English at Watershed

The English program at Watershed is built upon the idea that skilled writing and critical reading go hand-in-hand. We provide our students with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of written English — structure, usage, grammar, organization, and clarity of expression — as well as a far-reaching familiarity with many of the greatest works of world literature. Our goal is to make every student a lifelong reader, as well as a confident and effective writer,  in the belief that both of these will pay lasting dividends over the course of their lives. To this end, our discussion-based classes support the development of skills in the following areas: deep and critical analysis of literary texts, writing and speaking with clarity and confidence, close reading as a means for intellectual inquiry, and a commitment to finding meaningful connections with a wide-range of literary works.

Revising written work

English

English 1

English 1

Instructor: Ronni Arno Blaisdell

2017-2018

 

Course Description:

 

English 1 provides an important overview of the various genres of literature, including but not limited to novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays, journalism, and speeches. Both non-fiction and fiction pieces are incorporated to supplement understanding of how meaning is constructed and conveyed in writing. English 1 serves as a basis not only for literature, but also for an expected set of skills that will be developed, reinforced, and refined in coming years. By the conclusion of the course, students will have an appreciation for various genres, and will know the grammatical constructs important for their own writing. They will be exposed to a variety of different types of writing styles, including literary analysis, expository essays, creative writing, compare/ contrast, cause and effect, and persuasive styles. The selected units are designed to inspire, provoke thought, and provide a solid basis upon which students can build in future years. In addition, students will receive guided instruction in class and be able to navigate the literary waters with independence and personal responsibility.

 

This course will enable students to actively construct meaning, use written and spoken language to understand and analyze literature and other forms of media. Students master language arts literacy by exploring and interpreting the many dimensions of the language. These skills are the foundation for success in their future career endeavors, as well as their own ability to communicate with one another and function effectively in society.
 

Course Materials:

We will read a range of literature texts, including:

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

  • I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

  • Night by Elie Wiesel

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

  • Walking by Henry David Thoreau

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown


We will also frequently supplement these texts with selected poetry, award-winning journalism, excerpts from essays, critical texts, speeches, films, and articles about literature and writing.


Foundational Skills addressed:
 

1. READING

  1. Adjusts approach to reading based on purpose and text;       

  2. Forms comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text;   

  3. Effectively analyzes/synthesizes texts in relation to other texts; and       

  4. Takes effective reading notes.

Students will read a range of texts, including poetry, plays, selections from critical articles, essays, novels, and even blog posts. We will focus primarily on identifying key details in a text; summarizing plot; recognizing literary inheritances, common styles, and allusions; identifying specific literary devices and explaining how they are used; and analyzing major thematic elements, in particular those related to the theme of the course.
 

2. WRITING       

  1. Shows competence in expository writing at the level of the:               

    • word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone);           

    • sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique);           

    • paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)       

    • writing form (audience, topic choice, citations, form-specific conventions)       

  2. Able to plan, scope, collect information, draft, respond to edits, rewrite to completion the following written modes or forms (as defined by instructors):               

    • narrative/creative, persuasive/argumentative

Students will be asked to write both short journal pieces (1-2 paragraphs) and longer, polished essays (3-5 pages). We will focus on both content (argument, organization and development, synthesis of disparate ideas) as well as style (sentence structure, grammatical correctness, tone/purpose). Creative writing exercises will help students attend carefully to their own style and language.
 

4. DISCOURSE       

  1. Debate/Deliberation in classroom discussion               

    • summarizes and restates statements and current understandings           

    • evaluates/weighs evidence       

    • understands opposing viewpoints           

    • takes clear positions and argues them effectively, taking into account alternate viewpoints       


Students will be expected to regularly and meaningfully participate in classroom discussions about the themes of the course. Students will also be encouraged to develop and demonstrate Foundational Skills #11 and #12, relating to social interaction and personal development. Such skills form the basis for classroom and community engagement.

English 2

Course Description:

Readings this semester included Gerald Durrell’s memoir My Family and Other Animals,

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,

as well as fables, parables, folk tales, and essays through writing, acting, and discussion, we

studied approaches to analyzing nonfiction, fiction, and verse drama, paying particular attention

to word choices, figurative language, tone, rhythm, sound, and performance as interpretation.

Our major writing projects included essays of description and classification and a creative

writing assignment.

Assessment of student course work was based on the quality of writing and efforts to improve

writing skills, and on the level of engagement in class discussions and activities as measured by

willingness to share ideas, listen to others’ ideas, and contribute to a productive and enjoyable

class atmosphere.

Essential skills focus:

1. Reading:

A. adjusts approach to reading based on purpose and text

B. forms a comprehensive summary of information gained from reading

2. Writing

Competence in expository writing at the level of the:

1. word (word choice, tone);

2. sentence (clarity, conciseness, rhetorical technique, grammar/punctuation);

3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, integrating information)

4. writing form (audience, frame, topic choice, form and specific conventions)

English 3

 

 

Course Description:


“On or about December 1910 human character changed,” wrote Virginia Woolf. In this course, through reading, writing, and discussion, we will examine how American novelists and poets between the world wars rebelled against 19th-century social mores and artistic conventions.   

    The first two novels, published just after World War I but looking back to an earlier era, portray the ornate and rigid social codes of old New York (The Age of Innocence) and the beauty and hardship of the lives of immigrant pioneers (My Antonia) who, in Willa Cather’s words, “spread across our bronze prairies like the daubs of color on a painter’s palette.” In his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated the extravagance and abandon of the Jazz Age, while in The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway depicted the life of American expatriates in Europe. Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and its lyrical tale of a young African-American woman in early-20th-century Florida rounds out our tour of some of the greatest American novels of the period 1918-1939.

     Poems by Eliot, Pound, Moore, Stevens, Williams, and writers of the Harlem Renaissance, and stories by Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, and William Faulkner, will give us a wider picture of the modernist desire to set words “at liberty.”

     Our writing work will include essays of literary and cultural analysis and some creative writing, as well as impromptu in-class writing exercises designed to illuminate different aspects of the writer’s craft. Possible independent research topics include the Harlem Renaissance, the connections with visual art movements such as Cubism and surrealism, American literary exiles in Paris, the influence of early cinema, and feminism.


Course Materials:

My Ántonia, by Willa Cather (1918)

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton (1920)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)


Foundational Skills addressed: Fall Semester


1. Reading:


  1. adjust approach to reading based on purpose and text.

  2. form comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text.


Students will learn close reading techniques based on observation and analysis of style, diction, syntax, prosody, tone, characterization, setting, narrative structure and point of view, authorial voice, and figurative language in texts offering a wide range of style, form, historical and cultural context, and level of difficulty. Comparisons will be made between works of different genres, time periods, styles, forms, and worldviews. Special focus will be given to expanding students' vocabulary and precision of language through discussion of and practice with the most useful new words discovered in our reading. Genres under study will include fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction, as well as painting, sculpture, photography, film, and dance.


2. Writing:


  1. word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone.)

  2. sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique)

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)

  4. Writing form (audience, frame, topic, choice, form-specific conventions)


Through writing, reading, and discussion, students will learn how to write clear, detailed, and expressive analyses of the works under study. Writing work will include reading journal entries for all reading assignments and regularly assigned essays of literary analysis, as well as in-class essay writing and creative writing.




 

English 4

 


Course Description:

(Note: English 4 topics correspond with the Camden Conference and change each year)


“Pushkin is our all” is the oft-quoted summation of Alexander Pushkin’s influence on subsequent Russian writers and his role in shaping a Russian cultural identity intertwined with – and also distinct from – its European and Asian neighbors. Beginning with Pushkin’s seminal novel in verse Eugene Onegin, we will study many of the most celebrated writers of Russia’s Golden Age, including Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, as well as poetry, short fiction, and essays by writers during the Soviet period and after.

Our writing work will include essays of literary and cultural analysis, as well as impromptu in-class creative writing exercises designed to illuminate different aspects of the writer’s craft. Essential questions:How has the geographic and cultural diversity of Russia contributed to its national literary identity and the enduring belief in the distinctiveness of the “Russian soul”? In a country in which “the word was seen as a weapon far more fearsome than poison or daggers,” how has the persecution and martyrdom of Russian writers under both the Tsarist and Communist regimes – and the iconic status given to literary figures – shaped Russian writers’ sense of themselves and their role in society? How has Russian literature influenced - and been influenced by – world literary trends such as Romanticism and Realism?


Course Materials:

Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin (1825-32)

A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov (1839-40)

Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev (1862)

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)

Hadji Murat, by Leo Tolstoy (1896-1904)

Uncle Vanya (1897) and The Cherry Orchard (1904), by Anton Chekhov


Stories, poems, and essays by many 19th- and 20th-century Russian writers.


Contemporary Russian writing from Words Without Borders, an online magazine of international writing in translation, and The Calvert Journal, “A Guide to Creative Russia.”


Foundational Skills addressed: Fall Semester


1. Reading:


  1. adjust approach to reading based on purpose and text.

  2. form comprehensive summaries of information gleaned from the text.


Students will learn close reading techniques based on observation and analysis of style, diction, syntax, prosody, tone, characterization, setting, narrative structure and point of view, authorial voice, and figurative language in texts offering a wide range of style, form, historical and cultural context, and level of difficulty. Comparisons will be made between works of different genres, time periods, styles, forms, and worldviews. Special focus will be given to expanding students' vocabulary and precision of language through discussion of and practice with the most useful new words discovered in our reading. Genres under study will include fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction, as well as painting, sculpture, photography, film, and dance.


2. Writing:


  1. word (word choice, spelling, precision and tone.)

  2. sentence (grammar/punctuation, clarity, rhetorical technique)

  3. paragraph (thesis development, summarizing, sequence, role of paragraph)

  4. Writing form (audience, frame, topic, choice, form-specific conventions)


Through writing, reading, and discussion, students will learn how to write clear, detailed, and expressive analyses of the works under study. Writing work will include reading journal entries for all reading assignments and regularly assigned essays of literary analysis, as well as in-class essay writing and creative writing.