Banned Books

Teacher: Katie Schofield
Extra Help:
Room 304, Tuesdays from 3-4 or by appointment

Banned Books Course Overview, Spring 2015


“People ban books because they can’t ban thoughts.” -Unknown


One person has the power to ban a book enjoyed by millions of people.  A library patron, parent, or school board can take away your “freedom to read.” Hundreds of books have been called offensive or questionable by individuals and communities, decried as containing “inappropriate content” or “questionable language,” and subsequently banned from schools or libraries.  And those are exactly the books we’re going to read.


Why do banned books matter? Writers, teachers, or libraries may choose to play it safe, and not include themes or language with potentially controversial qualities.   Banned books include literary classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, and not-so classics, like Captain Underpants.  Would these authors have restricted their storytelling knowing that it may have prevented their works from being read? What are the other consequences?  Prepare to question why books are banned, who decides what we have the right to read, and if our reading freedom can be taken away.  Through the lens of banned books, we will explore the power of literature, the fear it can provoke, the value and restriction of freedom, and what it means for books and the characters inside those books to be free.


Essential Questions:


Why are books challenged or banned?

What is freedom?

  [What does it mean to be free? Who is truly free?  Who deserves freedom?]

What is power?

  [Who has power? How is literature powerful?]


Works we will read:


Selected Children’s Literature

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Choose your own banned book


Coursework will include:

Nightly reading or writing assignments

In-class writing responses, reflections, and small projects

Group work

At least two Socratic Seminars

Children’s Literature group project

To Kill a Mockingbird mapping project (using evidence from the text creating a creative map of Maycomb county and reflection)

To Kill a Mockingbird editorial

At least one formal (persuasive) paper/editorial

Final Assessment: Independent project to select your own banned book to study, explore, and present



Assessments will be graded based on the 4 English strands:

Composition (30%): Citing evidence, creating a thesis or argument, expressing ideas persuasively, organization and structure, using proper conventions, spelling and vocabulary, adapting writing for different contexts, reflecting, summarizing and connecting in writing

Analysis (35%): Determining theme, analyzing theme’s development, analyzing character development, analyzing words and vocabulary in the text, reflecting on essential questions using the text, using evidence to form an opinion/argument

Oral Expression (10%): Participating frequently and orally in class discussions and small group discussions, effectively presenting major assessments, posing and responding to others in conversation and debate

Work Habits (25%): Completing all assignments on time, from homework to final assessments, effort and diligence in writing and reading in class and at home, using time effectively, increasing writing stamina and writing over extended time frames, overcoming challenges



While this course challenges all students to think critically about the essential questions and read rigorous texts, the honors option allows students to go even deeper.  Honors students will:

n  Complete extension options on in-class or at home assignments

n  Display work/present at exhibition night 

n  Using three outside sources to write an essay explaining an answer to the first essential question: Why are books challenged or banned?

n  Write two editorials (instead of one) for the final project

n  Select a more challenging text for the final project (from a list provided by Ms. Schofield)

n  Maintain a grade of 80% or higher in all strand areas as well as act as a consistent classroom leader to qualify.  If work is completed successfully you will get honors credit.



All major projects, with the exception of the final project, are eligible for revision.  Work must be handed in on time to be eligible.  After receiving back your project with comments, you have two weeks to: 1) meet with me outside of class to discuss your goals for revision and 2) revise/edit your work incorporating the expectations from our conversation.  Revision is an excellent opportunity to grow as an English student.  Do not feel limited to revising work after it is handed in. I encourage you to constantly revise as you work, and check in with me throughout the semester.

POLICIES (see student handbook for extended explanations):


Class Expectations

In order for this course to be a meaningful experience for all of us, please:


·                 Come on time and prepared.  Always bring your writing materials/book.

·                 Listen to others in class with engagement and respect.  Be kind.

·                 Don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts or writing!

·                 Ask for help when you need it.

·                 Complete assignments on time and with effort.

·                 Do NOT use phones or electronics in class (except with teacher permission or special arrangement).  If I see one, you will take it to Tina’s office.


Students are encouraged (but not required!) to bring their own computers to class when given notice in order to guarantee consistent technology access. 


Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is claiming someone else’s words or ideas as your own. That means:

-       copying/ pasting something from the internet, another source, or another student without quote marks and citation

·                 paraphrasing something from any source without citation

·                 submitting work that has already been submitted in another class


When in doubt, CITE!  If it’s in the gray area, it IS plagiarism.   You will not receive credit for plagiarized work.  For more information on the Academic Honesty policy, please refer to the student handbook.  Please know that I must take cases of plagiarism to Dr. Arnold with the first offense.


Late Work Policy/Extra Credit Policy

In order for an assignment to be eligible for revision and to receive full credit, it must be turned in on time.   If you need an extension, you must communicate with me at least 24 hours in advance of the class when the assignment is due. 


Late work is accepted up to two weeks after the due date, but the grade will suffer.  You have one week to hand in work with only a work habits penalty and two weeks to receive credit in any strands.


At the end of the semester the lowest work habits grade (homework/classwork assignment) is dropped to account for emergency circumstances.   There is no extra credit- please take advantage of revision opportunities.


Saving Work for Exhibition Night and POLs

You may request permission to use any of the major pieces of writing from the course during Exhibition Night, POLs, and digital portfolios.  However, I will only approve work for exhibition night or POLs if you bring me the original version with the original rubric and notes.  Do not just save it on the computer.  If you think that one day in the future you may ask me for a college rec, please continue to save any work with my comments so that I can write about your exceptional work.


Extra Help

Please come see me for extra help! I am available on Tuesday afternoons from 3-4 pm or by appointment.  Contact me at