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Advanced Language Arts Seminar
This course focuses on close-reading and analysis paired with academic writing. Students learn rhetorical analysis: how to recognize the "tools" an author uses to create certain effects in their writing, and then how to explain and analyze what the author is doing in an essay. Students learn and apply these skills in the first trimester by studying several short stories from The Best American Short Stories of the Century, coupled with a study of a critical reading guide (How to Read Literature Like a Professor) and a college writing textbook (They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing). In the second trimester, students continue honing their rhetorical analysis skills with a nonfiction essay anthology, The Little Norton Reader. In the final trimester, students turn the lens on themselves, using the analytical and writing skills they've been developing to write a short memoir about an important time in their lives.
What happens in class?
Each lesson is different, but all lessons are designed around the following components:
- Close-reading and discussion of course texts
- Discussion and some lecture of targeted reading and writing skills
- In-class writing, 1-1 conferencing with the teacher, and peer workshopping
Throughout the year, students work on several long-term writing projects both in class and at home. While students are drafting these projects, we try to have most of the writing happen in class so students can get instant feedback from their teacher, but students will be expected to complete some writing at home. At the end of the year, students will choose one of their papers to polish and put into a portfolio. Most of the projects will feature skills of analysis, crafting an argument, and engaging a reader, but not all of the assignments will look exactly like a school essay (in fact, we try to give students assignments that feel different, and, we hope, a little more fun than what they typically write in school).
Each trimester, students complete 1-2 long-term writing projects that they draft and revise over several weeks. Since students complete most of their writing in-class, there are many opportunities for teachers to give feedback face-to-face, while students are working. The classes are structured so that teachers can conference with students in class, providing lots of oral feedback and some written notes on their work. At the end of each long-term project, students submit their final draft and receive written feedback from their teacher.
Students take three in-class exams, one at the end of each trimester.