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English Curriculum

English is a required course for each of the four years of high school. At Overbrook, every English class is an accelerated college-preparatory class. The four-year course of study described here is a college-preparatory course that exceeds in rigor the college-preparatory program of most high schools in the nation.

District of Philadelphia requirements in novel, short story, poetry, play, essay, and public document and incorporate the Core Curriculum.

English I

In the ninth grade, students complete a review of English grammar and current usage, punctuation and capitalization, and they undertake a formal study of vocabulary. Students are required to write on a regular basis — usually short pieces on topics that touch their lives — and to write often in response to the literature in both short and extended essays. Students continue to learn the writing process that includes prewriting techniques, the revision process, proofreading and the production of presentational text. Students are also schooled in the art of clear, well-organized, timed writing, a condition that requires compression of the writing process protocols. Students will be given practice in the three modes of writing: personal narrative, persuasive writing, and informative writing. Students learn the elements of library research, and they begin to learn the techniques of oral communication through formal reports and panel discussions.

Required/Recommended Units:

  • *Summer Reading – to be announced
  • Journal Writing, Grammar and Usage
  • Multi-Cultural Literature (e.g. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman)
  • The Writing Process: Letter perfect paragraph-length pieces (several per report period)
  • Modern Drama (e.g. Raisin in the Sun)
  • Vocabulary (from context or more formalized)
  • Original Skits (by students)
  • Introduction to the research process
  • Oral Presentations (memorization suggested)
  • Narrative Poetry (e.g. The Highwayman
  • Short Fiction (e.g. The Speckled Band, The Lottery)
  • Greek and Roman Mythology
  • Romeo and Juliet or A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream
  • The Odyssey
  • Home Reading (at least four selections such as Light in the Forest, When the Legends Die, Fahrenheit 451, Farewell to Manzanar, The Time Machine, Ender’s Game)

English II

In the tenth grade, students interact with the curriculum at a more sophisticated level. Studies include a review of English grammar and current usage, punctuation and capitalization. A formal vocabulary-development program continues. Students will write moderately long pieces on topics that touch their lives as well as essays in response to literature. Continuing with the writing process, students will focus on more sophisticated prewriting techniques and gain further practice in revising, editing and proofreading. Students will learn to assess their audiences and to produce appropriate texts. Students will be given practice in the three modes of writing: personal narrative, persuasive writing, and informative writing. Students will continue to practice timed writing and to learn the techniques of formal research. Students will continue to advance their skills in oral communication through formal reports, panel discussion, and debate.

Required/ Recommended Units:

  • *Summer Readings – to be announced
  • Journal writing
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Multi-cultural Literature (e.g. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
  • The Writing Process; Multi-paragraph brief essays using transitions (several per report period); practice in revision, editing and proofreading
  • The Short Story (e.g. works by Poe)
  • Modern Drama (e.g. Piano Lesson)
  • Vocabulary (from context or more formalized)
  • A Shakespearean Comedy (e.g. Twelfth Night)
  • Continuation of research process in preparation for formal project in 11th grade
  • Oral Presentations (memorization suggested)
  • Satirical Works (e.g., A Modest Proposal)
  • A Shakespearean History Play-Julius Caesar and/or The Merchant of Venice
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • Great Expectations (or other appropriate novel by Dickens, e.g. A Tale of Two Cities and/or a novel
  • by Charlotte Bronte or Emily Bronte, e.g.Wuthering Heights)
  • The Iliad (The following books may be omitted: 2, 5, 7,8, 10, 11, 13-15, 17-19, 21, 23)
  • Biography and/or Autobiography (e.g. Frederick Douglass)
  • Home Reading (at least five selections such as Jane Eyre, The Good Earth, The Old Man and the Sea, Black Boy. To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, All Quiet on the Western Front, Night)

English III

In the eleventh grade, students review elements of style, usage, punctuation and capitalization according to need as displayed in their writing. Students continue to expand their vocabulary through formal study. Students will be given practice in the three modes of writing: personal narrative, persuasive writing, and informative writing. Students write longer, more fully amplified essays about subjects relating to their lives as well as essays mostly in response to American literature. They continue to practice the writing process with the aim of refining texts for presentation including the required fully developed research paper. Students continue to practice techniques of oral communication through formal reports, panel discussions and dramatic debates.

Required/Recommended Units:

  • *Summer Readings – to be announced Idvlls of the King
  • A formal research paper using print and technological resources)
  • American Short Story (e.g. “Rappicini’s revision, editing and proofreading; Daughter”, “Young Goodman Brown”) approximately two presentation pieces of at least 300 words each report period, Vocabulary (from context or more formalized), Oral Presentations (memorization and varied modes of presentation),
  • Modern American Poetry (e.g. Poe, Frost, Dickinson),
  • Macbeth and another Shakespearean Comedy or Tragedy,
  • Multicultural literature of America (e.g. Native Son),
  • American Novel (e.g. Scarlet Letter),
  • American Drama (e.g. Death of a Salesman, The Crucible).
  • Home Reading (at least five selections such as A Separate Peace, A Catcher in the Rye, Hiroshima, The Woman Warrior, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Huckleberry Finn)

English IV

In the twelfth grade, students review elements of style, usage, punctuation and capitalization according to need as displayed in their writing. Students continue to expand their vocabulary through formal study. For seniors, the focus is primarily on English literature and literature in translation. In addition to more lengthy expository writing, seniors will demonstrate skill in personal  narrative, persuasive writing, informative writing and extended essays comparing works of literature. Oral presentations, including memorized tracts, will be required. Directed activity in writing college essays will be an emphasis during the first semester.

Creative Writing: a multifaceted writing course for those who want to learn advanced techniques for creating poetry, short stories, screenplays, and non-fiction. Throughout the year, students will produce numerous projects, large and small, share their work with others, engage in critical peer review, and present their work for the class. Topics include creative writing theory, formal poetry, free verse, imagery, generating ideas, story plotting, developing characters, writing dialogue, point of view, formatting movie-scripts, writing for commercials, in-the-field research, and more. Students will learn how professional writers achieve their effects, will read and analyze writers of various cultures and disciplines, and will be expected to engage in thoughtful and respectful discussion of each others’ work and progress. Should not be taken concurrently with Journalism.

Drama: this class is designed to enable the student actor to interpret and perform dramatic works through the study of characterization, voice, movement and scene analysis. Improvisation will also be used as a method to free creativity as well as to focus on particular skills. During the year, students will be required to develop their craft through the rehearsal and performance of monologues and scenes. The culmination of this study will be a collaborative production in the spring which will require an after school commitment to be arranged by the instructor. Students will be examined and evaluated on the strength of both individual and collaborative laboratory performance, and particularly on their commitment to the process. Since self-reflection is integral to the learning of any art, students will be expected to keep a written log of their experiences. Exposure to the professional theater is also essential; therefore, students will be required to review one theater production per quarter.

Last modified: February 6, 2018