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English

The Upper School English curriculum focuses on developing students as energetic readers and purposeful writers, thinkers who know their own tastes and strengths and yet are always willing to explore a new idea or rise to a new challenge.  The critical study of canonical and contemporary literature as a class fosters an ability to recognize and articulate universal themes that unite across boundaries; independent reading choices ready students for lives as engaged and thoughtful citizens.

Upper School students read like writers, eager to recognize intentional choices in diction, syntax, and rhetorical pattern and to try those moves in their own writing. They write both formally and informally, for a range of audiences and for a variety of purposes, coming to value both the process and the product of their work. Vocabulary and grammar are studied both in the context of the students’ reading and writing and as distinct topics.

Course Descriptions

English 1 CP (1 year/1.0 unit)

English 1 offers students an introduction to the empowering endeavor of Upper School reading, writing, and thinking. Students begin by establishing habits of mind and practice around vocabulary, annotation, grammar/mechanics, and independent reading. In the second quarter, with a collection of contemporary nonfiction writers as our mentors, we move beyond what happens in a piece of text to how and why it happens. Students learn to listen carefully to authorial choices, thereby growing the strength of their own writing voices. Writing in the first semester focuses on personal essay and narrative. Close reading of selected short fiction gives students an opportunity to hone analytical skills before moving into a second semester introduction to literary genres: poetry (Lowell, Bishop, Frost), drama (Miller, Ibsen), and the novel (Lee). The year finishes with Shakespeare’s delightful Much Ado About Nothing.
 
Prerequisite: None

English 1 Honors (1 year/1.0 unit)

In addition to English 1 CP course description, expectations for Honors students include increased volume and a quicker pace in reading, greater depth of analysis in discussion, and a heightened awareness of stylistic sophistication in written work.
 
Prerequisite: Recommendation from 8th grade English instructor along with a final grade of A, A-, or B+

English 2 CP - World Literature (1 year/1.0 unit)

English 2 investigates ways in which literature has sought to explore the delicate balance between the rights of an individual and the needs of a group. Short fiction by Katherine Mansfield and poetry by Thomas Hardy build a framework within which students study pairings of seminal works by authors of differing ages and cultures. Representative pairings (a tentative reading list) include Golding (Lord of the Flies) and Fugard (“Master Harold”...and The Boys); Satrapi (Persepolis) and Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird); Shakespeare (Macbeth) and Achebe (Things Fall Apart). Short fiction and poetry will supplement the study of book-length texts, and tenth grade students will also maintain a robust commitment to independent (choice) reading.
 
Prerequisite: English 1

English 2 Honors - World Literature (1 year/1.0 unit)

In addition to English 2 CP course description, students enrolled in the Honors course will also read Shelley (Frankenstein) and Zusak (The Book Thief); students enrolled at the honors level will be held to higher standards in terms of depth of analysis and sophistication of expression, both in discussion and on paper.
 
Prerequisite: English 1 and departmental approval

English 3 CP - American Literature (1 year/1.0 unit)

This essentially chronological survey course will also examine thematic threads in American studies and make cross-curricular connections with students’ work in American History. Essential questions driving student inquiry focus around identity, freedom and oppression, the “American Dream,” and the enduring appeal of the frontier. Units of study will include Nation-Building: Puritan, Colonial, Native American Voices; Romanticism and Transcendentalism; Realism; Suffrage and Civil Rights; The Literature of War; and The American Dream in the 20th Century. The writing focus for the first half of the year is on literary analysis, but students will hone both research skills and personal writing voice with a multi-genre paper in the third quarter, and fourth quarter writing will include enough emphasis on personal and narrative writing to prepare students to begin to crafting college essays. Eleventh graders will continue their commitment to independent reading and maintain a writer’s notebook.
 
Prerequisite: English 2

English 3 Honors - American Literature (1 year/1.0 unit)

This essentially chronological survey course will also examine thematic threads in American studies and make cross-curricular connections with students’ work in American History. Essential questions driving student inquiry focus around identity, freedom and oppression, the “American Dream,” and the enduring appeal of the frontier. Units of study will include Nation-Building: Puritan, Colonial, Native American Voices; Romanticism and Transcendentalism; Realism; Suffrage and Civil Rights; The Literature of War; and The American Dream in the 20th Century. The writing focus for the first half of the year is on literary analysis, but students will hone both research skills and personal writing voice with a multi-genre paper in the third quarter, and fourth quarter writing will include enough emphasis on personal and narrative writing to prepare students to begin to crafting college essays. Eleventh graders will continue their commitment to independent reading and maintain a writer’s notebook.
 
Prerequisite: English 2 and departmental approval

AP English Language and Composition (1 year/1.0 unit)

AP English Language and Composition is, first and foremost, a course in rhetoric. Reading primarily non-fiction texts, students develop an awareness of a writer’s purpose, audience, and tone by analyzing and evaluating rhetorical appeals and fallacies. They then practice synthesizing their understanding of an array of sources (including images and graphics) into carefully crafted, evidence-based, argument-driven essays. Students enrolled in this course are required to sit for the AP English Language and Composition exam in May.
 
Prerequisite: English 2 Honors and departmental approval

AP Literature and Composition (1 year/1.0 unit)

AP English Literature and Composition is a skills-based college-level course in careful reading and persuasive analysis of imaginative literature. Students read both widely and deeply across four centuries of poetry, fiction, and drama written in English. They revel in the complexities of rich and generous texts, hone their ability to recognize and understand author's stylistic choices, and ultimately add their voices to the global scholarly conversation by making meaning of their own. Students enrolled in this course are required to sit for the AP® Literature and Composition exam in May.
 
Prerequisite: English 3 Honors and departmental approval

TVS Writing Center (1 year/0.5 unit)

A high school or college writing center is a place to which students come for support in all stages of the writing process, from brainstorming, to drafting and revising, right through to proofreading and editing. Student coaches will be trained to help their peers troubleshoot some of the more challenging aspects of paper-writing and will, not coincidentally, become better writers and thinkers themselves as a result. One thing they will not do is sit around correcting other students’ papers all day! This is a significant leadership opportunity, for a writing center not only raises the intellectual and academic tone of a campus, it also builds community. You do not need to be a grammar expert or a punctuation pro to be a writing center coach: you need to be friendly, patient, curious, and interested in learning.

Public Speaking: TED@TVS (1 semester/0.5 unit)

Did you know that the first TED conference was a flop? Even though it introduced the world to the wonders of Lucasfilm and compact discs and e-books, it took six years before Richard Saul Wurman’s idea for the “technology, entertainment, and design” gathering caught on and became a yearly event in Monterey, California. Still, it wasn’t until 2006 that the first TED Talks were posted online and the phenomenon --interesting people giving short, persuasive presentations about their powerful passions and great ideas-- took off to become a staple of contemporary life and thought. This course will empower students to explore their own interests and passions, create compelling presentations to share those passions with an eager audience, and practice the public speaking skills required to win over the listener. Students will be required to watch, analyze, and discuss a range of TED talks from the website; to research, develop and write their own talks; and to practice presenting both live and recorded talks.

Archetypes in World Myth (1 semester/0.5 unit)

The more things change, they say, the more they remain the same. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that some of the best-loved stories of modern time are actually based on tales as old as western civilization itself. This course will allow us to make connections across time and space and to recognize the ties that bind us as humans striving to make meaning out of our lives and our world. Our study begins with the exploits of the gods and goddesses of the classical pantheon, and their interactions with heroes and mortals of ancient Greece. A mid-semester project allows students to make cross-cultural connections as they recognize the archetypal patterns that repeat from age to age. We’ll finish the semester by reading a selection of contemporary science fiction that still draws much of its thematic power from the ancient archetypes.