English Language Arts

AP English Language and Composition
The AP course in English Language and Composition prepares students for college-level coursework. Students are expected to read closely, think analytically, and communicate clearly in both written and oral communication.

Students are engaged in becoming skilled readers of prose in a variety of rhetorical contexts and in becoming skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their reading and writing make students aware of the interactions of writer’s purpose, audience expectation, and subject, as well as of the way genre conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.

AP Language and Composition Units:

Unit 1 A Study of Language: Students will engage with texts that have persuasive power and examine how the argument is created.

Unit 2 A Study of Argument: Students will understand that the effectiveness of argumentative writing relies on the strength of the claims and the supporting details as well as how effectively the author explains the evidence and establishes a link between the claim and the evidence.

Unit 3 A System of Education: Students will interact with texts that develop arguments regarding the purpose of education and the extent to which the current system of education serves the values of a true education.

Unit 4 A Study of Beauty: Students will interact with a cluster of texts that offer viewpoints on human beauty, to consider their own argument on the subject.

Unit 5 A Study of Monuments and Memorials: Students will use The Alamo Memorial as a case study for examining the rhetoric of a monument or memorial.

Unit 6 Rhetoric of Monuments and Memorials PBL: In this PBL, students will apply what they learned about monuments and memorials through the Case Study of the Alamo in Unit 5 to the design of their own monument or memorial.

Creative Writing
Creative Writing courses offer students the opportunity to develop and improve their technique and individual style in poetry, short story, drama, essays, and other forms of prose. The emphasis of the courses is on writing; however, students may study exemplary representations and authors to obtain a fuller appreciation of the form and craft. Although most creative writing classes cover several expressive forms, others concentrate exclusively on one particular form (such as poetry or playwriting).
The Composition elective improves students’ written and oral communication skills and prepares them to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Students learn the power of words and how diction controls the tone and determines the impact of a piece of writing. Students study speeches, essays, and works of fiction and nonfiction to understand the effective communication of their own ideas. The course guides students to read critically and deconstruct text to analyze author’s purpose and the use of the rhetorical device. By the end of the course, students will be able to produce clear, compelling, coherent writing in a variety of genres.
In this senior year ELA class British Literature, students prepare for college-level reading and writing through standards-based instruction and a focus on anchor texts that cover the major literary topics and themes across the history of the United Kingdom. Students study the major literary topics and themes across the literary movements – Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian, Modernism, Post-Modernism, and Contemporary. Students focus on the major literary forms, analyze themes and trends, and research and compose several papers, speeches, and presentations using representative forms of discourse. Over the course of the year, students will read The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, 1984 by George Orwell, and Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte.
In the American Literature course for juniors, students prepare for college-level coursework and their SAT tests through standards-based instruction and a focus on anchor texts – The Crucible, Our Town, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby – that cover the major literary topics and themes across the history of the United States. Students will focus on the major literary forms of the emerging nation, analyze the literary themes and trends, and research and compose several papers, speeches, and presentations using representative forms of discourse.
In the sophomore ELA course, students explore and analyze the very idea of language through a variety of texts from around the world. Through a combination of writing exercises, class discussions, and collaborative group activities, students develop a deeper understanding of theme, genre, audience, and author intent, and gain the necessary skills to think critically and communicate as writers, students, and citizens. This course prepares students for the Language Arts MCAS in the spring and scaffolds the critical thinking, close reading, and writing skills necessary in their future academic careers.

The Odyssey

This unit is an exploration of the “Hero’s Journey” in Homer’s The Odyssey. Students examine how heroic characters develop in a text and analyze how our understanding of heroism has evolved over time.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

This unit is a study of characters’ internal and external conflicts in The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Students will explore the concepts of ambition and fate through real-life connections, analyzing how conflicting motivations drive humans to act in different ways.

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

This unit is an exploration of the devastating effects of colonialism in Nigeria and the struggle between tradition and change in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Students will analyze how authors use language, form, and style to develop the point of view and express a unique cultural experience.

The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

This unit is an exploration of the genre of “magical realism,” works of literature of other cultures. Students recognize the characteristics of the genre and explore how literature develops themes with social commentary and express “real human truths.”

In freshman English students explore and analyze the very idea of language through a wide variety of fictional and informational texts. Writing exercises, class discussions, and collaborative group activities lead students to develop a deeper understanding of theme, genre, rhetoric, and author intent, and to use strategies to practice critically thinking and to communicate as writers, students, and members of society.

Units of study include:

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet – an exploration of how patterns and contrasts in language reveal theme and develop motifs.
Fahrenheit 451 – an exploration of questions related to creativity, the evolution of literacy, and issues of censorship.
Henrietta’s Dance – an exploration of the myriad ways we leave a legacy – through our language, our families, our DNA.

Lord of the Flies – an exploration of what drives societies to succeed or fail; a consideration of how humans manage moral dilemmas.

This is a building year for students as they prepare for high school. Each unit is anchored by a pivotal text and supported by related readings in multiple genres.

Unit 1 “Flowers for Algernon” – Daniel Keyes

Students explore two related topics, the nature of knowledge and desire for improvement.

Unit 2 “The Tell-Tale Heart” – Edgar Allan Poe

Students explore the role of narrator and point of view and investigate motive and bias present in texts.

Unit 3 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Students explore human interaction and conflict with animals and nature. The combination of anchor and related texts prepares students to develop their own arguments about human relationships with creatures and environments.

Unit 4 Sugar Changed the World – Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Students explore the impact of sugar production and sugar trade on the economic and social course of world history. They will evaluate text credibility and compare and contrast texts to make informative claims.

Seventh grade English Language Arts is a rigorous course designed to improve essential reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking skills that promote high school and college readiness. Students read a variety of texts and genres to explore how authors develop the literary elements, character, the point of view, setting, conflict, and theme within the different genres.

The Giver – Lois Lowry

In this unit, students explore dystopian fiction and consider how authors use character and point of view to craft unique settings. Students consider the following essential question: Every society is built with the hope of perfection, but history has proven utopia difficult to achieve. What would constitute a perfect society, and what would you be willing to sacrifice in order to create it?

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland – Sally M. Walker

In this unit, students study a work of historical fiction and an informational text to understand the connections between history and literature. Students consider: Why do human beings pass stories to successive generations?

Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley

In this unit, students study a fictional account of a slave’s story and compare it to an autobiographical account of a freed slave in post-Civil War America. Students consider how an author uses or alters history in historical fiction and consider: What lessons can we learn from reading historical fiction, and how do authors of this genre convey themes?

“How to Write a Memoir” – William Zinsser

In this unit, students study the way authors approach writing the stories of their lives as well as experiment with their own writing styles. Students consider the following: How can the stories we tell help us discover who we are?

Grade 6 ELA is a significant course for students in a transitional year between elementary and middle school.

“Stanford Commencement Address” – Steve Jobs
Students begin the year with a unit of readings on the importance of failure in finding success.
Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
Students examine Paulsen’s novel to explore the significance of vigilance in the face of danger.
Out of the Dust – Karen Hesse
Students analyze social and environmental issues of the Great Depression through the anchor text and multi-media presentations.

If Stones Could Speak – Marc Aronson
Students explore how archaeology supports our knowledge of prehistory and human history with the reading of the anchor text If Stones Could Speak, the study of an archaeological dig at Stonehenge, England, as well as multiple text in print and non-print media.