Hello, my wonderful students!

It is killing me to not be in the classroom with you, and I am doing everything I can to make my time out as short as possible.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been feeling so hot, and my recovery is not going as smoothly as initially expected, especially by me (I wanted to be back Monday, September 28). My tentative return date is Thursday, October 22. I know that seems like a long time; it does to me, too, but I want you to remind you that everything I am having Mrs. Gofran do with you is what I would have been doing with you, more or less.

Please put your best efforts into everything you are being asked to do, so you are totally up to speed when I return. As you have probably noticed, you really aren’t having much homework at this time. Enjoy it, as it won’t continue once I’m back. Mind you, I don’t give a lot, but I do give some homework. Something you may also enjoy thinking about. I will never, ever, ever, give you homework over long weekends or vacations. I don’t want to work at those times, and I don’t believe you should have too, either.

Also, please email me with any questions, about anything. These are my lessons and my units, so I may be able to clear something up for you that Mrs. Gofran may not be sure about.

Seniors, I am sorry I haven’t answered back all of your letters of introduction. I keep plodding away at them, but I don’t always feel clear-headed enough to do school work. Rest assured, they bring me great joy, and I look forward to meeting you all in person as soon as possible.


Miss Harris


Seniors, these are a few helpful videos for your college essay

If I were in the classroom with you, I would be talking about these angles to the college essay. Since I am not with you, I highly recommend these videos to get you started and explain some of the nuances and goals of the college essay.

This one is about the writing section on the common app in general:

This one is about something you would or have change:

Lastly, this is a very important look at the goals of the “failure” essay:

There are many more videos, especially by Dr. Bernstein, that you may find helpful. Please email me with any questions or concerns you have that Mrs. Gofran can’t help you with. I am very eager to help you.


Seniors, September 17: Mapping your writing territories

Today I’m asking you to make a map out of your territories, a picture of something important to you on which you can place all of your territories in a meaningful way.

I chose an airplane since I’m learning to fly. I labeled the parts of the plane with the items from my territories list. I put my fears on the flaps because they drag me down. Issues that matter to me are on the ailerons because they give me direction. My faith and my family on the prop because they drive me.

Come up with a visual that works for you and put it in your notebook right after the territories page.




Today, I’m asking you to do the Article of the Week and join goodreads.com. Goodreads is a social networking site for readers, which all of you are.

List at least five books you’ve read
Note what you are currently reading
Friend request me
Upload a picture for your profile

While you can contact me with any question on my school email, you can also message me on goodreads. Interestingly, I will get a notification on my ipad if you message me on goodreads faster than I may see your email, so feel free to use this site.

Can’t wait to meet you all in person, but for now I will get to know you through your profile pictures and the books you are reading.


AoW–Article of the Week #1:Another side of 9/11

AoW 1

Throughout the year we will have Articles of the Week to read, write about, and discuss. These articles are from blogs, news sites, or other sources that cover topics usually current, sometimes controversial, and always relevant to our world in some way. As with all you will do in English this year, your job is to think critically, form an opinion, and articulate that opinion to others by the written and spoken word.

The link above will take you to your first Article of the Week. Every week, I will post the new AoW. While I am out, the AOW will be posted on Wednesdays, and you will have class time in the computer lab to read it and begin writing your response. When you return to the classroom the next day, you will have a discussion on the current AoW. These are often some of our best and liveliest discussions, but that only happens when everyone has prepared by reading the article and writing a thoughtful response.

Follow the guidelines below when writing your response each week:

Write your response in the back of your spiral notebook, with #1 being on the last page and moving forward with each AoW. When you write your AoW response, title it with AoW #__: then give your response a title that fits the controlling idea of your thoughts.

Your reflection on the AoW should be a personal response to anything that is in the original article. Be expressive. Let’s hear your voice. Your opinion. But be sure to support and explain anything you say. Maybe you want to share some personal stories that you are reminded of when reading the article. How does your experience connect to the AoW? Guide our understanding with a solid topic sentence and clear writing. Do not summarize. I know what is in each article, I want to know what you think, how it makes you feel, what it makes you think of, etc.

As in all work that you do in this class, be sure you are putting your best foot forward. Sound and look as intelligent and articulate as you are. Proofread your writing. Your points are only strong if they are communicated clearly. Your responses should be free of all spelling and other mechanical errors, as well as being grammatically and stylistically strong.

Your response should be approximately 150 words, in pen, and ready for class discussion on Thursday. I will read and grade the AoWs when I return, and credit will be awarded as follows:
10: Response has strong voice, thoughful reflections and NO errors.
8-9: Response is good, but there are some spelling or grammatical errors. Organization is effective.
6-7: Response has many errors in the writing and/or relies on summary instead of making a personal response.
< 7: Response was done after the due date. Have your notebook open to this competed response in class tomorrow during SSR, so the sub can stamp that it was done on time. AoWs may be done late, but only for partial credit as noted above.


English 12 Writing You

Hello wonderful seniors!

I’m enjoying reading your letters and hope to answer you all back within the next few days. While I gave you the prompt, each of your letters is different because each of you is different. This is similar to the college essay that many of you will write as you apply to schools in the very near future.You will have to use a prompt given by the university, but you will want to tell your story in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. You only get one chance to make a first impression, as they say.

To help you with those college essays, the writing assignments I’ve planned for you over the next month are designed to help you find the perfect topic and the best way to introduce you to a prospective university. Choosing what to write about is the hardest part of the process, so if you stick with me and the various writing tactics we will use, you should be ready to write the best letter for your journey. Even if you don’t need a college essay right now, I think you will find these lessons an enjoyable way to improve your writing while exploring what is important to you in life.

All of these writing workshop exercises should be completed in your spiral notebook, clearly labeled with date and title of exercise. I will grade you on timely completion of each task. If you’re absent, check for what you’ve missed with my sub, and show her your work the next day.

If at any time you have questions, you can ask Mrs. Gofran, but you can also email me, dlharris@vestal.k12.ny.us, as some of you have already begun to do.

Today’s task:Below are three videos of poems called “Where I’m From.” After each, take five minutes to LIST in your notebook memories, people, objects, and events that make up where YOU are from.


SLO/final exam grades

Well, I seem to have out-smarted myself. I have misplaced all of the code names that you created for me, so if you are concerned about your final exam grade, please shoot me an email.

Thanks for a great year. Enjoy your summer!