Course Descriptions

"You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive." James Baldwin, writer (1924-1987)

The Natick High School English Department endeavors to equip students with the skills necessary for success in the 21st century. Through their engagement with a rich and varied curriculum, soundly based in the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks, students will
develop written and oral communication skills for creative, academic, and professional purposes; enrich their understanding of literatures and genres of diverse periods and cultures; strengthen their critical reading, analytical thinking, and problem solving abilities; broaden their understanding of and facility with the English language; augment their research skills, using variety of media.

All courses within the English Department are considered college preparatory. Courses ending in a one (ACP) are more accelerated and typically have a higher student to teacher ratio than courses ending in a two (CP).

FRESHMAN ENGLISH 10 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #101
This accelerated program is designed to challenge students with exceptional interest in literature and writing. Students should love to read, write, and share thematic ideas. They are expected to have organizational and study skills. These larger classes require most reading to be done independently and students are expected to understand literature both concretely and abstractly. Students learn twenty vocabulary words per cycle outside of class, take more responsibility in group and long-term projects, and participate enthusiastically. The core literary selections include The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, classic short stories, non-fiction and poetry. Other reading selections may include A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, The Chocolate War, The Street Lawyer, The House on Mango Street, When I was Puerto Rican, The Princess Bride, Forgotten Fire, and Witness. The writing component will be both literature-based as well as standards-based. Writing will include peer editing, self-editing and revising. The curriculum for this class is in accordance with the Massachusetts Frameworks and will provide an excellent foundation for the MCAS and the SAT exams.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than an A- in the eighth-grade English course and have a teacher recommendation.

FRESHMAN ENGLISH 11 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #103
The ninth-grade English Program is a standards-based English curriculum which transitions students from the Literature and Language program used in the middle schools to the more sophisticated high school curriculum. The focus is on study skills, reading strategies, writing proficiency, vocabulary enhancement, and analytical skills. The core texts will be The Odyssey, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Romeo and Juliet. In addition, literature supplements may include Hero, Bad Boy: A Memoir of Walter Dean Myers, When I Was Puerto Rican, The Gospel According to Larry, and the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, short stories, and poetry among others. Students will be guided in literary interpretation and may be involved in Socratic Seminars to enhance learning. The writing component will be both literature-based as well as standards-based. Writing will include peer editing, self-editing, and revising. The vocabulary comes from both a standard model and the literature. The curriculum for this class is in accordance with the Massachusetts Frameworks and will provide an excellent foundation for the MCAS and the SAT exams.

SOPHOMORE ENGLISH 20 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #111
This course is geared for students who are capable of exceptional work. The program integrates classical, modern, and world literature (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) with advanced writing instruction and high expectations for communication and analysis. Composition assignments using the process writing method focus on autobiographical and expository, and include peer editing, self-editing and revising. Core literature includes Oedipus Rex, Antigone, Medea, Macbeth, Ordinary People, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, A Lesson Before Dying, A Separate Peace, and Silas Marner. High motivation and initiative are essential to master this reading- and writing-intensive course. The vocabulary program is challenging, building students’ etymological awareness, and includes PSAT preparation. Skills outlined in state curriculum frameworks are built upon to provide a solid foundation of critical thinking skills and preparation for the MCAS.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a B- in the freshman honors English course.

SOPHOMORE ENGLISH 21 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #113
This course integrates classical, modern, and world literature with writing instruction and a review of standard written English. This course progresses at a more accelerated pace than English 22. Core literature includes Macbeth, A Separate Peace, Ordinary People, Night, and A Lesson Before Dying as well as thematically related nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. Composition assignments using the process writing method focus on autobiographical and expository, and include peer editing, self-editing, and revising. The vocabulary program is challenging, building students’ etymological awareness, and includes PSAT preparation. Skills outlined in state curriculum frameworks are built upon to provide a solid foundation of critical thinking skills and preparation for the MCAS.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a B- in the freshman college preparatory English course or approval of the department head.

SOPHOMORE ENGLISH 22 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #115
The course integrates study of literature, vocabulary, and writing skills, in practical, personal and academic realms. Composition assignments are developed from the literature, including classic and modern fiction, poetry, non-fiction. Core literature includes A Lesson Before Dying, A Separate Peace, Tuesdays with Morrie, Persepolis I, Night, and Nothing to Lose, as well as thematically related nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. Skills outlined in state curriculum frameworks are built upon to provide a solid foundation of critical thinking skills and preparation for the MCAS. Vocabulary is studied in a sequential program and includes some PSAT preparation.

JUNIOR ENGLISH 30 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #133
Junior English 30 is designed to build upon the literature, composition, vocabulary, and other communications skills addressed in sophomore English 20. Students engage in a variety of learning experiences: writing, research, oral presentations, reading of various genres, group work, and independent study. Through these experiences, students will explore the development of American literature as part of American history and thought. Students will also strive to improve competence in writing well-developed essays and in the elements of research.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a B- in English 20.

JUNIOR ENGLISH 31 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #135
Junior English 31 is designed to build upon the literature, composition, vocabulary, and other communications skills addressed in sophomore English 21. This course progresses at a more accelerated pace than English 32. Students engage in a variety of learning experiences: writing, research, oral presentations, reading of various genres, group work, and independent study. Through these experiences, students will explore the development of American literature as part of American history and thought. Students will also strive to improve competence in writing well-developed essays and in the elements of research.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a C- in English 21.

JUNIOR ENGLISH 32 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #137
Junior English 32 is designed to build upon the literature, composition, vocabulary, and other communications skills addressed in sophomore English 22. Students engage in a variety of learning experiences: writing, research, oral presentations, reading of various genres, group work, and independent study. Through these experiences, students will explore the development of American literature as part of American history and thought. Students will also strive to improve competence in writing well-developed essays and in the elements of research.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a passing final grade in English 22.

AP ENGLISH 50 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #151
Advanced Placement English exposes students both to the study and practice of composition and to critical analysis of challenging literature. Ideally, the teacher works with a small class in seminar fashion. Some of the specific objectives of this course are: to help students grow in their knowledge of literature in a variety of genres; to teach students to read, write about, and discuss literary works with authority and precision; to prepare students for the reading and writing assignments encountered at highly-selective colleges; to sharpen the student's awareness of language and appreciation of the writer's craft; to learn to write expository essays under pressure with coherence, clarity, and grace; and to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition Examination in May. A sampling of the literature required in this course includes: Ellison’s Invisible Man, Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Huxley’s Brave New World, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth, Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and representative works of the French existentialists.
Students who opt for the AP English class are prepared and expected to take the AP Literature and Composition Exam in the spring.
Prerequisites: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a B+ in English 30, must be recommended by his/her junior English teacher, and score “highly proficient” in a timed writing sample.

SENIOR ENGLISH 40 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #153
Designed for the college-bound student, this Honors course provides a basic knowledge of the major movements, significant authors, and universal themes in the development of world literature. Works studied may include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Hamlet, A Tale of Two Cities, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. An effort is made to juxtapose literature from a variety of countries. In preparation for college, students write a major research paper that allows them the opportunity to synthesize their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Students are required to write expository and analytical papers in preparation for college. Vocabulary work continues, not only for SAT preparation, but also for the general improvement of students’ diction.
Prerequisite: A student must have achieved a final grade no lower than a B- in English 30.

SENIOR ENGLISH 41 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #155
Designed for the college-bound student, this course provides a basic knowledge of the major movements, significant authors, and universal themes in the development of world literature. Works studied may include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, a Shakespeare play, Brave New World, All Souls, and The Kite Runner. This course progresses at a more accelerated pace than English 42. An effort is made to juxtapose literature from a variety of countries. In preparation for college, students write a major research paper that allows them the opportunity to synthesize their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Students are required to write expository and analytical papers in preparation for college. Vocabulary work continues, not only for SAT preparation, but also for the general improvement of students’ diction.
Prerequisite: a student must have a final grade no lower than a C- in the English 31.

SENIOR ENGLISH 42 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #159
This course explores contemporary and classic literature in a variety of genres. Students will analyze and respond to literature, discuss themes and issues, and write essays. Works studied may include but are not limited to Macbeth, All Souls, and The Kite Runner. Students will continue to develop and expand vocabulary and participate in individual and group presentations. Students will write expository essays and complete the Senior Literary Research Paper.
Prerequisite: a student must have achieved a passing final grade English 32.

JOURNALISM I 31 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #141
Students in this course will improve writing skills with assignments involving many aspects of print media. News writing, feature writing, reviews, editorials, and investigative reporting will advance students from basic news writing to more sophisticated approaches. Students also study legal and ethical issues faced by contemporary journalists.

JOURNALISM II 31 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #142
Students in this course will explore diverse areas of electronic and non-print media. Students will learn elements of radio and television news broadcasting, and employ those skills in a variety of projects including developing an advertising portfolio, writing and taping news broadcasts, and executing a TV news magazine segment that appeals to teen interest.
Prerequisite: Successful completion of Journalism I or approval of the department head.

English graduation credit is granted for the following English department electives listed below predicated on additional required rigorous reading and writing assignments. If English credit is granted the course will appear on a student’s transcript with an ‘E’ following the course name. For example, Pulp Fiction E 14.

PULP FICTION 11 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #166b
Sometimes described as detective fiction or crime fiction, the category has become a staple of American writing. The hard-boiled detective, clear and forceful dialogue, and a liberal use of slang are all recognizable elements of this fast-paced genre that emerged in the 1920’s. Dashiell Hammett’s prose style influenced Hemingway, and Raymond Chandler was responsible for much of the snappy dialogue that made Humphrey Bogart famous and led to the success of film noir. In this course we will examine some of the major pulp writers, including Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and C.S. Montayne, as well as the influence of this style in films from the forties through the present day. Starting with the traditional who-dunnit of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, students will see how the modern style and hero derived from a more formal mystery approach. The class will work on character sketches, hard-boiled vignettes, and short screenplays. Students will keep track of characters with a casebook and study relevant historical background, including Prohibition and the slang of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Students will also see how the genre has influenced other genres, including the science fiction of Jonathan Lethem and the comedy of Woody Allen.

SCIENCE FICTION 11 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #165a
Beyond Earth - Do you like the possibility of studying time travel, space travel or alien encounters? How does science fiction demonstrate controversial ideas of the present? Science fiction can show revelations into human conditions explored by traditional authors. While science fiction is often associated with a distant future, it can actually tell us more about our current situation and point us towards possible solutions. This course begins with early ?proto-SF? by Nathanial Hawthorne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edward Bellamy before launching into the works of more standard SF writers of the 20th century: H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick. In addition to the literature of SF, we will explore the films that have made an impact since the first adaptations of Jules Verne and Metropolis astounded audiences at the beginning of the last century. There will be opportunities to compose short stories and screenplays. Students will independently read short stories and novels by an author of their choosing and will relate it to themes of the course, discovering how the concerns of the present day influence the literature of tomorrow.

CREATIVE WRITING 11 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #172a, 172b
Creative Writing is designed to help students learn valuable techniques to cultivate their own artistic voices. Students compile a portfolio of their work and edit and revise each others' writings on a weekly basis. In addition to providing the time to write, there is an opportunity to polish basic English skills, sharpen awareness of nuance, and learn manipulation of language for maximum effect. The class will also read several selections by well-loved writers. Some of the writing assignments may include journal writing, character sketches, interior monologue, stream of consciousness, narrative voice, dramatic monologue, dramatic dialogue, short stories, screenplay writing and adaptation, poetry, children's literature and science fiction. Students should expect to spend time writing outside of class.

AT THE MOVIES 11 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #167a
Storytelling is basic to our lives, whether we hear stories, read stories, or watch stories. In this course, students will examine what happens when a story is told through the medium of film. Students will acquire a common film vocabulary, study the history of filmmaking, and identify the steps involved in making a film. Students will watch, discuss, research and critique films from a variety of genres. Students will also compare and contrast the telling of the same story in its film and original text.

COMMUNICATIONS 21 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #170b
Communications is a basic one-semester elective open to sophomore, juniors, and seniors. The course is designed to transform the reluctant, self-conscious student into a more articulate, self-confident communicator in a variety of situations. Whether we’re speaking, writing, or communicating via technology, good communication skills are vital to success in the 21st century. Students will engage in a variety of speaking, listening and writing opportunities, including writing and delivering speeches, and students will learn how technology can be used as a tool for effective communication (text, email, blog, Skype, Powerpoint, and social media). The fostering of effective writing skills, positive listening skills, successful questioning, and collaborative group discussion strategies are intrinsically embedded in the course.

HUMANITIES 40 / 41 2.50 Credits/Semester
Course #240E, 239E
See course description under Fine and Performing Arts Listing
NOTE: Must have English Department Head approval at the start of the course for English credit. English credit is granted only if both semesters are completed.


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