•  You may be wondering what Academic Literacy class will be like this year.  Here is some information that will help you be successful.

    Ac Lit Course Description

    From the PA Dept of Education Comprehensive Literacy Plan: "Students must be able to read more challenging and complex text; moreover, they will need experiences that enable them to use literacy as a tool for learning the content in each of the academic disciplines... literacy skills are important for learning academic content." (p. 1) 

    Academic Literacy Course Description (given to the School Board of Directors):  Academic and technical literacy is necessary for success in today’s highly educated global society.  Effective reading has become a cognitive science that requires students to interact with texts in an effort to construct meaning. Throughout this course, students will be explicitly taught reading and writing strategies for vocabulary development, narrative text, and informational text. These skills will assist them with interactive reading, reflection, and written expression.  Students will be able to apply academic literacy skills to any level of curriculum in any content area.  Students will also be able to identify their own areas of interest and learn how to access a variety of materials to read for fun.

    But what is Academic Literacy, really?

    Students will use (primarily) nonfiction texts to learn ways of gathering and understanding information from multiple sources, synthesizing that information, and producing an academic “project” based on that information. The students will self-select many of their project topics.

    Some of the academic literacies students will learn...

      • different types of literacies and texts are not limited to printed words

      • meaning is created between reader and text, all readers have strengths and weaknesses with different texts

      • reading is personal and social (discussions and questions are encouraged)

      • the author develops a central idea/theme through word choice/vocabulary and textual evidence, and how to effectively summarize that meaning

      • text structures aid our understanding of the author’s purpose

      • how to constructively question and compare meanings by inferring implicit and extrapolating explicit ideas in a variety of texts

      • to form clear opinions and support with evidence from text(s)- verbally & writing

      • to evaluate research for credibility and depth and then apply to project

      • to use technology/multi-media as tools for presenting content effectively

      • Academic Literacy skills can be applied across disciplines

    This information is not all-inclusive. There is not enough time to include all of what is occurring in the classroom on a daily basis! :) Feel free to check out your student's Google Classroom Assignments. (Parents cannot be shared on this, but feel free to sit down with your child and look.)  :)

    Course Information:

    SUPPLIES-- Most work will be completed on the Chromebook but they may also want to have:

    *Three ring binder (one inch deep) or part of a larger binder with notebook paper and a pocket, especially if they prefer to handwrite assignments. (After seeing several years of students with the accordion-type file folder, I do not recommend them as an effective way to manage class notes, assignments, and homework for my class.)
    *Pack of colored pencils (If students prefer to do creative projects on paper rather than electronically.)
    *Pencils (Please know that I will not have a supply of lead refills for the variety of mechanical pencils. Please make sure your child has refills if needed and knows how to put them into the pencil.)


        Prompt-- Please arrive to class on time. 
        Polite-- Please respect other students and their efforts to learn. You show respect by keeping quiet/muting while others are talking and providing feedback that is constructive and helpful.
        Prepared--  Be ready to learn. Have your Chromebook charged and any other needed materials. 
        Productive-- Use your class time wisely so that learning is the priority.  Listening to and following directions will enhance your ability to do the assignments correctly. I will try to give you time in class to complete most work.

    ACADEMIC INTEGRITY- please read!

    Official Board Policy (Click on link to read in full- Links to an external site.)

    Also, as stated in the Middle School Handbook:  It is the expectation of the State College middle schools that students will adhere to ethical academic practices. Students must turn in their own original work, free of plagiarism, fabrication, and forgery. They are not permitted to submit the same work for two or more courses without permission from the teachers.


    Board policy link (Links to an external site.)

    Illness- If you are absent due to illness from school, it is difficult to “make up” class/teacher instruction and/or discussion. Please look in Google Classroom for the work that you missed and then email me with questions before the next class, if possible. Please let me know if there are extenuating circumstances so I can work with you to get caught up.

    Activity- If you are out of class due to a school activity (not illness), please look in Google Classroom for missing work and email/talk to me about questions/concerns.

    Trips- If you are out for a family trip, an assignment may have to be substituted for work you will miss in class, depending on access to internet and other considerations. In order to gather this work for you while you are gone, please let me know in advance the same number of days that you will be out. (Example: If you will be out five days, I need at least five days notice...) 


         We are all busy, I know. Sometimes it is difficult to decide among a variety of after school priorities. I would hope that one of those priorities is at least 20 minutes of reading every night. Research has been strong that students who read more do better in all areas of school. If you have trouble finding a book you like, feel free to ask me or Mrs. Packer (PFMS librarian) for recommendations.

        Graded homework will be given when practice at home is helpful to learning, when you have missed school and must make up work, and/or if extra time is needed to finish assignments due to not using time wisely in class. Otherwise, I try not to be burdensome with HW.


        I use the school district policy regarding percentages and letter grades.

        Lateness policy: the assignment loses 10%, after two days, and then for every day it is late --up to 50% off.  Homework later than 24 days will receive half credit rather than a zero.

        Extra credit is available occasionally.  Extra credit must be turned in the day it is due for it to count, if not before.  (Absences are not a reason for exception in extra credit.) 


    About Mrs. Knapp

    Hello!  I am your child's Academic Literacy teacher on the 7th grade Timber Rattler Team.  I have been a middle school teacher for 27 years!  I enjoy working with students at this age and have always taught middle school!   
    My original degree was in Business Management and a minor in Speech Communications from Penn State. I should have known I would be an English/Literacy teacher when I was taking English classes "for fun"! :)
    I started my teaching career in a 6th grade English classroom in Leonardtown, MD.  There, the 6th grade classrooms had no walls and was a quick lesson in how to keep my students' attention. I was also fortunate enough to be trained in a Nancy Atwell writing process model.
    After 4 years and meeting my husband, I then moved to northern New Jersey where I taught 8th grade for 3 years.  During my teaching in Cranford, I taught writing process classes, Literature classes, and English classes. Yes, students had all three.
    My husband received a job offer in State College, and since we were both Penn State alums, we were excited to move here!  I was hired by the SCASD that summer and started at PFMS on the 7th/8th grade team in the fall of 1999. I taught English on that team for 4 years before moving to the 7th grade team to teach English. But now I will be enjoying my 10th year as the Timber Rattler Academic Literacy teacher! 
    I  write poetry for fun and love reading all types of young adult literature and current events. I am a mother of two active girls, ages 15 and 18. I love watching my daughter's softball team, the Phillies and Penn State football. I also love to travel, and my favorite trips were to Italy and China.
    I look forward to seeing you in class! :)


Last Modified on August 16, 2023