English 3


Instructor: Jake Meador

Contact Information: jakemeador at gmail dot com

Text Books: Writers Inc., The Writer’s Guide to Perfect Paragraphs, Provided Readings (these will be given to you as needed and can be stored in your binder for the class)

The goal of this class is relatively simple: By the time you are done here, you should be comfortable explaining ideas, making arguments, and telling stories with the written word. But that is what we want you to be able to do. Why we want you to do it is another question entirely and one that needs closer attention. As Christian people, we believe in a God who uses language. Certainly he uses language to speak to us through the Bible, but God also uses language to create. “Let there be light,” God says and there is light. We are image bearers of this God who speaks, who communicates with words, who uses words to create.

So as we are learning to use words and particularly to use the written word, I don’t want us to think of this as simply a mechanical exercise in acquiring skills that will help you get into college or get a job. Good writing skills will do that, of course, but what I’m really interested in is helping you develop intellectually, academically, and spiritually, such that you are capable of using this skill to make new things. With the written word gifted authors have made cathedrals and characters and homes and forests and mountains and dungeons. They’ve crafted towering edifices of learning and marvelously intricate hymns to the beauty of God’s created order—sometimes without even realizing that that’s what they were doing.

So yes, we will learn how to write paragraphs well, how to express an idea clearly, and how to make a persuasive argument. But that’s not really what I want you to be chiefly worried about in this class. I want you to learn how to think, how to use your mind that God has given you in service to him, to see your academic and intellectual life as a part of your discipleship as you learn to follow Jesus and to see yourself as part of this beautiful and frequently confusing family of people called the Church.


Note: The assignment listed at the end of each line will be due the following Friday. So the assignment listed on the line for August 22 is due August 26. The assignment listed on the line for October 10 will be due October 14.

  1. August 22 (no assignment due)
    • Discussion: Intro.
    • Assignment: Read ND Wilson “Stories, Paper Boats, and the Pitcher. 500 word response answering one of the following two questions: When does Wilson use short, simple sentences and when does he choose to use longer sentences? Why do you think he made the choices he did? OR What does Wilson mean when he likens stories to food?
  2. August 29
    • Discussion: Complete and Clear Sentences / Concise Sentences / Death by Living Excerpt.
    • Assignment: Tolkien: “An Unexpected Party”: Prompts available with class notes
  3. September 5: Labor Day (OFF)
  4. September 12: Mr. Meador on work trip so class will not meet.
    • Discussion: None.
    • Assignment: Wendell Berry: “The Lost Bet”: 500 word response answering Does Berry’s written language mimic the way a person would speak when telling the story verbally? In what ways? Or What is Berry trying to help people see with this story? Who is the butt of the joke?
  5. September 19
    • Discussion: Berry Story and Response / Writing Process / Habits of the Writer
    • Assignment: Excerpts from Sertillanges “Intellectual Life.” 500 word response answering one of these three prompts:
      • What is the danger of reading too much according to Sertilanges?
      • For Sertillanges, the great thing is that we read well more than that we read much. Talk about one memory you have of reading that is particularly vivid and explain why you think that experience has been so memorable.
      • What does it mean to read “intelligently” rather than “passionately”?
  6. September 26
  7. October 3
    • Discussion: Sentence Mechanics
    • Assignment: Work on First Paper Due Oct. 17
  8. October 10
    • Discussion: Organizing Paragraphs.
    • Assignment: Work on Paper Due Oct. 17
  9. October 17
    • Discussion: Revising Paragraphs.
    • Assignment: First Paper
  10. October 24
    • Discussion: Parts of Speech.
    • Assignment: TBD
  11. October 31
    • Discussion: Types of Sentences.
    • Assignment: TBD
  12. November 7
    • Discussion: Rhyme Schemes, Meter.
    • Assignment: TBD
  13. November 14
    • Discussion: Iambs, Trochies, Spondee.
    • Assignment: TBD
  14. November 21
    • Discussion: Metaphor v Simile.
    • Assignment: NONE
  15. November 28 (no assignment due)
    • Discussion: Persuasion Essay.
    • Assignment: TBD
  16. December 5
    • Discussion: Opinion Writing.
    • Assignment: TBD
  17. December 12
    • Discussion: Five Paragraph Essay Intro
    • Assignment: Second Paper
  18. December 19: Last Day. Party


There will be short (~500 word) written assignments due once a week. I would like you to submit those to me over email. You can attach a Word document to an email or you can share it with me via Google Drive. (If you are not sure how to do that, I will be happy to show you.)

There will be 12 such assignments over the semester, each worth 10 points. They are due to me by noon the following Friday. (Having them due at this time means you do not have written homework on weekends and I should be able to have these back to you for class the following Monday.) As far as labeling goes, all I need from you is the assignment and your name at the top of the paper. So:

Week 1 Writing Exercise

Joe Smith

In addition to that, we will have two longer (~2000 words) papers. The first will be worth 40 points. The second will be worth 50 points.

Finally, I will assign a participation grade at semester’s end that reflects your level of involvement in the class. This grade will be worth 30 points.

In total, that is 240 points. 120 will come from weekly assignments, 90 from the two papers, and 30 from participation. Grade scale is as follows:

  • A = >90%
  • B = 80%-90%
  • C = 70%-80%
  • F= <70%

(I do not give D grades.)


This is my first time as a classroom teacher. I’ve worked as an editor with newspapers, magazines, and blogs for 10 years, so I have extensive experience teaching writing thanks to my time in the journalism world. That being said, I am going to be learning about classroom teaching alongside you. So my hope is that we can learn from each other. I’m going to come to class every week with feedback for your papers and prepared to discuss that day’s material. I would like you to come with the following:

  • A binder that you use to store the syllabus, readings, worksheets, and weekly writing assignments. (I will try to manage the amount of paper I hand out so you shouldn’t need a huge binder for this.)
  • A pen or pencil
  • Whatever book or printed out reading we did that week
  • Comments or questions about the week’s reading