The English Department strives to create an environment and a curriculum that will foster life-long reading, writing, and learning as attainable goals for both students and teachers.
- All freshman, sophomore, and junior courses share common elements and approaches, even as the literature selections and thematic strands of study may vary from course to course. Shared Literature is the study of required texts at each grade level with the inclusion of literature reflecting multicultural and diverse perspectives. Reading Workshop rounds out the students’ reading experience, offering the opportunity to pursue titles and authors of their own choosing. Analysis Writing springs from the literature and reflects student growth in critical thinking and writing competency over time. Writing Workshop is a student-centered writing program focusing on self-selected topics and offering instruction in writing technique and regular feedback from peer and teacher audiences. Each student produces, in addition to other forms of assessments, a culminating portfolio, an authentic demonstration of his or her growth over time.
Students at this level need more individual attention and support than others do, and they may need individualized learning accommodations, whether or not they have an IEP. Reading and/or writing may be a greater challenge to them than to most high school students, though they may be more proficient at one than the other. Students at this level often struggle to complete assignments on time and/or independently. Their thinking about literature tends to be more literal than abstract, and grades, tests, and projects pose significant challenges for them. English 1, 2, and 3 students make their greatest gains with closely monitored instruction and coaching in the classroom. (English 1 students are required to enroll in the companion Reading Class freshman year.)
This is a mainstream class for students who generally complete their assignments and put forth a good effort. Though abilities and interests vary a great deal in this group with students both at the higher and lower ends of the spectrum, students usually have relatively good organizational skills and complete assignments as expected. Their reading and writing may be inconsistent, or they may be stronger in one than the other. They show signs of taking ideas further, exploring implications, and assessing the significance of ideas in relation to each other. Their analysis work, both in literature and writing, tends to be more concrete than abstract. These students have a positive attitude toward English class and generally feel successful there.
Honors students are first and foremost fans of literature and writing. They are critical thinkers who demonstrate high level analysis, discrimination among ideas, and synthesis of concepts. They are capable of independent thinking and show an ability to pose meaningful questions that guide further inquiry. Their writing, thinking, and discussion skills move beyond the surface toward deeper inferences and insights. The honors student always does his homework, which is demanding and regular in nature –30 pages of reading per night is not unusual along with frequent writing assignments—and also keeps up with Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop obligations. He understands how to tune a piece to a specific audience, has a voice in his writing, and is willing to take risks as a learner. He builds on his classmates’ ideas in discussion and helps the conversation grow rather than become repetitive.