The English Department at Colorado Rocky Mountain School concerns itself with the essentials of college preparation: reading comprehension, vocabulary building, and analytical writing. Courses in English offer varied experiences in reading and writing exercises, with an overall goal of the students’ complete engagement with the texts. At the same time, values are taught through literature, and students graduate with the background and skill level that colleges expect.
The expectation is that students graduate with sophisticated writing skills. Students begin in the 9th-grade learning sentence and paragraph structures, practicing various forms of writing, and they proceed to the full development of the thesis statement and formation of the critical essay in the 10th grade. As juniors, students hone their essay writing skills and spend a significant portion of their year refining a major research paper. In their senior year, students refine the skills of expository writing and ultimately achieve much more independent responses to the literature they read. Library-research and public-speaking skills are also emphasized in each year of English. The 9th, 10th, and 11th grade English and history teachers also collaborate to teach core interdisciplinary themes across departments.
This course is designed to challenge students to become more dynamic readers of the texts they encounter and help them begin to master the skills and conventions necessary to fulfill a variety of academic tasks. The course addresses both expository writing and literary analysis. Revision is a critical component of each assignment, and students are asked not only to edit drafts for sentence-level clarity but also to rework holistic features of their essay, including development, organizational strategy, and focus.
The course also provides an overview of literary genres. Short fiction, drama, and the novel form are considered. Students read cross-culturally in a variety of genres and are introduced to some of the basic concepts of literary analysis (the significance of character development, the use of figurative language, etc.). Additionally, this course is closely aligned with the thematic units from World Geography and utilizes non-Western texts to bring student focus to the global issues we all face. Texts may include: The Alchemist, Persepolis 1 and 2, A Long Way Gone, The Translator, Krik? Krak!, Palestine, and Fahrenheit 451.