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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 by examining several challenging texts drawn from various sources, including the 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 their own short memoirs while examining several published memoirs, including Ishmael Beah’s novel-length memoir, A Long Way Gone. Studying and crafting memoir gives students exposure to the kind of reflective writing they'll be expected to do in their college application essays.
What happens in class?
Each lesson is different, but all lessons are designed around the following components:
- Close-reading and discussion of very challenging literary texts
- Targeted study of professional, published writing and in-class practice of academic writing skills
- Feedback on writing, including one-on-one conferencing with the teacher and group workshops
Throughout the year, students draft and revise several long-term writing projects both in class and at home. Students will work on these projects mostly in-class so they can get instant feedback from their teacher, but they will also be expected to complete some writing at home. At the end of the year, students will choose one of these projects to revise, polish, and compile in a class portfolio.
In addition to writing, students will also complete short reading assignments at home that will be discussed in class. Students will also be expected to read independently throughout the year, selecting books from the Recommended Reading List for Grades 8 and Above.
Since students will complete most of their writing in class, there will be many opportunities for the teacher to provide informal feedback face-to-face while students are working. The teacher will conference with students regularly during class, providing oral feedback and some informal written notes on their work. At the end of each multi-week project, students will submit their final draft and receive detailed, formal written feedback from their teacher.
Students take three in-class exams, one at the end of each trimester, weeks 12, 24, and 36. Exams will focus on the analysis and writing skills students are learning in class.