Exposition: Informational Writing and Public Speaking

Academic Year Language Arts

In this course, students will learn the ins and outs of effective expository writing and speaking in multiple real-world contexts. They will learn how to find, understand, and present information to make their ideas understood by others, building an outstanding foundation for academic and professional writing. Along the way, they’ll investigate and report on events within their own homes or neighborhoods, prepare an essay for submission to a real-world publication opportunity, create an original historical documentary, and conduct and present their own independent scientific research. Each unit will also include a focus on a different genre of public speaking, developing oratory skills and practice.

In the first unit, students take on the role of investigative journalist, digging into a real story from their own lives. While reading articles by the world’s top journalists, they learn to gather and organize facts, conduct interviews with sources, and synthesize the information they've gathered into a magazine-quality investigative article. The unit closes with a live broadcast of AoPS Nightly News, with all students giving a live report on their investigation.

In the second unit, students study and join the long tradition of the personal essay. Most famously used in the college application, the personal essay is the writer’s space to express their ideas. Students will practice introspection and metacognition as they articulate not just a belief but also the experiences that have led them to hold it. At the end of the unit, students craft an essay worthy of real-world writing contests

In the third unit, students become documentarians, tracing the historical development of an aspect of the modern world. They learn research skills, with an emphasis on locating and collating sources, and how to build a coherent and persuasive narrative out of seemingly disparate events. At the end of the unit, students create a documentary detailing the historical patterns they’ve uncovered.

In the final unit, students put on their scientist hats, employing an online database to research a scientific question and derive their own independent conclusion. They master skills crucial to clear scientific communication, including framing the thought process guiding an investigation and articulating complex and abstract concepts to a lay audience. At the end of the unit, students present their findings in the form of a TED Talk, blending hard data with engaging public speaking.

What happens in class?

Each unit begins with an exploratory period in which students learn new writing, speaking, and research skills. They are encouraged to cultivate their abilities as the unit progresses and they encounter more advanced expository forms. Each unit ends with a final project that is developed through a structured process of brainstorming, drafting, revising, and performing.

Each day of class will include a blend of the following types of activities:

Homework

Students should expect to spend about 1-2 hours on homework every week. Homework will include: practicing skills learned in class through questions in the Homework Tab, long-term writing assignments connected to the unit project, and assigned reading in one of the four quarterly books.

Teacher Feedback

During class, the teacher will give students direct, oral feedback on skills and projects. This in-person feedback is key in helping students revise and improve their writing while they are working on the unit projects. At the end of each writing project, students can expect to receive evaluative written feedback from their teacher.

Course Texts

5200 Franklin Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94588
11455 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130
777 Lawrence Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95051
1088 Lexington St.
Waltham, MA 02451
9711 Washingtonian Blvd
Gaithersburg, MD 20878-7365
6406 McCrimmon Pkwy
Morrisville, NC 27560
100 Campus Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
5285 Independence Pkwy
Frisco, TX 75035
8381 Old Courthouse Rd
Vienna, VA 22182
1750 112th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
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