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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

Comparative Literature Essay Unit

This unit is taught with the purpose of creating a parallel (interdisciplinary) instruction project with the history class where the teacher covers reconstruction and segregation in America at the beginning of the school year. The chosen literary works, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest G. Gaines, incorporate issues and ideas connected to these historical times in America, but while the first one is written from a white author’s point of view, the second is from a black author’s perspective and experience.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Students use both books and Internet sources to provide historical evidence that connect the novel’s ideas and themes to historical events that they learned in 11th grade history class, and those they are presently learning in their 12th grade history class, such as Reconstruction, racism in the South, segregation, bias, discrimination, death penalty, injustice…

Media Used: 
Film version of To Kill a Mockingbird
Interim Assessments: 

To prepare for the comparative literature essay in which they will have to include both novels, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, students write an in-class essay in which they compare the first novel we study in class (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee), with the movie by the same title by Robert Mulligan. The following is the assignment:

You are using the book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and the movie based on the same story, directed by Robert Mulligan.

Choose one major difference and one major similarity between the book and the movie to show their focus. The two deal with different time capacity, artistic devices, and different means of communication to narrate the story in the most effective ways. So, throughout your essay, show your understanding of the uncontested qualities of these two award-winning works.

Significant Assignments: 

Students write an autobiographical essay in order to practice peer critiquing/editing/self correcting focusing on grammatical features (one or two at a time). The fact that they use relevant materials (to them) facilitates this work and produces intrinsic motivation and engagement while working on specific writing skills.

For the purpose of understanding how history affects people’s lives and destiny, students work on an assignment which includes either an interview or a research.
a. Students interview their parents or grandparents to learn about some important historical events in their country or region of origin (about the last 40-50 years) to see how their families were affected by them.
b. The students whose parents choose not to participate do internet research to evidence of historical events that parallel their families' lives and draw some conclusions to understand how their own families were affected by history.

Sample PBATs: 
With the question “Do I have what it takes?” in mind, analyze one character from book 1 (you can choose between Atticus, Jem, and Scout Finch), and one from book 2 (you can choose between Grant and Jefferson), in order to compare and contrast their experiences/journeys. Think about the way this fundamental question shapes their consciousness (awareness of themselves in relationship to the people in their environment), allowing them to make progress in their personal life and relationships with other fellow humans.

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

The American Identity

Lyons Community School

Pilot school

The 11th grade literature course will use a series of short stories, novels, non-fiction and poetry to examine the various factors, challenges and ultimately, the growth of one's identity in America. The issues of race, family, community, religion, society and self will be highlighted through a diverse lens of authors and poets. Through a series of texts that involve various ethical dilemmas, students will analyze what defines the American identity today.

"The Other Foot" by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Selected war poetry
Autobiography of Malcolm X
"The Fight" by Richard Wright
"Message to the Grass Roots" speech by Malcolm X November 1963
"I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr August 1963
"Dream Variations" by Langston Hughes
"I, Too, Sing America" by Langston Hughes
American Born Chinese by Gene Yuan
Independent Reading choices: The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez, Locas by Xta Murray
Black Like Me by John Griffin

Students will research an author's background for their independent reading portfolio. Students will also research various topics in poetry to develop a preference for a particular poet or style.

Media Used: 
"Harrison Bergeron"
"Born on the 4th of July"
"The Hurt Locker"
Malcolm X interview at Chicago City Desk 1963
"American Me"
"Jesus Camp"
"Girl Fight"
"Mississippi Burning"
"Freedom Riders"
Interim Assessments: 

IA 2: Independent Reading portfolio and book groups
Students will choose their own text for independent reading and meet once a week in small groups to discuss and analyze the idea of identity in their books. They will write an in-class essay that critically analyzes how their book illustrates the theme of identity.

IA 3: Compare and contrast essay I
Students will compare Tim O'Brien's book The Things They Carried with a selected war poem. Their comparative essay should include an analysis of author style and its impact on the theme of identity.

IA 4: Compare and contrast essay II
Students will compare the Autobiography of Malcolm X to John Griffin's Black Like Me with an emphasis on how both texts illustrate aspects of the American identity.

Significant Assignments: 

Malcolm X versus Martin Luther King Jr - Who was the better speaker?
Students will compare speeches by both leaders and argue in a position paper, who was the more powerful speaker.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

American Identity collage
Students will create a collage of words, images and events that embody the American Identity. In addition, they will write a short artist explanation of their collage (to be displayed).

Utopia or dystopia?
Students will write their own short story about the future of America. What will our society be like? How will Americans be like in the future? Their stories must fit the profile of a utopian or dystopian society.

Sample PBATs: 
Choice of themes that emerge from the readings students have done for the course (e.g., an exploration of morality in America).

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.

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes

How do we see others? How do we see ourselves? How do we perceive others as seeing ourselves? And, how do all of these perceptions help to create and reinforce our sense of identity or lack of sense of identity?

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
The Souls of Blackfolk by W.E.B. DuBois
Backlash by Susan Faludi
Poetry: Sharon Olds, Zora Howard, Willie Perdomo, Adrienne Rich, and others
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Media Used: 
“Killing us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women,” Jean Kilbourne
“A Girl Like Me” By Kiri Davis
Imitation of Life (film)
Interim Assessments: 

Comparative Analysis Papers (two)

Significant Assignments: 

Reading Response Journals and Analysis

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Forums & online discussions: Responses to Peer Journal Entries

Sample PBATs: 
What is beautiful?
Why do individuals seek to transform themselves?
The consequences of not fitting the Ideal

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

In this Academic Expedition, students survey the politics and government of ancient Greece and ancient Rome as foundations for reading, interpreting, analyzing and enacting William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
The U.S. Constitution (excerpted)
Media Used: 
“In Search of Shakespeare” PBS Home Video (excerpted)
"The Romans” PBS; Home Video (excerpted);
"The Greeks” PBS; Home Video (excerpted);
Julius Caesar (taped staging – if live performance is not possible)
Interim Assessments: 

Some of the PBAT questions below may also serve as interim assessments during the length of the course.

Significant Assignments: 

Weekly Journal Assignments. PBAT Drafts and Revisions.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Student Self Assessment

Sample PBATs: 
Is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar an expression of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a democracy?
Can Julius Caesar be read as critique of the Elizabethan period?
Does civic duty outweigh personal loyalty or does personal loyalty outweigh civil duty?
Are citizens obligated to defend the rule of law through violence?
Should a society impose limits on its extraordinary citizens?

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?
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