This year, 10th Grade students will consolidate and extend their competence and proficiency in a variety of skills necessary for dealing with complex texts, both literary and informational, in accordance with Common Core foundations and standards. They will also build or extend their academic vocabulary and language structure, and expand their ability to analyze arguments. These skills will be geared to the production of more academic research writing.
After the expectations and strategies of each unit are introduced at the beginning, students will then engage in supported and unsupported activities, culminating in tasks which will involve wholly independent reading opportunities and writing production.
Junior Students will conduct an overview of American Literature from its early, Native American beginnings until today. They will be asked to read, understand, analyze and elaborate on a variety of genres (myth, political document, speech, sermon, short story, novel, poem and play, among others) and focus the scope of their analysis by answering three basic questions:
i. What is the relationship between Literature and Place?
ii. What makes American Literature American?
iii. How does Literature reflect and shape society?
Our Seniors will focus on the skills necessary for producing a college-appropriate research paper. We will be working on every aspect of this task in a series of ten steps, with study and homework assignments for each step. The culmination of this effort will be the production of two research papers over the year, before the end of each semester.
They will also work with selected works of fiction and non-fiction, to reinforce their comprehension, analytical, and creative skills.
“Ever since puberty I have believed in the value of two things: kindness and clear thinking. At first these two remained more or less distinct; when I felt triumphant I believed most in clear thinking, and in the opposite mood I believed most in kindness. Gradually, the two have come more and more together in my feelings. I find that much unclear thought exists as an excuse for cruelty, and that much cruelty is prompted by superstitious beliefs.”
Obviously, we need to focus on cultivating an appreciation in our students for reading the printed word. This is neither a simple task, nor is it as much of an extravagance as it would appear at first glance.
Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people read nowadays. This sad state of affairs seems not only to have impacted our comprehension skills when reading literary texts; it has been linked by studies to a limited competency when reading non-fiction, informative texts as well, thereby causing a decline in our critical thinking, our problem-solving ability, and other essential skills. Our reluctance to read is producing not merely worse readers of poetry and fiction, but is also reducing us to slovenly managers, inefficient scientists, and incompetent decision-makers. Today, when most people fail to navigate texts longer than 500 words efficiently, when many are accustomed to reading lists of 50-word items only with the aid of video commentary, the ability to read efficiently will more and more urgently be a skill vital for the future.
Further, we aim to introduce and reinforce the principles of proper, context-based writing. Again, the production of clear, cogent, concise and properly formatted texts is a skill that will be required in our students’ academic and professional careers.
In both these tasks our main goal will be to help our students become independent learners: for in college, and in the 21st century workplace, learning simply does not stop. Nor will the young men and women of today have coaches, instructors, professors, or supervisors to urge, encourage, remind or cajole them. They will need to possess the trait of self-motivation, and the ability to critically assess, revise and adapt their own cognitive skills.
Last but certainly not least, we will be striving to instill three basic principles without which knowledge and education are but empty shells: courtesy, honesty, fortitude. Before we unleash, so to speak, our youth upon the world at large; before they become academics, executives, scientists, professionals, we do wish that they are ladies and gentlemen, first and foremost. That they comport themselves with sincerity and open-mindedness in all matters academic and personal. And that they adopt a posture of self-reliance and accountability, as kind and rational adults. In a world populated more and more by ignorance, fear and insecurity, we want to see these young men and women make the difference.