English

The Besant Hill School English Department provides a rigorous education in the reading, comprehension and contemplation of literature, as well its thoughtful interpretation through writing.

Students are required to write, revise and edit works of both creative and academic writing. Courses put a special focus on the techniques of proper research strategies and writing. The literature covered in our courses spans the globe and the decades, and students acquire an understanding and appreciation for all types of writing and genres. In addition, our English courses cover vocabulary learning and emphasize the importance of class discussion and verbal articulation.

Students of English will begin with two year-long courses in their freshman and sophomore years that provide a foundation for their studies and teach them the proper techniques for writing and reading English. Students’ junior year allows them choice in their subject matter and difficulty level. Junior and Senior students may choose between semester-long, subject-specific, seminar-style courses to complete their English requirements, or they may choose to challenge themselves in the year-long Honors Junior English or Advanced Placement: Literature and Composition in their senior year.

Course Descriptions

English I

English I serves as an introduction to essential literary genres: short story, poetry, drama, essay, and novel. Ninth-grade students develop their skills as critical readers and writers as they improve their vocabulary, practice and utilize grammatical lessons and stylistic guidelines, develop strong oral skills during class discussions, and complete a unit on rhetoric. Writing assignments, which stem from the literature studied, give students the opportunity to craft analytical essays, as well as to discover their own styles and approaches through personal responses and creative essays. In addition, English I will also provide general study skills and habits conducive to academic success in high school and beyond.

English II

Throughout this course, sophomore students will learn to be effective intermediate writers and readers of the English language through the study of literature and the practice of its skills.  We will look at literature and its writing through the eyes of the people that write it and those that it affects.  Students will develop a vocabulary of terms pertaining to each literary form we study and use these terms in order to discuss and analyze the works of noted literary figures, as well as to produce creative works of their own.  In addition to the study of literature, students will study proper writing mechanics and elements of essay and research writing.  Mastering the use of the English language is a valuable asset and powerful tool, and throughout this course, we will hone these techniques and create valuable and lasting skills for the future.

English II Honors

Throughout this course, students will learn to be effective writers and readers of the English language through the study of literature and the practice of its skills.  We will look at literature and its writing through the eyes of the people that write it and those that it affects.  Students will develop a vocabulary of terms pertaining to each literary form we study and use these terms in order to discuss and analyze the works of noted literary figures, as well as to produce creative works of their own.  In addition to the study of literature, students will study proper writing mechanics and elements of essay and research writing.  Mastering the use of the English language is a valuable asset and powerful tool, and throughout this course, we will hone these techniques and create valuable and lasting skills for the future. Students in Honors English II will be exposed to a wide range of both classic and contemporary World Literature. Each major text will be examined in its cultural context to appreciate the history, diversity and complexity of world issues and their connections to your own experiences. Additionally, your understanding of each major text will be enhanced by the reading of various complementary texts that are thematically matched. In general, these thematic units will consist of a major text, such as a novel, memoir, or play, with various complementary texts, such as essays, speeches, articles, letters, short stories, poems, and songs. Films, television shows, video clips and art works will also be “read” to both broaden and deepen your understanding, while expanding your literacy skills beyond conventional texts.

English III Honors

Honors Junior English is a yearlong course for motivated juniors designed to help them grow as advanced critical and analytical readers, writers and thinkers. A variety of literature from around the world provides the foundation for discussion, writing prompts, and creative endeavors. Building on the English I and English II curricula, students gain further exposure to different authors, literary terms, and genres―including fiction, nonfiction, the short story, novel, drama, poetry, and essay. Students focus on thesis writing through analytical, argumentative, and creative modes, and maintain a writing portfolio of their progress. Discussion-based classes allow each student to engage with the material and share insights in a respectful setting.

English III-IV

English III/IV is a yearlong course for juniors and seniors designed to help students grow as developing critical and analytical readers, writers and thinkers. A variety of literature from around the world provides the foundation for discussion, writing prompts, and creative endeavors. Building on the English I and English II curricula, students gain further exposure to different authors, literary terms, and genres, including fiction, nonfiction, the short story, novel, drama, poetry, and essay. Students focus on thesis writing through analytical, argumentative, and creative modes, and maintain a writing portfolio of their progress. Discussion-based classes allow each student to engage with the material and share insights in a respectful setting.  The content of this course rotates on a Bi-yearly basis.

Advanced Placement English: Literature & Composition

In this course, students will engage in an advanced study of literature and writing, which agrees with the standards expected from a college level English course. The curriculum requirements in this class will follow those specified in the AP Literature and Composition Course Description. Due to these considerations, students should expect to read and analyze challenging, dense and thought provoking material and be prepared when they come to class with questions and other points for an engaging discussion of the material. Students will be expected to read a wide variety of texts and to look at them with a perceptive critical eye, while examining all the elements that are required for close analysis. They will develop a vocabulary of literary terms and use these terms in order to discuss and analyze the works of noted literary figures from a variety of time periods, locations, and genres. Writing assignments in this course will consist of in-class timed writing and out-of-class formal process essays, opportunities for revision will be provided. It is the goal of this course to prepare students for the AP English: Literature and Composition Exam; therefore it is a requirement of the course that all students take the exam in May.

Creative Writing

Creative Writing is an elective course that focuses on the process of writing for purposes of entertainment, refinement and sharing. Feedback on specific writing assignments will come in the form of a workshop style approach, whereby students engage in peer editing. Writing assignments will require multiple drafts, augmenting the notion that much of quality writing involves the often laborious task of re-writing. These assignments will culminate in a portfolio, as well as public readings. Additionally, students will read and discuss a variety of work, such as short stories, poems, excerpts of memoir, personal essays, and novels, etc. This course also requires students to keep a writing journal that they will add to during class and as part of their homework, with a minimum daily and weekly word count.