The overall goal of the English curriculum is to develop in all students a solid basis for successful English study at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and in college. The English Department’s philosophy regarding writing is as follows:
In all grades at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, English teachers emphasize the fact that writing is a process. Therefore, students at each level continually are reminded of the steps they should take as they write. These include: prewriting or brainstorming, organizing one’s ideas, writing at least one rough draft, revising thoroughly, editing and proofreading, and finally “publishing.” These basic steps apply to all types of formal composition, whether creative writing, exposition, or poetry. Our students learn to develop their own style, while gaining the solid fundamentals of English grammar. Key to development of skill in writing is the active role of the teacher, guiding students to evaluate the logic and persuasiveness of what they have written. Thus, they develop the life skill of communicating clear ideas through clear writing.
Graduation Requirement: 12 credits, students must be enrolled in English each term.
6th and 7th Grade English
This course places an equal emphasis on both literature and writing. Over the year, we engage a variety of literary forms, including myths, short stories, novels, poetry, and dramatic scripts to develop concepts of setting, character, and conflict, and explore a “tool box” of literary devices. Reading skills, including comprehension, inferences, and predictions, are developed and reinforced in each genre. Using these texts as models, we also immerse in the writing process, from brainstorming and rough drafts through revision to a final product. Students create original pieces in prose, poetry, and script, learn to work together and edit their work, and write analyses of what they have read using the text to inspire and support their conclusions. This specific sixth/seventh grade curriculum loops in a two-year cycle. The program is individualized to meet the developmental needs of each student.
8th Grade English
English 8 builds upon the skills acquired in the seventh grade and meets the needs of new students. Reading, writing and verbal skills are still the priorities of the class, with an emphasis on more formal expression and the study of grammatical structures. Writing is developed in regular journal exercises, short creative pieces, in-class themes, and multi-draft formal essays. Methods and terminology of literary analysis are introduced. In addition to short stories, poems, dramatic monologues and dialogues, and selections on non-fiction, our reading includes selected novels and one Shakespeare play.
Composition and Literature – 9th Grade
This course is designed to ensure that students receive firm and extensive grounding in grammar, vocabulary, literary analysis, and the writing process, as well as a strong emphasis on developing research papers. Throughout the school year, all Composition and Literature students will practice research, analytic, and expository writing. In addition, students will read, analyze, and discuss classic pieces of literature for symbolic and metaphorical references. This class offers the opportunity for a student to work in a community with other writers. Students work both independently and together with others in the class to brainstorm ideas and revise their writing. They also continue to practice skills such as organization, idea development, and the basic conventions of language and writing. Finally, individuals learn to raise their writing to a more sophisticated level by developing sentence fluency, word choice, and voice.
Creative Writing and Composition
In order to better prepare our 9th grade students for their transition into the Upper School, we recognize that there is a need to introduce them to a blended course offering that also offers in-class time to provide support and an opportunity for group discussion.
The Creative Writing and Composition course provides all 9th grade students with a blended course experience that allows them to practice and produce a wide variety of creative written work through poetry, essays, short stories, blogs, online journals, online forums, and screenplays.
Since the Creative Writing and Composition course is taken along with the Composition and Literature class, it is a Pass-Fail elective.
Student Progression in Upper School English
Shattuck -St. Mary’s students take World Literature or Advanced World Literature in the 10th grade, American Literature in the 11th grade, and British Literature in the 12th grade. Motivated students who demonstrate strong reading, writing, and critical thinking skills may apply to take AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition in the 11th and 12th grades. Exiting ESL students are placed according to their abilities when they mainstream into the English curriculum.
World Literature is a year-long course designed to expose students to the literature of different cultures. The course includes classical and world mythology and literature from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. While exploring texts from these regions, students continue to develop critical thinking and expository writing skills. Through their studies, students will learn to recognize universal themes and the similarities that exist amongst seemingly disparate works. Students will also be encouraged to discuss how these themes and stories relate to their own lives. Possible texts may include: Mythology, Edith Hamilton; The Odyssey, Homer; The Epic of Gilgamesh; Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe; The Dew Breaker, Edwidge Danticat; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn; Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie.
Advanced World Literature
In Advanced World Literature, the students will explore the topics outlined above but will read additional texts and scholarly criticisms and spend more time working on critical analysis.
What does it mean to be an American? American Literature is a college-preparatory course designed to help answer that question. The American Dream brings with it high hopes, lofty expectations, and rigid realities for many people. We cannot celebrate the glorious freedoms in America without examining its limitations. Although the literary pieces stand alone as works of art, the focus of the course is to use the literature as a means of understanding the society in which Americans live.
During the course of the year, we will study literature written between the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries, concentrating on the motivations that prompted authors to expound on their experiences, thoughts, and ideas. Proceeding in an inquiry-based manner, we will focus on themes that relate to the American experience, such as liberty, spiritualism, technology, popular culture, and gender roles. We will also explore conventional philosophies such as Classicism, Transcendentalism, Romanticism, and Realism, including contemporary writings which reflect so many of the societal norms we are familiar with today. Throughout the entire year, students work on developing their critical thinking skills through discussion and regular writing assignments.
This class explores some of the vast and diverse literature of the British Isles from the last 1000 years. In this course, understanding and responding to the literature occurs through discussions, written essays, occasional creative writing assignments, and various artistic assignments. During the fall term, the class focuses on works written in Old English and Middle English. These include Seamus Heaney’s acclaimed translation of Beowulf and the Bantam edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. In the winter term, the class delves into some of the great plays and poetic works of Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain. Studies of this era include a unit on sonnets and at least one play by Shakespeare. In the spring, British Literature students explore some of the satirical works by Swift, Pope, Addison, and Steele. Students connect their works to some of the many forms of satire found today. Major themes of nineteenth and twentieth century British poetry are also explored. These may include the Romantics, the Victorians, and war poets. In addition, students read one British novel each term.
Advanced Placement English: Language and Composition
This course is designed to challenge the highly-motivated student who has been successful in prior writing and literature courses; students should already have a mastery of writing conventions and research skills. The course emphasizes independent work, leadership, class participation, creativity, and English academic excellence. Specific focus will be given to critical thinking and reading. Students learn to write effectively and confidently, incorporating varied academic writing patterns, including narrative, expository, analytical, and argumentative as well as literary analysis. This will be accomplished through the study and discussion of literature including non-fiction, short stories, poetry, songs, and novels. Students will be required to do extensive reading and critical analyses as well as take tests in the same format as the AP English exams offered each May. Students may earn college credit if they score well on the AP exam issued by The College Board in May.
Advanced Placement English: Literature and Composition
Students in AP Literature and Composition learn to hone their critical thinking skills exploring great works of poetry, short stories, drama, novels, and essays. The class exposes students to a wide variety of literature and a wide variety of literary themes. As students read and respond to these works, they develop their voice as active literary critics. Frequent writing helps this development and class revolves around written and verbal discussion. Students may earn college credit if they score well on the AP exam issued by The College Board in May.
ELECTIVES (one term; not all electives are available each year)
Shattuck-St. Mary’s one-term composition course is designed to help students become better writers. Over the course of the term students write daily in class or for homework and write several papers. Some of the work is of a creative nature, but the emphasis is on helping students improve their expository writing. These essays may include a movie review, a problem-solving essay, an argumentative essay, an essay on a short literary work, and a compare/contrast essay. Students will also learn how to support other writers by offering useful feedback through regular peer editing. In addition, students will review basic concepts of grammar to reinforce the foundations of their writing skills. As the term progresses, students should improve in all areas of the writing process, including brainstorming and prewriting, developing a thesis, writing drafts, revising and rewriting, editing, and proofreading.
Creative Writing is a one term class which focuses on the aesthetic elements of writing. The course offers a survey of writing elements including voice, figurative language, metaphor, dialogue, and the use of journals to capture ideas. The course is designed to enable students to enroll for one, two, or three trimesters in a year. Topics include expository writing patterns, memoir, narrative, character, short story genre, theatre script, as well as poetry form and structure.
This one term introductory public speaking course guides students into building a strong foundation in the art of public performance and oral presentation. Moreover, it helps students gain confidence and learn how to project the best possible public image, capitalizing on their own best character traits and making the most of interpersonal interactions. Beginning with the fundamental elements of voice, diction, and gesture, students become well-grounded in a variety of presentation techniques. They also learn how to harness the fear of public speaking and transfer it into raw energy of performance, projecting an image of confidence and style. Key projects include poetry readings, story jokes, anecdotes, personal statements of identity, dramatic monologues, and formal presentations on topics of their own choosing.
This course is an introduction to the discipline of Film Studies. The purpose of this study is to learn something about the construction of movies and the role cinema, specifically, narrative film, plays in relating individuals to the values, attitudes, and assumptions of their culture. Activities will include critical analysis and discussion of the cinematic, literary, and dramatic aspects of film from around the world, as well as an examination of the global history of the art form. Students will observe and discuss cinema such as the early work of Charlie Chaplin, Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Additionally, we will examine the Film Noir of the Cold War era, the Anime of Japan, and “Blaxploitation” films of the 70’s. Students will be assessed through expository essays, tests over the viewing, and at least one multimedia presentation.
Women Writers is a college-preparatory, one-term elective (open to juniors and seniors) that explores twentieth-century female fiction writers with roots from around the world. The focus will be on commonalities as well as differences among women, the social contexts of women’s lives, and thematic issues that make this literature such a worthwhile area of study. Students should come away from the course with a better understanding and appreciation of female writers and writings, prompting them to continue reading classic works by women. They will be assessed through discussion, frequent writing assignments, and projects designed to offer insights into the works read. Literary Works include the following, but are not limited to, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye; Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; the poetry and/or short writings of Alice Walker, Gabriela Mistral, Amy Tan, and Agatha Christie.