Monday-Friday studying.
  • To see what you’ve mastered, go to Language Arts > Topics. Our IXL skills can be found in the following topics:
    • Capitalization and punctuation
    • Grammar
    • Nouns
    • Pronouns
    • Sentences
    • Verbs
    • Writing and composition

Reflections on Grading


If you have a 0 for the test on SIS, then I don’t have your test answers. You are responsible for finding me and arranging a time to make up the exam.


As you know, aspects of my class approximate a college course. (To let you self-correct as you transition, I’ve been offering redemption points; more on that below). Since college lectures are wont to grade on a curve, I’ve decided to do the same for your assessments (and retroactively for the first exam).

Curves adjust your grade relative to those of your peers. Suppose everyone, including the best student, bombs a test. Then one or more of the following probably occurred:

  • The material was poorly taught.
  • The test was unfair (e.g. on untaught material).
  • The test’s difficulty poorly matched students’ skill level.

To account for such inequities, professors adjust grades to match a distribution they would have preferred. The top 10% of students might be awarded an A, the next 15% a B, and so on.


My own curve was designed around two parameters: i) the class average would equal 75% (which is the mean of a normal distribution from F (50%) to A (100%)) and ii) the lowest scorer would earn a 60%. Here is my equation:

It’s not as complicated as it appears prima facie (i.e. at first blush)!

And here are the variable definitions:

  • x = your raw score (i.e. number of correct answers / total number of questions)
  • x0 = the average of raw scores (for the first test) = 0.4846938776
  • y0 = desired class average = .75
  • (y1 – y0 / x1 – x0) = coefficient required to move the lowest score to .60 = 1.088888889
  • f(x) = your curved grade divided by 100 (so if you earned an 87, this would equal .87)

You can find your raw score by plugging these numbers and your curved grade into the formula above. There are a few features of this curve worth noting:

  • It will not lower anyone’s grade.
  • The curve tends to benefit students disproportionately. Usually it benefits lower scorers more than higher scorers. For this particular exam, the curve wound up benefiting everyone about the same.

You can redeem a significant portion of missed work points by turning in work late. During my first notebook check, I checked for:

  • Notes on everything up to that point
    • e.g. grammar rules, rhetorical devices, persuasion (premises, ethos, etc), in-class exercises such as putting Paine’s Liberty or Death into your own words and breaking down the premises in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence
  • Assignments which demonstrate bona fide effort (i.e. multiple paragraphs of serious work), e.g. Jefferson provides evidence to support which premise in the Declaration of Independence?

I’ll collect notebooks again next Monday. This time, I will look for i) notes since the last notebook check and ii) your rhetorical analysis of Paine’s The Crisis. If I find that you made up missing work, I’ll award redemption points.

Many of you also missed points for IXL skill mastery. I last checked this Friday and awarded full redemption points for late work (20 work points per week; 4 IXL assignments; 5 points for each skill with over 80 Smart Points, even though I asked for 90…Proverbs 16:32). For the list of IXL assignments to make up, scroll down to earlier posts.

To view your progress on IXL skills, go to the Language Arts tab at the top and then click Grade or Topic. To make your life easier in the future, I’ll assign skills from only one grade or topic per week.

Lastly, you had work on http://www.vocabulary.com. Again, those assignments can be found in earlier posts. I’ll check completion of that sometime in the future.


I was an unexceptional student for most of my academic career. When I decided to change that, I sought out systems for active learning. I signed up for word-of-the-day emails from dictionaries and news blasts from mainstream newspapers. If you’re interested in doing the same, I’d recommend emails from Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day and Daily Bit of News (a news aggregator that summarizes each day’s top stories). I’m subscribed to these and half a dozen others—you’re never too old to learn!

If you’d like this extra work to count for your grade, consider doing IXL or http://www.vocabulary.com practice in your spare time. You’ll do better on our exams and, if you’re lucky, finish some work before I assign it. For http://www.vocabulary.com, I recommend the word lists on my Materials page.


Phew, this was a long post. Please let me know if you have any questions by contacting me at schiffresg@jenningsk12.us or through Remind. Can’t wait to learn again with y’all on Monday!