English & Language Arts

The English/Language Arts program develops critical readers and excellent writers. Students develop a strong foundation for clear and concise writing in different genres and for different audiences, the skills to read and interpret texts critically and imaginatively, and the judgment to differentiate among sources and analyze their content.

[Click on a Grade below to read the description]

List of 13 items.

  • Early Childhood (PK-K)

    Pre-kindergarten’s focus is on emerging intellectual and social skills in students. Oral and written communication is introduced and expressive language skills are encouraged and developed. 

    Building on the skills introduced in Pre-K, Kindergarten students gain more experience with phonemic skills and deepen their comfort level with the technical processes of pre-reading and writing.
  • Grade 1

    In Grade 1, the three interrelated focuses are reading, writing/spelling, and penmanship. The objective is to foster strong decoding skills, progress toward reading fluency, develop listening and speaking skills, introduce the principles of spelling, and begin the practice of good penmanship.
  • Grade 2

    Challenging thinking skills in reading and writing are introduced, including word recognition and analysis as well as understanding word meaning and ideas. The writing process is taught, and literature is increasingly used as a model to develop proper creative writing techniques. Penmanship continues to be practiced and emphasized. By the end of Grade 2, children will have sharpened reading and writing skills.
  • Grade 3

    The program encourages students to read on their own outside of class and further emphasizes fluency, expression, and oral reading. Children read and discuss longer, more complex texts in class. They become more independent readers and practice new skills such as word recognition through the use of a dictionary. The writing process is used to write longer, more complex pieces for different audiences. A major focus is on learning and practicing critical thinking skills introduced in Grade 2.
  • Grade 4

    The reading program is literature-based, drawing from a variety of short stories, poems, novels and non-fiction resources. Literature is selected to complement and enhance the themes and topics of the Grade 4 academic program, creating an interdisciplinary platform for the relationship among literature, history, social development, science, and community. Independent reading is encouraged. Students are expected to engage in large and small group discussions, write and answer open ended questions, and keep reading journals.
    The writing program focuses on detailed, accurate writing that shows an awareness of the rules of the English language. Specific skills include phonics, spelling, vocabulary development, grammar and syntax, speaking and listening skills, handwriting and reference skills. The writing process is followed: first draft, revision, editing, proofreading, and final copy. Word choice, organization, presentation, sentence fluency, voice, ideas, and conventions are discussed and practiced.
  • Grade 5

    Reading instruction in the Grade 5 continues the process of creating critical thinkers. Class lessons build upon established reading strategies (connecting, predicting, questioning, visualizing, and summarizing) as students read with a deeper understanding. Socratic discussions, small group work, as well as independent projects, provide opportunities for students to be more engaged in the reading process as they gain a deeper understanding of the text.
    The Grade 5 writing program provides experiences writing in various genres. Students continue to write informal narratives as well as expository texts using a variety of text styles. Creating thesis statements and justifying arguments through opinion and persuasive writing formats is a focus. During the course of the year, students will practice proofreading, editing and revising text. An ongoing review of spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills is taught in a formal setting as well as through each student’s written work.
  • Grade 6

    The Grade 6 English curriculum is designed to harness our students’ curiosity and creativity, inspiring them to become lifelong readers and writers. Using a wide variety of texts, often chosen by the students, classes explore how authors purposefully craft stories to convey specific messages about how to live a full and meaningful life. During units such as Social Issues Book Clubs, Narrative Nonfiction, and Memoir Writing, students discuss how understanding different perspectives make books- and life- richer and more robust. Self-reflection about their reading and writing growth helps students develop a clear sense of who they are and who they want to be. Students learn how to use effective communication, including speaking and writing, to make themselves heard and to effect change.
  • Grade 7

    Students are working to develop and effectively share their voice in Grade 7 English by exercising and refining their skills for reading, writing, and speaking. Inspired to think deeply, analyze, and interpret their own understanding of the texts, students work in collaboration with their peers by solving a classroom mystery using elements of a genre, preparing an argument of fact versus fiction during the historical fiction unit, and preparing presentations that draw on their understanding of dystopian fiction to create a dystopian world based on existing social issues.
  • Grade 8

    In English, Grade 8 students deepen their creativity, curiosity, and independence through self-selecting texts. Students engage with literature that presents multiple perspectives allowing them to consider which voices are represented and which are silenced. They are empowered to debate how lens and varying perspective affect their understanding of an author’s portrayal of challenging subject matter including social issues, war, and genocide. Debates, book clubs, discussion groups, and one-on-one conferences with the teacher help students hone their speaking and listening skills. Writing, a daily activity, emphasizes choice and creativity, with direct instruction on rhetorical structures, persuasive techniques, grammar, and voice. Using their growing ability to self-reflect, students choose, monitor, and modify individual goals for progress as readers, writers, and thinkers.
  • Grade 9

    Grade9 English has been designed to create a strong foundation for all students in writing, mechanics, research, and literary analysis. Throughout the year, students will develop an awareness of and appreciation for genre as we study memoir, fiction, poetry, and drama. Texts include This Boy’s Life, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, selections from The Joy Luck Club, as well as the film Persepolis, Oedipus Rex, a work by Shakespeare, and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. The study of poetry includes both traditional and contemporary texts supplemented by activities from Poetry Out Loud. Students will also refer to the writing handbook The Art of Styling Sentences, which is used in English 9 and 10.
  • Grade 10

    Grade 10 English builds on the skills developed and solidified in Grade 9: close and critical reading of texts, composing sustained written arguments that develop and support a clearly-written thesis, researching and synthesizing a diverse body of materials, and expressing oneself persuasively in oral communication. Students read representative classics and become firmly grounded in textual analysis while also developing a shared cultural frame of reference essential for participation in the intellectual life of an educated community. Texts include such titles as: The Odyssey,Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as contemporary novels from different cultures, such as The Farming of Bones.
  • Grade 11

    Grade 11 English is a yearlong course designed to provide students with a strong foundation in creative nonfiction, American literature, and expository writing through a close exploration of varied voices, perspectives, and genres, including traditional and nontraditional texts, representative the American experience such as The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Fences, and Death of Salesman along with writing texts such as In Short, and They Say / I Say
  • Grade 12

    Seniors will choose an elective for each of the first two trimesters one of which must meet the World Literature requirement. Options meeting this prerequisite include Science Fiction: Past and Future, The Story and Its Teller, Waves of Feminism, Humor and Satire, and Gothic Literature. Texts students may encounter in their electives include: From the Earth to the Moon, First Men in the Moon, Solaris, R.U.R. The Canterbury Tales, The Things They Carried, The Woman Warrior, To Be Real, Bad Feminist, Candide, Brave New WorldSlaughterhouse, The Road, Heart of Darkness, and Frankenstein. In the third trimester students complete Senior Seminar, a course that asks them to read a work of literature they haven’t yet studied, create a multi-modal autobiography of themselves as readers and thinkers, and compose an essay modeling “This I Believe.” Essays are then shared as part of a class podcast designed by the students. All English courses are taught at the Advanced Placement level; teachers provide brief guidelines about the AP exam, and many students choose to sit for the AP English Literature examination.

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of Anna Barry

    Anna Barry 

    University of Pittsburgh - B.A.
    University of South Carolina - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Chelsea Begg

    Chelsea Begg 

    Middle School English Teacher
    William Smith College - B.A.
  • Photo of Deborah Golden

    Deborah Golden 

    Senior School English Teacher
    Sarah Lawrence College - B.S.
    University of Pittsburgh - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Jessica Hecht

    Jessica Hecht 

    Middle School English Teacher
    University of Delaware - B.A. English Education
  • Photo of Geoffrey Hilsabeck

    Geoffrey Hilsabeck 

    Senior School English Teacher
    Vassar College - B.A.
    University of Chicago - M.A.
    University of Iowa Writers' Workshop - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Sarah Pease-Kerr

    Sarah Pease-Kerr 

    Senior School English Teacher
    Princeton University - A.B.
    Harvard University - Ed.M.

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