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ELL Transitional Writing Syllabus

Patrick Henry High School

ELL Transitional Writing

Semester 1, 2006-2007

Instructor Contact Information

Sharon Cormany Ornelas

Office: 206B

Phone/voicemail: (612)668-1963


Course Description

ELL Transitional Writing provides 11th and 12th grade students with a bridge between the basic 5-paragaph essay and more complex writing required in college composition classes.  Students will write regularly for a variety of purposes, and improve their ability to write with fluency, clarity, and correctness.  Reading assignments, class discussions, and analyzing others' writing will support student learning.

The reading and writing in this class will center on the topic of immigration.  In our work, students will have opportunities to reflect on personal experiences with immigration, immigrant communities in the United States, immigration policy, and immigration issues. By the end of the semester, students will have written papers in which they describe their personal experience, analyze and react to ideas in readings, argue for or against positions, and report on research they have conducted.

Course Objectives

The overall goal of this course is to develop the skills needed for basic college-level writing.   When students complete this course, they should be able to:

§         Express ideas clearly and organize writing effectively to communicate ideas.

§         Understand expectations of academic audiences regarding different types of writing assignments and how to approach them.

§         Identify, follow, and analyze other writers' meaning, ideas, arguments, and purpose.

§         Actively participate in conversations about writing and ideas.

§         Develop research skills to find outside sources to support arguments.

§         Use others' ideas in their own writing effectively and correctly.

§         Develop skills and strategies for making their writing clear and correct to meet academic standards.

§         Use computers for word processing, editing, revising and research.

Required Texts and Other Supplies

·        A novel related to the immigrant experience (to be decided by the class)

·        Short stories and fiction selections around the topic of immigration

·        Essays and non-fiction articles related to immigration

·        A notebook and folder for class handouts and notes

·        Flash drive or 1-2 computer disks (if you plan to work on a computer at home)

·        Easy access to a dictionary outside of class


Major Assessments: Over the course of the semester, we will be writing four major papers.  These papers will help students build their writing, planning, editing, and research skills, and prepare them to write for a variety of academic purposes.


Letter to a Newcomer

paper one: First Impressions

Paper two: Persuasive Essay on Immigration Issues

Paper three: Exploring Themes in Immigrant Fiction 

paper four: Immigration I-Search


Classwork/Homework: Students will have regular in-class and homework assignments to help them prepare for major papers and build the skills needed for success in college writing.  Because much of our class work and discussions will be based on work that students do outside of class, students are expected to come to class prepared.  Drafts of major Assignments will include:


Readings and Related Activities (Reading Logs, Summaries, Responses, Questions)

Drafts of Papers 1-4 (Due weekly)


In-Class Writing

Group Work and Conferencing


Quizzes and Tests: Students will occasionally be tested to make sure they are completing assignments and making adequate progress in the course.  This may include reading quizzes, grammar quizzes, and essay questions.


Grading Policies 

Grading Criteria: Your grade in this course will be based on the following:

60 % Papers (1-4, Letter to a Newcomer, other major projects)

20 % Homework (paper drafts, reading logs, article responses, other assignments)

10% Quizzes and Tests

10% Class Participation (Warm-ups, in-class writing assignments, group work, discussions, peer conferencing)


Grading Scale: Your grade in this course will reflect how much progress you make in reaching the course objectives.



Achievement outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements









Achievement significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements









Achievement meeting the basic course requirements in every respect









Achievement worthy of credit even though it does not fully meet the basic course requirements in every respect





(Below 60%)

Performance failing to meet the basic course requirements


Late and Missing Work

The due dates for the papers are firm. Because you may fall ill or have a family emergency, I will accept occasional late papers but they must be turned in within one week of the original due date.  If you need to use this option, notify me within 24 hours of the due date.

Missing assignments will have a major impact on your grade in this class.  If you do not turn in any of the major papers, there is a good chance you will fail the class.  Keep up to date with assignments and paper drafts to make sure you do not fall behind in your work.


Extra Credit

Occasionally, I may give the opportunity to earn extra credit.  Extra credit points will only be offered for assignments or activities above and beyond the normal expectations of the class.  Extra credit points may raise your class grade by no more than a "+" or "-" (e.g., change a C+ to a B-, or change a B to a B+, etc.)



Class Policies


ELL Transitional Writing is a writing workshop in which your daily participation and work are very important.  Class discussion, in class work and group work are essential parts of this course. If you miss a class or come in late, it will be your responsibility to find out what work you have missed, and to make it up as soon as possible (preferably by the next class).   Please contact me by phone or email in advance if you will need to miss class for a legitimate reason such as a family emergency or if you are sick.  Check the assignment book for handouts or assignments you missed, and ask a friend for the notes they took during the class you missed.

Of course, as with any course at Patrick Henry, if you miss more than seven days per quarter, you will fail the course.  However, missing more than two classes per quarter could hurt your grade in the class.  If you miss three classes per quarter or if absences may cause you to do poorly in the course, I will notify your parents and program coordinator.



It is important that you come to class on time everyday.  To be on time, you must be inside the room when the bell rings.  If you are tardy, you will be assigned a half-hour detention to be served on Tuesday after school.  One tardy equals one detention.   If you are tardy on a regular basis, or do not serve your assigned detention, I will contact your parents and your dean.



Each student may use up to three passes in this class per quarter.  You must have a pass in order to leave the room for any reason during the class period (including getting a drink).  It is the instructor's decision whether or not to sign a pass, and I reserve the right to refuse to sign a pass for a variety of reasons.  You must have your own planner in order to get a pass. 



Each student is expected to follow all school and district rules while in this classroom.  The class will be run like a college-level workshop/seminar, which means students are expected to monitor their own behavior and work, and actively participate in all class activities.  In other words, do not prevent the teacher from teaching, do not prevent other students from learning, and be respectful in your words and actions.


If you choose not to follow these three expectations or any school/district rules, you may be asked to leave the class and/or be assigned a detention.  Failure to follow rules and behavior expectations on a regular basis may lead to notification of your program coordinator, dean and parents.


Language in the Classroom

The language of our classroom is English. It is only fair for everyone to speak in a language that all members of the classroom know so that everyone can participate in activities and discussions.


Food and Drink

There is no food or drink allowed in the classroom, other than water.  This is especially important when we have the mobile computer lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 


Internet Use

You will use the Internet as a source for some of your papers.   I expect that when in class you will use the Internet ONLY for class purposes.  Please do not use class time to check your email.


Format for all papers you turn in this semester

· Spacing: double-space your papers and print them out in 12-point font

· Heading: In the top right-hand corner of your paper, give the following information:

            Your Name


            Paper #___

· Title: remember to give your paper a title that reflects its main idea.


Scholastic Dishonesty

Students are responsible for maintaining scholastic honesty in their work at all times. The University of Minnesota policy, which we will follow in this course, says that "scholastic dishonesty includes (but is not limited to) cheating on assignments or examinations, plagiarizing (misrepresenting as one’s own anything done by another), submitting the same or substantially similar papers (or creative work) for more than one course without consent of all instructors concerned, depriving another of necessary course materials, and sabotaging another’s work."  This includes copying individual assignments from a classmate, or allowing a classmate to copy your work.  Any student who violates this policy will receive zero points for the assignment, and I will notify your parents, dean, and program coordinator.


Academic Support

Additional Help/Tutorial

I will be available for extra help outside of class most Tuesdays after school.  You may also make an appointment with me for extra help during 6th hour, or at other times when I am available.  Because I have to attend meetings inside and outside the building almost every day, I might not always be available to help you at the last minute, so plan ahead!


Calendar of Topics and Assignments

(This is a tentative schedule which may change as the course progresses.)

Semester 1, Quarter 1

September 5 – 8: First Impressions; Letter to a Newcomer


September 11-15: First Impressions; Letter to a Newcomer Due; Paper 1

Wednesday, September 13: Late Start


September 18-22: First Impressions: Paper 1


September 25-29: Immigration History; Quiz 1; Paper 1 Due


October 2-6: Immigration History; Paper 2

Thursday, October 5: Parent/Teacher Conferences 4:30-8:00 PM

Friday, October 6: No school for students (Parent/teacher conferences 8:30 AM to Noon)


October 9-13: Immigration History; Paper 2; Begin immigrant novel    


October 16-20: Novel; Paper 2

Thursday, Oct 19 and Friday, Oct 20: No school for students


October 25 – 29: Novel; Paper 2 Due 

October 30 – November 3: Novel; Paper 3; Reading Quiz

Wednesday, Nov 1: Second hour Final Exam

Friday, Nov 3: No school for students


Semester 1, Quarter 2

November 6-10: Novel; Paper 3


November 13-17: Novel; Paper 3

Wednesday, November 15: Late Start


November 20-24: Novel; Paper 3 Due

Wed Nov 22 – Friday Nov 24: Thanksgiving break


November 27-December 1: Immigration Issues and Policy: Summary Response Papers


December 4–8: Immigration Issues and Policy: Family Interview; Paper 4

Thursday, Dec 7: Parent/Teacher Conferences 4:30-8:00


December 11-15: Immigration Issues and Policy: Paper 4

Wednesday, December 13: Late Start


December 18-22: Immigration Issues and Policy: Paper 4


December 25 – January 5, 2005:  Winter Break


January 8-12: Immigration Issues and Policy: Paper 4


January 15-19: Immigration Issues and Policy: Paper 4 Due

Monday, Jan 15: No School (Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday)

Wednesday, January 17: Late Start


January 22-26: Immigration Issues and Policy; Reflections

Wednesday, Jan 24: Second hour Final Exam (last class meeting)

Friday, Jan 26: No school for students