The English Department at Seattle Academy prepares students for college and life through the practice of essential communication skills. Our curriculum is based first and foremost in writing. Whether in personal or expository essays, poetry or a speech, a writer must defend a position or communicate an idea using details and evidence, and affect the reader through the structure and language. The department also emphasizes close reading as an analytical skill and as a means of appreciating the world’s literature. Performing knowledge in demonstrations and presentations is also vital to students developing confidence and character and, therefore, also a major component of curriculum and assessment at all grade levels. Finally, we understand that not all students learn alike, so we strive to recognize areas of progress in individual students and to identify areas for improvement which will help each student excel in college and in life.
In year-long English courses students read challenging adolescent literature including novels, short stories, and poetry designed to engage students in literary discourse. Students reflect on their own life experiences while also analyzing conflicts, setting, characterization, motivating forces, symbols, and themes. They hone their skills through discussion, through writing analytical paragraphs, and through presentations. Each year, students are asked to demonstrate increasing sophistication in all areas, and courses offer increasingly demanding content, assignments, and projects.
English courses in ninth and tenth grades consider the study of history when selecting certain texts or when designing intersecting projects. Students learn various modes, purposes, and styles of writing through exposure to a broad range of literature and learn to evaluate and develop arguments using evidence. To become confident and effective interpreters of information, students also learn the technical vocabulary and research skills required.
In the eleventh grade, students accompany their study of U.S. History with a study of American Literature and can select from a standard or honors level course, or take our integrated American Studies. In all classes, through reading and writing for a variety of purposes and in various forms, they engage dynamically with texts and write to discover the power of precise language and communication.
Both standard and honors-level Twelfth grade students explore emerging interests in English by choosing their English courses from courses as varied as Tolkien’s Universe, Latin American Literature, or Young Playwrights.