Welcome, students!

It is an absolute pleasure to be your teacher this year. Please scan this page for important information regarding my classes.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

believe pic

If you’re ever in need of a dose of inspiration, please scroll to the bottom of this website and click on the Daily Dose of Inspiration category where I post short video clips, poems, and age-appropriate memes. Remember that we can make it through any challenge together.

How to Be Successful in Ms. Ellis’ Classes


Although I chuckle at the meme above, please understand that while maintaining an “A” average is the best case scenario, it will be difficult to achieve if you procrastinate. If you’re not going to heed my warning, listen to some of the greats.

“You may delay, but time will not.”- Benjamin Franklin

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”- Abraham Lincoln

Complete our Reading Assignments

Each day following in-class reading there may be a Harkness discussion, a pop quiz, an annotation check, or a variety of written assignments. Be sure to note any lingering questions you have regarding the text. It is possible that your peers could have the same question.

How to Annotate Correctly

annotation picture 1.png
Lauren Ciersky. “How to Annotate a Text (Mark It Up). Accessed February 2017.

Read this blog post by Peter Stephens. As this is his personal blog, note that by my hyperlinked suggestion, I am not condoning or endorsing Stephens’ other blog posts; nonetheless, his piece on annotations is very thorough–> Mr. Stephens’ post titled “How to mark a book.”

Avoid Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

Need another example?

Please print and sign Ms. Ellis’ Plagiarism Contract. Submit it at the beginning of the following class period. 

Learn and Use MLA

(Modern Language Format)

Each discipline has its own rules for documenting sources. In English Language Arts, we use the MLA format. Each written assignment or citation must adhere to MLA’s standards.

Google Docs

Microsoft Word

In-Text Citations and Works Cited Page

When in doubt, it’s always best to consult Purdue Owl. They’ve done such an amazing job of keeping up with updates to MLA citation styles.

Class Discussions

The backbone of an English course is discussion. Whether that discussion takes place in a virtual setting (i.e.- a Zoom chat, a virtual comment wall, etc.) or in class, it is incredibly important to come prepared to share your thoughts with your peers. We understand literature together, through each others’ lenses. As we build our readers and writing community together, please take a look at the Harkness method below. Its strength lies in centering the student in each discussion. Instead of students relying solely on the teacher to guide the discussion, students take a more active role.

The video below was created with teachers in mind, but I urge you to watch it in your free time as this overview of the Harkness method is inline with how you should approach participating in class discussions, whether virtual or in person. (I also find this page extremely helpful.) Note: I will, at times, provide reading questions but love to encourage students to create their own.

Creating Discussion Questions:

Follow #1-4:

  1. Write open-ended questions that are thought-provoking and clear.
    • Why is the novel, argument, poem structured in this way?
    • If the author had to choose another title for this work, what would the new title be?
    • What is the role of ____ in ____’s character development and in their self identity?
  2. As you read the assigned text, jot down at least three (3) questions you have about the reading. Bring those questions to class every single day. Note that you may have the same questions three days in a row or your questions may evolve with your reading. Your goal is to be intentional.
  3. Think on the spot.
    • Questions may arise during the conversation. Be confident and present your question to the group.
  4. Relate our readings to real-life situations or current societal debates.

Try to avoid these question types or strategies:

  1. Yes-No Questions
    • Is Nick Carraway in love with Jordan Baker?
  2. Leading questions
    • Don’t you think Daisy is a fickle character?
  3. Questions that are too simple
    • Did you enjoy the reading?
  4. Slanted questions
    • Why are politicians so corrupt?
  5. Wing it without reading or paying attention
    • Could it be that this character is like ____? (After the class just discussed how those characters were not similar).
    • Trust us. We can tell.

2 thoughts on “Classes

  1. This is a very thorough guide and provides a lot of helpful information on how to succeed in your class. I rate a 10/10


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