In 399 BCE, Socrates was condemned to die by the Athenian Court.

His crime:


Teaching young people how to reason for themselves




"True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us."


Welcome to my course companion website. Navigate using the menu at the top of the page or scroll down to browse through content. 

To contact me, email tmcnair@qiss.org.cn


2016 - 2017 Courses

Grade 11 English Language Arts

Grade 12 English Language Arts

AP English Language and Composition




Below you can find my calendar, which features daily lesson plans for each of my classes as well as links to key documents and assignments. Simply click on the day and class you would like to know more about. You can also find dates for school events here.



Below you can find my course newsletters, which are published monthly. Each edition details the learning taking place in my classes, including content, activities, and on-going assignments.


grade 11 ela


grade 12 ela


AP english language and composition


Course Documents

Click on the course below to view and download course documents, including syllabi, policy statements, and major assignment instructions.

Documents are housed via OneDrive, which may be accessible only through a VPN in some areas.


Parent Resources

Below are some resources to help the parents and guardians of my students. For more information about the specific content your scholar is learning in class, check out my Course Newsletters and the Course Calendar. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact me or schedule a conference.


How to Help Your Scholar

Here are some short articles I've written on ways you can help your scholar with his or her coursework.



Partnered with the International Literacy Association and National Council of Teachers of English, ReadWriteThink is an online reading and writing resource for educators, students, and parents. Here, you can find ways to engage your scholar in reading and writing outside of school.


The School of Life

The School of Life is a really cool website to explore with your scholar. Designed "to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture," The School of Life produces videos, articles, books, and even webinars that encourage learners of all ages to "step back and think intelligently about central emotional concerns." If you want to engage your scholar in some intellectual conversations, this is the place to start.

About Mr. McNair

I never thought I'd end up a teacher. I suppose the signs were obvious and all around me--I come from a family of teachers, I got a degree in English--but I resisted the calling for many years. In fact, it took being canned from a dead-end middle management job I hated to finally push me into education. It turns out that being fired was the best thing that ever happened to my career.

I’ve lived in Texas my entire life, growing up near the Oklahoma border before moving off to Denton in 2000 to study jazz performance at the University of North Texas.  My collegiate music career didn’t last long, however, as only a year and a half in, I was seduced by academia. I graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in English.

As an English major, my focus was in creative writing, but my academic interests are wide-ranging. I love writing, of course, but also studying composition, from poetics and prosody to rhetoric and general grammar. I’m a big fan of classical literature, political philosophy, the American romantics, the Russian masters, the whole camp of miserable European Existentialists, and 

science fiction. Outside of my specialties, I like reading about probability and statistics, logic, cosmology, and other big, systematic, headache-inducing subjects.

I’ve taught high school English since 2009, with most of my years spent teaching AP English Language and Composition. I especially enjoy teaching writing: helping students realize that the only differences between them and the famous authors we read are an awareness of purpose and practiced techniques. I’m a big believer that the ability to write well unlocks deep, comprehensive understanding, and students in my class can expect to grapple with topics that are sophisticated and complex. Furthermore, my students will learn early on that writing is all about making choices and that those choices are largely driven by personal style. In my class, we move away from the formulaic and rote structures of the traditional “school paper” and toward conceptualizing the essay as a work of unique, personal discovery—as a vessel for both learning and sharing knowledge, as a means of communicating with the world something new and profound.


B.A. in English, University of North Texas, 2005


Ashford University, 2009

Wakeland High School, 2009 - 2010

Liberty High School, 2010 - 2016

Qingdao No. 1 International School, 2016 - present


AP Reader, English Language Arts, 2014 - present

Lifechanger of the Year Nominee, 2016

There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.

-Plato, The Republic

Outside of school, I love spending time with my family, taking road trips, and watching baseball. I love playing tabletop games—Stone Age, Lords of Xidit, Forbidden Desert, and Coup are some of my favorites. Ever since I was a young man I’ve always been obsessed with how games are built and with the numbers and percentages behind the rules. I’ve always admired the types of games which are elegant in their simplicity and intuitiveness, the kind that are easy to pick up but can be played a thousand different ways. I also like listening to metal—everything from classic thrash to progressive, from over-the-top power-speed metal to doom/sludge metal. I think what most draws me to the genre is its highly developed taxonomy. For whatever reason, metal heads, more than most music lovers, obsess over labeling bands and albums into subgenres and sub-subgenres and regional offshoots of sub-subgenres etc. I find the categorization fascinating.

In 2010 I married my incredible wife, Tanya. When we first met back in 2007, she was my best friend’s girlfriend’s sister and visiting from Chicago, and after an evening out with friends, I recall never wanting to see her again. Fortunately for me, I got over it and a year later convinced her to move to Texas and marry me. 

In 2011 we had our daughter Hannah, who recently has started telling people she wants to be a teacher, like her mom and dad. I guess its inevitable.  

I am currently teaching at Qingdao No. 1 International School of Shandong Province in the Laoshan District of Qingdao, China. This is my first international posting, but it already feels like home here. The school staff, the students, the people of Qingdao have all embraced my family and me with open arms, and we couldn't feel more appreciated.