The mission of the English Department at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart is to empower students to read, write, and think critically. As teachers at Stuart, we are committed to educating the whole child, to being mindful of all that we ask our students to do, and to upholding the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart to the best of our ability. We encourage the creative use of the imagination and look to instill a lifelong love of learning in each student. We strive to educate students to grow as eloquent speakers and respectful listeners, to be experiential learners, and to come to a deeper understanding of themselves as readers and writers.
Four years of English are required for graduation.
The Literacy curriculum utilizes the Writing and Reading format (Litlife) based on the Columbia Teachers College model. We focus on mini-lesson explicit instruction, independent practice of skills, independent reading, guided reading, and literature circles. Groups of two to four students read novels, discuss the book together, and work with in-depth comprehension questions, while integrating the reading, writing, and social studies. Reading is leveled and students are steered toward “just right” books.
With the common practice of conferencing individually with each student and conducting in-house assessment and inventory, the teacher is assured that a student is moving forward in abilities from grade to grade.
In the Lower School, students study a variety of different genres and write for a variety of purposes. The writing process is emphasized and reinforced through written work including stories, essays, journal writing, and poetry. To further enhance student learning, teachers use technology (Google Docs, Wikis, blogging, Twitter, Glogster, Voki) to produce and publish writing and to facilitate collaboration with others. Vocabulary, grammar, and spelling are integrated into the curriculum throughout the year.
English 5—“Choices and Changes”
“Sometimes life is like a long road leading from one ‘if’ to another,” is a line from the novel A Handful of Stars, but also applies to the rising fifth graders, as they begin their Middle School journey, facing choices and changes. The Grade 5 English curriculum is meant to be a transitional year, as students are moved from the Reading Workshop curricula of the Lower School to whole class readings and literary discussion of various genres. Using novels, short stories, poems, and nonfiction texts, students will further develop reading strategies and critical thinking skills. As we begin the year, discussion of the summer reading book, A Handful of Stars, will provide opportunities for dialogue about the themes of acceptance, love, and loss. In the next reading unit, The Mighty Miss Malone, students will continue to explore these themes, as they get acquainted with Deza Malone and her family during the Great Depression. Later in the year, various mysteries will be read and discussed in Literary Groups. Linking with the History curriculum will be the classic, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Each trimester, students complete an Independent Reading Project based on novels of their choice. Writing instruction will focus on the planning, revising, and editing of narrative, informative, and opinion pieces. MLA formatting of documents and the use of Noodletools for the research process will be introduced. Throughout the year, several cross-curricular projects will be integrated with other subject areas. The Project Based Learning (PBL) unit will provide opportunities for real-world English connections. Grammar and vocabulary instruction will aid in strengthening the complexity of each girl’s writing.
English 6—“Someone Else’s Shoes”
Sharon Creech wrote, “Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” In this course, students will practice critical reading, writing, and thinking skills as they engage in texts from a myriad of genres including short stories, novels, poetry, and drama, as well as non-fiction. While we build these skills, we will use the texts to help us understand what it means to be an empathetic individual, and to figuratively step into “someone else’s shoes.” As we begin the year, discussion of the summer reading book, What the Moon Saw, will provide opportunities for dialogue about this theme, as well as the topics of self-discovery, friendship, and cultural awareness. Subsequent novels will include Newbery Medal book, Walk Two Moons, and the classic, A Christmas Carol. Catherine, Called Birdy will connect with medieval studies in the History curriculum. Tuck Everlasting or The Giver will be read and discussed in literary groups. A Long Walk to Water will be read as part of the Project Based Learning (PBL) unit. Each trimester, students complete an Independent Reading Project based on novels of their choice. Writing instruction will continue to focus on the planning, revising, and editing of narrative, informative, and opinion pieces. Students will continue to practice MLA formatting of documents, and further develop their knowledge of Noodletools for the research process. Cross–curricular projects will be integrated with other subject areas, including Science and History. Grammar and vocabulary instruction will aid in strengthening the complexity of each girl’s writing.
English 7 - “Inquiring”
Students will read a variety of texts that cross the genres of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. Through the story of young survivors in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies to a classic tale of teenage love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the girls will make connections to their own lives and the world around them. In conjunction with the History curriculum, students will read Fever 1793, a powerful story about family and suffering expressed through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old girl. The study of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and other traditional Middle School texts will support the girls as they develop their ability to analyze literature.
A variety of class activities, both individual and collaborative, encourage critical thinking and an in-depth analysis of texts. Writing practice is used as a means of questioning, cataloguing, analyzing, evaluating, reflecting and creating. Students will learn to craft strong thesis statements, and will gain practice composing within the various essay structures (persuasive, descriptive, expository.) By becoming adept at these foundational formulas, the students will strengthen their academic and imaginative voices as critical readers and thinkers. Writing is treated as a process as well as a product, and revision and editing are a major point of emphasis. Finally, students will regularly engage in grammar and vocabulary study. By the end of the year, students will become stronger in reading, writing, research and oral communication. Additionally, students will expand their understanding of themselves and their peers. They will possess a new appreciation for questions and for the richness, complexity and the interconnectedness that inquiry reveals.
English 8 - “Voicing”
What is “voice”? What does it mean to have a voice in the world? What are the potential consequences of not sharing one’s voice? How does one find and exercise one’s voice?
These are just some of the questions that eighth grade students explore during their study of literature. These questions guide students as they are challenged to understand the complex realities of the world through the lenses of literature, civics, theology, science, psychology, world languages, art, theater, and digital technology. The rich interdisciplinary curriculum offers students a range of texts under this thematic umbrella. A Diary of A Young Girl and Farewell to Manzanar illuminate the struggles that people have faced due to race and religion. Students will come to learn that courageous men and women use their voices as catalysts for transformation in personal essays, biographies, and memoirs. Additionally, the analysis of non-fiction texts will enable students to engage in discourse about the ever-evolving social and cultural landscape of modern life. In all of these dimensions, the girls will discover the voices and stories of others. Most importantly, they will discover the power of the voice that they each possess.
Students in eighth grade will read from a variety of genres and continue their formal study of grammar and vocabulary throughout the year. In addition, they will have opportunities to write and respond creatively, and to develop and expand upon the analytical writing skills learned in seventh grade. By the end of the school year, students will feel confident and well prepared for ninth grade English. They will know how to think critically and will have built a solid repertoire of writing skills. Additionally, by the close of eighth grade, students will become more insightful and introspective. Each student will develop a greater awareness of her voice and her role in society. Ultimately, each girl will be prepared to take on the challenges that lie ahead and will be ready to journey forward as an agent and advocate of positive change.
Warriors Don’t Cry
Piecing Me Together
Grade 8 Major Novels and plays
The Diary of a Young Girl
Farewell to Manzanar
A Raisin in the Sun
Secret Life of Bees
Grade 8 Short Stories (four or five of the following titles)
“Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Open Window” by Saki/”The Storyteller” by Saki
“To Build a Fire” Jack London
“The Speckled Band” by Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
“To Build A Fire” by Jack London
Nobel Prize Acceptance speeches from King, Malala, and Elie Weisel.
Poetry: “Strange Fruit” by Abel Meeropol
Poetry will be selected based on themes and big ideas that are associated with each of the pieces of literature studied
Grade 8 IRP
One book each trimester. Choices should include a novel, a mystery, and a biography/autobiography of a person who fought for social justice.
Wordly Wise 3000 Book 8
English 9 - Introduction to Literary Genres Full-year course
Required for students in grade 9. No prerequisite.
English 10 World Literature - "Heroes and Villains" Full-Year Course
American Literature “The Pursuit of Happiness” Full-year course.
Open to grades 11-12. Prerequisite: English 10.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Thomas Jefferson. In this course, we will study various genres of American literature, including novels, drama, essays, and poetry, in order to more deeply understand the threads that exist between past, present, and future American identity and culture. In doing so, we’ll consider how writers and characters define “happiness,” what they’re willing to do or sacrifice in order to pursue this “happiness,” and how these experiences shape their identities as Americans. The syllabus will include works by Emerson, Alcott, Fitzgerald, Hurston, and Lahiri, among others. This class will focus on building a strong foundation in literary analysis. Through analytical and creative writing assignments, students will continue to develop their critical reading and thinking abilities, sharpen their editing skills at each stage of the writing process, and build their working knowledge of literary terms, grammar, and vocabulary.
BRITISH LITERATURE “The Evolution of English Language and Literature” Full-year course
Open to grades 11- 12. Prerequisite: English 10.
How has English literature changed since its earliest published works? How has the English language changed? How does the exploration of these changes help us to understand English literature and language in a more profound way? In this course, we will trace the evolution of British Literature and the English language from early works, such as Beowulf, to contemporary fiction, such as Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We will also discuss the impact of each work on ourselves and on society and examine other works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from the perspective of both the writer and the reader. Through the close reading and critical analysis of selected texts, students will deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students will consider a work’s context, structure, style, and themes, as well as other, smaller-scale elements. This course continues the development of critical thinking, reading, and writing skills in addition to placing an ongoing emphasis on vocabulary acquisition. The syllabus will include Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Mary Shelley, among others.
HONORS ENGLISH SEMINAR: Classic and Contemporary Literature Pairings
Open to grades 11-12. Prerequisite: English 10.
Prerequisites for this class will be a grade of A- or higher in previous year’s English class and signature of English Department Chair. In addition to earning an A-, all students must successfully complete an in-class passage analysis in order to be recommended into Honors English Seminar. This course is designed as a precursor to AP Literature. Students not wishing to take AP Literature should take this course during their senior year.
How does the literature of the present both borrow and break from the conventions of the past? In this class, students will explore classic and contemporary genres of literature, including novels, drama, poetry, and essays. Works will include Oedipus Rex, a Shakespearean comedy, The Catcher in the Rye, and the dystopian novel Never Let Me Go, among others. Course selections focus on not only the ancient and the contemporary, but they also break with convention, make us laugh, and make us cry as we consider the intersection of the past and the present. This class provides a challenging and rigorous curriculum for students who have demonstrated strong critical thinking, reading, and writing skills in their previous English class. Through analytical and creative writing assignments, students will be asked to evaluate the way an author uses literary and narrative techniques to construct meaning as well as recognize and analyze complexity and nuances within the text. Students will be introduced to various literary theories and their applications to the texts we will read. They will also construct original arguments in response to literary criticism and write papers that go beyond the five-paragraph essay structure.
AP ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION “Never Shake Thy Gory Locks at Me: Ghost Tours Through Literature” Full-year course
Open to grades 11-12 / Prerequisites:of English Department Chair, Grade of A- or higher in Honors English Seminar (or A in previous year course in American or British Literature) and signature of English Department Chair. In addition to earning requisite grades, all students must successfully complete an in-class passage analysis in order to be recommended into AP English Literature.
“What haunts us as individuals?” “How does our past shape our present and future?” “Why does a writer create a ghost?” In AP English Literature and Composition, students will hunt for ghosts, both literally and figuratively, and decide why their presence plays such an essential role in some of our most beloved classic and contemporary texts. This course will follow the curricular requirements outlined by the College Board in the AP English Literature and Composition Course Description, which focuses on building skills necessary for college-level reading and writing. Students will engage with texts from a variety of time periods and genres and explore strategies to help them navigate through and closely read them. We will build a vocabulary of rhetorical techniques, as well as introduce terms of literary analysis for poetry and fiction. In response to these texts, students will write a variety of critical essays, both in class and over an extended period of time. Because this is considered a college-level course, students will be asked to read and analyze challenging, provocative, dense, and sometimes controversial material. The syllabus will include works by Morrison, James, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Atwood, and Williams, among others. This class is for students who have excelled in their writing assignments during their previous year of English, demonstrating an ability to closely read passages and poems, construct cogent, well-written arguments, effectively integrate evidence, and recognize complexity and nuances within a text.
JOURNALISM AND MEDIA STUDIES
Open to grades 10-12.
The Journalism and Media Studies course provides students with the tools to navigate an ever-evolving journalistic landscape where media plays a tremendous role. They will learn the craft of reporting the news and engage in the production of a variety of media types, including practical skills for print and digital media production. Students will also come away with a foundation in the history, ethics, and values of journalism necessary to be successful media producers. The course will focus on the fundamentals of gathering information and journalistic writing, gradually moving to advanced writing techniques, and in particular, how to successfully craft both short and in-depth feature stories. Class time will be spent reading and critiquing industry work, discussing such elements of writing as voice, style, use of language, and refining stories through writer’s workshop-styled class time. The classroom functions like a working newsroom, with students managing all media associated with The Tartan–a news website, podcast series, and social media accounts–as well as the Stuart yearbook.
English Trimester Electives
AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE
Open to grades 10-12.
Spanning a period of time from the early 19th century to present day, this course will explore the African American experience through a variety of literary genres. Beginning with authentic slave narratives and ending with a survey of contemporary works, students will read a wide variety of novels, short stories, essays, plays and poems. Throughout the course, students will focus on the overarching theme topics of identity and freedom. They will also gain a deeper understanding of the universal struggle to remove barriers associated with gender, race, class, and cultural differences. Selected authors may include Douglass, Jacobs, Angelou, Hughes, Baldwin, Wilson, Cullen, Ellison, Morrison and Brooks. This English elective has minimal homework because it is considered a second English class.
THE ART OF THE ESSAY - Offered first trimester
Open to grades 11-12. Recommended for students in grade 12.
This course encourages students to view essay writing as an art that instills beauty, meaning, and order to their thoughts. The Art of the Essay combines an appreciation for essays with the practical foundations for honing students’ essay writing skills. The ability to write a short, clear piece of prose is an essential skill for college-bound students, as is the ability to logically support a written argument with evidence. Writing college essays, including the Common Application essay and college supplemental essays, is given priority. Throughout the trimester, this course will give students the opportunity to explore their unique voices in writing while helping them craft well-structured pieces of prose. Because good writers must immerse themselves in good literature that will challenge and shape their ideas and style, we will also read a variety of classic essays. Class is structured as a workshop; students will have class time to write and revise their essays and will receive frequent and intensive feedback in the form of one-on-one conferences and written comments on their work in progress. English electives have no additional homework because they are considered a second English class. This is a pass/fail class.
OLD TEXT, NEW LENS
Open to grades 10-12
Do canonical texts perpetuate systems of privilege? In this trimester course, students will explore classic texts within contemporary contexts and leverage the potential in challenging these systems through storytelling. Students will revise a canonical text of their choosing by altering a key piece of the classic story, such as the location, time period, or the protagonist’s identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, etc). In doing so, students will consider how their revisions illuminate imbalances of power and marginalization, reveal contradictions, and challenge assumptions.
Guided by research, class discussion, peer collaboration and critique, and writing conferences, students will imagine and invent new classics while contributing to a collaborative community of writers and thinkers.
Upper School Chair
Writing Center Sign-Up
The Writing Center is currently holding tutoring sessions in the library (at the table next to the Futures classroom). Students can sign up for appointments through the form on the Stuart Writing Center Google Classroom page or via the links below.