English Department Handbook


DEPARTMENT POLICIES Updated September 2018

There are two basic aims of senior high school English Language Arts. One aim is to encourage, in students, an understanding and appreciation of the significance and artistry of literature by understanding and appreciating language and using it confidently and competently for a variety of purposes, with a variety of audiences and diverse situations for communication, personal satisfaction, and learning. The second aim is to teach students to think critically and analytically about the variety of media they consume and articulate those ideas in a variety of communications: written, verbal, digital, and visual.


Students can expect their English Language Arts activities and assignments to reflect a variety of learning processes and to accommodate diverse learning styles. Opportunities for exploration and experimentation will be provided through assignment choices and approaches.


All assignments must be handed in to the correct spot, be that Google Classroom, Moodle, email, or a folder on the teacher’s desk. Any assignment handed in to the wrong place will be counted as not handed in.

Make sure that you follow MLA guidelines. Owl Purdue has an excellent website that updates every year with the new standards. Please become familiar with that site. If you do not follow the guidelines, your assignment will be considered as not submitted.


Assignments and projects reflect the student’s areas of strength and areas that need improvement. If assignments and projects are not completed or handed in, feedback cannot be given, nor can the student be assessed.

There will be an initial due date for all assignments. Assignments handed in on the due date will receive feedback either written or verbal. A week post due date will be the hard deadline. Assignments handed in between the due date and the deadline will be marked but will receive no feedback written or otherwise. Finally, no assignment will be assessed if submitted after the

deadline. In some cases it may be possible to arrange an alternate assignment, but that is at the discretion of the teacher and will be based on attendance and past performance.
If extenuating circumstances exist, the student is responsible for talking to the teacher, in person or by email, before the due date. If the student is absent on the due date, they should email the assignment to the teacher. If it is not a project done digitally, please email a photo of the completed project and bring in the physical project the next day in attendance. If a student misses a presentation day, they will be expected to present on the day of their return. ​If it is a group presentation, they will receive a score of zero as the conditions of the presentation cannot be recreated.

Extended absences do not excuse a student from completing the major assignments. Please make sure to get assignments before leaving. If it is a medical or family emergency, please contact the teacher at the earliest convenience and arrangements will be made.


The expectation of students is that all assignments handed in have been proofread carefully for mechanical errors. Any major assignments that are submitted with significant mechanical errors will be handed back to the student for correction. The assignment must be resubmitted by the beginning of the next day’s class. No mark will be recorded until the assignment is re-submitted.


Assessment focuses on student performance and growth using a variety of strategies. The purpose of assessment is to help students improve by giving them clear and specific ways to improve their work, to affirm student success, to help students understand how to learn more effectively, to show how well students have met the learning outcomes prescribed for the course, and help the teacher improve instruction. Assessment may take the form of informal observation, anecdotal reports, a formal assessment of texts created, or a pre-specified response such as a test. For formal assignments, rubrics and scoring guides with clear outcomes and criteria will be used. Not all assignments will be marked. All assignments are designed to help students meet the outcomes for the course, formal assessments that are marked are snapshots of students progress in the course. Assessments will not be averaged over a year. Only the final course assessment for each outcome will be used to tabulate a student’s final grade.


Plagiarism and cheating are extremely serious academic offences and erode the trust inherent in the student-teacher relationship.

Plagiarism exists when:

  • the work submitted or presented was done, in whole or in part, by an individual other than the one submitting or presenting the work;
  • parts of the work are taken from another source without reference to the original author;
  • a whole work is copied from another source
  • a student submits the same assignment for more than one course

Cheating exists when:

  • The student has plagiarized
  • The student has lent their work to another who has then plagiarized from them

If the teacher is aware of plagiarism or cheating and can verify that the infraction has taken place, the student who is found to be guilty will receive a zero on the assignment. In the case of cheating, when someone has copied from another student, both students will receive a zero. Parents will be informed of the infraction and the teacher will refer the student to the Administration for appropriate action.


For assignments done electronically, students must ensure that they have saved the work in progress, as well as the final copy, and should make a backup copy of all work saved. Work must be saved until the end of semester. Technical difficulties will not be considered an excuse not to hand in the assignment on time. It is expected that handwritten assignments will follow the same MLA guidelines as those submitted electronically.

As for daily use of computers and cell-phones, the technology is not be distracting to the students. If the technology proves to be distracting, students will lose the privilege of using it. Just five minutes of class time spent on Facebook or texting translates into 8 lost classes. It is essential that students use their class time effectively.


To maintain the most accurate assessment of each student, it is important that all students write tests at the same time. Students will be given at least a one week notice of a major exam date. It is required that students who cannot write on the designated day, bring a note written directly to the teacher, or have the parent or guardian phone the teacher prior to the exam. There must be a reasonable explanation, and the parents must indicate their awareness that the student is missing the exam. Extended absences (holidays) do not exempt students from exams and students will not be allowed to write major exams prior to the exam date.


The deadline for appeals is March 31 for final marks assigned at the end of the first semester and August 31 for final marks assigned at the end of the second semester.

Appeals may be submitted by parents or guardians of students under the age of sixteen (16) years of age or by students who are sixteen (16) years of age or over on the date the appeal is submitted.

Appeals will be considered where:

a. The marks awarded in one or more courses at the high school level prevent the student from registering in the next sequence of the course or courses. The mark awarded in one or more courses would prevent the student from qualifying for entrance into the post secondary institution of his or her choice based upon the published entrance requirements; the mark awarded in one or more courses would prevent the student from qualifying for a high school diploma.

Appeals may also be made on major assignments if a student feels their mark does not accurately reflect their work. To make an appeal, the student must

  1. Inform their teacher they are going to seek a second assessment
  2. Ask the next teacher if they have the time to look at their paper
  3. Once they have found a teacher to do a second assessment, they must submit to that

teacher a clean copy of their essay

  1. The student must also be willing to accept the new mark as it will replace the previous



Please refer to the school attendance guidelines. Students who will be absent for an extended period of time must complete an “Extended Leave Form” that is available in the office. Be aware that extended absences may impact the student’s learning and results on final exams, especially provincial exams. Extended absences also impact the learning of others in the class. Much of the work in the ELA classroom is project based, thus students often will be relying on each other in group situations and when a group member is not available it puts greater stress on those who are in attendance. Teachers should be notified well in advance of such an

absence. It is the student’s responsibility to study the material and complete assignments that are covered during this absence. Arrangements must be made with the teacher to modify, where possible, assignment deadlines.


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