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 the Nightly Reading Assignments

Each day following nightly 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. If you want to make an “A” on the random annotation checks, please read 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

Harkness Discussions

The Harkness discussion method is essential to fully comprehend the texts we peruse in class.  Many, however, cringe at the task of creating interesting discussion questions.

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 what I am looking for when I grade our own discussions. (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 Harkness 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 her/his self identity?
  2. Come prepared with at least three (3) prepared questions
  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.

Just Say No:

  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).



2 thoughts on “Classes

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