Creative Writing 

South High School -- Spring 2003

Ms. Margaret Ogilvie

Room 252
Voicemail: 764-3203 -- Mailbox 21467


Welcome Students and Parents:

I'm happy to be returning to South for my second year, and especially to be teaching in the school's culturally-divers environment, which I truly value.  Previously, I have taught both high school and middle school language arts and journalism in Denver Public Schools as well as elsewhere in Colorado and in California.  I've also worked as a human resources counselor and a a professional journalist.  As someone who's always loved to write, I'm very much looking forward to teaching this course.  I hope it will be a fun and valuable experience for my students, too!

This is the second half of a two-semester course.  We will study characteristics and techniques of various types of writing, such as poetry, the sketch, short story, media scripts, and essays.  Emphasis in the class will be on writing as much as possible, to develop writing potential and expressiveness without overemphasis on mechanical perfection.  The objective is to use language that is vivid and passionate, as well as accurate.  Specifically, students will: recognize the value of words in description, produce a given form of writing based on instructions, demonstrate creativity through use of literary techniques and devices, write clear, concise and grammatically-correct paragraphs, recognize various literary genres and forms of writing, evaluate literary work, edit their own and peer products, and begin to compile portfolios of original work.

We will not rely on a specific textbook, but will rely on selections from various literary anthologies and other printed and visual materials for inspiration and example.  For example, materials may include visual arts, musical recordings, found objects, and potentially anything else that might stimulate discussion or imaginative response.

I hope that one benefit of the course for most students will be an increased awareness of their environment and responses to it, through development of their creative imaginations.  We will utilize spontaneous activities and impromptu writing opportunities, as well as "cross-discipline" exercises involving the arts.  I hope that students will learn to think quickly, to respond openly to unexpected questions, and to transpose experience into words that produce vivid description.

Academic standards are consistent throughout the district, but I recognize that each student has unique interests, abilities, and learning styles.  Behavioral expectations are based on respect for each other and for school property.  I believe that mutual respect and appreciation for each other's viewpoints and writing styles will help us enjoy the class more.

Classroom expectations are:

1. Attend regularly and be on time. (Please review policies in student handbook.)  

South's tardy policy allows three unexcused tardies, at which time parents are notified.  The fourth tardy is unexcused regardless of circumstance, resulting in in-school suspension and parent conference. The fifth tardy results in out-of-school suspension and parent conference before readmission.

South's attendance policy requires a report to parents after the second unexcused absence and to the counselor after the third.  The fourth time results in in-school suspension and parent conference; the fifth time requires student and parent to appear before the appeal board to avoid failing the course.

2. Bring supplies every day.  These are:  Three-ring notebook with a section for English, and notebook paper; spiral notebook; dark ink pen.  (Don't use light ink.)

3. Passes out of  room limited to three per semester. (Rest room only, except in emergencies)

4. No late homework allowed without written parental excuse.  Make-up work after absence: Due next class meeting after return, if one-day absence. (If longer, proportionate time will be given.)  There will be no credit for make-up work related to unexcused absences.

5. No food or drinks allowed in classroom, other than bottled water. (Gum only if not seen or heard.)

Referral ladder for violation of expectations:

1. Conference with teacher (warning, possibly written plan for student to improve)

2. Referral to counselor (may involve parent conference and/or in-school suspension

3. Referral to Dean of Students (teacher may go immediately to this level is the student must be removed from school immediately; automatic in-house suspension)

4. Out-of-school suspension (conferences with parents necessary)

Grading Scale (based on school-wide standard):

100-93   A
92-84     B
83-72     C
71-65     D
64-0       F

Basis for Grades: Generally one-third classwork, one-third homework, one-third quizzes and tests.  Participation is not a separate category, but positive attitude and effort always result in better performance.  Good attendance also is a very important factor.

Ms. Ogilvie's Syllabus Page

The English Faculty Page

The Reading and Writing Center Page