Independent Honors English (11-12)

Unit 1: August 19-October 7

You have approximately seven weeks to:

  • write four authorship reviews in one shared Google Doc (share with me after you finish the first review)
  • read four books and take notes on them
  • write a 4-5 page paper on Searching and Survival as a collective theme (submitted by Oct. 1)
  • take a unit test (submitted by Oct. 7)

I suggest you take notes on thematic scenes and dialogue as you read each book so you have some reference points already in place when you start your paper. Also, your unit test will be open notes, so it would be helpful to jot down characters, major plot points, or anything that sticks out to you as important to the overall story.

If you hit any road bumps along the way, be in touch! If you want to submit an outline or rough draft prior to turning in your final paper, be sure you get it to me well before Oct. 1 so I have enough turn-around time.

Don’t forgetLife of Pi is a carryover book for Unit 2. While you take notes on themes of Searching and Survival, take notes on themes of Religion and Morality too!

Plan to meet on Zoom Thursday, October 6, at 11 a.m. to talk about the books!


Please read through this page carefully.

Instead of weekly reading assignments and homework, this class is broken down into units according to literary themes. For each unit, you’ll read a collection of books, essays, and stories that share a similar theme and complete work within a specific time frame. You will self-pace your work within that time frame, so as long as you meet the deadlines, it doesn’t matter to me what book you read first or how long it takes you to read it.

Each unit has four main elements to complete by the deadline:

  1. Authorship Review: Before starting each book, you will do some independent research on who the author is, what motivated him/her to write the novel you’re reading, and share any other interesting information you discover about the author. Some authors will have tons of information while others will be sparse. It will be up to you to decide what you think is most important about each other. Each review should be between 300 and 500 words, depending on the popularity and literary impact of the author. Cite your sources. Please note that this will be one document you’ll add to throughout the year. Click here to see an example of what I’m looking for.
  2. Thematic Papers: Each paper should examine how the assigned theme is explored in each work. Include specific examples from the books/stories to support your answers. Each paper should be a minimum of 1,200 words and in MLA format. I will not require outlines or rough drafts, but I’m happy to help you through that process if you prefer. Just be in touch prior to the deadline if you have questions or want me to review your work before turning it in for a grade.
  3. Unit Tests: There will be an online test following each unit that encompasses questions on plot points, literary elements, and character development. Any notes you take while reading the books may be used on the tests.
  4. Zoom Conversations: Since we aren’t meeting in a classroom each week, we’ll meet on Zoom on Aug. 18, Oct. 6, and Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. so we can talk about the books and prepare for the next unit. Please come prepared to talk about what you read.

Fall 2021

Aug. 19-Oct. 7
Unit 1: Searching and Survival
Night by Elie Wiesel
Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson
One Second After by William Forstchen 
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Oct. 21-Dec. 16
Unit 2: Religion and Morality
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk KiddThe Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

Spring 2022

Jan. 13-March 10
Unit 3: Coming of Age and Identity
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
American Born Chinese by Gene Lang (graphic novel)

March 24-May 5
Unit 4: Humor and Absurdity
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
The Comedy of Errors (No Fear Shakespeare)

For a printable version, click here.

You are in this class because you are capable of completing work without a lot of external pressure. I am always available to you, but I will not contact you on a weekly basis to make sure you’re doing your work.

Academic Requirements: Students should be able to do the following things without help: 1) write a paper in MLA format, 2) extract main ideas from a novel, 3) identify common literary elements and devices being used in the text, and 4) complete homework assignments without prompting.