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English

English I

Grade 9
Required
Full Year
Prerequisites: none

English I is a course designed to acquaint freshmen with six major literary genres: short story, poetry, essay, epic, drama, and the novel. As students read literature, the three major goals of the course are 1) to cultivate an appreciation for the various literary forms by helping students perceive meaningful connections between literature and life, 2) to foster an understanding of literature through examination of the ways in which formal elements of a text—especially literary device—contribute to the beauty and integrity of a work, and 3) to develop students’ ability to think critically as demonstrated through analytical writing and oral participation. There is heavy emphasis in English I on learning to develop an argument and substantiate it using textual evidence and demonstrating logical thinking. Students are also given an opportunity to explore their own experiences creatively by composing reflective essays and short stories. Finally, students are required to complete vocabulary lessons from each unit, as well as grammar lessons emphasizing proper usage, punctuation, and sentence construction and variety. The major skills students learn in English I culminate in a research project that requires the use of technology.

English I Plus

Grade 9
Elective to English I
Full Year
Prerequisites: Department approval (Placement determined by 8th Grade English teacher or admissions recommendations)

English I Plus is an introduction to reading and writing skills at the high school level. As such, variety rather than specialization is stressed in works studied and tasks assigned. Many types of literature are read: short stories from around the world, essays, a novel, a Shakespearean play, an epic, and a number of lyric poems. Different modes of writing are studied and assigned: creative, personal, analytical, expository, research-based, and others. As an “accelerated” class, sophisticated levels of reading comprehension and interpretation are sought, and much discussion of the reading is expected as the class tries to articulate a theme where it lies implicit or analyze the effectiveness of a particular rhetorical strategy.

English II

Grade 10
Required
Full year
Prerequisites: English I or I Plus. Student's performance in previous English class AND teacher recommendation determines placement. If students do not maintain a B average over three quarters in English I+, they will be required to move into English II for their sophomore year.

This course engages students in probing ethical dilemmas and self-awareness issues in mainstream and non-Western immigrant American literature. Students read a variety of genres from each of the major literary periods. In addition, students probe American literature by writing explications and by conducting prepared and impromptu discussions. Furthermore, students research and write a documented paper on an American and non-Western issue employing MLA style. Writing is further developed through the study of grammar that is applied directly to the writing, and electronic tools are used to strengthen not only writing but also reading and thinking.

English II Plus

Grade 10
Elective to English II
Full year
Prerequisites: Department approval. Students currently enrolled in English I+ must maintain a B average or higher in the course; students currently in English I may request to take English II+ if they earn an A or A- average in their freshman year.

English II Plus is offered to challenge more advanced, highly motivated English students. Historical background and chronological patterns in American literature will be covered; however, the classic texts will be taught using primarily a thematic approach and with the expectation that each text will demand increasing levels of skill in reading and writing. Texts ranging from the Romantic Period to the Postmodern Era will survey the themes that have defined American culture, such as ambiguity and protest, and students will learn to understand and discuss literary devices, style and structure with greater sophistication through analytical, expository and creative personal response writings. Particular emphasis is placed on multiple revisions and in-class writing, and students will complete a research project using MLA style.

English III

Grade 11
Required
Full Year
Prerequisites: English II or II Plus. Student's performance in previous English class AND teacher recommendation determines placement. If students do not maintain a B average over three quarters in English II+, they will be required to move into English III for their junior year.

English III is a selective chronological approach to British literature with significant focus on reading and writing. Students read works from the Anglo-Saxon Period to the Modern, which include essays, short stories, poetry, novels and drama. When opportunity permits, students attend plays in the city which relate to what they are studying in class. PBS videos, such as “The History of the English Language,” are used to augment readings and give the students more insight and appreciation of their studies. Vocabulary will be studied in preparation for the SAT in the spring. The major focus of writing in this course is expository in which the students learn to analyze works they have read. Students also will make use of literary criticism in their reading and writing. Grammar will be taught as needed through the writing. At least one research paper will be written during the year with emphasis on the use of the MLA method of documentation.

English III AP

Grade 11
Elective to English III
Full Year
Prerequisites: Department approval. Students currently enrolled in English II+ must maintain a B average or higher in the course; students currently in English II may request to take English III AP if they earn an A or A- average in their sophomore year.

A course for eleventh graders, English III AP is intended to be a sustained discussion of rhetorical strategies in nonfiction prose, as tested on the AP Examination in English Language and Composition, supplemented by a reading of selected classics of British and American fiction chosen for their expression of powerful ideas that can be used as resources in essays for this course and as early preparation for the AP Examination in English Literature and Composition next year (or for those who intend to take both exams at the end of their junior year). Although the course seeks to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts, it focuses on the distinctive nature of persuasive writing and expects students to compose arguments of their own for particular audiences and analyze the persuasive writing of others in terms of rhetorical strategies deployed. Effective language use will be the unifying concern in all activities. Representative texts: 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology, Samuel Cohen, editor; Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell.

English IV

Grade 12
Required
Full Year
Prerequisites: English III or III AP. Student's performance in previous English class AND teacher recommendation determines placement. If students do not maintain a B average over three quarters in English III AP, they will be required to move into English IV for their senior year.

English IV continues the college preparatory skills in the language arts which were introduced throughout grades 9-11: close reading of a text; discussion of the enduring themes related to man and nature; analysis of the literary and rhetorical features of individual works; practice in library research, including both print and electronic resources; and writing in a variety of modes typical of required college courses—narration, description, exposition, persuasion, etc. Students will explore texts from different genres, such as fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, and film and from different disciplines, such as literature, history, philosophy, and fine art. Through such activities, students will gain a clearer perspective on their readiness for reading and writing at the collegiate level as well as greater insight to their own opinions and the informed opinions of others.

English IV AP

Grade 12
Elective to English IV
Full Year
Prerequisites: Department approval. Students currently enrolled in English III AP must maintain a B average or higher in the course; students currently in English III may request to take English IV AP if they earn an A or A- average in their junior year.

English IV AP is intended to strengthen the skills of analytical reading and writing, which are tested by the Advanced Placement Test in English Literature and Composition. That test asks students to do two fundamental tasks: 1) read literary excerpts with comprehension and analytical skill and 2) write critical essays based on a prose passage, a poem, and a longer literary work of their own choosing. The works studied in the class are typical of the works that students will encounter on the exam.

The course requires students to improve their ability to think perceptively and lucidly, their ability to be flexible in solving the problems presented by texts, and their ability to write effectively. Students also conduct research and synthesize it in a writing exercise using MLA style in order to prepare for success in college courses. Furthermore, students employ technology to support their learning and to further their ability to gather, organize, understand, and present information. Finally, students must become expert analyzers of their own strengths and weaknesses in order to develop strategies for improvement in reading, writing, and thinking.

Creative Writing I

Grades 11-12
Elective
One Semester
Prerequisites: open to students who have room for a second English course; does not count as required English

Human communication begins with storytelling. We are all storytellers, and we recognize an intriguing tale when we hear one. The Creative Writing course is designed to allow students to explore the elements that bring these stories to life. Students will write and read fiction, poetry and dramatic pieces. The writers’ personal strengths and preferences will be important factors in determining specific assignments. Collaborative writing, peer editing, process writing, and revising will all be explored. Daily classes will take forms such as workshop settings, class discussions, group writing efforts, and more. Though this is not a literature course, the class will read a variety of materials and identify the elements which make them work.

Creative Writing II

Grades 11-12
Elective
One Semester
Prerequisites: instructor permission

With permission of the instructor, this course is open to students who have successfully completed Creative Writing I and have room in their schedules for a second English course; will not count as required English.

Writing for Media I and II

Grades 11-12
Elective
One Semester each
Prerequisites: instructor permission

An introduction to writing and publication for media (print and electronic), areas of exploration will include recent trends in media, journalistic ethics, student press law, interview conduct, and documentary production. A variety of composition modes will be practiced, including review, opinion, narrative, profile, and investigative reporting. In addition to classroom and theoretical study of these topics, students will experience practical application of their skills through some writing for and production of media content in a variety of formats. Every attempt will be made to practice professional journalistic traditions such as conducting meaningful and accurate interviews, gathering and reporting relevant and accurate student polls, and acquiring a fair, unbiased, and honest voice in both written and visual reporting. Speakers from the professional media community may supplement classroom work as time and availability allow.

Southern Studies

Grades 9-12
Elective
Summer Only
Prerequisites: none

Students in this seminar will engage in a philosophical enquiry of how environment and place work to shape identity and culture. They are challenged to look at the South through the lenses of history, literature, music, art and architecture, and foodways. They will spend two weeks of classroom study followed by one week traveling to several Southern states in order to connect experientially with the landscape, geography and environment of the South. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the class, artistic activity, broadly speaking, will be an important area of focus in this class. The class is reading and writing intensive, and students will also complete an interdisciplinary project—such as a photo journal, a travelogue, or a writing portfolio—as their final assessment.

The English curriculum in the Upper School follows a steady progression of reading, writing and speaking development. Students work on literature comprehension, public speaking, proofreading and editing, as well as writing in various forms, such as poetry, fiction and essays.

All students participate in research projects and learn how to effectively use available media and to work both independently and collaboratively in groups.

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