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Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.


There are no happy endings in this class. Sorry. You will become experts on the classic genre of tragedy as you study, perform, debate and analyze the works of Aristotle, Sophocles, Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. Professional actors will assist in our study of Shakespeare. You will transform a play set in ancient Greece into the modern era. Assessments will include creative pieces, literary essays, and tests. The aim of this class is to bring your reading and writing skills to college level.

Poetics, Aristotle
Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Sopholces
Othello, William Shakespeare
A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller
Interim Assessments: 

Another translation of the play Oedipus Rex has Teiresias say to Oedipus, "You are your own worst enemy." To what extent is this statement true? (In class essay)

Significant Assignments: 

Modern Adaptation of the central conflict of Antigone

Literary Essay on Antigone (focusing on either gender or the conflict between moral and state law)

Literary Essay on Othello: Who (or what) is to blame for the death of Desdemona?

Final exam on all four plays

English Roundtable where students must defend their learning to an outside evaluator. Students must write a cover letter synthesizing the themes of the course, present their portfolios, and conduct a debate on "Who is the most tragic, tragic hero" of the semester.

Sample PBATs: 
Literary Essay comparing modern and ancient Tragedy

Advanced Comparative Literature

The topic will change from term to term, depending upon the instructor, but all will have a specifically comparative dimension and may include study of a genre, form (including film), comparison of authors, inquiry into a critical problem, exploration of a theme, or examination of a period.

This course emphasizes advanced techniques to develop students' critical reading, writing, and textual analysis with particular focus on argument and research-based writing.

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Womack's Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues, Kate Chopin's The Story of An Hour and A Respectable Woman, Sandra Cisneros The House On Mango Street, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye
Media Used: 
Their Eyes Were Watching God (2008 film version), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film), The Picture of Dorian Gray (film)
Interim Assessments: 

1 literary analysis paper examining the use of literary devices and responding to the treatment of our essential questions in The Metamorphosis;
1 literary analysis paper examining the use of literary devices and responding to the treatment of our essential questions in Kafka’s Metamorphosis and a second literary work the students read together in their literature circles

Significant Assignments: 

Logs and responses to teacher comments on logs;
revisions of chosen entries into longer pieces of writing;
Information reporting on an author’s work and biography as relevant to the text being used;
Rewriting sections of selected literary works to reflect student experiences, each with two revisions;
Students will respond to questions generated by the teacher and by their own note taking, usually written in class;
Keep a journal that’s dated, organized, and thorough in relation to quotations from the book being read;
Students will write reflect on their writing and learning process throughout the course;
Produce creative writing pieces using the author's style or voice

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Work together in literature circles or book groups to discuss the group's book and engage in accountable talk;
Keep group logs and discussion sheets chronicling the events and specific information shared during each group discussion;
Engage in Socratic Seminars and fishbowl discussions that are evaluated by other literature circle groups;
Final literary analysis comparing/contrasting the characters, events, author's use of literary devices in two major literary works

Sample PBATs: 
An original student thesis that seeks to analyze two literary works using textual evidence from the works and outside literary criticism/analysis
A response to a critical lens or an essential question, using textual evidence to support one's views

Man vs. Nature

This course will largely focus on the American Transcendental Movement of the mid-late 19th century. The major writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Frederick Douglass have offered Americans the opportunity to re-evaluate, examine, and shape their own concepts of “American” identity, their relationship with nature, and the human condition. Their works, while over 150 years old, are still very relevant and influence each new generation's ideas of personal identity and American traditions, as well as the evolution of popular culture.

"Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau
"Leaves of Grass" (Excerpts) by Walt Whitman
"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave"- by Frederick Douglass

Students will research various forms of literary criticism in order to support and inform their thesis/project focus.

Interim Assessments: 

Shorter writing assignments where students will be asked to produce substantial analytic responses to a daily quotation or thought-provoking question related to the texts and content of the course.

Students create/host a structured debate/discussion based on their written assignment.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Student may produce a short film, a fictional piece, or a piece of art that responds to a particular question/quotation posed in one or more of the texts read for the class. This "creative option" must be accompanied by a 3-page explanation paper that details the rationale and the historical/textual context for the work.

Sample PBATs: 
Students will be asked to produce a 5-7 page literary essay in which they compare/contrast the social, political, or philosophical ideas as they are expressed in a minimum of two of the texts we have read in class. Students are expected to include historical/political contexts for their arguments.

Literature As Social Commentary

Tragedy and the Common Man

“…I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing--his sense of personal dignity."
~ Arthur Miller

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Research Topics:

The Salem Witch Trials
McCarthyism and the Cold War
Sigmund Freud - Id, Ego, and Superego
Charles Darwin - science vs religion
Karl Marx - social classes

Media Used: 
Film and related commentary: The Crucible - screenplay by Arthur Miller
Film: Mary Reilly - adaptation of Stevenson's novel
Interim Assessments: 

In-class essay on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Choose one of the following questions/prompts:

1. How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the concept of good and evil in humankind in his novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Should this story be read as a tragedy?

2. One critic has written of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “Without Jekyll, there could never have been a Hyde; with Hyde, one can never fully know Jekyll.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

3. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written during a period of intellectual enlightenment when highly influential ideas surfaced about economics, science, and the workings of the mind. Discuss how Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella explores new ideas/schools of thought introduced by one of the following influential minds of the time: Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, or Karl Marx.

Significant Assignments: 

Analyze “The Yellow Wallpaper” and/or “The Story of an Hour” and “The Lottery” as social commentary. Complete a feminist reading of the story (or stories). Be certain to argue whether or not the protagonist fits the “definition” of a tragic character. Remember to acknowledge Arthur Miller’s essay, “Tragedy and the Common Man,” as you argue your point. The paper must: be 2-3 pages in length (minimum), must contain direct evidence from the essay and the story to support your argument, and must include a works cited page.

Write a three-page (minimum) paper on The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Your paper should answer one of the following questions/prompts:

1. Is John Proctor a tragic hero? How does his great dilemma change during the course of the play?

2. Analyze The Crucible as social commentary. What is Arthur Miller saying about the common man and society?

3. Was the devil loose in Salem? Who/what is responsible for the witch hunt/hysteria?

*You may suggest a topic of your own, but please run your thoughts by me prior to beginning the assignment.

Your published paper must:

-Reference one academic article (literary criticism) from a respected literary source. You may use one of the various articles by Arthur Miller that were distributed and discussed in class or you may find a relevant article on your own (Gale Educational Resources - accessible through the UHHS website).

Write a 4-5 page literary analysis paper on The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Your paper should discuss whether or not the main protagonists in both texts, John Proctor and Dr. Jekyll, fit Arthur Miller's definition of a tragic character as discussed in his essay, "Tragedy and the Common Man." According to Miller, tragedy is the consequence of a man’s total compulsion to evaluate himself justly.” Do you agree?

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Research the seven deadly sins: lust, greed, gluttony, pride, wrath, sloth, and envy. Then, for each sin, choose a character from The Crucible who embodies the traits of that particular sin. You must provide a minimum of three examples (with direct evidence) from the play to support your case for each character/sin. Your analysis of each character/sin will be presented to the class. Therefore, you should include a creative visual or musical component in your presentation that complements your findings: symbolic collage, soundtrack, cartoon/illustration, graphic organizer (charts), etc.

Sample PBATs: 
Parallel Experiments: Freud and Dr. Jekyll
Abigail: McCarthy as Feminist

Education in America

Lyons Community School

Pilot school

In this 12th grade English course, students explore the history and purpose of education in America through literature and primary source documents, with a special focus on how education in America reflects historical and social changes. The essential questions for the semester are:

What are America’s ideals?
How equal has access to education been in America?
What is the purpose of education in a democracy?
How have writers responded to America in literature?

Suggested readings:
Excerpts from memoirs by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Luis Rodriguez Jr., Gary Lee, and Sharon Cho
The Declaration of Independence
The Bill of Rights
"A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" by Thomas Jefferson
"Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania" by Benjamin Franklin
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Excerpts from "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs
"Industrial Education for the Negro" by Booker T. Washington
"The Talented Tenth" by W.E.B. DuBois
"America" and "If We Must Die" by Claude McKay
"Let America be America Again" by Langston Hughes
"We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
"This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" by James Baldwin
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patilllo Beals
Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez
Oral history of the Chicano student walkout in Crystal City, Texas
"I Give You Back" by Joy Harjo
"Civilize Them With a Stick" from Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog
"Soul Wound: the Legacy of Native American Boarding Schools" by Andrea Smith
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Excerpts from Savage Inequalities and "Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid (2005)" by Jonathan Kozol

Students conduct research for papers, role plays, time lines, and seminars to help place the texts we read in historical context.

Media Used: 
Class Ning page
Comic Life software program
Slavery and the Making of America video
Chicano! video
In the White Man's Image video
500 Nations video
Indian Tribal schools radio broadcast (PBS)
Smoke Signals (movie)
WordPress, LivJournal, Blogger
Interim Assessments: 

Literary essay-- comparison of two poems (theme and literary devices)

Thematic essay -- analysis of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Literary analysis exploring the question "How have writers responded to America?"
Suggested texts: "America" or "If We Must Die" by Claude McKay
"Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes
"This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" by James Baldwin

Personal essay response to Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

Significant Assignments: 

Personal Education Narrative with family and community interviews

Interpretation of a historical quote from "A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" by Thomas Jefferson

"Educational Philosophers Talk Show" script (Jefferson, Franklin, Webster, Richman etc. discuss the purpose of education in a democracy) OR "Enlightenment Philosophers Talk Show" script.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Debates, exams, role plays, presentations and roundtable discussions
Time lines and visual projects created in Comic Life (software program)

Sample PBATs: 
Comparative analysis of Booker T. Washington's "Industrial Education for the Negro" and W.E.B. DuBois' "The Talented Tenth," analyzing their arguments and use of rhetoric.
Final presentation. To prepare for the presentation students write a reflection letter. Students answer the essential questions while reflecting on the content they have learned. Students reflect on the purpose of education, the hisorical role of education in America, the current state of education, and their growth as students.

Spanish Literature

The objective of this course is is to prepare students to analyze literature given the necessary tools. This course teaches the techniques of literary analysis, critical terminology and historical context of each required reading. Students are require to read, analyze and discuss verbally and in writing a wide variety of representative works from. All works are studied and analyzed in relation to their cultural and historical context from the New World literature through the Civil War in Spain.

El diario by Cristóbal Colón (excerpts)
Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias by Bartolomé de las Casas(excerpt)
Historia de las Indias by Bartolomé de las Casas (excerpts)
Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (excerts)
El general en su laberinto by Gabriel García Márquez
Los de abajo by Mariano Azuela
Obras completas by José Martí (excerpts)
Poemas selectos by Nicolás Guillén
Poemas selectos by Rubén Dario
LAs bicicletas son para el verano by Fernando Fernán Gómez

First Unit: Origins of Latin American Identity
Investigate about Rigoberta Mechú
Thrird Unit: Mexican Revolution
Investigate causes and consequences of Mexican Revolution, Russian Revolution and Chinese Revolution
Fourth Unit: Spanish-American War through Cuban Revolution
Investigate the independence of Mexico, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic

Media Used: 
La misión (film)
Vida de Simón Bolívar (documentary)
Historia de la Revolución Mexicana (documentary)
Historia de la Revolución Rusa (documentary)
Los de abajo (film)
Vida de José Martí (documentary)
La guerra de la indenpendencia cubana (documentary)
La Revolución Cubana en imágenes (documentary)
Las bicicletas son para el verano (film)
Interim Assessments: 

Unit First: Origins of Latin American Identity
Students are expected to write an evidence-based essay
Should Columbus be glorified?
Second Unit: Latin American Independence
Write a literary essay
Third Unit: Mexican Revolution
Write a character analysis
Fourth Unit: Spanish-American War through Cuban Revolution
Write a poetry analysis essay

Significant Assignments: 

-Keep a triple entry journal as they read
-Point of view: Write a letter from a different perspective.
-Analyze and compare situations now and centuries ago.
-Class debates
-Oral presentations
-Write a monologue
-Design a PowerPoint presentation
-Write a scene in a play

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Second Unit: Latin American Independence
-Body Map of Simón Bolívar. Find and analyze quotes that best represent: Hole in the head (What he thinks), Eyes (How he see the world), Mouth (What he says), Shoulders (Weight of the world), Heart (What he feels), Hands (His actions), Achilles Heel ( His weaknesses), Pain in the neck, Funny bone and Knee jerk.
- Project about EL general en su laberinto
Summarizer: Write a summary of the reading
Connector: Connect the story with other readings, personal ideas, movies, another literary work, historical reference...
Illustrator: Create an illustration that best represent the story and find a quote for that illustration
Question maker: Ask questions about the meaning of the reading
Third Unit: Mexican Revolution
Project about Los de abajo
Find the literary elements, write a corrido that summarize the story of Los de abajo, deep analysis of one of the characters.

Sample PBATs: 
How important was freedom in Latin American history?

American Studies-12th Grade English for English Language Learners

American Studies- 12th grade English for English Language Learners:
In this course we will be studying American literature and the history related to the pieces we read. You will receive English credit for this class. We will be reading literature from the periods of the Progressive Era to Modern Day. Throughout the course we will work to answer the following questions:

1. How do we recognize injustice?
2. How can change create transformation?
3. How can we learn and grow from the experiences of others?

“Samuel” by Grace Paley
The Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
“Wings” by Anzia Yezierska
WWI Poetry
“Early Autumn” by Langston Hughes
“The Killers” by Ernest Hemmingway
“Bernice Bobs Her Hair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Wife of My Youth” by Charles Waddle
Poetry by Langston Hughes
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Sold by Patricia McCormick

To ground students understanding in the time period, students conduct research on the time period in which the literary pieces are set. This research is sometimes jigsawed using multiple sources of texts and media.

Media Used: 
Bullies by Tools for Tolerance
PBS "History of Us"
"To Kill a Mockingbird," the film
Interim Assessments: 

The Great Depression Unit: Read To Kill a Mockingbird as a class. Act out and analyze passages of the book for the class. Write an essay of your choice choosing a theme to analyze and support in your essay.

Significant Assignments: 

The Roaring 20s Unit (Portfolio Project):
Read a variety of short stories and poems from the time period. Write a group historical short story set in the 1920s and perform it for the class.

Develop your own historical short story and write and revise your short story getting feedback from your teacher, peers and senior mentor. Reflect on the writing process by creating a cover letter.

Present your short story to your senior graduation portfolio panel and compare and contrast it to the PBAT-literary essay.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

WWI Unit: Read a variety of poems from or about the period and create a variety of group, pair and individual poems. Create a Voicethread of your poetry. Give a presentation to the 11th graders using your Voicethread. Through their own poetry writing students learn how to create literary techniques to enhance their poetry. Students then write a reflection connecting their poetry to a larger theme in a literary work they have read in the past.

For each unit, students work on a collaborative project as well as an individual component to the project:
Anti-Bullying Service-Learning Unit: Interview someone who has been bullied (pair project) and write feature story to be published in a newspaper about a person who has been bullied. Include lessons learned from the incident and advice to someone who is currently being bullied. You will learn how to incorporate direct quotes into your writing, a skill required for the PBAT.

Sold Unit (Interm Assessment): Conduct background research as a group on human trafficking around the world. Give mini-presentation on your research. In small groups debate if Lakshmi, the main character in Sold should leave with the American who has come to “rescue” her from prostitution or stay where she is. After completing the debates, choose a side and write a persuasive essay.

Progressive Era Unit (PBAT): Compare and Contrast Anzia Yezierska’s book Bread Givers and her short story “Wings” as a group in a media form of your choice. Through this project, students practice identifying literary techniques and making connections to larger themes in both pieces of literature.

Sample PBATs: 
Based on Anzia Yezierska’s book Bread Givers and her short story “Wings”students individually write a literary essay examining both of Yezierska’s pieces through the lens of one of the following quotes: "Making a wrong decision is understandable. Refusing to learn from it is not," (Philip Crosby) or "With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice,"(Oprah Winfrey).

Literature and Literacy

In 11th grade English, students read and discuss a variety of literature through the lens of literary elements and techniques. This year long course is designed so that English Language Learners are moving on to more challenging readings as the year progresses. We begin with short stories and then move on to novels that slowly increase in difficulty. In addition, the literary elements and techniques increase in complexity as the year progresses, beginning with the basics of setting and conflict, building to the more difficult concepts of metaphor, theme, symbolism, etc.

Short Stories by Anton Chekhov, Ray Bradbury, Langston Hughes
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Students conduct research to place the literature in its historical context (e.g., The Great Depression, Jim Crow, slavery, African colonialism, the Trujillo era).

Media Used: 
The Color Purple
Of Mice and Men
Lord of the Flies
Interim Assessments: 

Write a compare/contrast essay for The Giver and Pleasantville

Compare/contrast novel and film versions of Of Mice and Men

Significant Assignments: 

As a group, choose a short story to read and present to the class.
For each novel, complete and present packet of daily activity guides, each with a written component.
For each novel, choose options from each layer of the Layered Curriculum to complete and present to teacher.

Through the use of Layered Curriculum, students are assessed on a daily basis as they present pieces of work to the teacher, either one on one or in a small group. In addition, students take exams at the mid-point of each book and choose from a menu of projects at the end of each book.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Write a fictional slave narrative.

Create a group project (PowerPoint, website, animoto, etc.) about your Book Club's book.

Sample PBATs: 
Choose one of the following themes: racism, self-esteem, gender roles, religion. Write an essay in which you explain how this theme is explored in The Color Purple by Alice Walker and in another reading from this semester. I will provide you with additional choices of poems and non-fiction to use in your essay. Be sure that your essay has a strong thesis (what are both readings saying about the theme you selected?) and strong supporting evidence.

False Identity

The purpose of this class, False Identity, is to explore the theme of immigration and its effects on the individual as well as society. We will also explore and analyze how authors use literary techniques to demonstrate the theme of false identity in their writing.

"The Konk" by Piri Thomas
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Othello by William Shakespeare

Students will conduct an author study on a particular author we have read.
Research on time periods of the setting of the novels/plays.

Media Used: 
The movie "O"
The movie "Othello"
Interim Assessments: 

Students are expected to write two preliminary literary analysis essays based on the texts read in class. Students will create a working thesis that is a well-structured argument and that can be proven through the use of texts and evidence gathered from the texts.

Significant Assignments: 

Students will create their personal growth statements. Using many of the techniques they have discovered from the authors read in class, students will write an engaging story that describes their growth and development in the past four years. Students will present their stories to their peers.

Students will write a literary response to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and present it to the class in the form of a story box.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Students write daily journal assignments that are a reflection of class readings. They are able to share their connections to characters and issues the characters are facing.

Students will interpret Shakespearean language and remix it into their own modern day language. They will then present a scene from the play using their own modern day version.

Sample PBATs: 
Why do characters such as Othello develop a false identity? Use the texts we have this semester to explore this question.
How do authors portray the theme of false identity in their writing?

Multicultural Perspectives

This course is designed to consider the viewpoints, experiences, and identities of different cultural groups in society. By closely looking at literature written by and about these experiences, and obstacles, we will enrich our own perspectives.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (Class text)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena
Soledad by Angie Cruz
Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
Honky by Dalton Conway
Makes Me Wanna Holla by Nathan McCall
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Indian Education by Sherman Alexie

Students research background on James Baldwin, time period/setting of novel, and the history of blues in connection to the novel.

Media Used: 
Crash (film)
Blues music
Significant Assignments: 

Cultural Vignettes: Students used Sherman Alexie's writing as a mentor text to write their own vignettes that explore their own cultural identity and experiences.

These are drafted, revised, and published as a class reading.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Weekend Responses to Literature through letters, reflections, etc.
Poster/Powerpoint project on Character Study

Sample PBATs: 
Justifying False Claims
Life Without Justice
Other themes on justice and injustice in society using the novels read for class and independent reading.
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