The English program at TVT provides arenas in which students’ natural curiosity about the world can be safely explored. In examining the many important questions that texts raise about the nature of the individual, communities, and conflict, students graduate with a greater capacity for compassion, an understanding of multiple perspectives, and a deep appreciation of the many answers literature affords us to the question: What does it mean to be human?
In order to achieve this goal, students are taught interpretive strategies that are transferable across texts: ways of understanding character, point of view, setting, and other heuristics that enable students to discover and respond to the complex ideas that literature poses, in addition to understanding their own habits of mind.
The writing program is designed so that students understand that writing is both a process and a product, a way of saying something but also a means of discovering what they truly believe. Students are exposed to various genres, such as short stories, drama, poetry, and non-fiction pieces in consideration of various rhetorical strategies a writer might employ. Students use these pieces as mentor texts from which they find their own authentic voices, and in- stead of merely consuming information and culture, they become creators of literature and writers of their own destinies.
English 9 broadens students’ historical, social, cultural, literary, and personal consciousness by exploring literature from around the world and from different eras. Core reading includes novels, short stories, and poetry from a variety of cultures and time periods. Writing instruction teaches writing as a process that involves thinking, planning, composing, revising, editing, and sharing. Writing assignments are varied and focus on developing students’ reflective and analytical voices. Grade level: 9 Prerequisite: None
English 9 Honors*
The difference between English 9 Honors and English 9 is that the honors students have a greater volume of reading and analytical writing and are required to work more independently. Honors students are expected to have mastered the five-paragraph essay upon arrival into this class. English 9 Honors broadens students’ historical, social, cultural, literary, and personal consciousness by exploring literature from around the world and from different eras. Core reading includes novels and short stories as well as poetry and may include such authors as Homer, Shakespeare, Huxley, Achebe, Marquez, and Kafka. Writing instruction teaches writing as a process that involves thinking, planning, composing, revising, editing, and sharing. Writing assignments are varied and focus on developing students’ reflective and analytical voices. Vocabulary and grammar study are also important parts of the course; mastering vocabulary from core and personal reading, learning word attack skills such as analogies and classical roots, and studying grammar and mechanics sharpen personal communication skills as well as prepare students for the SAT I and SAT II. Grade level: 9 Prerequisite: Completion of English 8 with a grade of A- or better, writing sample, teacher recommendation
In this course, students read from a variety of plays, novels, poems and short stories and consider the themes that help illuminate the human condition and our own personal journeys. Core British, European, and Jewish Literature texts help students explore the development of the English language. English 10 challenges students to expand their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills as well as social, political, and personal awareness through literature that augments their study of European history. Writing assignments aim to sharpen the skills of close reading, literary analysis, argumentation, comparison, and narration as well as to promote thoughtful reflection. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to increase student confidence in writing skills and familiarity with literature as students prepare for college (and the SAT) in the coming years. Grade level: 10 Prerequisite: English 9 or English 9 Honors
English 10 Honors*
Honors English students have a different reading list, and a greater volume of reading and analytical writing, from their English 10 counterparts. Honors English students are required to work more independently. English 10 Honors challenges students to expand their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills as well as social, political, and personal awareness through literature that augments their study of European history. Core reading includes representative authors from British, European and Jewish literary traditions. An increased reading of poetry intends to develop both appreciations for the genre as well as familiarity with its technicalities. Writing assignments aim to sharpen the skills of close reading, literary analysis, argumentation, comparison, and narration as well as to promote thoughtful reflection. Students continue to broaden their vocabulary from core and recreational reading. Grade level: 10 Prerequisite: Completion of English 9 or English 9 Honors with an A- or better, writing sample, teacher recommendation
Students continue to expand their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills as well as their social and political awareness through literature that parallels their study of American history. Core reading includes novels, plays, short stories, and poetry, and authors such as Hawthorne, Twin and Fitzgerald. Students continue their exploration of major literary and philosophical movements. Writing assignments aim to sharpen the skills of close reading, documentation, literary analysis, and comparison/contrast. Students continue to broaden their vocabulary from core and recreational reading and from etymological study. Usage mechanics, timed writing, and sentence skill practice continue to prepare students for their college entrance exams (ACT and SAT). Students also read four outside reading books throughout the year. Grade level: 11 Prerequisite: English 10 or English 10 Honors
In English 12, students build on their critical reading and writing skills. A thematic unit of study of drama culminates with a senior play production. Texts may include Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Othello. Novels, short stories, poetry, and drama are explored. Real world writing projects, including resume building, cover letter writing, and interviewing skills are addressed. This college-level course provides students with opportunities to write about a variety of subjects and to demonstrate an awareness of audience and purpose in writing. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to increase student confidence in his or her writing skills—and familiarity with literature—in advance of the journey to college next fall. Grade level: 12 Prerequisite: Completion of three years of English
The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers and writers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among a writer's purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing. This college-level course provides students with opportunities to write about a variety of subjects and to demonstrate an awareness of audience and purpose in writing. The overarching objective in this course, as well as most first-year college-level writing courses, is to enable students to write effectively and confidently, both at college and later in their professional lives. Grade level: 11 Prerequisite: Completion of English 10 or English 10 Honors with an A– or better, writing sample, teacher recommendation
AP English Literature and Composition*
AP English is an accelerated, literature-based course, which uses writing as the primary mode of assessment and introduces students to college level scholarship involving careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Focus includes the historical placement of works as well as features of genre, literacy of Western tradition, rhetorical analysis, and sentence style and correctness. In addition to writing about each major work of literature under study, students produce essays on poetry, drama, and non-fiction. The texts and assignments, especially concentration on the timed essay, help prepare students for the College Board AP English Literature exam. The texts and level of inquiry are equivalent to a college freshman humanities course. Grade level: 12 Prerequisite: Completion of English 11, English 11 Honors, or AP Language and Composition with an A– or better, writing sample, teacher recommendation
Students learn how to work independently and in teams to produce the Upper School/Middle School yearbook. This entails deciding on the theme of the yearbook, making sure as many students as possible are included in pictures and text. Students engage in a variety of tasks, such as creating computer-generated layouts, taking pictures, and writing captions. Students learn many aspects of journalism as well, and demonstrate leadership, teamwork, problem solving skills, and effective communication. Photography is a major component of yearbook. Students must take photographs of in- school and afterschool activities. Students must be prepared to meet deadlines. Following the completion of the year- book and its delivery to the publisher, students will do an individual project to further enhance their skills. Grade level: 9-12 Prerequisite: None
Writting With Style Fall Semester Course
This one-semester elective course will provide students with a variety of opportunities to practice writing with style and confidence. Students will study a variety of model texts, primarily nonfiction, and will complete numerous short writing assignments designed to master a range of skills crucial for developing an individual voice in their own writing. Students will be trained to write clearly and concisely, and they will be provided with a toolkit of stylistic devices to add interest to their writing. Topics covered will include sentence and paragraph structure, tone, diction, passive and active voice, finding and developing appropriate supporting examples, and strategically using figurative language to make arguments more compelling. Though many of these topics are touched on in regular English classes, we will be exploring them in more depth and helping students develop an appreciation of individual style in writing. This course is appropriate both for talented writers who want to hone their skills and struggling writers who want to improve. Grade level: 9-12 Prerequisite: None
*This course is approved by the University of California. Course Availability: It is important to note that a course may not be offered in a given year due to low course enrollment.