• Welcome to English I!

    This course is designed to prepare 9th grade English students for dual-credit English that is offered during 11th and 12th grade.  Ponder aims to equip students early for these courses; therefore, students in this course should expect extensive reading and writing that will, in turn, build their skills so they are ready for college-level coursework.


    The skills we will work on building this year include the following:

    • Reading,
    • Writing,
    • Research,
    • Organizing evidence,
    • Grammar,
    • Vocabulary, and
    • Revising and editing at the sentence and paragraph levels.


    My grade book is divided into two types of assignments:

    • Formative assignments are worth 50% of a student’s grade - this category functions to measure a student’s skill as we work on developing specific skills and is made up of class participation, quizzes, warm-ups, in-class assignments, homework, etc. An assignment may be recorded more than once depending on its importance to the course. Most assignments will only be recorded once.
    • Summative assignments are worth 50% of a student’s grade - this category functions to assess the sum of knowledge a student has on a skill we have been building upon and includes tests, essays, timed writing, and projects.


    Absence and Make-up Policy:

    The student handbook allows one day for every day absent to make-up any missing work.  It is the student’s responsibility to contact the teacher before or after school to find out what assignment(s) is missing from being absent.

    Attending an extra-curricular activity during the school day does not count as an absence and any work missed due to extra-curricular activity is due on the day you return to class.

    I will post a summary of each day’s activity along with any assignment(s) using the blog on my webpage.


    Academic Integrity

    Students who turn in work that is not completely original will receive a zero for the assignment (without the possibility of making it up) and may receive an office referral. Turning in the same answers as your friend counts as cheating. For this reason, please be very careful about letting your friends see your homework. In the case that I receive two identical or very similar assignments, both receive zeros.

    What constitutes “cheating?”

    • Unauthorized aid on a test or quiz.
    • “Working together” on daily or homework assignments – all assignments for my class must be completed individually unless I explicitly give you permission to work with a partner or in a group. If you have trouble understanding the material, you can ask me for help instead of copying your friends’ answers. If you copy from another student and change a couple of words in an attempt to disguise it, I will be even more disappointed than if you had just copied word-for-word.
    • Copying anything from another source (often the Internet) without putting it in quotations and giving a citation.
    • Copying from the Internet is not “research.” Research is the process of generating an authentic question, consulting a variety of sources that deal with that subject, and synthesizing that information into an original answer.
    • If a section of your work that’s roughly 100 words long matches, verbatim, something I can find on the Internet, you copied it. It’s not a one-in-a-million coincidence. The person from Wikipedia did not plagiarize your work. You’re not telepathic and accidentally thought exactly the same thing in the same way that someone else did. There is a 0% chance I will buy any of those excuses, and a 100% chance that I will be extremely annoyed that you are compounding your cheating with dishonesty.

     If students are caught cheating or plagiarizing, the consequences are severe, which include a grade of zero on the assignment without the option for a re-take, having the student contact the parent/guardian by phone or text and a referral to the office for repeated offenses.



    Please be aware that this class relies on technology in our day-to-day functions.  Every student will have a Google account and access to the electronic version of the HMH Into Literature textbook. Students may also use Canvas, a learning management system, and other internet resources.


    Required Reading:

    • selections from The Odyssey by Homer
    • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    • Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
    • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • selections from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
    • various other short stories, poems, short plays narrative non-fiction, and other expository texts.


     Classroom Rules and Behavior Expectations:

    1. Show up on time and prepared for class.
    2. No heads on desks - it should not even look like you are sleeping.
    3. Participate during class discussions and be respectful of the opinions and comments of every classmate.
    4. Ask questions when you are confused. I appreciate questions, and when you ask them, I know you care about your grades. “I didn’t understand” is an excuse that is never accepted on the due date.
    5. If you have questions about a major assignment, do not email me the night before it is due.  I do not check my email consistently when I am at home.



    • your school-issued Chromebook,
    • headphones or earbuds that allow you to privately listen to media,
    • wide-ruled notebook paper,
    • pencils, and
    • a folder with brads OR a 3-ring binder for handouts.


    Late Work

    It is my policy to accept only two late assignments during each nine-week grading period. The late assignment must be submitted to me at the beginning of the next class period. Any other late assignments will receive a grade of zero.



    In the event that a student fails a test, the students may redo it. I will schedule a time, before or after school, when the student will have the opportunity to retest. The student must complete the "Request to Retest" form that is available on my webpage in the left-hand column.


    Extra Credit

    I do not offer extra-credit assignments. There will be opportunities to earn bonus points on tests.



    In English I, we cover five vocabulary words per week with a quiz on Friday. Each week, we will add another five words with a quiz on Friday that will include words from all previous weeks.


    Class Policies and Procedures

    • Cell Phones - If your cell phone is visible or audible during class without permission, it will be confiscated and given to the office.
    • Desks - Do not draw on the desks. Drawing on the desks shows an enormous lack of respect for me, my classroom, and the school.
    • Tutorials - I arrive each day, usually, before 7:15 and leave around 4:30. If you need assistance, you may visit with me during either of those times. I do ask that you inform me ahead of time that you are coming in case I have other obligations and am unable to meet.
    • Start and End of Class - Each day when you arrive, I will have an assignment on the board or screen at the front of the room. When the tardy bell sounds, you should already be seated and started on the assignment. Being out of your seat will be counted as a tardy. I have a clock that is visible to everyone, and I strive to complete all class activities so that you have about a minute to prepare to leave. Do not start preparing to leave until I inform you that we are done. Yes, I am one of “those” teachers.
    • Restroom Breaks - Ponder High School has a four-minute passing period between classes. Generally, that is plenty of time to go to your locker, stop by the restroom, and arrive to class on time. My class time is very valuable, and I expect you to manage your time between classes so that you do not need to leave.
    • Tardies - My expectation is that you are seated and working when the tardy bell sounds. The first tardy results in a warning and you informing your parent(s) with a phone call or text. The second tardy results in detention, and you informing your parent(s) by a phone call or text. The third and subsequent tardies result in a referral to the office.
    • Absences - Coming to class is essential for students who want to do well in English I. You are not allowed to miss or come late to my class to make up other work or finish tests or quizzes for other classes – I, of course, would never pull you from your other classes to make up work for me. If you have an extracurricular activity that will cause you to be out of my class, please discuss that with me prior to missing class. If the activity is in any way optional (e.g. practice for a performance), my response will be that you are not allowed to miss. English I is a core academic course. We have a challenging end-of-course exam that is required for you to graduate from high school, and you need to be in class to be prepared to perform well on it.
    • Electronic Correspondence - Please, from the bottom of my English teacher’s heart, adhere to the basic rules of grammar and mechanics when you send me emails. I don’t expect you to compose a sonnet asking for help with your homework, but when I see an email you have sent with zero capital letters, a little part of my soul withers. I do not accept emailed homework assignments (I would not be able to keep on top of my email if I did).


     Work Load

    I work hard in this class, and I expect you to work hard in this class. Students will have short grammar homework each day. If you do not complete other assignments during the period, you are expected to complete it before returning to class the following day.


    Contact Information

    You may email me at rhaynes@ponderisd.net if you have a question or concern about the class or your grade. I think it is usually best for you, the student, to initiate contact with me rather than asking your parent to do it. (Parents are always welcome to contact me, but learning to talk with your teachers is an important life skill).