Madison High School                                                                                                                                                                                Course Expectations
    Creative Writing

    Mrs. Holzer
    E-mail: holzerm@madisonnjps.org
    Webpage: MHS website→Teachers→Holzer→Creative Writing
    Office Location: E42
    Tutorials: TBD

    Course Description


    Creative Writing provides students with the opportunity to cultivate their literary talents in an intensive workshop atmosphere. The course of study emphasizes the development of skills in the study and creation of prose, drama, and poetry.  Through close reading of various genres and styles of writing, students will recognize and identify the successful elements of an effective piece of creative writing and demonstrate their own ability to write in a variety of genres. Students will maintain an ongoing Writer’s Journal and be expected to explore their world through writing on a daily basis. They will engage in all parts of the writing process and demonstrate a facility for giving and receiving constructive criticism in a writing community.  Students will be encouraged to take risks in order to experience writing as a tool for intellectual exploration, self-discovery, and creative expression.  They will also create online digital portfolios and submit their writing to the MHS literary-art magazine, other publications, and/or contests.

    The semester is divided into four units: Memoir and Personal Narrative, Short Story, Drama and Poetry.

    Required Texts
    •  Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle
    • Writing Fiction:  A Guide to Narrative Craft 9th ed.
    • John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
    • Susan Gladspell, Trifles
    • David Ives, Sure Thing
    • Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit
    • Woody Allen, Play It Again, Sam
    • Perrine’s Sound and Sense 
    • excerpts from A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

    • Various selections of literary non-fiction, film, and informational text

    Required materials

    A Writer's Journal (a composition book, spiral notebook, etc.) in which you will respond to the daily prompts posted at the start of each class and keep notes on writing

    •Chromebook- charged each day
    Classroom Expectations

    • Be ON TIME. You will need a late pass if you are late. Please sit and begin the your Writer's Journal.
    • Be PREPARED with homework and all necessary materials in hand when the bell rings. If you do not have the homework on the day it is due, you will not be able to participate fully in the day’s lesson. NO CREDIT IS GIVEN FOR LATE HOMEWORK.
    • PARTICIPATE actively in all class discussions, and take notes during lectures, discussion, and as you read.
    • SHOW RESPECT: Offer thoughtful ideas and opinions and be respectful of the ideas and opinions of others. Please listen attentively to all ideas and opinions, even if they differ from your own.
    • SUBMIT all assignments ON TIME, and be proactive in getting caught up when you are absent per the Late Work & Make-up Policy.

    • DO YOUR BEST AT YOUR OWN WORK: Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated. Please review the MHS Honor Code for information on academic integrity. Plagiarism and cheating will result in a zero with no opportunity for resubmission, along with consequences outlined in the Student Handbook.

    READ AS WRITERS: The best way to improve your writing is to read!  This class will allow you to examine various texts from a writer’s perspective. You must read in order to understand the craft of writing and to improve your own skills. 

    *All school rules outlined in the Student Handbook are in effect in this class.

    Expectations for use of Technology in Class:


    We will have many opportunities to use technology and our personal smartphones/tablets in class, BUT we must do so responsibly.  Therefore, students are expected to adhere to the following guidelines.  Failure to follow these guidelines will lead to the loss of technology privileges in class, or the confiscation of personal devices:

    • Students will only use cell phones or personal laptops/tablets to work on assignments in  class with the teacher’s permission.
    • Students may not play games or watch movies unrelated to class assignments AT ANY POINT DURING CLASS.
    • Students are NEVER to charge their phones or Chromebooks during class.
    • Students may not check social media, text, or make phone calls during class.
    • Students will not maltreat the technology.
    • Students will place phones in specified location in the beginning of class EVERY DAY.
    • If a student is caught using the Chromebook for anything other than the assignment, student will automatically lose credit for that particular assignment.
    • If a student is finished with an assignment, student MAY NOT use Chromebook for anything.
    Grading Policy

    In this class, process is as important as product.  The fun has only just begun once you’ve penned a first draft.  In most cases, you will work individually and with peers to revise substantially; in many cases, you will receive a grade based upon thoroughness of revision as part of or in addition to your grade on the final draft. 


    • The grades will be determined by the following categories:

      • Homework 10%

      • Classwork/participation 20%

      • Journals 20%

      • Rough drafts 10%

      • Final drafts 40%


    Each marking period grade will constitute 40% of your final grade in this course.  Your final exam will count for 20% of your final grade.



    Late Work & Make-up Policy
    MHS Language Arts Department Due Date, Late Work and Make-up Guide
    (The following policy is in effect as of September 2017)

    When an English teacher assigns a task, such as an essay, paper or project, the assignment must be turned in at the beginning of the class period on the day it is due. Any essay or project that is not submitted at the beginning of the class period on the day it is due is considered LATE. Late work may be accepted within three days of a given due date, but the work will receive a 20% grade penalty.

    Late work submitted more than three days after the due date will not be accepted for any credit and will receive a grade of zero. The department will consider 3:00 p.m. on the third day following the due date as the deadline for late work. This will hold true for weekends and breaks as well.

    No essay or project due dates are adjusted for absence; due dates are given well in advance. If absent, students should send in such work by the start time of the class period on the due date via email or with a reliable person who will bring the assignment to the teacher before the beginning of the class period on the day it is due. Teachers will accept work via email as “on time” provided the time stamp on the email is prior to the beginning of the class period on the due date and the file is accessible or the text is pasted directly into the body of the email. If a student fails to submit an essay or project via email or through a reliable person on the day that it is due this work is considered LATE and subject to the 20% grade penalty.

    Suggestions for students to avoid the late penalty

    • Students should take textbooks and notebooks home each night. They should also select at least two class contacts whom they KNOW have good attendance and homework records, and phone those contacts the evening of the absence to check on class work and homework assignments.

    • In the event of extreme or unavoidable circumstances, teachers will handle each case individually. Any requests for due date extensions, however, must be presented to the teacher at least one day before the due date. Teachers are under no obligation to grant extensions, but each individual English teacher will exercise discretion in matters as they arise.

    • In all cases, communication between the student and teacher is absolutely essential; parental involvement is encouraged when reasons for a requested extension involve family or medical issues.

    • If a student experiences a printer malfunction or printer access problems, the student should email the work to the teacher before the class meets on the due date. Teachers will accept work via email as “on time” provided the time stamp on the email is prior to the beginning of the class period on the due date and the file is accessible or the text is pasted directly into the body of the email. Emailing work does not excuse students from providing a print copy, however, if the assignment requires printed work.
    • In the case of anticipated absences, students may elect to submit assignments in person to the teacher prior to the absence or submit assignments electronically on the due date, bearing in mind that the time stamp must be before the beginning of the class period on the due date and the file is accessible or the text is pasted directly into the body of the email. However, considering the potential for technology and internet connectivity issues, students are encouraged to submit work prior to anticipated absences.


    Final Exam:  Digital Portfolio

    The final exam in this course will require you to compile a digital portfolio of your work, share your best work with the class, and write a brief reflection on your experience as a writer.  In preparation for this, please save ALL work completed throughout the semester, including drafts. The formal final exam assignment will be given well before the deadline, and we will create your digital portfolio using Google Sites.  As with all assignments, you are expected to submit the final on the designated deadline. Students may be asked to submit their work to Turnitin at any time.

     Creative Writing Sample Portfolio:   https://sites.google.com/a/madisonnjps.org/creative-writing/about-me 

    Class Participation

    We will frequently conduct Writer's Workshops in pairs, small groups, and as a class.  The benefit of such workshops to you as a growing writer is huge: you will receive immediate, honest, and constructive feedback from your classmates and me to guide your revision.  These workshops will require you to read your work out loud to classmates; while this exercise may seem scary, it is critical to your growth as a writer.  For these workshops and this class to function optimally, everyone must feel comfortable and respected.  We will be honest, encouraging, and respectful of each other and our work. Participation is an essential component of this course.


    *In addition to participation in class, you will be required to attend one play or musical out of class during the playwriting unit.  More details to follow.

    Teacher Availability
    I am available after school and during lunch and tutorials. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail with any questions or concerns.
    Words and ideas can change the world...What will your verse be?
    -spoken by Professor John Keating in Dead Poet's Society