English at Alpha

Alpha’s English teachers believe that one of the greatest strengths of our department is that in all areas of our curriculum— new media, literary and film studies, creative writing, composition, and spoken language—we foster educated imaginations.  We help students develop their capacities to comprehend and connect, to create and communicate, and be actively engaged citizens in our rapidly evolving modern world.

Enrichment (Path to AP)*

**Please see English Enrichment Program page for details on enrichment options

  • Grades 8-10:   JEEP (Junior English Enrichment Program) – students integrated into regular classrooms
  • Grade 11:          English Literature 11 Enriched (Pre-AP)
  • Grade 12:         AP English Literature & Composition 12

English Courses Offered at Alpha:

  • English 8 / English 8 Enriched
  • English 9 / English 9 Enriched
  • New Media Lab 10 / New Media Lab 10 Enriched
  • Literature & Film 10 / Literature & Film 10 Enriched
  • The Power of Voice 10 / The Power of Voice 10 Enriched
  • Composition 10 / Composition 10 Enriched
  • Detective Fiction 10 / Detective Fiction 10 Enriched
  • Creative Writing 10 / Creative Writing 10 Enriched
  • New Media Lab 11/12
  • Literature & Film 11/12
  • The Power of Voice 11/12
  • Composition 11
  • Creative Writing 11/12
  • English Literature 11/12
  • English Literature 11 Enriched*
  • English Studies 12
  • English Studies 12 First Peoples
  • English Studies 12 Enriched*
  • AP English Literature and Composition 12*

Course Descriptions

  • New Media Lab

The New Media Lab is a hands-on, real-world exploration of media in the online age. Students run an actual media website, producing engaging content for a general audience. Students will learn vital skills for the fast-paced digital world. Highlights include studying and imitating actual media websites online; self-selected topics including sports, gaming, beauty, music, style, technology etc. in a writing workshop to produce high quality work for publication; selecting work roles within our organization including social media strategy, graphic design and illustration, and editorial leadership; using blogging and wiki sites; keeping up-to-date on topics of current interest.

  • Literature & Film

Film is an undeniably spectacular and popular storytelling tool. Good films, like all good stories, give us the ability to transcend time and place and explore different worlds and points of view.  Visual literacy is an essential characteristic of today’s educated citizen. In this course, students will study film in conjunction with literary texts to hone their critical thinking and analytical skills and develop their ability to express themselves with words and images. Students will be introduced to films and texts from a variety of genres, time periods, styles and writers/directors.  The course will move thematically and consider BIG QUESTIONS like

  • Why do good people do bad things?
  • What are the sources of lasting human happiness?
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of having dreams?
  • How has the use of technology impacted human life?
  • What is a utopia? Is a utopian society possible?  Is it desirable?
  • The Power of Voice

The Power of Voice falls under the Spoken Language course description.  Students will individually and collaboratively study, create and use language to produce original pieces in a variety of ways to explore how “Voice is powerful and Evocative.” The course will be taught in a Socratic seminar format. Highlights include oral story telling in an audio book, becoming the teacher, T.E.D. talks (Alpha talks), poetry café or poetry slam, reader’s theatre production.

  • Composition

This composition course will provide students with opportunities to think critically as they explore, extend, and refine their writing skills. Students will develop their craft through processes of drafting, reflecting, and revising to build a body of work that demonstrates breadth, depth, and evidence of writing for a range of situations. Highlights include note-taking strategies, effective use of quotations, paraphrase and summary, paragraph and essay structure, non-fiction writing for a variety of purposes (compare/contrast, persuasion, expository/argumentative, process analysis, cause and effect, etc.), and academic reading strategies.

  • Detective Fiction

Crime, murder mysteries, whodunits—detective fiction has been hugely popular since its inception. These stories challenge the reader to try to solve the mystery on their own and entertain us by showing of the deductive skills of talented investigators. We will read key stories in the genre from the proto-detective Oedipus the King to the birth of detective fiction proper in Edgar Allan Poe and its development through Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and noir movies, all the way up to the present day. The course will include plays, short stories, novels, poetry, film and TV. Students will gain an appreciation of genre and literary history while developing their skills in literary analysis. 

  • Creative Writing

This creative writing course offers students the opportunity to develop their creative writing skills through collaboration and design processes. Students will model writing styles of distinctive and successful writers, and use the written word (poetry, short story, memoir, journal writing, script writing)  to develop their own voices.

  • English Literature

English Literature offers students passionate about literature the opportunity to read some of the most beautiful, witty, wise, and insightful texts written in English over the past 2000 years. Reading widely is an important factor for an educated mind. By reading works that are sophisticated in thought and style, students will strengthen their aesthetic appreciation and critical judgment. The curriculum covers selections from the Western Canon for each of the following periods:  Middle Ages, Renaissance, Restoration, Romantic Age and Victorian Age.  This course seeks to view literature in the context of history, politics and philosophy, and shows the progression of ideas in western civilization.

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