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J. Creger Locker

J. Creger

John Creger, teacher/author
John Creger, teacher/author
Welcome to Mr. Creger's Page
Glad you stopped in! 
“Regardless of all the knowledge we must gain,
it is necessary we come to learn who we are first.”       
~ Nazish Khan c/o 2010
John Creger                           
510-796-1776 x57311
Dear Parents and Students, 
You can check the calendar here and find other resources you need for my English classes. I know that students and families appreciate having access online to class due dates, and will update the calendar regularly. 


The ultimate word on what's due and when will always be the homework board in our classroomA little below, you'll find important information about how to manage and monitor homework. First, a quick word about me as a teacher and our classes. Then, a special note for parents.



This is my 25th year teaching English at AHS, and my fourth being involved in the AVID program. Teaching is more than a job for me. I speak and present workshops at conferences around the country and host a professional network online for English teachers devoted to providing a deeper learning experience for students. 

My Personal Creed Project is being adapted in schools and colleges across North America and beyond. I have published several articles and am planning my second book on methods to help students learn more about themselves as they gain academic knowledge and skills.

I teach sophomore English—honors and college prep. I hope my English classes are fun, engaging, and give students the self-knowledge they need to make good use of the gifts, talents, and skills I want our classes to help them develop. 

I have also taught in and coordinated the AHS AVID program, and continue to be active on the AVID Site Team. I am proud to be involved with this enormously successful national program, and especially enjoy working with AVID students in my English classes. (See “AVID” link on our school homepage.)

Now that I am back to teaching five periods of English, I have 30% more student essays to read than in the past! I'm working harder than ever--not that I've ever been afraid of work.

All this means that I am expecting my students also to work harder than they may have been used to working. Colleges and universities tell us our students are underprepared for college work, especially in their notetaking and nonfiction reading skills.

In our academic work this year, then, we have a special emphasis on learning to take high quality Cornell Notes, practice critical reading strategies, gain new conversation experiences and develop advanced writing skills. Working hard in English this year will come with special rewards--academic and personal. Before I mention these rewards . . .


NOTE #1) Homework is Key: Students in my English classes have homework almost every evening and weekend. Most nights I will post homework on our School Loop calendar. If I am unable to post homework on this site, however, students are still responsible for copying homework from our whiteboard in class into their agendas. So the best way to monitor homework is by using your student's agenda, and reminding him or her to copy homework into the agenda every day, even if I am using the School Loop calendar most days.

     Monitoring Your Student's Homework

  • Critical Need: Be sure your student has an Agenda to write down homework in all classes. Any commercially produced planner is fine--as long as it has printed dates, plenty of room to write homework for all classes every day, and fits in a bookbag pocket. In class, students copy the homework I post on the board into their agendas.
  • Explain to your student that every evening you expect to see all homework for all classes written carefully in his or her agenda.

  • Parents: Do not take your student's word that he or she has no English homework, or has already completed it. Instead, read on!
  • Check your student's Agenda nightly or weekly according to need. Some students need no monitoring at all. Others need to have parents check their agendas at the beginning of each evening, "drop in" several times while the student is completing it, and then check their completed homework at the end of the evening. 
  • Unless you have evidence on this site that your student is responsibly turning in homework, follow this plan:

 1.  Make an agreement with your child on clear consequences if he or she fails to bring home his or her agenda, or fails to write all homework carefully in it. Suggested consequence: loss of cell phone until all homework has been written in the agenda and completed for one week. This may seem harsh, but it will definitely get his or her attention. If your child is to be ready for college in two years, it is necessary to get his or her attention! Believe me, as long as you do this calmly and with love you’ll be appreciated later.

 2.  At the beginning of the evening, sit down with your student and his or her agenda. Help him or her highlight each assignment that must be completed this evening.

3. As your student completes each highlighted assignment, ask him or her to show you. If the assignment is completed neatly, accurately, and completely as far as you can tell, have him or her check off the assignment in the agenda. (Alternative: have your student come to you when all or half of the homework is done.) 

4. Some students need you to witness them putting the completed homework in the bookbag--and to be sure the bookbag gets to school.
5. Again, don't take your student's word, until you know for a fact that he or she is responsibly completing homework--and turning it in. Your job is to Monitor and Verify.
  • Again, your child's carefully-completed agenda will be the most up-to-date source of homework assignments. Please insist on this (again kindly and calmly) and hold your student accountable. 
  • Check this site periodically to see if the homework calendar is updated. You'll be able to cross-check your student's agenda with the online calendar. Now for the second special note for wise parents:

NOTE #2) You can monitor grades 24/7 on this site. My goal is to update grades once a week, at least every two weeks.  Every 4-5 weeks, essentially once a month or so, I'll ask students to print out a Student Progress Report from this site, have parents sign and turn it in to me. Please be on the lookout for this assignment.

Monitoring Grades on School Loop
  • To keep track of grades, you need to sign on the School Loop.
  • When you monitor homework in your student’s agenda and keep track of grades on School Loop, you take the guesswork out of supporting your student in doing well in English. You also make it easier to communicate with me. When we talk on the phone or on email, we’ll have at least a starting place when you know your student's status on School Loop. With 160 students, I'll appreciate this! And we'll use our conversation better--problem-solving how we can best help your student!  



   On the academic side:

  • In both my honors and college prep English classes, as I mentioned above, we are learning to use the most effective notetaking system I know of—Cornell Notes. What makes these notes work so well is that students must complete them in several stages, making it easier for them to turn information into knowledge. Taking good careful Cornell Notes—in the classroom and while reading for homework--will almost invariably lead students to improved understanding and higher grades.
  • Meanwhile we are continuing to make progress--hard-won progress in some classes--in creating coherent and engaging classroom discussionsIn some students this means learning self-restraint and willingness to respect and hear others; in others it means gaining courage to speak out and be heard. I work with students in both these pursuits as they mature through the year.
  • A major focus in my English classes is on how to plan and write successful arguments--the meat and potatoes of high school and college writing success. My students learn to find and keep a sharp focus in their essays, explore their ideas with generous development, and move smoothly from one idea to the next with effective flow.
  • Students who need extra help can sign up for the Help Sessions I try hold after school Wednesdays or Thursdays as needed. Students should check the board in the classroom for the Help Session day each week, though I am always happy to make individual appointments at lunch or after school. For more ambitious writers, we explore ways for students to show their personalities in their academic writing. 
  • Throughout the year, your student should always have a book for Independent readingIndependent Reading Reviews are due toward the end of first, second and third quarter. (The first quarter due date will be in the first week or two of second quarter.) Ask your student to show you the Independent Reading Review form.
  • Early in February in the honors course and in some college prep classes we will begin a team reading activity called Literature Circles. Your student will be choosing a book to read for this activity, and will need to borrow the book from a library or a friend, or purchase it from a bookstore. Half-Price Books at the mall off Auto Mall Parkway or the Book Locker on Peralta are good places to get books used. Call ahead to check if they have your student's book. Literature Circles will carry us halfway through March. Your student should also continue Independent Reading during this time. For Independent Reading I allow any book that challenges a student to grow as a reader, as long as parents approve.
  • Meanwhile, we will be carrying on our whole class reading of the novels, plays, and nonfiction you can see listed in the Course Introduction in the Handout section of your student’s binder. 
It's important to me that my students grow in all these skill areas, as detailed in Common Core state standards. But improving skills is important for better reasons than the ones schools these days generally do things: to raise test scores and make the school look good . . . .


   The Personal Side:
  • My central purpose for helping my students become better readers, writers, thinkers and conversationalists is to help them understand who they are, how they got that way, and how they can develop themselves to usefully serve their community and world as aware, contributing citizens. I design my classes to help them develop academic skills that help them grow more effectively in these more personal areas. 
  • The main learning experience on the "personal leg" of curriculum is the Personal Creed ProjectThe Creed Project begins by guiding students systematically to develop the underemphasized skill of reflectionWe start this project early second quarter. At this point, more students begin to see that the class really is about them. 
  • If you'd like to learn more about the Personal Leg of my classes, you can visit the online network I host for English teachers:
  • More later here on the personal leg as time goes on.
Stay tuned for a Blog I'll eventually be launching here for parents, students, and community members to discuss the issues we engage daily in the classroom and our school.

Thanks for visiting!

John Creger

American High School