Mirrors & Masks: Literature of the Self

Teacher:Tasha Staples
Extra Help:Mondays 3pm-4pm

Course Documents

Mirrors and Masks: Literature of the Self

Course Syllabus

Ms. Staples - tstaples@innovationcharter.org

Extra Help: Mondays 3-4pm or by appointment

Course Overview:

In this class, we will explore various aspects of human nature while reading entertaining literary works.  We will employ multiple strategies to improve basic reading and writing skills, while strengthening critical thinking and self-reflection skills. While this class will focus on many skills related to academic behavior, we will also work on developing self-confidence and self-awareness. This course will require reading high-interest texts, writing both formally and informally, working in groups, and delivering polished presentations.

This is a Foundations course, with the goal of improving fundamental skills that are essential to students’ future success in school. As skills and confidence improve, the work will become more rigorous, allowing students to flourish in subsequent classes.

Essential Questions:

  • What is justice?

  • How do we persuade another?

  • Is human nature inherently good or evil?

Assessment and Strands:



Students are asked to read and understand “texts” in a variety of genres and media. All analysis begins with comprehension: a solid understanding of facts, ideas and themes. Students build deeper and more complex analysis by looking carefully at contexts, by drawing on their own personal experience, and by developing their understanding of genre and conventions.



First and foremost, students work to write with clarity and coherence, showing an understanding and a respect for their readers. Furthermore, students work to express their ideas in a range of writing pieces. In all their works, students pay close attention to content, structure and convention.

Oral Expression


Throughout English class, students must express their ideas orally - in formal and informal discussions, in debates, in presentations, and even through acting. Oral Expression assessments ask students to speak clearly and thoughtfully, and to listen closely to the ideas of others. Students are expected to demonstrate respect, poise, and clarity in the way they address their peers and teachers in both formal and informal settings.

Work Habits


The Work Habits strand reflects the effort students put into completing homework, reading for reading assignments, studying regularly, and working in class. In English, we put special emphasis on reading thoroughly and consistently and on working hard throughout the writing process, including in brainstorming, planning, and revising stages.



1. Disrespect towards other classmates

2. Speaking over each other

3. Students must demonstrate a willingness to push themselves/try new things


Late Work

Students are expected to turn in assignments on the day the assignment is due.

If students would like an extension, they should ask for the extension at least 1 day (24 hours) before the due date. For example, if an assignment is due on Monday, the student should ask for an extension by the preceding Saturday. If the student has not been granted permission by the teacher, either verbally or digitally, then the extension will not be granted. The student will be given full credit for the assignment if granted an extension. Extensions will not be granted the last two weeks of the semester.

Late/make-up assignments must be submitted within 7 calendar days (1 week) from the original due date. Late assignments submitted before the 7 day window will receive a lower grade in the Work Habits strand (one letter grade lost for each day late) but fully assessed in all other strands. Late assignments submitted after the 7 day window will receive a zero in all strands.

“Catching up” on Work when Absent

When absent, it is the student’s responsibility to get “caught up” on the work that they missed.

All class PowerPoints (slides) will be posted in the shared folder on Google Drive. When absent, the student is responsible for:

1. Checking all of the PowerPoints of the day(s) that he/she missed

2. Getting any notes missed, and

3. Asking in class for any worksheets/documents that were missed.

If the student fails to catch up on the work missed, it will be considered late.


Major assignments/writing pieces will need to be printed and digital copies will not be accepted. The class will be given at least 3 days notice when an assignment needs to be printed.


Students are expected to come to class prepared and on time with a pen/pencil, any homework, their English binder, their supplied English notebook, and plenty of loose leaf paper. Students are also encouraged to bring their laptops to class.

Revision Policy

Revision is one of the most important parts of any writing piece; therefore, all assignments in this course should be revised… and often!  Different, however, are additional revisions for final assignments. Specific arrangements must be made with the teacher for additional revisions, and no revisions will be accepted during the last two weeks of the semester.  

Academic Integrity

Cheating and plagiarism are strictly prohibited. If students are caught cheating or intentionally passing off another’s work as their own they will receive a failing grade for the assignment and parents will be contacted.

Cell phones

There may be some times when cell phones are permitted, but the student must ask the teacher permission to have the cell phone out. If the cell phone is out and the student has not asked permission, the student will be asked to bring the cell phone to the office.

Overview of Units:

Each unit will have a variety of daily assignments, including journal entries, grammar/conventions practice, and short writing assignments.

Unit One:  

Readings: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Possible major assignments: Persuasive letter, essay, board game

Unit Two:

Readings: Independent reading unit

Possible major assignments: Book review

Digital Portfolio

At least one major assignment from this course must be uploaded to your digital portfolio with an Introduction and Reflection in order to receive credit for the course.


Each of the following requirements must be completed in order to earn Honors credit in this course.

  • Demonstrate qualities that should be expected of an honors student

  • Complete the honors version of the major assignments

Extra Credit

Extra credit will not be offered in this course.  Students will have opportunities to revise certain assignments and tests, but additional opportunities for credit will not be available.