The WPS English program teaches students to become better readers, writers, listeners, speakers, and thinkers. Students are encouraged to value inquiry and reflection. A strong foundation in writing includes a skills base of composition, style, grammar, vocabulary, mechanics, proofreading, editing, and revision which are integral parts of students’ mastery of the English language.
English teachers at WPS are passionate about literature and their passion fuels dynamic classroom discussions. Students engage in both oral and written communication, enabling them to develop and refine their command of the English language. Students read novels, short stories, poetry, and drama from a diverse range of authors, cultures, and time periods reflecting and focusing on aspects of their own identities as well as on those in the world around them.
Grades 6 and 7 explore global issues in the Anglophone community including areas of social relationships, communication and media, cultural diversity, customs and traditions, health, leisure, and science and technology, sports and leisure in order to discover their place in the world. They strive to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners, who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. Literature studied will aid students in analysis of various themes such as change, choice, identity, community, and the effects of the Pacific Northwest landscape on individuals through the study of works that may include Lois Lowry’s The Giver; George Orwell’s Animal Farm, David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, J.D. Salinger’s Of Mice & Men, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, short stories, traditional tales, and poetry from Gary Soto among others.
Layered within the study of literature are sharp foci on authors’ use of grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Student writing includes essays, memoirs, poetry, and personal speeches, as well as other text types including blogs, ads, texts, brochures, and pamphlets. Students practice organizing and drafting formal essays, with emphases on the use of textual evidence and argument. Other assessments include analytical tests, group and individual oral presentations, visual projects, acting performances, and debates, helping to reinforce the social studies and science curriculums.
Grades 8 and 9 develop the more challenging reading, writing, and critical thinking skills demanded of the rigorous high school program. Students will be able to create and compose clear, concise prose and apply textual evidence in their writing. Vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and mechanics are regularly incorporated into the literature curriculum, which reinforces the social studies
and science curriculums. Themes of racism, cultural diversity, Anglophone culture, and the effects of the Pacific Northwest landscape on individuals are explored through the study of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Farewell to Manzanar, and Brian Doyle’s Mink River. Linguistic devices and plot techniques are studied in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Assessments for the course include literary analysis, persuasive and personal essays, visual projects, unit tests, weekly quizzes, speeches, and regular written exercises.
Students will also read and analyze Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, George Orwell’s 1984, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and selected poetry and short stories. Despite the differences in style, voice, and genre, these literary pieces share common themes centered on free will, fate, and the evolution of one’s own identity. Class discussions will compel students to ponder how cultural, religious, and political contexts affect the development of the individual and of society. Written assessments include formal essays, personal reflections, and persuasive speeches as well as other text types including blogs, ads, texts, brochures, and pamphlets. The writing curriculum is enhanced through regular lessons and assessments on grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary.