An overview of the English curriculum

The overall goals of the English program are to develop students’ appreciation of literature; encourage a lifelong habit of reading; and guide students to speak, listen, read, and write with increasing depth and sophistication.  Students are encouraged to recognize and develop their own personal styles and interests in communication, particularly in writing.  Each year of the English program is divided into units that focus on particular skills, such as critical reading, and also focus on particular kinds of literature.  Through studying literature students learn to make connections with the political, social, and spirtual world.  More specific goals for students in the English program are as follows:


·      To learn how to engage in a discussion of ideas

·      To offer opportunities for creative writing

·      To expose students to a wide variety of literature from different social, historical, and ethnic perspectives

·      To encourage clarity in writing and speech

·      To practice defending an opinion in writing and speech

·      To learn the building blocks of analytical thought

·      To learn and improve writing skills from the basic mechanics of sentence structure to essay writing

·      To practice organizational and time management skills

·      To improve vocabulary through reading and study

·      To practice close reading skills

·      To learn and practice a variety of note-taking skills from presentations and reading

·      To practice impromptu writing for test taking

·      To expose students to a variety of assessments and instruct them on strategies to answer different types of questions


English 9: Foundations of Language and Literature

This course concentrates on the development of reading, writing, and speaking skills, to help students form a sound foundation for further work in language and literature. In this course, students practice reading skills such as fluency and active reading.  These skills are designed to improve comprehension and retention skills.  In their reading of short stories, novels, poems, and plays, students are introduced to various genres and styles of writing. Students are encouraged to begin to make inferences about their reading and move toward more analytical thought processes. Students also practice writing complete sentences with varied structures to improve their writing skills.  Basic paragraph composition and the building blocks of essay writing are taught and reviewed.  Students practice grammar and punctuation on a variety of writing projects, including creative writing.  Creative writing assignments are also used to allow students to engage with literary elements that they are studying, such as dialogue, description, and character and plot development, in other writer’s works.  During the writing process, students practice revising and editing their work.  Units of study often include American short fiction, novels such as The Call of the Wild and The Lord of the Flies, epic poems such as The Odyssey, and plays such as Oedipus Rex.  Often texts from different time periods are used to discover how the historical context of different genres influences the work.


English 10:  Narrative Patterns and Genres

In this course students read the classics of various genres of literature (adventure, mystery, gothic, horror, and science fiction).  While reading, students begin to explore the parts of stories (plot, characters, setting) and practice forming opinions about what makes a “good story.”   Students will read short stories, novels, poems, and plays from different time periods to expose them to a variety of styles.  We will also begin to discuss the historical context of the texts they read.  Students will practice active reading to improve comprehension and retention skills.  Ultimately, students practice making inferences about the reading and begin exploring the difference between analytical reading and interpretive reading.  The writing portion of this course will focus on providing the building blocks for essay writing.  Students practice writing and supporting an argument with evidence.  Writing in complete sentences using varied sentence structure in both creative and non-fiction writing is emphasized. Creative writing assignments are also used to allow students to engage with literary elements that they are studying, such as dialogue, description, theme, and character and plot development, in other writer’s works.  During the writing process, students will practice peer editing and revising, and often are asked to present their writing to the class.  Units of study often include short fiction by Edgar Allen Poe and Flannery O’Connor, novels such as White Fang and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, epic poetry such as The Iliad, and plays such as Antigone and The Blues for Mr. Charlie.


English 11:  American Literature

In this course students will read classic American literature (short stories, novels, plays, and poems) and learn about the historical and political context of the texts.  The course is designed to introduce students to analytical reading and writing skills.  In class, students will practice “close reading,” learning how to explore the meaning of text by closely examining key passages.  This kind of reading will improve comprehension and retention skills, as well as introducing students to the level of analysis required for their writing.  Students practice making informed analytical arguments about their reading.  In doing so, they will practice writing organized, analytical literary essays.  This kind of writing requires using evidence from the text to support the arguments.  Students focus on writing in a variety of modes including essays, response papers, journal entries, and occasionally poetry and short stories.  Units of study often include Native American literature, plays such as The Crucible, novels such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, essays by Emerson and Thoreau, and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance.


English 12: The Dissemination of Story

In this course, students explore the importance of literature personally, historically, and politically.  Students will read various fiction and non-fiction works, including: memoirs, personal essays, critical essays, novels, poems, and short stories. Students practice close, analytical reading by finding significant passages within the text and discussing what these passages reveal about the text (both in class discussion and in writing).  In class, students practice entering into intellectual discourse in a classroom setting.  Students will practice various styles of writing including: creative non-fiction, personal essays, journalistic review, poetry composition, playwriting, informal response, and finally, analytical literary essay writing.  In their writing, students will practice providing evidence to support their opinions and writing pieces that show their thought processes.  Students are encouraged to find their own intellectual voice in their writing and experiment with new ideas. Students practice revising and editing their own work during the writing process.  Each student also goes through a workshop process with the class during the creative non-fiction unit on memoir.  Units of study often include novels such as The Things They Carried, 1984, and Jane Eyre and modern poetry.  Students also complete a unit on memoir, choosing a memoir to read outside of class and writing their own memoir style essays.