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Junior Literature & Composition

Course Description

The Kirkwood English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum outlines the knowledge, skills, and competencies for students to become informed, confident, and competent communicators who will add value to our dynamic world using knowledge, character and problem solving skills. Students best develop this understanding through relevant and meaningful experiences and through instruction that recognizes purpose, form, and content as interrelated elements.  

Junior Literature and Composition builds on ninth and tenth grade coursework by centering on inquiry and synthesis. Students will build understanding and acknowledge personal bias by reading diverse perspectives and multiple genres and by studying and practicing multiple modes of composition for a variety of audiences and purposes. This foundational work will support students during the second semester when conducting independent inquiry projects. Students will investigate a question, conduct research, and create a multimedia presentation for a public audience. These learning experiences will also integrate multiple opportunities for students to practice the skills needed on the ACT and to compose a college/scholarship essay.  

The Kirkwood School District honors and values the academic, ethical, and social development of our students by providing opportunities for respectful relationships to develop. Students are encouraged to work in pairs, groups, and as a class to solve problems as they develop an understanding and respect for varying perspectives. A sense of belonging develops and strengthens the students' competency and responsibility for their own learning. The ELA standards are learner-centered and define the knowledge, skills, attitudes, processes, and content that students need to understand in order to become informed, confident, and competent users of language.  

Grade Level(s): 11th Grade

Related Priority Standards (State &/or National): DESE Priority Standards, Grades 11-12

Essential Questions

  • What is our responsibility to each other?  
  • How should responsibility inform action?  
  • What is the relationship between entitlement and responsibility?  
  • To what extent should we consider others in decision making?  
  • When should you challenge society's expectations?  
  • What is the perspective I have to share?  
  • What is our responsibility to ourselves?  
  • How do diverse perspectives shape our thinking and actions?  
  • How should we use our voices to encourage responsible action?

Enduring Understandings/Big Ideas

  • Everyone has a personal bias that impacts thinking.  
  • Diverse perspectives are crucial to making responsible decisions.
  • Verbal and written ideas empower actions.  
  • There are times when challenging society’s expectations (status quo) is necessary for progress. 

Course-Level Scope & Sequence (Units &/or Skills)

Unit 1 - Entitlement and Responsibility: The 20th Century Novel

Using a novel written in the 20th century, students will consider the relationship between entitlement and responsibility while focusing upon inference, idea development, and perspective.  

  • Topic: Inference - Students will use textual evidence to make inferences.
  • Topic: Idea Development - Students will use textual evidence to develop unique and grounded ideas for writing.
  • Topic: Perspective - Students will utilize various perspectives as lenses through which to interact with and interpret text.
  • Topic: Entitlement - Students will explore the concept of entitlement through character development, setting, and theme.

Unit 2 - Considerations in Decision Making: Elizabethan Drama

Students will explore the complexities of responsible decision making through characters' words and actions, comparing multiple interpretations of a drama.

  • Topic: Analysis of Multiple Interpretations - Students will interact with multiple interpretations of the Elizabethan drama Macbeth, including the original Shakespearean play and various film interpretations. 
  • Topic: Comparison and Contrast - Students will analyze and evaluate various interpretations of the source text through a comparison and contrast essay. 
  • Topic: Subtext - Students will explore the many meanings conveyed through the spoken word. 
  • Topic: Responsible Decision Making - Students will examine the impact decisions can have on various groups. 

Unit 3 - Challenging Society: The 19th Century Novel

Students will interact with various texts, with a special focus on a 19th century novel, to consider when the individual should challenge society. 

  • Topic: Synthesis - Students will interact with various texts to create a more complete understanding of a topic or theme. 
  • Topic: Argumentation to Support Claims - Students will write arguments and present their findings using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 
  • Topic: The Self in Society - Students will interact with various texts to consider why individuals challenge society, what is gained, and what can be lost. 

Unit 4 - Sharing My Perspective: The College Essay

Students will examine the impact of different parts of their lives to create an authentic, engaging, and reflective narrative that can be submitted as part of their application to colleges and universities. 

  • Topic: What is my story? - Students will reflect upon various events within their lives and the lessons gleaned from them.
  • Topic: Sharing my story - Students will produce and distribute their personal narratives.

Unit 5 - Responsibility to Ourselves: The 20th Century Novel

Through interactions with fiction and nonfiction, students will consider how to balance the needs of others with the responsibility they have to themselves: emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. 

  • Topic: The Structure of Point of View - Students will utilize various perspectives as lenses through which to interact with and interpret text. 
  • Topic: Language of Mood - Students will examine how the author creates mood within a text, and how mood affects the reader's experience of reading and relating to the text. 
  • Topic: Responsibility to Self - Students will analyze and evaluate the decisions made in fiction and non-fiction to reflect upon responsibilities they have to themselves. 

Unit 6 - Diverse Perspectives: Nonfiction

Through experiences with both non-fiction novels and informational texts, students will expose themselves to various perspectives on a topic or theme in order to better define their own perspective on that topic or theme. 

  • Topic: Idea Development and Analysis - Students will interact with multiple nonfiction texts to broaden their understanding of various topics. 
  • Topic: Analyzing Craft and Rhetoric - Students will examine the ways in which authors use language and rhetoric develop and deliver their unique perspectives. 

Unit 7 - Responsible Action: Multimedia Projects

As a culminating experience, students will use the skills built surrounding research, rhetoric, and synthesis to investigate a modern issue, identify its causes, define potential action steps for solution, and present this information through the use of multimedia.

  • Topic: Using Inquiry for Research - Students will generate questions to lead and support their research into a topic of interest. 
  • Topic: Presentation to Authentic Audiences - Students will present their claims, evidence, and reasoning to their classmates and teacher through the creation of a multimedia project. 

Ongoing - ACT Preparation

ACT assessment skills, content, and strategy will be addressed throughout the course, focusing specifically on the reading, vocabulary, grammar and mechanics needed for the English and Reading sections of the assessment. 

  • Topic: Grammar and Mechanics - Students will focus upon the conventions of standard English language grammar and mechanics. 
  • Topic: Reading Comprehension  - Students will deepen their critical thinking within, beyond, and about texts.

Course Resources & Materials

  • A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance
  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • Black Elk Speaks
  • Cannery Row
  • Canterbury Tales
  • Death of a Salesman
  • Dracula
  • Emma
  • Frankenstein
  • In Cold Blood
  • In Dubious Battle
  • Macbeth
  • Outliers
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • The Awakening
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • The Joy Luck Club
  • The Moon is Down
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Secret Life of Bees
  • The Souls of Black Folk
  • The Things They Carried
  • Travels With Charley
  • Trifles
  • Twelfth Night
  • Walden
  • When the Emperor was Divine
  • Woman Warrior

Date Last Revised/Approved: May 2015