En09-Encountering the Other

Course Description

Building on the eighth-grade exploration of the various factors that shape personal identity, ninth-grade English asks students to look outside of the self and determine what role community plays in their lives and how they can be a responsible member of the various communities to which they belong. In a year where the ninth grade sees an influx of new students, it is important for us to consider how we define community and our place in the world. Units of study will center on the exploration of the other, an analysis of cultural influences, and an examination of how communities shape the individual. Reading experiences will include whole-class novels, book circles, and choice reading. Whenever possible, independence and choice will guide the content of the course, while students practice and master age-appropriate skill sets. Thematic learning experiences will include literature, poetry, projects, videos, and podcasts that help us understand the experiences of others. The ninth grade English curriculum exposes students to habits and skills that will be used throughout high school and college. Students will approach reading, writing, speaking, and collaboration as a process that includes identifying audience and purpose while exploring organizational strategies and multiple genres.

Essential Questions

Course Objectives

  1. Develop grouped ideas into paragraphs that contain relevant support.
  2. Arrange ideas in a sequence based on logic, chronology, importance or other method.
  3. Compose a thesis statement that makes a specific, arguable claim about the topic or literary work in question. Students are prompted through guided methods.
  4. Develop each body paragraph to contain a unique claim (topic sentence), quotes or other evidence woven into commentary, discussion of how the evidence supports the thesis, and a transition to the next paragraph.
  5. Support claims with reasons, examples, or evidence. Acknowledges opposing viewpoints and the reasoning behind them.
  6. Identify a theme and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide a succinct summary of the text to provide context for claims.
  7. Develop the habit of interacting with text through annotation, highlighting or other methods to enhance understanding of and reflection on text.
  8. Compare and contrast texts in different modes or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.
  9. Demonstrate effective planning of a presentation that includes an engaging introduction, an organized body, and an effective conclusion.
  10. Demonstrate fundamental skills associated with speaking, including eye contact, voice projection and posture. The student is able to speak effectively before small groups.
  11. Come prepared with appropriate materials and having completed relevant reading or other assignments.

First Three Units

Summer Reading
Students area required to read Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone over the summer. When they come to school in August, the students will be introduced to the Whitfield writing program and requirments. They will participate in the writing process--brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising-- as well as conferencing with each other to provide constructive feedback. By the end of the unit, students will have written a polished paragraph about their summer reading assignment.
Elements of Fiction
Throughout this unit, students will idenfity and analyze a variety of plot and literary devices within short fiction. They will discuss author's purpose and theme. This foundational unit will carry into future literature studies throughout the course.
Some of the texts include the following:
  • "The Open Window" by Saki
  • "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury
  • "House Taken Over" by Katherine Mansfield
  • "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupaussant
Novel Study-We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Building on the skills and concepts covered in the Elements of Fiction Unit, students will read a novel of fiction and put their analytical and critical thinking skills to the test. Students will identify and interpret the author's craft, as well as compose a research essay based on larger issues covered in the novel.