American Literature

CAST American Literature Syllabus


I.               Course GOALS: Students will

  • You will be applying the knowledge and skills you learn in your CAST class (es) for projects, essays, tests, homework and classwork in American Literature.
  • Explore the following OVERARCHING QUESTION:  “How does American literature reflect the interaction between various cultural groups and their forms in the U.S. today.”


  • What is the “melting pot” in America as shown by American literature?
  • What is the American Dream?
  • Is the American Dream accessible and attainable for everyone?
  • What does it mean to have an American identity?
  • Is it possible to be bi-cultural in America according to American literature authors?
  • What is assimilation and why is it so important in America?
  • Do values and morals play a role in American culture?
  • Is there such a thing as one American identity?
  • Is the American culture a universal concept?
  • “Who is US?”  (quotation by Adrienne Rich)
  • Who determines what is American and what is not?

II. Course Description:

Welcome to CAST American Literature. While concentrating on meeting the learning objectives of the California Content Standards, we will also focus on exploring American Literature from a visual and performance-based perspective. We will explore the essential questions above as we read short stories, poems, novels, essays, plays and more. As we do so, you will see many connections emerge, both explicit and implicit, between this class and your other CAST class (es).


III. Materials to bring to class every day:

I)              Homework Planner (You will copy your homework everyday)

II)            Class-specific Notebook with a folder for Handouts and Ongoing Work


III)          Binder, with lined paper and sections for Handouts and Ongoing Work

IV)           Pencil and black or dark blue pen

V)             DEAR book and DEAR Journal (a separate notebook)

VI)           Any books assigned at the time

VII)         Any homework assignment due


IV. Course outline

Textbook: Language of Literature, McDougall-Littell


1. Origins of first American Literature; Native American Experience Short Stories 5. American Experience: Miss Representation Unit and Journalism Unit
2. Puritan Experience Crucible by Arthur Miller 6. CAST Play Writing Unit
3. Colonial, Revolutionary & Transcendental literature and  7. Harlem Renaissance: Short Stories and Poetry
4. African-American Experience African: Narratives of Frederick Douglass  8. The Disintegration of the American Dream: Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


V. Evaluation and Grading:

You may always check your assignments and grades at the following website:

The school will provide you a username and password


Grading scale:All assignments are given a point value based on difficulty and effort required.90-100% = A

80-89%   = B

70-79%   = C

60-69%   = D

59% and below = F



Assignment Categories

All assignments fall under one of the below categories, adding up to your final grade.

Tests/Quizzes      15%Homework/Classwork      30%

Projects/Essays    25%

Participation  15%


TOTAL =100% 


Participation (P) is determined by your attendance and behavior in class and on CAST related field trips and events as well as your contributions to class and group discussions. I will keep in mind improvements in your amount and quality of participation as the year progresses. While regular participation is important, over-doing it and trying to hog a discussion or a Q&A session will only hurt your grade. In addition, interruptions, cross-talking, shouting things out, swearing and any other negative participation will lower your grade. NOTE:  Students are required to attend two evening events: The CAST Play performance by students and the SF Playhouse play that each student will attend.


Note: Papers and other larger pieces of your grade (Notebook & DEAR Journal in particular) are often due at the end of the grading period, and therefore can greatly affect your grade. These are often assignments on which you must work throughout the term. Ignoring them can drastically affect your grade. In other words, if you do not work on your Notebook, DEAR Journal, etc. consistently you are setting yourself up to fail.


VI. Basic written work requirements:

These requirements must be met or you will receive a zero.

  • All work must have a title that is specific to that assignment (not “Homework” or “Classwork”).
  • Your name, class period and assignment date must be in the upper right-hand corner of the paper.
  • All written/typed assignments must be in organized TEA paragraphs.
  • Writing must be free of basic spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • It must be legible & in either dark pencil or black or blue pen.
  • Paper must be clean and professional looking, free of “shreddies,” stains, etc.
  • Paper must meet page length requirements.

VII. How to write nightly homework assignments:

I assign certain regular nightly assignments, called “Reflection/Reaction” or “Analysis.” You will receive separate instructions on how to do both.


 Specific on-going assignment explanations

DEAR: You will participate in DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) throughout the year. You will read books of your own choosing that are appropriate to your reading level and interest. DEAR will occur the first fifteen minutes of each class. When the bell rings to begin class, you must be in your seat and reading silently to yourself. You will read for ten minutes and then write a Reflection for the last five in your DEAR Journal. At the end of each term you will submit your DEAR Journal to be graded.


DEAR process/scoring:

  1. Choose a book you are interested in and which is appropriate to your reading level.
  2. Bring your DEAR book every day to class and read silently every day during DEAR time. (10 Participation Points each day – Missing class, being tardy, or doing anything other than reading silently will cause you to lose points.)
  3. Write in your DEAR journal each class period .


VIII. Attendance/Tardy Policy:

  • You are required to be in class everyday on time, ready to begin class with all required materials.
  • If you miss a class, until you bring an excused absence re-admit slip, it is considered an unexcused absence.
  • If you are tardy, you will lose points on your Do Now or DEAR proportional to how late you are.
  • 3 or more tardies or 3 or more unexcused absences in a grading period will result in a U citizenship mark on your report card.


IX. Late Work Policy:

  • Each assignment is given a specific due date when assigned. It is due that specific date at the beginning of the period unless otherwise indicated. Anything after that is late. All late work will be marked down ten percent for each day (including Saturday and Sunday) it is late.
  • In the case of an unexcused absence, you receive no additional time. Tests/quizzes/classwork missed during unexcused absences may not be made up. Work due on the day of an unexcused absence receives a grade of zero.
  • In case of excused absences, you have two extra days for each excused absence not counting the day of your return.
  • Notebooks and DEAR Journals are not accepted late.


X. Expectations:

I expect you to:

  • behave appropriately and follow all school rules including the SEVEN BEHAVIORAL AGREEMENTS as posted in the classroom and in the student handbook,
  • participate constructively in class,
  • complete all assigned work,
  • use this syllabus as a guide for how to do well in this class,
  • to see me for HELP and to ASK QUESTIONS, and
  • keep on top of your progress in class.


XI. How to contact me and get help

Please do contact me and see me for help or to answer any questions.

  • You may always email me at
  • You may call me at school at 415-469-4090 during school hours (ask for Room 317). Please leave a message if I cannot answer.
  • You may come to my room at lunch for help or just a place to study/ read.
  • I encourage you to take advantage of Balboa’s After School tutoring program, available Monday through Thursday.
  • Please make an appointment if you absolutely need to see me, as I often have meetings both during lunch and after school.

XII. How to pass and earn high grades in this class:

  1. Be on time every day
  2. Bring all materials to class every day
  3. Do all DEAR reading and Journal entries for full credit
  4. Copy down your Homework into a planner.
  5. Complete all classwork, especially your Interactive Notes in your Notebook
  6. Participate constructively (be respectful of others, ask and answer questions)
  7. After school, complete the Homework assignment you copied into your own planner
  8. Submit your Homework to your class’s tray when it is due.
  9. Keep all returned work in your class portfolio
  10. Monitor your scores on returned work and always check your progress on SchoolLoop and Progress Reports

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