After finishing the “What I’m Teaching This Week” series for last year’s freshman English classes, several folks asked if I’d also share my agenda for my junior-level American Literature course. It’s been a year since I taught that junior class, but now that summer’s here I’ve had time to dig through my old calendars and pull everything together for you.


A couple of things to keep in mind:
• To make things easier on myself, I just modified the month-at-a-glance calendar that I use in real-life instead of writing out the weekly explanation notes as I did for Eng. 9 series. (Summer hours are precious and I want need to get back to the pool.)

• My class periods are 55 minutes and we meet five days a week. I tend to overstuff my daily agenda because I dread dead air, that terrible moment toward the end of the hour when I’ve run out of material and the kids think they don’t have to do anything. Nothing good ever happens during dead air; in fact, that’s usually the exact moment my principal is standing in the hallway about to pop in for a (surprise!) visit.

• The calendar is my guide, not my master. To fit in everything, there’s usually some sort of spillover of lesson material that eats into our SSR reading time on Fridays. Occasionally, I’ll need to cut part of a lesson to keep things flowing smoothly. Yes, it hurts, but there’s always next year.

• This class is taught to college-prep juniors at an academically competitive high school. It is not an A.P. or honors class, but it is demanding. If I were teaching in a different environment, I’d likely want to slow things down a bit.

• My district requires four major writing pieces per year, preferably one per quarter. I add in a bit more and have six major pieces, but there’s also a lot of smaller writing tasks along the way. Feel free to remove or add more writing to your program, as needed.

• I build a lot of my own class materials (those items are marked with a * on the calendar), but I do still use our textbook and district resources here and there. If an item on the calendar doesn’t have a * next to it, chances are it’s something owned by my district and I obviously can’t share those things. Sorry.

• Yes, I realize that the lack of diversity on the reading list is ridiculous. Our district is working on not just approving more titles, but actually buying class sets of those books for us to use. In the meantime, these are the novels/plays with enough copies available in the bookroom and the show must go on. (My list of approved SSR books is a more inclusive (but not perfect) sample of America’s contemporary literati. When I teach the class again, the list will get a fresh update.)

• If you have questions, feel free to email me (look for the “Contact” button at the top of this page) or leave a comment below. I have an American Lit. section of my TpT shop you can scroll through to learn more about individual lessons, and pretty much everything else is posted here in my general collection.

Hope you’re enjoying the last gasp of summer. Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 24 Comments

  1. Yay! I move up to 11th grade this year with my kids, and this is the first year that American lit will be two years long – 10th and 11th. So I’m creating a new class and I’m teaching AP language for the first time. I’ve spent most of my summer thinking about AP and I’m ready to start thinking about my regular English class. Perfect timing! Thanks so much!


  2. Now this IS perfect timing, Mrs. Turner. I’m hopeful the calendars will be a good jumping off point for you. Happy planning! 🙂


  3. Thank you, Laura! Like Mrs. Turner, I too moved up to 11th grade. I’ve already purchased some of your amazing products in order to start prepping for it! I’m so glad I follow your blog. Your knowledge and support is truly invaluable. Can’t wait to read about this year’s adventures!


  4. Oh, Nancy, you’re going to LOVE juniors – I’d take them over seniors every time. Hope the calendars help you see how everything tucks together. And I’m glad you follow the blog, too! 🙂


  5. I’ve recently transitioned from a VERY small private school to a large public junior high school. Do you have any similar calendars for 8th grade that you may have archived? By the way, I love shopping your materials in TpT!


  6. Oh, thank you so much! I love the calendar format. Could you put the 9th grade on the same kind of calendar format for a quick reference?


  7. Hi Jane,
    Unfortunately, I’ve never taught 8th grade, so I don’t have full calendars built for that level. With a bit of modification, I’m thinking my 9th grade coursework would be a pretty smooth fit for you, though. You can follow that path with lots more details provided here:

    Hope this helps! 🙂


  8. Hey Erin,
    Glad you like these! You know, I could go back through all of those freshman-level posts and spend a bunch of hours building the at-a-glance calendars, or I could go to the pool with my kids. Hmm…decisions, decisions… 🙂


  9. Hey, Laura!

    Do you have an SSR reading list for the other grades? I love this! Thank you! I think I’m going to switch Catcher and Crucible, but I like this timeline. This is my second year teaching 11th grade and I’m in need of ideas! Thank you!


  10. Hi Jennifer,
    Feel free to switch, slide, and flip as needed; that’s exactly what I had in mind when posting these starting-spot calendars. 🙂

    For freshman honors students, my department does require that they choose their SSR books from a pre-approved list. That list, which places a strong emphasis on the authors suggested by the College Board’s Advanced Placement program and tilts toward the heavier side of literature, was created by a team of my colleagues, so it isn’t my property to share. Sorry about that, but you can find similar lists all over the web, like this one or this one.

    For our regular/college-prep freshman and sophomore English classes, we allow students to choose any grade-level appropriate book to read and enjoy. There’s no set list for those classes because we’re more focused on getting kids in those classes to just find something (anything!) that they’ll enjoy reading. If a book is too young or the content is too adult (you know, something not offered in our school library that causes my eyebrows to raise), I’ll have a quiet chat with the student about appropriateness and, in a rare case, require a parent permission note. Other than that, our college-prep underclassmen are free to enjoy any novel that catches their eye.

    Juniors are taught an American Lit. curriculum, so the approved title list focuses on living American writers who are creating interesting and/or important works. We always seem to run out of time in the spring semester to get into contemporary works and we don’t have a lot of new book class set resources anyway, so the SSR list is a way to expose our kids to some current material.

    And seniors? Those classes offer a wide variety of coursework and every senior-level teacher does his/her own thing when it comes to SSR, depending on the theme of the class.

    Guess this is a long way of saying no, sorry, I don’t have any other lists that are mine to share.

    Sorry I’m not more helpful this time,


  11. Wow, Laura! Thank you so much for sharing such an awesome resource with us! (Especially during the coveted summer break 😎👍☀️)


  12. My pleasure, Heather. It’s what I do. 🙂


  13. Hello,
    This is my first year as a 5th grade LA teacher. Do you have any advice, suggestions, or resources for this grade?


  14. Hi Megan,
    Welcome to the other side of the desk! Nice to have you here. My credential is only for grades 6-12 and almost all of my teaching experience has been at the high school level, so I’m not really qualified to speak about fifth grade classrooms. I do know, though, that having a network of teacher friends will help you not just survive, but maybe even thrive in this exhilaratingly exhausting first year. As soon as you get on your new campus, find your tribe – another new teacher, a same grade-level friend, a mentor/big sister. You might even want to get together with some friends from your teacher training program once or twice a month to commiserate, plan, and (yes!) drink a little wine and laugh. Keep that sense of humor, okay?
    🙂 Laura


  15. Hi Laura! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome ideas with everyone. I can’t tell you how useful your info has been! I am going to implement S.S.R in my classroom this year and would love to know what titles are on your approved list.


  16. Great, Melissa! So glad you’ll be able to get some use out of these materials. Since my junior class is built on American Lit., I limit my students to contemporary titles written by living American writers; you’ll find that list here. For my other classes, scroll up a few comments and read my response to Jennifer, which covers how I handle the other grade levels.

    Have a great week!
    🙂 Laura


  17. Will you explain what crazy essay week entails?


  18. Hi Laura! I LOVE this calendar layout! Would it be possible to get a blank copy? I am horrible at formatting things in Word/Publisher! You rock!


  19. Hey, Brittany! Glad you like the look. Unfortunately, I used Adobe InDesign to set up the calendar template and there’s no way to convert that file to Word, Google Docs, or Publisher so you’d have an editable version. Apparently, those software companies don’t want to play nicely with each other. So sorry to disappoint!


  20. No problem! Thanks for your speedy reply! 🙂 Your blog has really helped me decide to continue my journey of teaching after a bumpy few years!


  21. Love hearing this, Brittany! Glad you’re sticking with our teacher tribe. 🙂


  22. Hi, Laura! I am a huge fan and follower of your posts and products. I am wondering if you have a similar outline for tenth grade literature? I’m moving back to tenth grade and the dreaded EOC testing this year, and was hoping for some insight…


  23. Hi Danielle,
    Thanks for checking in with me! I don’t have a month-at-a-glance calendars for English 10 just yet – sorry about that. I am currently, though, building a full-year English class bundle to meet the CCSS for grades 9-10. A while back, I did a week-by-week blog post series covering English 9. (Here: Because the standards for 9 are the same as 10, I used many of these same lessons for my 10th graders this year (no repeating students I already had as freshmen – whew!) and just swapped out the major works. For example, I used Caesar with my sophomores and R&J with my freshmen. Later this summer, I’ll have the full grade 9-10 set available and it’ll include the month-at-a-glance calendars, just like I built for this American Lit./English 11 post. I’m still in classes, though, so I’m not exactly sure when I’ll have it available. Be patient with me. I’m chippin’ away at it! 🙂


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