Departmental Changes for 2013-14

As our year winds to a close, we wish to highlight some of the changes to our curricular offerings scheduled to take effect at the beginning of next year.

Introduction of the Sophomore-Year Online Vocabulary Text

Our biggest project of the summer is to create an online vocabulary text for our sophomores, available as an iPad app through Exploros, similar to the one that we created this year for our freshmen. Our goals are to introduce some elements that had previously been unavailable, such as polling and sketching responses, and to have the textbook fully ready for the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

Implementation of our New Four-Year Writing Expectations

We are currently putting the finishing touches on a more unified set of expectations for what kinds of writing tasks all BHS students are expected to complete over their four-year education. Our webpage will reflect the new curricula, which will govern how every English teacher approaches expository writing, regardless of the level of the class.

Reading & Writing Lab is On Hold

Our efforts to create a Reading & Writing Lab, where students can go to get assistance with their English classes has hit a snag and will not be able to run for the 2013-14 school year. Our goal is to iron out the problems with this program before it launches, and have it fully ready for 2014-15.

Reassessment of Core Texts Across All Four Years

At the beginning of the school year, we will spend some time reviewing our BHS canon of novels and plays that are taught to our four mandatory courses. We expect to introduce some books, retire some other ones, and shuffle around which books get taught during which years.

Elimination of American Literature Term Paper Graduation Requirement

Very little will change in how the American Literature (grade 11) term paper will run or will be graded, but effective next year, the completion of the term paper will no longer be a BHS graduation requirement.

Restructuring of Journalism and Media Electives

Our Journalism course will be taught by Ms. Graham next year, and she will spend some time this summer restructuring how that class will run, including the return of a printed copy of The Devil’s Advocate, the BHS school newspaper. And due to the departure of Mr. Calvin from the English Department, Ms. Coppola and Mrs. Ford will work this summer to create a new direction for our Media Production classes.

Elimination of Expository Writing & Fundamentals of Writing Electives

Starting in 2013-14, we will no longer offer the Expository Writing and Fundamentals of Writing electives.

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A Farewell to Ms. Driscoll, Mr. Calvin

The English Department will be diminished by two members next year, as Ms. Driscoll will be moving back to her native Canada over the summer, and Mr. Calvin will remain at the school, but will transition  completely into a tech. position starting next year. We wish both of our colleagues the best, and we will miss you!

Their positions will be filled by Mrs. Crossman, Mrs. Ford, and Ms. Graham, all of whom will return to full-time positions next year.

Golden Boy – An Update

A few people had asked about the film that Ms. Sullivan showed during her presentation for Golden Boy – she kindly added the following:

Also, on Thursday, at 7:00 PM, Ms. Sullivan will be presenting her book at Porter Square Books in Cambridge. Find details HERE.

Word Wealth – 1930(?)-2013 – Requiescat in Pace

As the sophomores prepare for their finals, which begin tomorrow, we wished to take a moment and bid farewell to Word Wealth, the quirky, slightly outdated, and religiously tinted vocabulary textbook that Burlington High School has been using for as long as anyone can remember.

By September, we will have completed our second year’s component of our online vocabulary textbook, which will mean that Word Wealth will be a fading memory. Our remaining copies will likely be donated to a school in Liberia, as we did with much of our overstock earlier this year. So as a farewell, we would like to present a slideshow of some of the best of the orange-shaded drawings and random photographs that adorn Word Wealth’s pages.

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June 13 Book Awards – Congratulations!

On June 13th, BHS held its annual Book Awards Ceremony, where select BHS students were given awards for standing out in our various departments. The English Department is proud of the five winners of our departmental awards this year.

The 21st Century Book Awards are given out each year to one student in each grade who has shown the greatest improvement in his or her English class. This year’s winners were:
Class of 2013: Wynn Wiggins
Class of 2014: Jonathan Garcia
Class of 2015: Jack O’Sullivan
Class of 2016: Kailey Sparks

And the Brown Book Award goes out annually to a student who shows excellent verbal and written skills. This year’s winner was Dora Kadish

Congratulations to our five winners, and to all other recipients of the BHS Book Awards!

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We have also ordered a plaque to be put up in the English hallway to commemorate the winners of both of our awards. The 21st Century Book Award plaque is being finished, but here’s a sneak peek at the Brown Book Award plaque.
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Ms. Sullivan Presents Golden Boy, her Debut Novel, to BHS

On Tuesday, June 18, on the last day before finals, BHS Foreign Language teacher Tara Sullivan presented her debut novel, Golden Boy – a young-adult novel about a Tanzanian boy who is being targeted for his albino skin by local witch doctors – to the English classes in the Fogelberg Auditorium. Each period was able to hear a brief explanation of the inspiration for the novel, about the research that Ms. Sullivan did in Tanzania, and about the laborious (but definitely rewarding) process of taking a novel from an idea to a completed work.

More detail can be found in Emma Jones’s article in the Devil’s Advocate, which can be found HERE

If you are interested in picking up a copy of the novel, see Ms. Sullivan before the end of the year! She has copies available for $11, which is a great discount from the standard cost for a new hardcover, and you can find her in the foreign language hall. If you have read the novel, or are currently reading it, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section of this page!

Congratulations Ms. Sullivan! The English Department is very excited for you!

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Dora Kadish Wins 2013 Ruth Berrien Fox Award for Poetry

We are very excited to announce that Dora Kadish (Class of 2014) has just been announced as the winner of the 2013 Ruth Berrien Fox Award, an annual poetry contest which is open for all high school students in Massachusetts. This contest has been held by the New England Poetry Club, in connection with the Longfellow National Historical Site in Cambridge, for the past six years, and Ms. Kadish marks the first time a Burlington student has been recognized for her submissions. Ms. Kadish will surely be pleased to know that the New England Poetry Club currently has Seamus Heaney, X. J. Kennedy, Derek Walcott and Helen Vendler on its contest consulting staff, so there is a chance that her work has now been read by some true literary giants. Her award carries with it a $100 prize. Congratulations, Dora! And now, we proudly present her winning poem, The Price For Eyes.

The Price for Eyes
by Dora Kadish

You can only look forward.
But that’s because you don’t have eyes in the back of your head.
Aren’t you glad you don’t?
Aren’t you glad you don’t have to constantly stare at your mistakes?
Live in the moments of embarrassment
Of stupid choices
Of those depressing, dark times
When your smile would never quite reach your eyes.
So why do we find ourselves turning around so often,
Staring our memories in the face?
Why are we so intent on
figuring out why we are the way we are?
Why not turn our eyes in the proper direction
And use them for what they were designed?
To look ahead!

Good Collection of Free Public Domain eBooks

Mr. Calvin has found a great resource for free eBooks, including TWO editions of The Great Gatsby. We have compiled a decent list of eBook versions of the core texts that we teach at BHS (check it our HERE), but if you wish to branch out, check out Mr. Calvin’s recommendation at FEEDBOOKS (the link goes to their free classics page, but browse around. Lots of good material.)