Graduation and UC requirements: 4 years

Students take four years of English at the high school level at OA. The English Department guides students to explore a variety of literature and writing and provides daily opportunities to engage with the work and with each other to make meaning for themselves and to see themselves as readers and writers.


We welcome and accommodate learning differences in the following ways:

  • laptop for writing assignments
  • Google Docs for assignment tracking and feedback
  • choice in assignment types
  • extra time for assessments/oral tests available
  • conferencing/individual time with teacher
  • class notes available
  • audio books
  • scribes/note takers
  • nongraded writing and freewriting

8th Grade

8th grade English classes spend the year exploring a variety of genres from diverse authors, such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie), The Princess Bride (Goldman) , Make it Messy (Samuelsson), and Chains (Anderson) , along with poetry and short stories, song lyrics, and students' independent reading choices. Writing tasks include journaling, creative writing, personal narrative, summary writing, paragraphing, and beginning literary analysis. Eighth graders wrestle with theme and symbols, historical context, and connections to current events. Class activities include silent reading, games/competitions, videos, pair and group shares, small and whole group discussion, student presentations, journal writing, "starter question" readiness activities, and more.

9th Grade - English 1

English 1 students (9th grade and some upper division international students) continue with a study of diverse literature, to answer the Essential Question--What makes us human? The year begins with a short story unit including authors Daniel Woodrell, Alice Walker, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and Kate Chopin, followed by novels Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck), Native Speaker (C.R. Lee), To Kill a Mockingbird (H. Lee), Gilgamesh, and the play Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare) . Journal writing continues in English 1, along with a scaffolded approach to essay writing beginning with paragraphs and moving into crafting thesis statements, making and supporting claims, writing strong, clear sentences, and citing evidence. Introduction to formatting conventions happens in English 1 with MLA format for formally submitted writing assignments. Students also write personal narratives, creative pieces, and continue to learn how to edit their own writing with guided practice. We also peer edit, watch videos, make and listen to podcasts, make connections to our lives, empathize with characters, make presentations, reflect on reading and writing, and do independent reading and projects of choice. Vocabulary is extracted from our readings and other activities and can be individualized depending on the needs of students.

10th Grade - English 2

English 2 students (10th grade and some upper division international students) explore the Essential Question: What do we value? Literature choices are diverse in author and genre, and include The Little Prince (St. Exupéry), The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger), Woman Warrior (Kingston), Ceremony (Silko), and Things Fall Apart (Achebe) along with a full overview unit on poetry. We explore societal and individual values in discussion, reading, writing, and research. Students make connections between their experiences as adolescents and real and fictional characters in terms of decision making, histories, patterns of learning, and more. Students expand on what they learned in English 1 and write more advanced literary analysis, always guided and conferenced in multiple drafts. MLA format is reviewed and practiced in all formally submitted assignments. They also have opportunities to write creatively, journal, peer and self edit, develop mature sentence structure, and reflect on their writing. As in English 1, vocabulary is extracted from our readings and other activities and can be individualized depending on the needs of students.

11th Grade - English 3 OR Honors American Literature

Juniors have two options for English, which is decided in combination with students, parents, advisors, and teacher recommendations. Both courses are structured around the theme of American meritocracy and its evolution through the literature. English 3 students read a selection of colonial literature and nonfiction: The Crucible (Miller) , The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), Cat's Cradle (Vonnegut), Fences (Wilson), and The Things They Carried (O'Brien) along with selected poetry and short fiction. Writing assignments build on skills learned in English 2 with the goal of developing college-ready essays and personal narratives, along with experimenting with poetry and creative writing.

Honors American Literature also begins with colonial literature and continues with The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain), The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald), All the King's Men (Warren), and Ironweed (Kennedy), along with selected poetry and short fiction. Writing assignments are geared to preparing students for AP English and for standardized testing.

12th Grade - Advanced Composition OR AP English

Seniors also have two options for English, again decided in combination with students, parents, advisors, and teacher recommendations. Advanced Composition students study a variety of fiction and nonfiction and engage with a variety of media to perform and report on research, develop self-awareness as writers and researchers, and prepare for college level writing tasks. Study includes development of argument, evaluation of sources, continued practice with writing processes, standard forms of writing and formatting, following models, rhetorical strategies, and editing techniques. There is also an emphasis on studying vocabulary and writing with the goal of helping students to perform well on the SAT and ACT exams, college admission essay writing, and personal statements. Course readings include Beloved (Morrison), Between the World and Me (Coates), Hiroshima (Hersey), The Stranger (Camus), Kafka on the Shore (Murakami), and They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Graff & Berkenstein).

AP English students follow a rigorous preparation for college level writing and are prepared to take the College Board AP exam in the spring of the senior year. Students will read and analyze a wide range of fiction and nonfiction texts from a variety of genres, time periods, and disciplines, learn and practice rhetorical strategies and focus on audience, develop abilities to produce arguments and support them, and practice revising and editing their own writing using conventions of standard written English. Course readings include Frankenstein (Shelley), Hamlet (Shakespeare), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde), A Streetcar Named Desire (Williams), The Iliad (Homer), Native Son (Wright), A River Runs Through It (Maclean), and Death of a Salesman (Miller).

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