The English program teaches students to become better readers, writers, listeners, speakers, and thinkers. Students are helped to see the merit of inquiry and reflection. A strong foundation in writing conventions such as grammar, vocabulary, mechanics, and style is also an integral part of students’ mastery of the English language. WPS students improve their writing through proofreading, editing, and revision.
English teachers at WPS are passionate about literature and their passion fuels 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, 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 the world around them.
Grade 6 English incorporates the fundamental skills of literacy. Students examine themes, such as change, choice, identity, and community. They explore literature through the close study of works that may include Lois Lowry’s The Giver; Linda Sue Park’s novel A Long Walk to Water; selected scenes from William Shakespeare, and short stories from a wide variety of authors. Layered within the literature curriculum is a sharp focus on grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Writing includes essays, memoirs, poetry, and personal speeches.
Grade 7 English students continue their exploration of literature through range of works that may include William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and short stories and poetry from a variety of authors, time periods, and perspectives. Students are asked to make text-to-self connections and generate personal responses to the readings. Writing skills are a focus in the classroom and in assessments. 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. In addition, students are consistently presented with vocabulary, spelling, and grammar-building exercises designed to improve their writing and language skills.
Grade 8 English students learn to generate 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 curriculum. Works od study may include Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, while linguistic devices and plot techniques are studied in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Assessments for the course include persuasive and personal essays, visual projects, unit tests, weekly quizzes, speeches, and regular written exercises.
Grade 9 English is a course designed to build upon the Middle School curriculum and to develop the more challenging reading, writing, and critical thinking skills demanded of the International Baccalaureate program. Students will 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 units share common themes centered on free will, fate, and the evolution of one’s own identity. Class discussions 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. The writing curriculum is enhanced through regular lessons and assessments on grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary.