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Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

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.

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

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).

Forces of Nature

This course is a study of literature and writing. It is guided by three main essential questions and each unit focuses on them in a different way. These questions will enable us to explore basic experiences and concerns in our own lives and of those around us--experiences and concerns shared by the writers and characters we will encounter as readers.

•How does the world around us inspire or restrict our relationship to nature?
•How do themes of Modernity or Tradition relate to Nature?
•What is the connection between author, character and reader?

Anna in The Tropics by Nilo Cruz
Code Breaker by Pauline Conley
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
Dancing with Cuba by Alma Guilermo Prieto
Aguantando by Junot Diaz
Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

Units of Study: The Trimester is divided into three units of study each its own perspective on the above mentioned essential questions.

Some of the skills reviewed during the trimester:
•Introduction/review of basic literary devices
•How to use references to back up ideas
•MLA Style of Citation
•Bibliography Assignment
•Thesis Statement on in-class reading with citations
•Choosing secondary texts
•Comparing and Contrasting author’s and writing

Media Used: 
Literary Device Web Quest: How Do I know What I Know http://zunal.com/webquest.php?user=23687
Like Water For Chocolate, 1992, director: Alfonso Arau
Interim Assessments: 

(IA 4) First draft based on thesis that will be developed further for the final PBAT.

Significant Assignments: 

For their midterm exam students have to write and present an outline of their thesis and main arguments in a portfolio presentation for their peers and outside facilitators.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Through out the course students are preparing, participating and assessing seminar discussions of texts.
They have weekly Literary Response worksheets exploring, theme, characterization, and literary devices. There are also follow up Literary Response journal assignments.

Students are responsible for a writing a dramatic monologue from the perspective of a character in their secondary texts.

Sample PBATs: 
Sample Character Analysis of Core Characters in "The Code Breaker." What elements of the relationship between 'Modernity' and 'Tradition' are represented by each. How does Conley show this?

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.

World Literature

Do you want to travel abroad? Have you ever read a book written by someone from Colombia, Haiti, India or Afghanistan for example? Do you want to go to any of these places? What do writers from these countries have to tell us?

In this class we will read novels and short stories written by authors from around the world particularly with an eye towards writers coming from “developing countries.” Not only will we read these books but we will also sample foreign cinema as well. We will go globetrotting, right within the confines of our classroom!

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
The Kiterunner by Khaled Hosseini
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Short stories by - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jhumpa Lahiria, Yoshitomo Tatsumi

In order to establish some understanding of the time and place within which the story is set students:

Conduct in-class research to establish a timeline identifying key peoples, places and events which shape that countries history.

Draw maps identifying - major cities, neighboring countries, oceans etc of country we are reading about.

Media Used: 
Osama (Afghanistan)
Tsotsi (South Africa)
City of God (Brazil)
Slumdog Millionaire (India)
Interim Assessments: 

Students are expected to write two typed comparative essays. These papers are a minimum of 5 pages. Topics arise out of class discussions about themes of importance to the students and to the structure and themes of the novels. All questions are expected to draw the students into deep analysis of the works chosen.

Students are expected to write an in-class essay at mid-term. Most recently they were asked to respond to a quote taken from the book, The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat. The quote is as follows:
“Jephthah called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, ”Are you an Ephraimiite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ If he said, ‘Sibboleth.’ because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-thousand were killed at the time.”

Why do you think Edwidge Danticat chose to start her novel with this quote? Does it seem appropriate? What specific similarities/differences did you notice between what the quote reveals and what the story tells us?

Significant Assignments: 

As part of their work for the class students select a short story from a collection distributed in class.

After reviewing the collection students make their selection.

Students are expected to read the story and select a key passage from the story which raises an important theme.

This theme may be something that has been raised in previous conversations about other texts or it can be unique to the story.

Students do a short presentation to the class in which they share their story and passage. In addition to which they raise a question for the class to discuss.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Students write a typed weekly response essay anywhere between 1 – 2 pages. Students can respond to ideas raised during discussions or use the readings, films or other texts introduced to the class as a basis for these shorter writing exercises.

Students find reviews of the films and write their own review either critiquing or supporting the positions taken by the reviewers.

Sample PBATs: 
Explore the statement “Like father like son” with an eye to comparing the meaning of these words when looking at the books – Things Fall Apart and The Kiterunner.
How important was “redemption” as a theme in these novels?
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