The English program at Gunn High School focuses on the traditional concerns of the discipline—literature, composition, language, and grammar. Literature serves as a resource for both the study of ideas, culture, and values, and the development of composition skills. The study of composition and writing emphasizes the art and the craft, the organization and the support, and the clear and effective use of language in its written forms. Vocabulary, language, and grammar studies are integrated with the study of literature and composition.
The Gunn English program consists of a four-year required sequence of both required and elective semester-long courses designed to meet students’ needs in literature, composition, and language study at levels appropriate to their individual skills and abilities in English. The complete sequence includes required courses in American, World, Contemporary, and Western Literatures, as well as in communication skills and literary genres.
- MLA Style: The Nuts and Bolts
- Late work policy
- MLA Works Cited Page
- Characteristics of Advanced Students: WRAP
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What is MLA style?
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used for formatting and documenting research papers within the humanities field. Although generally simpler and more concise than other documentation styles, MLA style shares with most others its central feature: parenthetical citations keyed to a works-cited list. If you learn MLA style at an early stage in your school career, you will probably have little difficulty in adapting to other styles.
Although we don’t generally think of English papers as research papers, the analysis of literature does involve primary research: the study of a subject (e.g., a novel or play) through firsthand investigation. A literary analysis is essentially an argument that your interpretation of a literary work is supported by evidence from the text itself.
What are the basic rules for formatting my papers?
- Double-space the text of your paper, and use a standard twelve-point font.
- Set the margins of your document to one inch on all sides.
- Indent the first line of paragraphs a half-inch from the left margin.
- Italicize the titles of longer works (e.g., books, films, and plays); put the titles of shorter works (e.g., short stories and poems) in quotation marks.
How do I format the first page of my papers?
- In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
- Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
- Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play.
- Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
- Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: You may omit your last name/page number header on the first page of your paper)
The following is an example of the top of the first page of a paper in MLA style:
How do I select quotations to cite in my papers?
When writing about a literary work, citing evidence from the text itself is essential in order to prove your thesis. However, be sure to select quotations carefully; use only those passages that allow you to analyze the text and that work to support your arguments. Avoid quotations that simply describe or summarize the plot of the literary work; assume that your reader is already familiar with the work.
How do I introduce a quotation?
Be sure to briefly explain the context of your evidence before introducing the quotation - not afterward. To explain the context, provide the answers to questions such as these: Who is speaking? To whom is he or she speaking? What is happening, when is it happening, and/or where are the characters while they are speaking?
Example: While speaking with Susan at the Amphitheatre, Henchard says, "These things, as well as the dread of the girl discovering our disgrace, make it necessary to act with extreme caution" (83). Important Note: Use the literary present tense throughout your essay (e.g., "Henchard says"; not "Henchard said").
What punctuation do I use when introducing quotations?
If you weave the quotation into your own sentence, you shouldn't need any punctuation before the quoted material, and you do not need to begin the quotation with a capital letter.
Example: Amy explains to Sethe her belief that "velvet is like the world was just born" (33).
Be sure to use a comma before a direct "spoken" quotation, and begin the quotation with a capital letter.
Example: Amy says, "Well, Lu, velvet is like the world was just born" (33).
If you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, place a colon before the quoted material, and begin the quotation with a capital letter.
Example: Amy explains to Sethe the significance of velvet: "Well, Lu, velvet is like the world was just born" (33).
How do I format and punctuate quotations with in-text citations?
If the passage that you are quoting ends with a period, comma, or semicolon, you must omit it from inside your quotation marks; however, you must leave a question mark or exclamation point inside the quotation marks (to stay true to the meaning of the quotation). After the closing quotation mark, place the page number in parentheses (just use the number; do not use "page," "pg.," or "p."). There is no need to include the author's name in the citation unless you are writing about more than one literary work or if the author's name has not been previously mentioned in your paper. In those cases, you must place the author's last name before the page number without placing a comma in between. To end your sentence, be sure to add a period after the parenthetical citation (even if you have a question mark or exclamation mark inside your quotation marks).
Jem suggests that if Dill wants to get himself killed, then all he needs to do is "go up and knock on the front door" (16).
When speaking with Nick about the birth of her daughter, Daisy reveals her disillusionment: "Listen, Nick; let me tell you what I said when she was born. Would you like to hear?" (21).
How do I format and punctuate long quotations?
If a quotation is more than four typed lines of prose or more than three typed lines of poetry, indent the entire quotation in block form (ten spaces or one inch from the left margin). Do not use quotation marks, and place the period before the parenthetical page reference. Do not use another period after the page reference. Double-space the passage just as the body of your essay is double-spaced. Generally, this type of quotation is introduced by a complete sentence followed by a colon.
At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and the other boys realize the horror of their actions:
The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)
How do I introduce my analysis?
Be sure to provide your analysis after the quotation. Your analysis should provide an insightful interpretation or explanation that demonstrates how the evidence supports your argument. Generally, you should have at least twice as much analysis as evidence.
Note: Do not write, "In this quotation . . ." or "This quotation shows . . ."; you should assume that your reader knows that you are discussing quotations from the text.
How do I remove unnecessary portions of a quotation?
Do not burden your reader with unnecessarily lengthy quotations. Use ellipsis points (i.e., three periods, each preceded and followed by a space [ . . . ]) to indicate that you have removed portions of the passage not relevant to your point.
Example: Hamlet tells Ophelia, "You jig, you amble, and you lisp, . . . and make your wantonness your ignorance" (3.1.140-142).
How do I change or substitute material within a quotation?
Use brackets when you change or substitute material within your quotation for clarity or proper sentence structure. For example, you might need to replace a lower case letter with a capital letter, change the verb tense, substitute a character's name for a pronoun, etc.
Note: You may alter the form, but never alter the meaning of the text. Be sure to use this technique sparingly, so that you do not make the evidence appear specious.
Example: "[S]he [comes] forth into the sunshine, which, falling on all alike, [seems], to her sick and morbid heart, as if meant for no other purpose than to reveal the scarlet letter on her breast" (55).
How do I format a quotation within a quotation?
Use single quotation marks to punctuate a quotation within a quotation.
Example: After his interview with Hester, Dimmesdale sinks into self-doubt: "'Have I then sold myself,' [thinks] the minister, 'to the fiend whom . . . this velveted old hag has chosen for her prince and master!'" (237).
How do I quote a common phrase?
Use double quotation marks if you are quoting a common or frequently used phrase (from within or outside of the text); however, you do not need to cite a page number. As is true whenever there is no parenthetical citation, be sure to place commas and periods inside the quotation marks.
Examples: Dr. Manette has been "recalled to life," but nothing can save Carton.
How do I quote from plays and poetry?
When quoting from plays, cite the act, scene, and line (if your edition doesn't provide line numbers, use the page number instead). For short quotations of verse (in plays or poetry), use a slash ( / ) preceded and followed by a space, to show where each new line of verse begins. For poetry, cite the line numbers only.
Example: When she discovers Romeo's identity, Juliet exclaims, "My only love, sprung from my only hate! / Too early seen unknown, and known too late!" (1.5.22).
Adapted from the following sources: (1) Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.). New York: MLA, 2009. Print; (2) The Purdue OWL. 10 May 2006. Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Web. 20 July 2012.
Please note: This document ought to be read as a whole, not necessarily as individual bullet points.
Turning In Assignments
All assignments should be printed and ready to be turned in at the start of class. Assignments not ready at the start of class will be considered late.
If the teacher chooses to have assignments submitted electronically, assignments will need to be turned in by the time and date outlined by the teacher.
Assignments should be turned in to a teacher directly. Assignments not directly given to a teacher should be turned in to the teacher's box in either the Main Office or English Office. In such a circumstance, a student will be expected to email the teacher about where and when the assignment was turned in.
We encourage students to let teachers know ahead of time if they’ll be missing class for a field trip or doctor’s appointment.
Late assignments will lose 10% credit per class day.
Late assignments will be marked as incomplete. After two weeks, any late assignment that is still missing will automatically be marked as a failing grade.
The last day to turn in late assignments will be the Friday before finals week. Finals are due on the day of the final.
Students are responsible for checking teacher’s online grade book or checking with the teacher to find out what assignments were missed.
Prearranged absence: Students are responsible for informing teacher and collecting materials / assignments before absence. Assignment(s) will be due according to prior arrangement with teacher.
Assignments during absence: Students will have the same number of class days of absence to complete the assignments given.
Long-term assignments (projects/essays) must be turned in on the day of return, or on a date agreed to by the teacher.
Students may not make up assignments due to an unexcused absence/cut.
Tests, Quizzes, In-Class Essays, Speeches, Presentations, and Projects
Students who miss a test, quiz, in-class essay, speech, presentation and/or project because of an excused absence will have one week after their return to make up the assignment without penalty.
Students are responsible for scheduling the make-up with the teacher’s approval.
Students whose absence is not excused on the day of a test or in-class essay will not be eligible for a make-up.
Work is expected to be turned in on time. In exceptional cases when extended time may be needed, the extension policy follows.
Extensions may be granted to students on a limited basis depending on individual circumstances and teacher discretion. The extension request must be approved by the teacher and made more than 24 hours before the assignment is due.
Extension requests made fewer than 24 hours before an assignment is due must be made through an email by a student’s parent or guardian.
According to MLA style, you must have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. All entries in the Works Cited page must correspond to the works cited in your main text.
- Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper. It should have the same one-inch margins and last name, page number header as the rest of your paper.
- Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page.
- Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
- Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations five spaces so that you create a hanging indentation.
- Capitalize each word in the titles of articles, books, etc., but do not capitalize an article (e.g., the, an), preposition (e.g., with, on), or conjunction (e.g., and, or) unless it is the first word of the title or subtitle: Gone with the Wind, The Art of War, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
- Use italics (instead of underlining) for titles of larger works (e.g., books, magazines) and quotation marks for titles of shorter works (e.g., poems, articles).
- Entries are listed alphabetically by the author's last name (or, for entire edited collections, editor names). An author’s name is written last name first; middle names or middle initials follow the first name (e.g., Wallace, David Foster).
- For every entry, you must determine the Medium of Publication. Most entries will likely be listed as Print or Web sources, but other possibilities may include Film, CDROM, or DVD.
- You are no longer required to provide URLs for Web entries. However, if your instructor or publisher insists on them, include them in angle brackets after the entry and end with a period. For long URLs, break lines only at slashes.
- If you are citing an article or a publication that was originally issued in print form but that you retrieved from an online database, you should type the online database name in italics. You do not need to provide subscription information in addition to the database name.
Advanced students’ writing is confident, purposeful, coherent, and focused, clearly communicating the writer’s knowledge, values, and insights. The writing is adapted to its audience, purpose, and subject. It establishes an appropriate tone and uses language effectively to support its ideas with relevant reasons and examples, employing a variety of sentence structures and exhibiting good control of such conventions as grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
Advanced students are confident and willing to take risks as they explore the meaning of a text. They are open to considering and developing new ideas about a text, revising interpretations as they explore complexities that expand possible meanings. They connect ideas developed in the reading experience to their own experiences and to the world at large.
Advanced students are highly motivated by genuine intellectual curiosity, by challenge, and by the desire to perform at a consistently high level. They have well-developed interpersonal skills evident in such things as respect for others and a willingness to listen, respect for diversity, and effective collaboration with their classmates.
Advanced students attend class regularly and punctually and have organizational and time-management skills that enable them to meet deadlines. They make regular, significant contributions to class discussions and work productively in group activities.