Upper School

English Language Arts

The English Department

 Our aim is to help students become independent readers who are able to analyze, synthesize, and critique sophisticated literature and complex concepts in their writing and speech.

We encourage our students to think critically, identify problems and evolve creative and appropriate solutions. Students will recognize and produce finished, coherent, and unified analyses and arguments.

English 7

Course Description:

7th Grade English Language Arts includes the study of grammar, literary devices, and research writing. The course also includes a study of literature, including poetry, short stories, plays, and novels. Literature is used to sharpen reading skills, develop vocabulary, and improve comprehension and identification of literary elements such as theme, plot, characterization, and figurative language. Students will write book reports, creative assignments, and readers’ responses to the literature. The seventh grade Language Arts curriculum includes standardized test preparation through the study of grammar, usage, and mechanics. The major feature of 7th Grade Language Arts is the class production of Shakespeare at a local theatre.

Throughout the course, many of the reading assignments will focus on the topics covered in 7th-grade social studies, allowing for an interdisciplinary approach to the Humanities.

Potential Texts:

Heart of a Samurai (Preus)
The Outsiders (Hinton)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare)
Out of the Dust (Hesse)
So Far from the Bamboo Grove (Watkins)
The Sign of the Chrysanthemum (Paterson)
A Single Shard (Park)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor)
The Giver (Lowry)
Wonder (Palacio) 

Various poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles

Thematic Units of Study:

  1. Leaving Home
  2. Growing Up
  3. My True Self
  4. Shakespeare Production

Major Units of Study:

  1. Vocabulary: Students will study vocabulary from literature and other unit texts.
  2. Reading: In addition to assigned novels read as a whole class, students will choose novels to read independently, starting the second semester.
  3. Writing: Students will use a journal regularly. The seventh-grade curriculum also includes a variety of other formal writing assignments, including descriptive scenes and narratives.
  4. Grammar and Parts of Speech: students will be re-familiarized with the major parts of speech, sentence types, and proper usage in order to improve their own writing.
  5. Research: Students will write a comprehensive MLA paper on a subject of their own choosing.

Oral and Visual Communication: Through the formal and informal public speaking assignment, students will practice effective presentation and verbal communication techniques.

English 8

Course Description:

In Eighth Grade English Language Arts, students will write and speak for a variety of contexts. The literature curriculum prepares students for Advanced Placement style reading and writing tasks, including close reading and literary analytical compositions and the five-paragraph essay. Students also write MLA style research style compositions that emphasize signal phrasing, synthesizing sources, and in-text citations. In the Writer’s Journal, students engage in creative writing in the form of poetry, short stories, and other solution-finding prompts. The eighth grade Language Arts curriculum includes standardized test preparation through the study of grammar, usage, and mechanics, as well as speaking and listening curriculum in preparation for Freshman Speech, the capstone event of their junior high experience.

Potential Texts:
Light in the Forest (Richter)
The Chosen (Potok)
Call of the Wild (London)
The Pearl (Steinbeck)
Criss Cross (Perkins)
Fever 1793 (Anderson)
Speak (Anderson) 

Various Novels, Drama, and Poetry

Throughout the course, many other reading and research assignments will focus on the topics covered in 8th-grade social studies, allowing for an interdisciplinary approach to the Humanities.

 Major Units of Study:

  1. Vocabulary: Students will study vocabulary from literature and other unit texts.
  2. Reading: Several of the literature texts aim to reinforce the eighth-grade social studies curriculum, American History from Exploration to the Reconstruction. Also through the SSR program, students read independently and in class to complete the year-long program.
  3. Writing: through the journal and other formal writing assignments, students will explore and apply basic techniques of composition including thesis development, paragraph development, and synthesis. Creative writing projects include narrative, descriptive, and expository writings.
  4. Writing Conventions: through the parts of the speech curriculum, students will master sentence combining techniques as well as identify proper grammar, usage, and mechanics.
  5. Research: Students will write a comprehensive MLA paper on the subject of American history.
  6. Oral and Visual Communication: Through the formal and informal public speaking assignment, students will practice effective presentation and verbal communication techniques.
English 9

Course Description:

Ninth-grade English follows the college preparatory curriculum designed to offer students a historical overview of world literature selections in a variety of genres. Mythology, drama, poetry, short stories, novels, and plays will be read and analyzed. Literature is selected thematically. Using the CTA writing rubric, the composition component of English 9 emphasizes skills to develop proficiency with the five-paragraph analytical essay as well as standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, and Advanced Placement. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own voice by writing in a variety of genres.

Potential Texts:
Greek Mythology for Teens (Hamby)
Medea (Euripides)
Oedipus the King (Sophocles)
Things Fall Apart (Achebe)
Ficciones (Borges)
Strange Pilgrims (Marquez)
Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Rostand)
Night (Wiesel)
Persepolis (Satrapi)

Thematic Units of Study:

  1. Ancient Tales
  2. Tradition & Change
  3. Strange & Supernatural
  4. The Need for Change
  5. Conflict & War

Units of Study:

  1. Literature: The World Literature curriculum features novels, poetry, drama, and non-fiction selections. Students will explore the literary achievements and historical contexts in which the texts were written, as well as perform a close reading of texts, analyzing the author’s’ use of literary devices including figurative language, tone, diction, and structure.
  2. Composition: Students will study a variety of forms, including literary analysis, poetic analysis, the Advanced Placement Literature style analysis essay, and the personal statement essay.
  3. Research: Students will write a comprehensive, persuasive MLA paper on a subject of their choosing.
  4. Grammar: Students will practice standard grammar, mechanics, and usage through a variety of applied techniques in order to enhance the efficacy of their own writing.
  5. Oral and Visual Communication: Through class discussion, group exercises, and formal presentations, students will continue to develop their public speaking skills.
English 10

Course Description:

English 10 is an in-depth exploration of the themes and achievements of American authors, as well as a college preparatory composition course designed to develop students’ confidence and proficiency in a variety of writing tasks. The course uses canons of American literature and poetry to emphasize the mastery of literary device identification, reading comprehension skills, vocabulary growth, and close reading skills. Using the 4-point CTA writing rubric, the composition component English 10 is sequenced to further develop proficiency on standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, and Advanced Placement. The grammar curriculum focuses on sentence combining as well as standard mechanics and usage to develop clarity in writing. Students also perform speaking and listening tasks in a variety of contexts to gain fluency in oral communication.

Potential Texts:

Grammar Usage and Mechanics Workbook, Level 10 (Blue)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
Various Short Stories (Poe)
The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories (Twain)
Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck)
In Our Time (Hemingway, stories)
Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)
Short Fiction Classic and Contemporary

 

 

Units of Study:

  1. Literature: The American Literature curriculum features novels, poetry, drama, and non-fiction selections. Students will explore the literary achievements and historical contexts in which the texts were written, as well as perform a close reading of texts, analyzing the author’s’ use of literary devices including figurative language, tone, diction, and structure.
  2. Composition: Students will study a variety of forms, including literary analysis, the Advanced Placement Literature style analysis essay, and the personal essay.
  3. Research: Students will complete short MLA style synthesis papers using both primary source literature texts and secondary source literary analysis.
  4. Grammar: Students will practice standard grammar, mechanics, and usage through sentence-combining techniques, as well as identifying a range of grammatical, mechanical, and usage problems common on standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT.
  5. Oral and Visual Communication: Through class discussion, group exercises, and formal presentations, students will develop public speaking strategies, as well as integrate technology in expressing ideas.
English 11/12

Course Description:

This is a rotating 2-year course so that students who take the class for both 11th and 12th grades do not repeat content. The 2 courses are Contemporary Literature and College Composition.

English 11-12 Contemporary Literature
This literature-based course will explore themes and forms of contemporary writers. Studying the works of a range of world authors, students will develop skills of reading comprehension, close reading, and literary device identification. English 11-12 enriches the close reading and grammar curricula of previous years in preparation for writing and reading comprehension for college entrance standardized tests. Students will write in various modes, including the personal essay, the college application essay, and literary analysis. Texts are chosen in part to broaden students’ exposure to the world outside of their own.

Contemporary Literature Potential Texts:
The Glass Castle (Walls)
The Poisonwood Bible (Kingsolver)
The Crucible (Miller)
The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
Into the Wild (Krakauer)
Hamlet (Shakespeare)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston)
In Cold Blood (Capote)

Contemporary Literature Thematic Units of Study:
Growing Up & Leaving Home
Reputation & Identity
Love & Relationships vs. Independence

English 11-12 College Composition
In College Composition, students will write in the traditional rhetorical forms (description, narration, exposition, and persuasion), as well as creative writing and the personal essay, including the college application essay. English 11-12 enriches the close reading and grammar curricula of previous years in preparation for writing and reading comprehension for college entrance standardized tests. The literature curriculum is based on various themes and forms and includes units on drama and Shakespeare, the short story, poetry, and novels.

College Composition Potential Texts:
The Things They Carried (Obrien)
Seeing and Writing 3 (McQuade)
Norton Sampler Anthology (Cooley)
Short Fiction Classic and Contemporary, 5th Edition (various)
Macbeth (Shakespeare)
City of Glass (Auster)
1984 (Orwell)

College Composition Units of Study:
1. Summer Reading
2. The Personal Essay
3. The College Application Essay
4. The Short Story
5. Non-Fiction and Rhetoric,
6. Poetry and Drama
7. Literature and Film

Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition

Course Description:

Designed to be a college level course, rich in higher level thinking, AP English Literature & Composition will challenge, inspire, and enrich the eager literature student. Students will read works that range from the 16th through 21st century in a variety genres, grouped thematically. The reading, writing, listening, and speaking experiences will broaden human understandings about the world around us. There will be a focus on literary devices and skills for the AP Exam, and practice portions of the test will be given on a weekly basis. Students should expect a rigorous undergraduate English experience with intellectual challenges and a considerable workload that culminates with the AP Literature & Composition Exam in May. This course is authorized by the Advanced Placement program of the College Board. This course is appropriate for high school students who are eager readers.

Potential Texts:
All The Light We Cannot See (Doerr)
How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Foster)
The Lord of the Flies (Golding)
The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)
Frankenstein (Shelley)
King Lear (Shakespeare)
The Turn of the Screw (James)
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini)
The Haunting of Hill House (Jackson)
Beloved (Morrison)
Brave New World (Huxley)

Thematic Units of Study:
1. Survival & Oppression
2. Isolation & Depression
3. Uncertainty & Madness
4. Choice & Freedom

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition

Course Description:

Students in AP English Language and Composition will engage in an intensive study of rhetorical analysis and purposeful writing. Students will apply in their own writing the technique of non fiction masters, composing essays in a variety of modes, including the expository, the analytical, the personal, and the argumentative. In addition, students will fulfill the weekly Writer’s Notebook, a year-long series of creative prompts in order to utilize form and context, and to increase student confidence with the written word. Students will also engage in intensive evaluative readings of AP Language essays in preparation for the AP Composition Test in May. This course is authorized by the Advanced Placement program of the College Board.

Sample Texts:
Title: Seeing and Writing 3 (McQuade)
The Norton Sampler of the Essay (Cooley)
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Gibaldi)
This Boy’s Life (Wolf)
Hiroshima (Hersey)

1. First Quarter: Memoir and the Autobiographical Persona
2. Second Quarter: Question 2: Rhetorical Analysis
3. Third Quarter: Synthesis, Argumentation
4. Fourth Quarter: Making Connections and the AP Language and Composition Exam

Video

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