The website for Steve Chisnell’s ROHS courses

This site is designed for students and parents of Steve Chisnell’s programs at Royal Oak High School (MI).  Public readership is welcome. You are welcome to use portions of Steve Chisnell’s posts with appropriate credit or citation. Student-authored work may be used by permission only.

This site is new for the 2015-2016 school year. Students are encouraged to monitor the site for functionality, errors, and aesthetics. Want to see a change?  Let me know by reporting here.

Most Recent Updates

Using the Moodle App

The Moodle App can save you a lot of time getting your work done (End of Theory, The Source, Nomads, etc.) and it works fairly well on any smartphone! Download the app on your favorite app store.  Be sure to choose Moodle Mobile since it is the most reliable. Choose... read more

Essay Tip: Write the Intros last!

I wanted to give out an essay tip that Mr. Chisnell mentioned  in the Flatland essay workshop over the summer. He said that it might be a good idea to start your essay by writing the body paragraphs first. Mr. Chisnell went on to explain that this might help in... read more


I teach Language Arts courses at Royal Oak High School.  Here are links to these classes, including some that I am not currently offering.  Students and parents will find all of the necessary information about their courses here!


Being a part of the broader ROHS community means connecting into some of its many extra-curricular activities. I sponsor several, including Royal Oak Model United Nations, Interact youth Rotary, The Roost Student Union, and student service trips.


It doesn’t matter what class you’re in: understanding basic technology use, learning some writing tips, or refining your presentation skills–here are some ideas for everyone.



About Me

What I’m reading, where I’m traveling, how I work to stay eco-friendly, and where to find me in various organizations and social media.




Teaching Philosophy

While my main goal with students is to improve their literacy, what that means becomes a bit complicated.  Literacy means thinking critically–both deeply and broadly–about the culture in which we live and learn. Literacy means composition in traditional written forms but also oral performance, close reading skill, and digital composition. Developing literacy is a process rather than an end (I am still learning!), so experimentation, risk-taking, and failure are common: but growth as a writer composing within a dynamic world is not optional. This means authentic assessment projects, cross-disciplinary challenges, democratic participation and service, collaborative teamwork, professional discourse, and an inherent desire to learn are expected behaviors of the literate student.

Blended Learning

Most all of my classes and clubs operate online as much as they do in live classroom meetings. Live human interaction is important, but students involved in online learning, communication and collaboration, portfolio production, and multimedia publishing is also a large portion of my courses. This frees our in-person class time for relevant discussion, teamwork, and student-driven inquiry rather than quiet work-time.

Learning By Controversy and Inquiry

In a social environment which seems increasingly contentious, learning to navigate arguments and approach difficult subjects with an inquisitive and critical eye is essential. Expect me to raise challenging questions, provoke inquiry into common assumptions, and raise issues of historical, academic, and contemporary cultural concern in classes, all as a part of developing a critical literacy.

Academic Growth

My expectation is that all students succeed, but I recognize that not all students succeed in any skill on the same timetable. Therefore, any scores that fall below the “successful” standard (a “B,” a 3 of 4 pts, or a 6 on the AP 9-pt scale, etc.) may be revised until success is achieved.  The conditions for revision vary for each assignment.

MYP and College Board

All of these points fulfill the expectations of two driving influences on our curriculum:  IB/MYP and the College  Board AP Curriculum.

The MYP Learner Profile, in particular, demands that students be open-minded, principled, risk-taking thinkers.  Many of the projects in my ELA9 classes will follow a cycle of Inquiry–>Action–>Reflection.

The AP Curriculum from the College Board promotes not merely an examination of the Western canonical literature, but a provocative discussion of how meaning is constructed, a healthy practice for all university study.


While you can find more on this with the individual course pages, understand that the “game” elements of our coursework (The End of Theory, Nomads, The Source, badges and Karma, etc.) are designed to enhance and add complexity to the curriculum as well as motivate productivity. However, in no case in any course do they affect the academic marks students receive on report cards. And they’re also kinda fun.

Technology Access Expectation

Today, successful participation in society depends upon access.  While there is no expectation that any student own a particular tech device, students will find that greater success comes from building a reliable place for quiet reading and for having internet access with a usable email address.  Cameras, smartphones, software, tablets and laptops, all provide opportunities to create and learn, but none are required of my courses or clubs.  The RO Public Library and ROHS both provide access to the internet; RO Schools also gives every student a working Gmail address.


is Freedom.



- Paulo Freire

What will destroy us:

politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi

When dialogue ends,

everything ends.



- Mikhail Bakhtin

Contact Me

The school email is the best choice: