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Introduction

Language & Literature

All students are expected to become competent readers, writers, speakers and listeners in every area of the curriculum. Growth in literacy is necessary so students can enrich their own lives and function in a changing world. An essential goal of education in Language and Literature is to develop the art and convey the joy of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The student is the center of the learning process. Students, parents, and teachers are responsible for recognizing individual needs and building on strengths in a developmentally appropriate manner. They work collaboratively to set goals, develop instruction and assess progress. Students are encouraged to become reflective self-evaluators who move beyond basic literacy to critical and creative thinking.

All educators are teachers of language and are responsible for modeling and nurturing the process of language development. Strategies for learning and applying the conventions of language will be taught within the context of the curriculum and life experience. Language proficient students are more likely to become independent, lifelong learners.

To graduate from Shaker, each student must earn four units of Language and Literature credit. Of these, three units must be earned by successfully completing 9th-, 10th- and 11th-grade courses. The fourth unit of Language and Literature can be earned by taking one of the 12th-grade yearlong courses (both semesters of which must be taken for either to count toward fulfillment of the Language and Literature graduation requirement) or by completing two semester-long electives. The Language and Literature Department also offers some enrichment courses, which do not satisfy the English graduation requirements.

Please Note: 
The courses and grade levels below represent typical programming pathways. Shaker Heights High School's counseling staff can help direct students and their families to the courses that best fit a student's academic needs.  
 
  

Course Selection

The following course descriptions indicate the variety of offerings within the Language and Literature Department. Make course selections consistent with your interests, aptitude and past achievement. Higher levels present greater challenges and require greater individual investment.

Weekly Writing Policy

To encourage all students to write more effectively, the Language and Literature Department is committed to a writing program that requires each student to write weekly.

Weekly writing will take a variety of forms – completed work, journals, writers’ notebooks, free writes, short, focused reflections, prewrites, rewrites and more. Some of these will be read and evaluated by teachers; some may be shared with and responded to by students, while some may remain private and ungraded.

Summer Reading Program

All students are required to complete a summer reading assignment. Students are expected to finish their summer reading before school begins. Summer reading will be assessed during the first week of school. Assignment lists are distributed annually in June; extra copies of the list are available in the High School Main Office and on the website at www.shaker.org.

Courses

9 Language and Literature

Grade 9
Full Year

This course focuses on strengthening the skills of reading, writing and speaking. Students read mythology, drama, novels, poetry and short stories as they develop critical and analytical thinking skills. Students receive instruction in argumentative, expository and creative writing. They also engage in various activities to develop research skills.  

Recommended: 8 Language and Literature

10 Language and Literature

Grade 10
Full Year – 1 Unit

10 Language and Literature is an International Baccalaureate course that follows the Middle Years Programme’s assessment criteria for Language and Literature. This course focuses on diverse literature by American, immigrant, and indigenous authors.  The course focuses on the st ruggle of individuals and groups to rise from oppression, and on the formation and evolution of an American cultural identity.

Success in this class will depend on independent outside reading, critical thinking, and analysis of varied texts.  Students will be expected to meet the demands of academic writing (argument, expository, and narrative, as well as literary analysis), the research process, and independent and cooperative learning required to prepare for the next level of Language and Literature.  

Recommended: 9 Language and Literature

10 American Experience, Language & Literature

Grade 10
Full Year – 1 Unit

American Experience (AMEX) is an International Baccalaureate course that follows the Middle Years Programme’s assessment criteria for Language and Literature. This is an interdisciplinary American Language and Literature and American Individuals and Societies class. The course focuses on connections between the American literature read and the history studied, thus enriching student understanding of both subjects. American Experience students benefit from having L&L and I&S teachers who are familiar with each other’s subject matter and discipline.

American Experience differs from 10 L&L and 10 US History because the course incorporates the arts (music, visual, and performance) as well as current events through four quarterly projects. These projects are hands-on, community-focused. AMEX students will research, write,  present, work in groups, and perform elements of their projects throughout the year. Dual enrollment in American Experience Individuals and Societies is required.

Recommended: 9 Language and Literature


11 Language & Literature

Grade 11
Full Year – 1 Unit

This course focuses on World Literature as the subject matter for further refining language skills. Students will be expected to read independently outside of class. Through their study of texts from around the world, students will gain an understanding of other cultures, as well as their own, and an appreciation for the shared nature of the human experience. The course will guide students to express ideas with clarity, precision and fluency, and to support their arguments with precise and relevant examples. Texts will be examined with the thematic link of power in its many manifestations and its effect on those who wield it and those who are victims of it. Students will also complete a college essay. Vocabulary study and opportunities for short research assignments are also included.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature, or American Experience



11 English Advanced/English A: Literature I HL

Grade 11
Full Year – 1 Unit

Students will read a wide variety of world literature and engage in detailed study of these texts, as well as the cultures and contexts out of which they emerge. This course requires a significant amount of independent reading and writing outside of class. Through this study of literature and writing, students will develop and apply critical-thinking skills and analyze the literature through both oral presentations and written responses. Through their study of texts from around the world, students will gain an understanding of other cultures, as well as their own, and an appreciation for the shared nature of the human experience. The course will guide students to express ideas with clarity, precision and fluency; to structure arguments, both orally and in writing in a logical, sustained and persuasive way; and to support their arguments with precise and relevant examples. Texts will be examined with the thematic link of power in its many manifestations and its effect on those who wield it and those who are victims of it. To receive International Baccalaureate credit on a Shaker Heights High School transcript, the student must complete the IB Internal and External Assessments.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature

12 English

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

12 English is for students whose reading, writing and communication skills need reinforcement. Students in 12 English will continue the study of literature and writing past the 11 L&L expectations. Curriculum consists of the study of contemporary literature and its connection to real world situations through novels, poetry, short stories, music, and thematic mini units. This course emphasizes practical writing skills for real world application. The writing consists  of reflective essays, creative writing, research, and the college essay.  A strong career exploration and preparation component includes writing cover letters and resumes, participating in mock interviews, and interacting with guest speakers from business and higher education including college visits.

Recommended: 11 Language & Literature


Anatomy of Writing

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

Anatomy of Writing students learn how to write the major types of composition that will be needed for college writing: narrative, descriptive, expository, argumentative and critical. Students write daily in a computer lab. They also learn mechanics and rules of English usage, methods of organization, and stylistic improvement through correction and revision. Second semester involves instruction in research techniques which culminates in a term paper. Proficiency in keyboarding is essential for this course. Students must have a strong work ethic and an ability to work independently to meet deadlines.

Recommended: 11 Language & Literature


Literature and Human Expression

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

Literature and Human Expression is a course designed to expose students to a variety of artistic media, including visual arts, music, dance, theater and cinema and to connect it to a study of literature. Students read novels, plays and poetry related to art as well as produce sketch journals, short fiction, and research projects that explore connections between their personal forms of self-expression and the literature.

Recommended: 11 Language & Literature

12 AP English Composition

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

As an option for students wishing to take 12th-grade AP English, this course is focused on writing and preparation for the AP Exam in English Language & Composition, an alternative to the exam following the AP literature course. Students experience sophisticated writing through studying examples in the major modes of writing—narration, description, exposition, argumentation—by ancient and modern writers; they develop sophisticated skills by writing exercises, short pieces, full-length essays and a research paper. Analysis of written passages for style, syntax, structure, tone, diction and other techniques prepares students for the AP exam. To receive Advanced Placement Credit on a Shaker Heights High School transcript, the student must take the Advanced Placement Exam.

Recommended: 11 Language & Literature

12 AP English Literature

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

The AP English Literature and Composition Course complies with the curricular requirement described in the AP English Course Description of the College Board. The course offers the academic experience of a college-level literature course. Students engage in sophisticated analysis of masterpieces of American and World literature in a number of genres through writing, research and student-led discussions. They develop an understanding of audience and of interpreting literature from various perspectives and an empathy for differences - of gender, culture, race, religion, and others. They enhance their awareness of how authorial choices, in structure, style, use of literary elements and devices, help to convey themes. The course seeks to help students enhance their appreciation of literature and to develop skills in reading, writing, researching and discussing great works. 12 AP Literature prepares students to be successful on the AP Literature and Composition exam given in May, and in the literature and writing courses they take in college. To receive Advanced Placement Credit on a Shaker Heights High School transcript, the student must take the AP English Literature and Composition Exam in May.

Recommended: 11 Language and Literature

English A: Literature II HL

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

The IB Language A Literature II course involves one semester of a detailed study of works from three genres (non-fiction, drama, and poetry) and a second semester focusing, though not exclusively, on the genre of drama. The students engage in the formal analysis of texts and cover a wide variety of literature – both in the language of the subject and in translated texts from other cultures; this analysis includes a study of the way literary conventions shape responses to texts. Students completing this course have a thorough knowledge of a range of texts and an understanding of other cultural perspectives. They develop skills of literary analysis and the ability to support an argument in clearly expressed writing, sometimes at significant length. This course enables students to succeed in a wide range of university courses, particularly in literature but also in subjects such as philosophy, law and language. Texts are chosen from a comprehensive list of works in English and in translation from a variety of languages. The aims of the course are to encourage a personal appreciation of literature and an understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism; to develop the students’ powers of expression, both in oral and written communication; to provide the opportunity to practice and develop writing and speaking skills, in student-led class discussions, oral commentaries and other situations; to expose students to a range of literary works of different periods, genres, styles and contexts and broaden the student’ perspective of other cultures and languages; to develop the ability to engage in close, detailed analysis of written texts, and to promote in students an enjoyment of, and lifelong interest in, literature. At the end of semester one, students will take an IB assessment in the form of a recorded oral commentary and at the end of semester two, they will take a second IB assessment in the form of two written papers – the first a close reading of a poem or prose passage, and the second, an in-depth discussion of drama. To receive International Baccalaureate credit on a Shaker Heights High School transcript, the student must complete the IB Internal and External Assessments.

Recommended: English A: Literature I HL

College Composition I & II - Tri-C/CCP

Grade 12
2 Semesters – 2 Units

College Composition I & II is a Tri-C course series offered through College Credit Plus. Focusing on the writing process and on the composition of expository writing assignments, including personal, informational, and critical essays, students will read and analyze expository and imaginative texts (fiction, nonfiction, poetry).  Each semester reviews the principles of writing effective sentences and paragraphs as students analyze argumentative strategies, models, and texts, and students will also engage in the research process. Acceptance to Tri-C’s College Credit Plus program is required for enrollment in College Composition I/II. Upon completing course requirements, qualifying students will receive 1 high school unit per semester, and 3 college credit hours per semester from Cuyahoga Community College, through College Credit Plus.

Required: Meet the established standards for admission and for course placement of the college/university


Intro to Creative Writing

Grades 11/12
Semester I – ½ Unit

This is a survey course that is introductory in nature and gives students an opportunity to write in a variety of areas including vignettes, fairy tales, short stories, poetry and children’s books. Students: 1) write daily, 2) maintain a writer’s notebook, 3) revise/edit their writing, 4) participate in group sharing and critiquing, and 5) submit completed works for publication through contests and to Semanteme, the school’s creative arts magazine. A portfolio is the final assessment that highlights the student’s growth as a writer, contains final drafts and includes thoughtful self-reflection.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature

Poetry Writing

Grades 11/12
Semester II – ½ Unit

This course is offered in even numbered graduation years. Students examine the works of many great poets to learn techniques involved in crafting fine poetry; students experiment writing poetry, using rhyme and meter, and various styles like concrete and free verse. Students write daily, participate in group sharing and critiquing, research different poets, read examples of poetic forms, prepare for performance poetry events, self-publish chapbooks and/or zines, and submit completed pieces for publication through contests and Semanteme. A poetry portfolio is the final assessment for the semester.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature

Fiction Writing

Grades 11/12
Semester II – ½ Unit

This course is offered in odd numbered graduation years. Students spend the majority of the semester writing the well-crafted short story, but are encouraged to develop ideas that might lend themselves to a novella or full-length novel. Six-word, 100-word stories and a multi-genre short story are additional projects. Reading examples of and examining the techniques of well-known short story writers are course requirements. Students write daily, participate in group sharing and critiquing, and submit completed works for publication through contests and Semanteme. A fiction portfolio is the final assessment for the semester in which students revise the main projects to final/best drafts.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature


Film As Art

Grades 11/12
Semester I or II – ½ Unit

This course will explore films and, in some instances, television as a visual text so that students may gain a better critical understanding of what they see. Students will study the history of filmmaking, its methods and techniques, and be required to participate in class discussion, work in small groups, create and deliver presentations, demonstrate proficiency using industry standard film vocabulary, and write in-depth analyses. "Projects include the creation of storyboards, public service announcements, music videos, and more. The course includes field trips to the Cleveland International Film Festival and Chagrin Documentary Film Festival.". (This course may be taken for Language and Literature or Theatre Arts credit.)

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature

Social Issues in Contemporary Literature

Grades 11/12
Full Year – 1 Unit

Social Issues in Contemporary Literature will expose students to fiction and nonfiction concerning current social issues such as structural barriers (racial profiling/police brutality, racism in the criminal justice system, racist practices in education) impacting the lives of Black Americans, LGBTQ+ and gender issues, homophobia, bullying, and the food industry/consumerism/obesity crisis in America. Students will be required to read several books and select shorter sources, participate in class discussions, evaluate each author’s bias and point of view, and engage in extensive research for written reports and class presentations.

Recommended: 10 Language and Literature


Literature of the Black Experience

Grades 11/12
Full Year – 1 Unit

Through this course, students will survey the experience of African Americans from slavery to our present time. Through all genres of literature and film,  we will explore Black culture, the social and emotional impact of race/racism and the glorious persistent tenacity of Black people. This course will call upon students to deeply analyze texts, and to draw connections between texts and the historical context in which they are written. Students will write and discuss personal responses to literature, read daily, present ideas and  participate in various forms of group discussion and collaboration.

Recommended: 11 Language and Literature


Journalism

Grades 9/10/11/12
Full Year - 1 Unit

This course presents journalistic principles and skills necessary to produce quality multimedia publications. The course addresses news values, journalism ethics, press law, interviewing techniques, copy editing and writing news and basic feature stories, as well as basic audio and visual storytelling skills. Student work is published in The Shakerite and at Shakerite.com. This course is designed for students who possess strong writing and time-management skills. Students will report, write and edit a quarterly investigation in addition to regular class assignments.


Sportswriting

Grades 9/10/11/12
Full year – 1 Unit

Students will apprehend, practice and master the fundamental skills of news judgment, reporting, writing and editing through coverage of Shaker Heights High School athletics published by The Shakerite. Students will learn how to cover individual athletic events and write game/event stories about them. The primary focus will be on writing sports stories such as profiles, explanatory and trend features about Shaker athletes, opinion pieces and analysis of the intersection of sports and society. Students will study press law and the First Amendment as well as ethical journalism practices and sound use of social media in conjunction with coverage. Students who successfully complete the course may enroll in News Production.

News Production Editors & Managers

Grades 10/11/12
Full Year – 1 Unit

This intensive course, through the production of the student newspaper, The Shakerite, and its companion news site Shakerite.com, applies and develops skills acquired through previous journalism training. Editors and managers will be responsible for all production and business aspects of the publications. To enroll, students must apply and be selected for an editorial position. (This course does not satisfy NCAA eligibility requirements.)

Recommended: Journalism, Sportswriting or Permission of Faculty Advisor


Shakerite

Grades 10/11/12
Full Year – ½ Unit

Through the production of the student newspaper, The Shakerite, and its companion news site, shakerite.com, applies skills acquired through previous journalism training. Reporters will gather news and write and revise articles covering all facets of the Shaker Heights High School community, refining their understanding of journalistic methods and style. Photographers and artists will contribute to the news organization's visual appeal. Editors and managers will be responsible for all production and business aspects of The Shakerite. (This course does not satisfy NCAA eligibility requirements.)

Recommended: Journalism I and/or II and Permission of Faculty Advisor

Writing Center

Grade 12
Full Year – 1 Unit

The participants in this course will be trained in writing process theory, revision strategies, various genres of writing, MLA documentation, different styles of learning, and effective tutoring methods. They will enhance their own writing, listening, speaking, assessment, and collaboration skills by assisting other students in the Writing Center in one-on-one tutoring sessions, writing about and reflecting on their experiences, planning and presenting writing-centered lessons and assisting teachers on a range of writing activities for different classes.  Students must not only be proficient writers, but should genuinely enjoy writing and have a strong work ethic. They must also possess strong social and interpersonal skills, as they will work with student writers on a daily basis.

Recommended: 11 Language and Literature or ADV/IB Language & Literature & recommendation from 11th grade English teacher