WRHS English Department Program Guide
Courses and Faculty
Department Head: Michael O'Sullivan 508-829-6771 ext. 1649
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WRHS English Department Program Guide
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WRHS Writing Standard
WRHS students must meet the requirements of the WRHS Writing Standard in both Grade 9 and Grade 10. Achieving all parts of the standard is a graduation requirement. Students who fail any part of the standard must take and pass Language and Composition in Grade 11 or 12 to fulfill the requirements of the WRHS Writing Standard.
The WRSD Writing Standard requires students to demonstrate competency in grades 9 and 10. To demonstrate competency, a student must:
- Write at least one critique (analytical essay) in English 9 and two critiques in English 10.
- Conduct a research project.
- Demonstrate acceptable written work on a variety of writing assignments.
- Pass the 9th-grade Writing Standard Test. This test will be scored holistically by WRHS faculty using MCAS long-composition rubrics.
- Score 240 or higher on the 10th-grade MCAS English Language Arts test.
A student who fails in any of these five requirements has not attained the WRHS Writing Standard and therefore must take and pass Language and Composition in his/her junior or senior year. Students who pass English 11 do not have to take Language and Composition.
English Department Policies
1. English 9 and 10 Failures - Grade 9 and Grade 10 English emphasize the core of the WRHS curriculum in developing students’ skills in reading, writing, and speaking. Unless a student is recommended by the Curriculum Specialist, Director of Guidance, and the Guidance Counselor to repeat English 9, students who fail English 9 will be placed in English 10. All students who have failed English 9 will take Language and Composition in Grade 11. Students who fail English 10 will take the Upper School elective English 11 in Grade 11. It should be noted that students who make up either English 9 or English 10 in summer school will be required to take Language and Composition.
2. Credit Deficiency - A student who is credit deficient may, during his/her junior or senior year, double up in English as necessary to fulfill his/her graduation requirements; however, no student will be allowed to enroll in more than two English courses during any semester or in more than three during a school year. Placement in the additional English courses depends on space availability and is not guaranteed.
3. Make-up - School-wide make-up provisions apply to all course work.
Policies Governing English Courses Offered in Grades 11 and 12
All courses stress writing: a critique (analytic paper) and many shorter assignments are required each semester. In addition, major creative assignments and/or research projects are required in most courses. Some electives are primarily writing courses; for example, Creative Writing, Journalism, and Language and Composition.
Elective and full year courses: Most English courses are one-semester elective courses; several are full-year courses.
Minimum number of courses: Students must take a minimum of two semester courses or one full-year course (5 credits) in each year of high school. Students must take a minimum of one course (2½ credits) in each semester during each of these years.
Space Availability: On a space-available basis and with the teacher’s approval, students may take a second English course in any one semester, either for enrichment or to make up an English credit deficiency. A space-available determination will be made the first week of each semester.
Credits: Credits in excess of five earned during any one of these years count toward graduation.
Enrollment: No student will be permitted to enroll in more than two English courses during any semester and in no more than three in an academic year. If a senior needs additional English credits beyond 7½ credits that year in order to graduate, he/she can take an additional English course. In rare cases, an independent study may be taken for English credit, but only with the express permission of the curriculum specialist and the English teacher.
Special course requirements: Before graduating, every student must take and pass American Literature and either Applied Communications or one other semester course designated by the English Program as a literature elective (noted by the symbol @ before the course title). A student may fulfill the remainder of his/her English requirement by taking any other English electives.
Alternating courses: Listed here are all elective courses in the English curriculum, but not every title is offered every year. Some courses are available only in alternating years, as indicated.
Combining levels: Occasionally, because of staffing and scheduling constraints, academic levels may be combined for some elective courses. In these cases students who are registered at the higher level must expect to do additional work and to be graded by more rigorous standards.
Limiting enrollments: Staffing and scheduling constraints restrict the number of sections in some traditionally popular elective courses. Both juniors and seniors should make alternative course selections with this in mind, realizing that they will be placed, whenever possible, in one of their alternate choices if they cannot be scheduled into their first choice elective. Seniors will receive preference in these cases.
Honors (H) Students at the honors level are perceptive, enthusiastic readers. They independently read scholarly and difficult texts for understanding, inference and context. They analyze various texts and combine information from those texts with other information to reach new conclusions and formulate and defend positions. They are self-motivated readers, writers, and revisers, and will work independently on a variety of assignments and long-term projects. They are clear writers with a strong sense of audience and voice, with good command of language and of the grammatical rules and standards of academic English. They are adept at using pertinent detail in their writing to defend well-established positions. They are organized and articulate presenters of information who willingly and consistently participate in class discussion.
College Prep - Accelerated (CPA) Students at the CPA level are good readers who read for comprehension, inference, and context, although they may need support from a teacher with the latter two. They display reasonable analytical and critical thinking skills as they work somewhat independently on a variety of assignments and long-term projects. They write with organization and clarity, a clear focus, and a reasonable command of the grammatical rules and standards of academic English. Their positions are generally clear, though supporting detail may be less than optimal. These students are capable presenters of information who, with structure and direction, participate in class discussions.
College Prep (CP) Students at the CP level read appropriate texts for understanding and can, with teacher assistance, develop skills for reading for inference and contextual understanding. Students write coherently and meaningfully in a variety of forms, but may need help with organization and with understanding of audience and purpose. They have some command of language and of the grammatical rules of standard academic English. They revise their written work with teacher assistance and expand on it using relevant supporting details. They work somewhat independently on a variety of projects and long-term assignments with teacher support and with frequent smaller assignment deadlines. These students, with clear structure and a good deal of preparation, can present information and participate in class discussions.
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Lower School Program
English 9 (H, CPA, CP) 5 credits (Full year)
This course focuses on the study of literary genres so students master the governing characteristics of each genre. Areas of emphasis include: literary terms; literary appreciation and reading comprehension; writing process strategies for compositions, critiques, research papers, literary analyses, and creative writings; critical thinking skills; vocabulary development; library skills; grammar, mechanics and usage; MCAS preparation. Summer reading and writing is required of all incoming 9th-grade Honors students. All other students will receive a suggested reading list.
English 10 (H, CPA, CP) 5 credits (Full Year)
Students in English 10 continue and expand their study of genres and examine common themes. The study broadens, however, to take into greater account author and purpose, as well as style and voice. Students will likely compare works by different authors to determine how an author reveals his/her style as the students work to develop their own style and voices as writers. Other major emphases include MCAS preparation; grammar, mechanics, and usage; literary elements; the writing process: composition, critiques, research projects, literary analysis, creative writing; critical thinking; and vocabulary development.
English 9/10 5 credits
This course is a basic survey of fundamental English skills including grammar, spelling, vocabulary, reading and writing. Students will read appropriate texts for understanding and, with teacher assistance, develop skills for reading for inference and contextual understanding. Students enrolled in this class will receive small group and individualized instruction at their appropriate ability level as determined by formal and informal assessments.
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Lower and Upper School English Programs
English (Grades 9-12) 5 credits
This course is designed to address the individual learning needs of students with academic challenges.The curriculum will parallel that of the mainstream classroom with emphasis on a small structured setting where material and assessments are modified and presented based on students’ individual learning styles. Major emphases include: review and instruction in grammar, mechanics and usage; instruction in decoding as well as reading classic and contemporary works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for comprehension and appreciation; writing process strategies for compositions, five paragraph essays, research papers, and creative writings. Limited class size. Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
Academic Skills Remediation (Grades 9-12) (Both Semesters. Credit will vary depending on program established)
This course offers remediation of basic skills and provides instruction in compensatory strategies for overcoming specific academic challenges which have been diagnosed through formal assessment and which impair the student's successful participation within the mainstream. Specialized instruction is individualized based on the student’s individualized learning plan. Students are required to maintain homework recorders for this course.
Learning Strategies (Grades 9-12) (Both Semesters, Credit will vary depending on program established)
This course provides an extensive review of the essential study skills needed for success in high school. In this course, academically challenged students will be taught organizational skills for independent work completion, time planning, various reading techniques appropriate for different disciplines and textbooks, note taking from texts and in lectures, active listening skills, memory enhancing skills, test preparation skills, writing skills, vocabulary building, and library research skills. Individual remedial compensatory strategies are emphasized so that a student understands his/her learning style and how it impacts on individual teaching styles. The student is encouraged to negotiate their classroom accommodation needs individually and independently, based on their knowledge of their learning style.
Upper School Program
Full-Year Elective Courses
Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition (AP, Grade 12) 5 credits
This full-year college-level course helps students become discerning readers of meaningful literature written at various times in various cultures, with an emphasis on literature originally written in English. By becoming attentive to the variations of language, voice, and style in literature, students develop independence of insight and an increased sensitivity to the power of literature. Through reference to patterns and details in each text, students are expected to justify their interpretations in frequent writing activities and discussions or presentations. Thus, the course prepares students to take the AP Literature and Composition exam. Although analytic writing is a vital component of this course, a confident writing style is also fostered through a variety of other expressive forms. A summer assignment is an integral part of AP English; students must read several works and write several essays before returning to school in September. Students who take this course are expected to take the AP examination in May.
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (AP, Grade 11) 5 credits
This course is designed around the freshman composition model used at most universities. The goal of the course is to further students’ understanding and appreciation of the English language, particularly language used to argue and persuade. The students will study the logic of language, increase vocabulary, and read writing that exemplifies precision and rhetorical force. The course focuses largely on non-fiction but will also cover major texts of American literature and fulfills the WRHS American Literature requirement. We will read pieces that show complexity of thought, construction and argumentation; study the art of persuasion from Aristotle to the present; refine expository writing skills, using the modes of narration, description, analysis, and argument; broaden vocabulary; and review grammatical structures. Students will be expected to read and write every day and to contribute actively to class discussions. Students will complete a summer reading and writing assignment. Students who take this course are expected to take the AP examination in May.
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Applied Communication I (CP, Grade 11) 5 Credits (Note: Passing Applied Communications I, students fulfill their literature course requirement, but must take American Literature)
This year-long course enables students to gain many of the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills necessary for career success. Learning activities are closely related to the work world and are connected to students’ career goals or career majors as part of the Wachusett Partnership Program. All forms of communication skills are emphasized in this course. Students may not enter this course after Oct. 1. Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
Applied Communication II (CP, Grade 12) 5 Credits
An extension of Applied Communication I, this year-long course enables students to apply and relate many of the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills necessary for success in a career path or their internships as part of Wachusett’s Partnership Program. Integrated into the curriculum is a study of American Literature. Students may not enter this course after Oct. 1. (Note: Passing Applied Communications I & II, fulfills a student’s American Literature requirement.)
Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
English 11 (CPA/CP, Grades 11, 12) 5 Credits
This year-long coursed is designed primarily for students who did not pass English 10. This class will employ intensive reading and writing strategies and will use a variety of readings to build on students’ developing skills. Students in this class are responsible for meeting all the requirements of the WRHS Writing Standard. The class will fulfill the Language and Composition requirement for students who failed the writing standard in Grade 9 or 10.
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English 11/12 5 credits
This course is a basic survey of fundamental English skills including grammar, spelling, vocabulary, reading and writing. Students will read appropriate texts for understanding and, with teacher assistance, develop skills for reading for inference and contextual understanding. Students enrolled in this class will receive small group and individualized instruction at their appropriate ability level as determined by formal and informal assessments. Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
Elective Courses Offered Both Semesters
American Literature (H, CPA, CP; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This required course explores the literature of the United States, as well as the historical and cultural influences on that literature. Students discover and discuss the major literary movements from which the literature of the United States has emerged. All levels develop writing and critical reading skills along with media and oral presentation skills. Students will write at least one critique.
@ British Literature (H, CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course surveys literature from early Anglo-Saxon times to the present and emphasizes an appreciation of the literary heritage of the British Isles. Students scrutinize the literature in order to think, to write, and to speak meaningfully about diverse topics reflecting the semester’s study. Students will write at least one critique
Journalism I (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course provides and in-depth study of contemporary journalism in theory and practice, especially the print media. The course emphasizes specialized writing and examines the freedom and responsibility of the press. For “cub” reporters and the more experienced journalists, this course offers students the opportunity to be part of the staff that produces Wachusett’s award-winning newspaper, Echo. (Note: Depending on enrollment, second semester Journalism I may be combined with Journalism II.)
Language and Composition (CP, CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course emphasizes the mechanics, style, and structure of effective expository writing. Special emphasis is placed on the paragraph – the basic unit of all composition. Students will practice the different types of expository writing – persuasive, descriptive, narrative – to help them strengthen the skills needed in academic writing. The class will also include a research component; course readings will focus on shorter, nonfiction pieces.
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First-Semester Elective Courses
@ American Biography (CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
Students in this course study biographies, autobiographies and journals of significant Americans. Students will examine stories from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds and from different periods in America’s history, and they will read at least one full-length biography. Students will write biographical and autobiographical pieces, along with at least one critique.
Drama I (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This workshop course builds performance skills and self-confidence through improvisation, theater games, and monologue work. The course also encourages the development of a critical eye for judging acting performance and teaches students how to write a critical play review. Attending live theatrical performances is a required part of the curriculum. Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
@ Dystopian Literature (CP/CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
While Dystopia has become a popular genre in recent years, authors have been warning readers of bleak futures long before The Hunger Games. Students in this course will study a variety of Dystopian works (novel, short story and poetry) from Ray Bradbury and George Orwell to more contemporary authors in order to examine how Dystopian literature doesn’t just depict a horrible future but also an unpleasant present. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Humanities I (H, CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
The course examines what it means to be human and how cultures have explored this question through art, literature, and music from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Course readings include works from important Western cultures such as ancient Greece and Rome, through medieval European states. Students will write at least one critique.
@ The New Literature (CPA, CP; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
In this course, students study contemporary writing, both fiction and nonfiction, reflecting the voice of today's writers. The course focuses on literature of the 1970s to the present and includes work by such writers as Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and Tim O’Brien. Students will write at least one critique.
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@ Twentieth Century Novel and Film (H, CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
In this course, students will study novels and film through discussion, writing, and close examination. This course is designed to sharpen students’ critical thinking and analytical skills by examining novels and films that complement those novels thematically, stylistically, culturally and/or through other narrative devices. Students will read four to six novels in this course and write several analytical pieces, including at least one critique.
@ An Invitation to Contemporary Poetry (CPA/CP Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course is modeled after former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky's “Favorite Poem Project.” The Project asked people to share their favorite poem and comment on their personal connection to the poem. Students will study poems thematically and survey the major movements, poets, and poems of the twentieth and twenty-first century. They will read, discuss, and write about these significant poets and poems and discover how poetry reflects social, political and psychological ideas. Students will write at least one critique. Most importantly, students will see why poetry matters and how it is a passionate part of the life of everyday people not just teachers, scholars and poets.
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Alternating Year/First Semester Courses
@ Other Voices in American Literature (H/CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2017-2018)
A study of literature written by a myriad of voices not typically included in the American literature canon, this course will examine ways in which American writers wrestle with the idea of culture, protest, and inclusion as the country continues to define itself in light of the American creed. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Eastern Literature (H/CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2018-2019)
This course offers an introductory study of the culture, philosophy, and literature of the Middle East, India, China and Japan. Students will engage in research and close examination of important philosophical, literary, and sacred texts and of culture, and art in order to gain a greater understanding of Eastern thought. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Nature Writing (CPA, CP; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2018-2019)
This course presents the works of prominent nature writers and encourages students to develop their own nature writing skills and increase their awareness of the natural world. Most of the literature is nonfiction. Required assignments include extensive journal writing on a variety of topics, including observations of the natural world and discussions of important and current environmental issues, and a series of formal nature essays. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Signifies a course that fulfills the second Literature requirement.
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Second-Semester Elective Courses
@ Contemporary American Culture (H/CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This interdisciplinary course examines recent trends in American culture. History, economics, sociology, and political science are joined with the study of contemporary literature, art, and music in order to give students a better understanding of the world in which they live. This course is offered for either English or Social Studies credit.
@ Short Fiction (CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course presents a survey of short stories and novellas, mainly from the twentieth century. This course fosters an appreciation of the narrative art form without the necessity of examining lengthy works, and reinforces reading and writing skills used in the analysis of fiction. Students will write at least one critique.
Creative Writing (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course takes a workshop approach to writing for both freedom and discipline in all types of original expression. Using a process writing approach, students experiment with writing in a variety of genres including memoir, fiction and poetry. The course includes a study of critically acclaimed writings.
Filmmaking (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course takes a workshop approach to narrative filmmaking, in which students complete several specific movie projects in “Production Company” groups, utilizing analog and digital video cameras and editing equipment and participating actively in all the basic processes of filmmaking. Students will learn some film history and terminology, as well as hone their critical skills through oral and written analysis of both student and professional films. Equipment is available for student use if necessary. Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
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Journalism II (CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course presents an expanded, in-depth study of the principles of journalism. This course requires students to maintain a comprehensive writing portfolio, read articles and books, such as All the President’s Men, and write for the school newspaper, Echo. (Note: Depending on enrollment, Journalism l and ll may be combined.) Note to students who plan to play sports in college: The NCAA has not approved this class as a core course requirement.
@ Humanities II (H, CPA; Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course continues the examination of what it means to be human through thematic study of art, literature and music from the Renaissance to the present. Students explore not only the creative processes of great artists and their legacies, but their own creativity as well. A variety of projects are assigned. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Gothic and Detective Literature (CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
Students in this course survey many of the genres of mystery fiction including detective fiction, science fiction, the supernatural, and the occult. Students will read works by authors such as Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allan Poe, along with the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Through this increasingly popular body of literature, students will reflect on 20th-century attitudes, as well as on traditional literary themes. The selected readings allow students to explore and enjoy these varied literary forms. The course requires some creative and critical writing, as well as research. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Shakespeare (H/CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
This course presents a study of Elizabethan times and selected works of William Shakespeare. This course provides students with close textual readings of the Bard's poetry and dramas. Dramatizations, criticisms and research projects complement the texts. Students will write at least one critique.
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@ 20th Century Literature and Film (CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits
Students in this course study film and literature through discussion, writing, and close examination. This course is designed to sharpen students’ critical thinking and analytical skills by examining film and literature for common themes, characterization, storytelling and symbolism. Works by important writers and filmmakers will be included, and students will write at least one critique.
Alternating Year/Second Semester Courses
@ Stories and Storytelling (CPA, CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2017-2018)
Students in this course examine stories of the oral tradition and storytelling from the earliest days of mankind through to the present. Students read folktales and legends from ancient civilizations, medieval period, the Old West, as well as contemporary retellings of those stories and urban legends from our present day. Students practice the art of oral storytelling and complete a special project, collecting and examining folklore within their own culture. Students will write at least one critique.
@ The Bible As Literature (H, CPA, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2018-2019)
In this course, students will study the Bible as a work of literature and as an important foundation of Western literature, art, and culture. Students will engage in close reading, critical and analytical thinking, and research in an effort to better understand the Bible’s influence on the world around us. Music, art, literature, and popular culture figure prominently in the study of biblical influences. Students will write at least one critique.
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@ Women's Voices (CPA/CP, Grades 11, 12) 2½ credits (Offered 2018-2019)
Students will explore the influential voices of women through literature and history. The material is focused thematically regarding the stages of women’s lives and the different relationships that affect each stage including childhood, adolescence, adulthood, motherhood, work, politics, image. Some genres to be examined include short stories, poetry, journals, letters, narratives, speeches, and novels. This course will help both female and male students discover their own voices by seeing the struggles, strengths and successes of powerful women throughout the ages. Students will write at least one critique.
@ Signifies a course that fulfills the second Literature requirement.
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English Language Learner Program
The English Language Learner courses listed below are designed to meet the needs of students that have been identified as Limited English Proficient (LEP). The aim of the courses is to help these students to gain proficiency in English, as quickly as possible, to enable them to become successful in the regular classroom, the overall school environment and the community at large. The course level that the student takes is dependent on the student’s score on the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA), local English proficiency assessments, and teacher recommendations.
English Language Development Beginner (Grades 9-12) 10 credits (5 credits for English and 5 credits for foreign language, 2 periods/day)
This course is designed for students who score at Level 1 or Level 2 on the MEPA. A student at Level 1 cannot yet communicate in English and errors almost always interfere with communication. Comprehension is demonstrated either without words, through a few basic words, or in a language other than English. A student at Level 2 communicates using simple written and spoken English at school, with errors that often interfere with communication and understanding. A student performing at this level typically
English Language Development Intermediate (Grades 9-12) 5 credits (foreign language credit)
This course is designed for students who score at Level 3 on the MEPA. Students at this performance level generally demonstrate a range of mid-level English proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing, but have not yet developed academic proficiency in English.
English Language Development Advanced (Grades 9-12) 5 credits (foreign language credit)
This course is designed for students who score at either level 4 or Level 5 on the MEPA and are not strong candidates for reclassification as English Proficient. Due to the complex and varied language demands that are placed on students at the high school level, the ELL team of teachers and administrators may feel that an additional year in an English Language Development class is necessary to achieve educational parity with their native English-speaking peers. A student at MEPA Level 4 is generally fluent in English at school. Oral and written communication is mostly correct and usually understandable with a few or minor errors.
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