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Ninth Grade Accelerated English


ACADEMIC YEAR 2014-2015 

  1. GOAL: all students will improve their command of formal, academic English through reading, writing, editing (self and others), studying grammar and vocabulary, discussing literary and non-fiction materials, and making presentations.



      A.        Readings will include House on Mango Street, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, six independent reading books (three per semester) selected from short lists to be provided (NOT the same as last year’s list), and numerous short stories in the literature textbook and articles from periodicals.  Students' reading homework is constant and extends into the indefinite future: read at least 20 minutes of unassigned materials daily.  This pleasure reading should be a subject matter that the student finds interesting and self-selects.  It should not be difficult or require the use of a dictionary.   (Most books are provided; those not available in class usually can be found in libraries.)

      B.        Writings will be done primarily in class to promote originality.  Assignments will include responses to literature, short answers regarding informational materials, a personal narrative (or two), a business letter (or two), a brief research paper, an opinion/persuasive paper,  the interdisciplinary project requirements, and more.

      C.        Public speaking opportunities will be provided twice (or more) per semester per student, with the goals of minimizing the use of meaningless filler words (“um, uh, like, and, so”) and improving one’s presence through vocal variety, eye contact, and gestures.

      D.      Vocabulary and grammar lessons will appear regularly in the curriculum, with the goal of enabling students to understand and work in academic English at an increasingly high level.  College is just around the corner, and they need to be ready.



      A.        Academic integrity is expected of CAMS students.  No copying will be tolerated, either from fellow students or from other sources.  Both the copier and the copied-from student will receive a zero for the assignment and a less-than-excellent grade in citizenship.  Copying includes using another’s ideas, such as borrowing an idea about a theme from SparkNotes and writing about it in your own words during class.

      B.        Make-up work is the student’s responsibility.  For excused absences, including illness, field trips and athletics, students have the number of class days missed to make up the work without penalty.  Absentees are responsible for finding out what was missed from fellow students and submitting it promptly.

      C.        Self-control and above-average maturity are normal for CAMS students.  Those who disrupt class will sit in the office and receive a zero on work done during the missed class period.

      D.        Grades are allocated approximately as follows:

                     8%   homework (includes brief writing assignments regarding readings done at home)

                  22%  classwork (includes preparation, participation, in-class exercises, presentations, speeches)

                  30%   writing

                    7%     interdisciplinary project (only spring semester - replaced by classwork in fall)

                  20%     quizzes (three to five per semester – multiple choice or fill-in)

                  13%       semester final exam (multiple choice and writing)

                100%     TOTAL



School Loopmail is recommended as Ms. Brakel checks it often.  You may also communicate via home email: or phone: 310-243-3127 (classroom) or 310-243-2025 (CAMS office will take messages)

Poetry Out Loud

More than 100 CAMS students participated in the Poetry Out Loud competition during fall semester 2012.  Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide poetry recital program.  Each CAMS participant memorized a poem from the Poetry Out Loud website and recited it with understanding and a modicum of drama.  Scoring was based primarily on quality of presentation/interpretation of the poem, plus accuracy, with points deducted for various types of errors.  The top four scorers at CAMS were eleventh and ninth graders.  A ninth grader ably represented CAMS at the February 6, 2013 Los Angeles County Poetry Out Loud recital competition in Culver City.

Susan J. Brakel

Academic Background

  • B.A., Pomona College, International Relations
  • J.D., Loyola Law School (member of the California Bar since 1986)
  • Secondary teaching coursework, California State University Dominguez Hills
  • Clear Secondary Teaching Credential, California, English and Social Studies, Bilingual/Cross-cultural (Spanish)

Professional Experience

  • Employee publications/ public relations writer/editor 1975-1986 (Prudential Insurance, Nelson and Gilmore, Teleflorist Magazine, Hughes Aircraft Company)
  • Attorney practicing 1986-2001 primarily in these areas: conservatorships, estate planning, criminal appeals, miscellaneous litigation (trucking businesses, employment law, construction, real property)
  • Teacher, CAMS 2001 - present

Other Interests

  • Beach volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Reading
  • Yoga (not yet but sometime!)
  • Cello (a dream, but sometime!)

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Susan Brakel Locker