Charlotte’s Web

Dr. J. E. Patten;  FO 108; 924-4436.  Office Hours, R 2:30—3:30;email address: [email protected];

 The Literature of Childhood Experience: Spring 2003

Objectives: English 112A is an upper division English literature course designed to introduce adult readers to the genre of children’s literature. We will be asking questions, investigating the patterns we find in these works, patterns in the words themselves, and expanding our strategies for comprehension.  In Children’s Literature a child is the central figure, the ideas introduced complex and provocative, the setting varied but relevant for all regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural background. We will concentrate our reading on chapter books; however, we will also enjoy opportunities to become familiar with picture books, videos, fairy tales, and folk tales for the age group of 4 through 12.  Students will develop skills for evaluating these genres also. This semester we will incorporate some of the new California Educational guidelines by discussing historical and factual material in conjunction with our scheduled readings.

This course is designed to fulfill the subject matter requirement for the teaching credential (information may apply to elementary, middle, and/or secondary schools); it is not a teaching methodology course.  This section of English 112A will also consist of internet assignments, participation in the course e-mail and discussion group, and interactive work with other students through the use of the computer

Required Texts and Materials:

  • Creech, Sharon. Walk Two Moons.
  • Jimenez, Francisco. The Circuit
  • Lewis, C. S. The Magician’s Nephew
  • Rowling. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Sacchar. Holes
  • Lowry, Lois. The Giver
  • Yolan, J. The Devil’s Arithmetic.
  • White, E. B. Charlotte’s Web.
  • Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard.

Recommended Texts: The Pleasures of Children s Literature by Perry Nodelman.

                                                Only Connect: Readings on Children s Literature, edited by Sheila Egoff et al.  New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

During the semester additional materials will be assigned. All extra course materials can be found, downloadable, at Students who do not have a computer/modem at home can obtain access to computers on campus at one of several student computer labs. This will be a necessary component of the course.

Prerequisite courses and skills: Although no specific requirement exists, I strongly suggest that students should have completed both 1A and 1B, and ideally 100W. This course is writing intensive as well as reading intensive. Good command of the English language is a must.

Participation, Reading Responses, Quizzes: (20% of the final grade): Experience has shown that it is better to come to class unprepared than not to come at all since the insights and information offered during our class discussions cannot be obtained elsewhere (not even from a friend). Remember that each student is responsible for all material presented and discussed in class, including any changes in the green sheet. Students should make every effort to arrive on time and stay for the entire class.

Much of the course work will involve creating original, thoughtful responses (Reading Responses or RRs for short) to a given section of the text. RRs are interpretive responses to study questions and/or short quotations; they should begin with a clear thesis statement, followed by a brief explanation with short textual quotations as support. We will do RRs in class as well as on the web; however, students will be expected to have composed their first drafts at home.  There are numerous examples of excellent RRs on the web site.  Remember that it is harder to write things short than to write them long. Make sure you read carefully the "Key points to keep in mind when writing reading responses" on the site.

Quizzes will be varied in format, may be given at any time during the course meeting time, and/or may be on current reading material or on previous class discussions. Quizzes may also be given on the internet. Most class sessions will follow a lecture-discussion format, although we may do other activities as the semester progresses. Students are encouraged to participate in active intellectual inquiry. Class participation will involve answering questions in class, demonstrating full preparation, and asking thought-provoking questions (see link for guidelines on English 112A home page). Quality and  frequency of your discussion comments both in class and on-line will contribute significantly to your final course grade. 

Discussion Board Participation and Reports: (30% of the final grade) Discussion board participation includes intelligent contributions on a regular basis, queries that are serious intellectual investigations of subject matter, and well-documented responses to questions. All writing submitted in class and/or on the discussion board will be graded according to standard practices of grading in the English department. Students will be required to respond to other student entries (at least 5 times during the semester) in addition to posting original entries.  A significant contribution consists of a minimum of 250 words of critical discourse about children’s literature and/or related issues.  Students are responsible for keeping copies of all papers, returned quizzes/reading responses, discussion board entries, and returned exams.  Bring this work with you when you come for an office visit.

Research Paper (15%): Requirements to be given later. The Department of English states, "Upper-division literature courses should require a minimum of 5000 words of graded in-class and out-of-class writing including at least one paper informed by significant library research."

Examinations 35% (15% midterm and 20% final): Sections of these will be open-note. The exams will include short Reading Responses to Study Questions and/or interpretive details regarding short quotations discussed in class, passage identification exercises, definitions of key terms, some fill-in-the-blank questions and/or an essay. The essay section will be comprehensive. The key to doing well is coming to all classes, taking notes, and being ready to answer all study questions, and keeping up with the reading. It’s as simple as that.

Office Hours: I enjoy meeting with students. If you have any questions or want to discuss some ideas further, please come visit. I ask you to do a considerable amount of thinking and developing good reading techniques that can be very challenging at times, particularly if you haven’t done this before. Come to visit me if you need reassurance. I want to hear from you before the class evaluations are given and before you receive final grades.

Grades: All grades are entered into a computer program. Even though I utilize a computer program for calculating grade, I do take into consideration overall improvement. Anyone concerned about his/her grades or class participation should stop by during our office hours so I can discuss his/her performance privately. Asking about individual grades is not appropriate before, during, or just after class meetings. Showing up for class, taking notes, doing the reading and study questions in a consistent, conscientious manner will improve all students’ chances of success. Any student who qualifies for an Incomplete should be aware that no grade higher than a B+ will be possible.



















In order to avoid over-subtle distinctions and cause no confusion, I give no numerical grade on any individual assignment that varies from these. For example, excellent work is always awarded a 6, never a 5.9 or 6.1.  If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions please don’t hesitate to see me during scheduled office hours or call for an appointment. Whenever you feel something isn’t working as well as you’d like–whether it’s the class structure, the lectures, the discussions, the assignments, grades, or your own efforts in the course–please talk to me about it or scribble a note (anonymous if you like) or send an email. Sometimes classes can be intimidating, and the best way I can fix things is if I know what’s wrong. I would rather hear about the problems during the semester, when I can deal with them, rather than on course evaluations, when it’s too late to change things for you. Voice mail is not for letting me know that you will be unable to attend class.

In all English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of the ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs. The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSJ Catalog ("The Grading System"). N.B. According to University Policy, the minimum penalty for plagiarisms is an "F" on the assignment; maximum penalties may be failure of the course and/or disciplinary action by the University. All students are responsible for knowing and observing University policies regarding academic dishonesty. See University publication: "Academic Dishonesty and its Consequences."

The total grade for the course will result from combining the following in approximately the proportions given: Participation, Reading Responses, Quizzes: 20%;   Discussion board: 30%;  Paper: 15%;  Midterm: 15% ;  Final: 20%

The Schedule may be subject to change, announced at least one class meeting in advance.

January 23

Introduction. Hansel and Gretel (handout in class)

January 30

Charlotte’s Web

February 6

Jimenez, Francisco. The Circuit

February 13

The Magician s Nephew; Guest Lecture by Mr. Paul Shephard

February 20

Picture books. Research paper assigned.Creative writing.

February 27

The Devil s Arithmetic

March 6


March 13

A Single Shard 

March 20

Midterm 15% of total grade

March 24-28

Spring Break 

April 3

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

April 10

HP continued. Guest Lecturer, Julie Lind

April 17

Holes.   Research Reports DUE.  15 % of total grade

April 24

The Giver

May 1

Walk Two Moons

May 8

Last Day of Instruction; review of all books and materials

Final Examination

May 15 5:157:30, same room in SH20% of totat grade