English Course Sequence

English Department

Course Name

Grade Level

Course Description

Prerequisites and Credit Granted

6th Grade ELA



In this course, we will be exploring what makes English an artistic medium, and how each of you can use tools of language to create your own unique works and communicate your thoughts to a larger audience.  We will consider what “voice” means to language, and how each of us has our own voice and identity to share.  In this vein, we will share and read voices ranging from our own class community to the world at large.   I invite you to think critically about yourselves, your community, and your world - and consider how these “audiences” demand our voices through writing.  Writing in this course is not only a skill that you, as students, are working to master, but is a mode of communication that you can - and will - use to take action in your lives, your communities, and your world.


This is a required course in the 6th Grade sequence.  All students will take the 6th Grade State ELA Exam as an assessment of their proficiency.


7th Grade ELA


In this course, we will explore English Language Arts through the lens of the hero and the quest.  When reading a story about a hero’s adventure, we often feel a strong connection with some of the heroic characters that we come across.  These quests can take on various forms and occur in many different settings, and stories of heroes can have a strong impact on our own lives.  Whether a quest is traced in literature or experienced as a writer, this course will investigate the wisdom people gain from challenging experiences while searching for something of value, literally and figuratively.  This class will examine literature from various historical and cultural backgrounds, and focus on the journeys, the ordeals, and the exploits of memorable and engaging characters.  We will also look at examples of heroes from film, and explore some of the common themes and elements of a heroic figure.  In addition to our exploration of literature, we will also make our own journeys as authors, focusing on the writing process to create polished works of expository writing.  In this class we will not only strengthen our reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, but also connect our literary experiences to other academic areas in order to fortify our written and verbal communication skills.


This is a required course in the 7th Grade sequence.  All students will take the 7th Grade State ELA Exam as an assessment of their proficiency.


8th Grade ELA


In eighth grade English, you will read a variety of interesting texts that allow you to question what justice is. You will examine characters that face very challenging situations in society and come to your own unique conclusions about what fair treatment constitutes. We will start the year with the assigned summer reading: Inherit the Wind. We will move on to study excerpts from the New York Times bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which will be paired with the philosophical ideas of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. We will then move on to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and conclude the year with The Outsiders. In addition to longer works of literature, we will read poetry, short stories, and informational texts. There will be extensive preparation for your 8th grade ELA exam. You will be doing a great deal of writing in class and will focus primarily on argumentative writing and character analysis.


This is a required course in the 8th Grade sequence.  All students will take the 8th Grade State ELA Exam as an assessment of their proficiency.


9th Grade ELA


This course aims to strengthen students’ fundamental skills in reading and writing through the study of basic literary elements and a sequenced list of core literary texts by Orwell and Steinbeck. Students are also expected to develop the ability to compare and contrast major themes through the analysis of literary text as well as nonfiction texts. In addition, students follow a year-long introductory course of vocabulary and grammar study. Core Texts: Animal Farm, The Pearl, Of Mice and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, Julius Caesar/The Taming of the Shrew, The Bad Seed/Inherit the Wind


This is a required course in the high school sequence.  Students will gain two English credits


Students must accumulate 8 credits in English for a CSS diploma.

10th Grade ELA


The course texts represent works of world literature from antiquity to the 21st century. Using these as well as supplemental texts, we will examine and develop questions about how narratives are defined and created. As students progress through their academic careers they will need to understand the relations of power that help determine the course of their own lives. The relationship between power and definition is especially relevant to students whose work will be graded and judged by teachers, colleges, parents and society. Understanding the role of the actor in the creation of meaning and reality will have an impact beyond literature, creating a better understanding of the instruments available in the student’s own lives. Reading widely and closely, students will investigate texts through the topics of freedom, justice, responsibility and knowledge.


Prerequisite: 9th Grade ELA course credit


This is a required course in the high school sequence.  Students will gain two English credits


Students must accumulate 8 credits in English for a CSS diploma.

11th Grade English


This course will explore texts that examine the role of liberty, freedom, restraint and rebellion in society. Through a thematic exploration of texts that align with the 11th grade Philosophy and U.S. History curriculum, we will forge connections between historical documents, ideological movements and literature. We will build on the foundations of critical lens theory and storytelling from World Literature I and II to examine such concepts as: the injustices created by cultural stagnation; language as a tool for rebellion; and the promise (and perils) of the American Dream.  


Prerequisite: 10th Grade English course credit


This is a required course in the high school sequence.  Students will gain two English credits


Students must accumulate 8 credits in English for a CSS diploma.

AP Language

11, 12

The AP English Language and Composition course aims to develop college-level skills in rhetorical analysis, evaluation of non-fiction sources, and effective and persuasive argumentation. Through studying a broad range of non-fiction and fiction selections, students will develop a thorough and meaningful understanding of the rhetorical and stylistic choices writers make. Course texts will include an array of arguments, essays, memoirs,  and non-fiction prose in addition to canonical American Literature texts such as The Great Gatsby and The Crucible.


This class culminates in the AP Language and Composition exam in May. Scores of 4 and 5 on the 5 point scale are accepted at many colleges and universities for English credit or general studies credit.


NOTE:  Students may appeal their programming decision by submitting to the 11th grade teacher: two graded writing samples and a letter explaining their wish to be in the course. This appeal must be submitted by June 15 in order to be processed before the end of the year. An appeal is not a guarantee of admission into the course. 


Prerequisite: 10th Grade English course credit


85+ for each semester grade in English 9 and English 10 


Eligibility ranking is determined by 10th grade teacher recommendation, score on placement exam given in 10th grade, and English GPA


Waitlisted students will be invited to join based on eligibility ranking if/when seats become available


12th Grade ELA


Literature of Existentialism

Existentialism is a philosophy that entreats us to recognize the reality of the world as we experience it, take responsibility for our own freedom, and ultimately give our own lives meaning. It is a concept that is both liberating and scary. Though it is know as a philosophy that explains the general unhappiness of the human condition, it also provides a roadmap for the individual who wishes to break free from the general malaise and give meaning and purpose to his or her life. It asks people not only to deal with the circumstances of their lives, but also to triumph over them by taking responsibility for their actions and consequences.


In this course, we will trace the development of this school of thought using key literary and philosophical texts from existential writers throughout history. We will also apply existential questions and ideals to some of the classic texts in the Western cannon. Students will read literary texts, such as Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky; No Exit, by Sartre; The Stranger, by Camus; and Hamlet, by William Shakespeare; as well as philosophical texts by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus.

Prerequisite: 11th Grade English course credit


This is a required course in the high school sequence.  Students will gain two English credits


Students must accumulate 8 credits in English for a CSS diploma.

AP English Literature


A.P English Literature

The A.P. English course in Literature and Composition engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of works of recognized literary merit from different genres. Emphasis is placed on the mastery of the expository and argumentative essay and the tasks of defining how particular elements of fiction and language elucidate theme and meaning. Students will read texts encompassing the entire spectrum of the Western canon. Texts are selected in  a variety of genres (novels, plays, poetry, short stories, epics) and from time periods ranging from ancient to modern times. Representative authors include Sophocles, Dante, Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Joseph Heller, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Billy Collins, and Virginia Woolf.

Prerequisite: 11th Grade English course credit


Students must show evidence of successful work habits and diligence in ELA classes. Selection will be based on students’ GPA.in English classes as well as teacher endorsement. All students who are interested in the course may apply despite previous academic record.