Tocci Honors ENG II Syllabus

English II Honors Syllabus

Course: English II Honors

Teacher: Ms. Tocci

Room: 220


Course Description 

Welcome to Honors English II. This class is designed to help all students deepen their skills in reading, writing, and literary analysis. It is my goal that students, parents, and myself will work together towards a successful year!

Being your Sophomore year of high school, this year is going to present you with both opportunities and challenges that you have not yet faced in your academic careers. But we are in this together!

If you take anything away from this syllabus, I want you to remember three things:

  1. You matter
  2. Your education matters
  3. This class matters

My goal in English II is, first and foremost, to give you, as the student, a place where you can feel successful and empowered in reading and writing about literature.  

You should feel welcome and safe to use your voice, in many different ways and many different contexts, in order to contribute meaningfully to discussions about important issues in society and the world.  

Additionally, you should be able to reflect on your own shared histories in order to understand and critique those histories, enabling you to make thoughtful and informed decisions and be engaged and motivated contributors to our world.

I want you to have choice and agency in your education, and I will offer many opportunities for you to show your skills and strengths in writing and speaking about literary texts, which includes longer fiction (like novels), short stories, poems, speeches, songs, films, essays, and even art and photographs.

Digital Materials

  • Schoology: You will need to log into Schoology every day for access to slides, activities, and assignments.
  • Turnitin: This is a tool we use to prevent plagiarism. Instructions will be provided and posted online. 
  • ActivelyLearn: You’ll use your school Google/Gmail account to sign in to this site to access readings and various texts. 
  • Pear Deck: We’ll use this to engage alongside lessons as an active participation tool. 

Physical Materials

Students are REQUIRED to bring all supplies to class EVERY day in order to be a present, active participant in the lesson. 

  • 1.5-2 inch binder with 6 dividers
  • Your school-issued Chromebook
  • A constant supply of loose-leaf lined notebook paper
  • Writing utensils (pens, pencils, highlighters)
  • Sticky notes

The Course at a Glance

Unit 1: Unit One: Living Life
Students will read and view several videos, short stories, poems, and articles focusing on what it means to live life and find happiness.  All of the selections build toward an understanding of a life well-lived, and the importance of connection and relationships.  The culminating task where students will synthesize evidence from the selections to create an Advice Column on how to live life and find happiness and be able to answer how should people live their lives? How can people find happiness?

Unit 2: Introduction to Literary Theory
Students will read several short stories and poems to analyze how the texts reinforce, critique, or challenge the definitions of race and ethnicity, masculinity or femininity, and class conflict.  Students will analyze how critical assumptions of categories of race and ethnicity have been used in ways that have empowered and oppressed and that the differentiation of peoples is reflected in and reinforced by language.  Also, students will understand the textual reflections of racism and ethnocentrism (viewing one’s own culture as appropriate for all) demands attention to the cultural history and belief systems of the social group(s) being portrayed and discussed. 

Students will use a critical lens to analyze racism and ethnocentrism in texts from the past and how they may have relevance to the ways we live our lives today and can serve as a starting point for positive forms of social change in the future.  Additionally,  students will use the gender/feminist lens to analyze texts for perceptions of masculinity and femininity; it is important for women to create a feminine/feminist way of writing and reading, and that any text cannot exist outside of a gender frame of reference.  Lastly, students will learn to apply a Reader-Response lens in order to analyze how a text reflects the experience, beliefs, and understanding of its reader.

Unit 3: Things Fall Apart
(Modern tragedy, intro to tragic hero and literary elements). Students begin the unit by learning about the historical significance of the African continent’s colonization. They also view and listen to the Ted Talk “The Dangers of the Single Story” to evaluate the portrayal and bias involved with telling a story through defined lenses. Students then read Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart on the effects of colonialism in Africa to closely examine the role of a tragic hero and the purpose of traditions to answer the prompt: Why are traditions important and how do we determine if a tradition is worth carrying on?  Also, students will read and analyze The Headstrong Historian, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to explore the contemporary post-colonial lens and the correlation of the two texts and their impact on current societal issues. 

Spring Semester

Unit 4: Digital Storytelling:
A digital story is a multimodal narrative that combines photographs, video, animation, sound, music, text, and often a narrative voice. Students will use the 7 elements of a digital story:  Point of View, Dramatic Question, Emotional, The Power of the Soundtrack, Economy of Language, and Pacing.  Students will create a digital story that narrates their own experience living through the COVID 19 Pandemic. They will answer what has been lost? What has been learned? What has changed? 

Unit Five: Atrocities and Remembrances:
(Bridge to the impact of historical tragedy on literature, genre study: graphic novel) Students read Art Spiegelman’s graphic novels Maus to answer: to answer: What kinds of captivity and freedom does the author explore in Maus.  What stifles or prevents people from being completely free? How do they circumvent and defy the rules imposed on them and attempt to live ordinary lives despite revolution and war?  Students will also analyze literary nonfiction, fiction, speeches, visual sources, and selections of art and music to more deeply understand historic atrocities as well as the relationship between responsibility and human tragedy. 

Course Expectations

1. Attendance

Your presence and voice in class is important, so make attendance a priority.  If you are anticipating missing class, please let your teacher know in advance. If your absence is unexpected, make sure you have checked Schoology and other platforms we use to see what you have missed so you can keep up with the work or ask any clarifying questions you may have

Attending class does not simply mean that your body is physically present in the room, but rather that you are an active participant in your own learning.

2. Participation

Once again, your voice in class is vital.  You will be expected to participate in class in multiple ways.  I will offer as many ways as possible to actively participate, both in writing and verbally.  I will also make sure to practice participation in smaller, low-stakes and low pressure tasks, especially at first. 

3. Grading and Turning in Work

Grades will be determined based on your ability to meet Common Core State Standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. We will be using what is known as Standards-Based Grading—which is to say that students will have the opportunity to complete an assignment as many times as necessary in order to reach mastery of those given standards.

The gradebook is divided into two categories: Practice and Standards. 

Standards grades are for work that is graded for proficiency on the Common Core academic standards, and makes up 75% of your overall grade. 

Practice grades are for assignments that help you practice necessary skills, and make up 25% of the overall grade.

We want you to succeed, and of course, to pass. However, the skills you will be learning and refining in this course will require you to try, and maybe even fail, multiple times before you master any of them. 

Therefore, Unit Assessments tied to priority standards will be required to “make up” if not turned in. 

These Unit Assessments must be turned in AT LEAST TWO WEEKS before the end of the semester. You should work with your teacher to come up with a plan to make up specific assignments that show you moving toward proficiency on the priority standards.  

Please do not simply complete a bunch of past assignments and expect them to automatically improve your grade. Grading is no longer a “points game” but based on students’ proficiency with the Language Arts skills.

*GETTING EXTRA HELP*: Not turning in an assignment and/or assignment because you did not understand it is never an excuse in our class. This is because I am here to help you succeed. If you are struggling with an assignment, an idea or concept, inspiration, or whatever it is that is limiting your ability to become a successful student in this course, I will help you. I am willing to help during lunch or after school to ensure that you receive the support you need. However, it is your responsibility to come to me if you need help with something. We are all human, and by nature imperfect. If you need help, please reach out, I’ve got your back 🙂 

Standards-Based Grading Proficiency Bands
Exceeds Expectations100%
Meets Expectations85%
Approaching Expectations75%
Partially Meet Expectations65%

4. Originality

It is impossible to measure your proficiency and success on academic skills and standards if the work you turn in is not your own.  

Copying another student’s work or taking information (text or ideas) from a source (online or in print) without giving proper credit is considered plagiarism. The reality is, if you compromise your academic integrity, not only am I required to submit to the administration, but you will have lost my trust and will need to work to gain it back. 

Your learning, and my ability to teach, is dependent on this human relationship of ours. 


1. DPS Gmail

  • The simplest way to access your gmail account is through the following url:
  • Once there, you will be prompted to enter your DPS Student ID Number and your password.
    • This is the same login you use to access Infinite Campus.  
    • Passwords are defaulted to your birthday (mmddyyyy). BE SURE TO CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD in order to maintain security and keep your work safe!
  • Once logged in, you have access to your Gmail Account which functions as any other Gmail Account.
  • Signing into your DPS Gmail Account is the first step to accessing any of the other Google Applications.
  • Check your email frequently!  Classroom updates and announcements will be delivered straight to your inbox.

2. How to Access Your Files

  • Your DPS Gmail Account gives you access to Google Drive, online file storage (i.e. cloud-based).
  • Access drive at:
  • All of your digital work for English class will be stored on the Drive so that it is easily accessible to you from home, school, or mobile device.
    • The Drive will store any type of file, although using Google Docs is recommended.
  • Google Classroom is really a simple way to manage sharing documents through your Google Drive Account.
    • When you join my classroom, a file folder will automatically be created for your assignments, and this folder will serve as your digital portfolio

Student and Parental Contract:

I acknowledge that I have shared this syllabus with my parent(s) and/or guardian(s) as evidenced by his/her/their signature(s) below mine.

Student Agreement:

Printed Name of Student:________________________________________

Student Signature:____________________________________________

I acknowledge that I have received, read, and understand the English II syllabus in its entirety as evidenced by my signature below. 

Parent/Guardian Agreement:

Printed Name of Parent/Guardian:________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature:__________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Email:_____________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Phone #:___________________________________________