English Program & Faculty
All English classes are designed around a program of core skills and habits, including close reading, critical thinking, analytical writing, and reflection. Throughout, students are encouraged to view writing as a process best learned through drafting, revising, and discussing their work in conference with teachers. Courses promote a love of reading and a heightened appreciation of literature through the study of various genres, including short story, novel, drama, and poetry. Through class discussion, courses also promote clarity of expression as well as the willingness to share ideas openly.
Requirements in English
All students must complete four years of English for the Walnut Hill diploma. International students may apply work in English Language Learning (ELL) toward this four-year requirement.
ENGLISH 9 - FRESHMAN WRITING & THINKING
We come to Walnut Hill to be meaning-makers. Creating art is one powerful way to make meaning. Just as important, we make meaning when we think critically about literature, art, and history. Doing this allows us to look within ourselves and beyond ourselves. This course aims to guide students in the patient crafting of precise observations on which to build inferences and arguable claims for fresh, persuasive analytical prose.
This course is for all freshmen not enrolled in ELL Intermediate.
ELL WRITING & THINKING
This course helps English Language Learners develop their skills as readers, writers, and critical thinkers while they build English language proficiency. Students read and discuss stories, poems, and a play, learn to use OIA (observation, inference, analysis) to think more deeply about texts, and practice writing narratives and analytical essays. By the end of this course, students have a foundation in the skills and practices that will be used in future Humanities classes.
This course is for students enrolled in ELL Intermediate.
ENGLISH 10 - CREATIVE, COMMUNITY & PLACE
We all come from different places. Whether these places are urban or rural, near Walnut Hill or far away, the places in which we’ve lived influence our identities, our thinking, and our art. In this course, students will strengthen their OIA skills by reading and writing in a variety of genres. As we study literature and develop our writing skills, we’ll pay close attention to the ways in which place influences who we are, and who we will become. Along the way, we’ll ask questions such as: How do the places in which we live shape our lives and our art? What does it mean to be displaced, and how does displacement impact experience? What types of places “delight” us, and how can we help create, sustain, and maintain those kinds of spaces?
This course is for new and returning 10th grade students not enrolled in ELL intermediate.
ENGLISH 11/12: UPPER SCHOOL WRITING & THINKING
Through writing, discussion, and close examination of written and visual texts, this class exposes students to a diverse array of voices and explores the value of listening to other people’s perspectives. The class presents a focused course of training and practice in the skills and habits of the department’s core skills curriculum, including close reading, critical thinking, analytical writing, and reflection. Students learn to develop arguable claims about texts after careful consideration of evidence and to support those claims by explaining exactly how the evidence leads to their analytical conclusions. Additionally, students in this course hone their ability to craft narratives about their own experiences, using precise and detailed language to bring to life their own perspectives.
Incoming juniors and seniors must take English 11/12: Upper School Writing & Thinking during their first year at Walnut Hill.
ENGLISH 11 - WRITING & EXPERIENCE
Stories are a way we present characters—real or imagined—to the world. And they are a way for readers to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Students in this course will explore texts that present a self. We’ll read and write nonfiction essays to explore how we can artfully tell our own stories. We’ll examine poems that present an experience (and create an experience for the reader). And we’ll encounter fiction to puzzle out the ways authors make imagined characters real. In this course, students will also gain more experience in applying the skills that lead to accomplished reading and writing: patient observation, careful drawing of inferences from observations, and thoughtful development of claims. We’ll end the semester by curating and revising collections of student writing. This course is designed for students returning to Walnut Hill in grade 11.
Prerequisite: English 10 at Walnut Hill
ENGLISH 12 - ART & RESPONSE
How do artists respond to works of art? Students in ENGLISH 12 examine poetry, fiction, and drama as well as images and examples from their own lives and artistic practices in order to explore this question. Course texts draw from different artistic disciplines, allowing students to use their arts backgrounds to enrich their engagement with the readings. Writing is central to the course, not only as a means of communicating conclusions about a text, but also as an aid to discovery. Practicing skills they have obtained throughout their high school career, students explore their thinking through assignments that call on them to work both critically and creatively.
Prerequisite: English 11 or English 11/12: Upper School Writing & Thinking
SENIOR SEMINAR IN LITERATURE (GRADE 12)
Students in Senior Seminar participate in college-level literary discussion and analysis. By fully engaging in a variety of reading and writing assignments, we’ll deepen and refine our understanding of how language makes meaning. We’ll also practice the work of building community; together, we’ll collaborate to create a rigorous, supportive, brave, and inclusive learning environment. The theme for the course is “Makers & Monsters.” We’ll read novels, poetry, and drama to explore topics such as migration and exile; interactions between humans and the environment; the idea of the outsider or “monster”; the power of the creative act; and the ways in which language and art create intersections between what is “true” and what is “imagined.”
The seminar is open to grade 12 students by application to the Humanities Department.
INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE WRITING (ELECTIVE)
In this course, students will explore techniques for writing poetry, fiction, and dramatic writing. Creative assignments help the students expand their imaginations, discover a process of invention, shape an original voice, and tackle the discipline of revision. Through workshops, students will learn to respond critically to the work of others and apply feedback to their own work in healthy and productive ways. Additional coursework will include assigned readings and short responses. A commitment to active and thoughtful participation is essential for success in this course. No previous creative writing experience is necessary!
This seminar is open to non-WFMA seniors. Juniors may be allowed by permission of the Humanities Department. This course is limited to 14 students.