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English

In York’s literature-based English courses, students learn to read critically, think logically, and write and speak clearly. Courses feature diverse authors and texts so that students can fortify their understanding of themselves, others, and the universal human experience. A strong foundation in vocabulary, grammar, and composition is built in the early years and developed in future classes through close reading and analysis. Through rich discussions, students engage with peers in scholarly discourse. Toward the goal of preparation for college-level writing, we teach writing as a reflective, metacognitive process as students explore a variety of modes--poetry, short stories, literary analysis essays, research papers, and the personal essay. Peer evaluation and individual writing conferences with the instructor aid the development of authentic voice and style. York provides additional opportunities for creative expression and authentic publishing via Ars Gratia Artis, York's Literary Magazine; Cafe Night open mic events; and participation in regional Poetry Out Loud competitions.

Requirements. In Grade 8, students enroll in English I for the full year. In Grades 9-12, English is required each year in order to receive a York diploma.
  • English I

    The goal of English I is to meet students where they are and take them to where they need to be for success in high school English. The class is an upbeat and energetic one in which students actively engage with meaningful texts, both contemporary and classical, through collaborative projects, discussion, and traditional analytical writing. As they explore the assigned literature, students grapple with questions such as How do we coexist in a diverse world? How can we become the person we want to be? What are the limits of love? Coursework reinforces students' familiarity with basic elements of literary analysis and introduces them to more advanced analytical concepts, promoting strong critical thinking skills. Students expand their comfort with writing excellent paragraphs, advancing to the point of constructing coherent analytical and personal response essays. Study of vocabulary and grammar targets effective verbal and written communication. Coursework reinforces students' familiarity with basic elements of literary analysis and introduces them to more advanced analytical concepts, promoting strong critical thinking skills.
  • English II

    This course introduces students to a wide range of short stories, plays, poems, essays and novels as a way of approaching essential human questions about life, its meaning and its limits. Along the way, students practice the reading, writing and discussion strategies that will serve as a foundation for their high school English scholarship. Students practice reading closely and annotating densely, then collaborate with classmates during Harkness discussions to build nuanced understandings of each text. Students also explore readings through analytical writing, whether informally - in journals and online discussion boards - or in formal essays. As students become familiar with a growing range of literary devices and styles, creative writing assignments enable them to practice telling their own stories with power and precision. Throughout the year, students progress through a curriculum of grammar and vocabulary, and give periodic oral presentations and speeches. In the spring, students write a culminating research paper on a topic of their choice. Course texts have included William Shakespeare’s Othello, Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, Tobias Wolff’s Old School, Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak!, Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Elie Wiesel’s Night, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
  • English III

    What is the power of one person’s story? What is the danger of a single story? What makes a story timeless? These are some of the questions posed in English III, a literature-based course designed to help students improve their reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. Students read novels, essays, plays, and poetry--many of which align with themes in World History II, and all of which wield transformative power. From the true story of twin El Salvadoran brothers seeking a life of possibilities in the U.S, to a tale of colonization from the point of view of the colonized, to a Shakespearean play about tyranny and greed, these stories provide multitudinous perspectives. Students also craft their own meaningful and reflective story as they write and deliver their Sophomore Speech—a York tradition celebrated by our supportive community. Within this framework of “the power of story,” students will continue to strengthen their skills as close readers, deep thinkers, perceptive writers, and articulate presenters. They will engage in regular “writing to learn” activities such as quick writes, journal entries, and online forum responses to literature, while also writing process-based essays. They will work collaboratively on projects, presentations, and peer responses to one another’s writing. Students will continue to develop their analytical and speaking skills in diverse modes, including whole-class discussions, smaller discussion circles, small-group and individual presentations, and the Sophomore Speech.
  • English IV

    Over the course of English IV, students study a wide array of literary texts about “the American experience,” with the meaning of that phrase becoming clearer as the year progresses. The carefully selected texts not only provide great insights about life in America, they also provide a variety of examples of literary devices and rhetorical strategies. One of the reasons that we read great texts and great writers is that our reading fortifies our own writing. By critically analyzing how our writers write, we learn how to write better ourselves. As students practice writing through essays and shorter writing assignments, they will strive to use feedback on their earlier projects to make subsequent compositions stronger.
  • English IV - YAS

    Over the course of English IV-YAS, students study a wide array of literary texts about “the American experience,” with the meaning of that phrase becoming clearer as the year progresses. The carefully selected texts not only provide great insights about life in America, they also provide a variety of examples of literary devices and rhetorical strategies. One of the reasons that we read great texts and great writers is that our reading fortifies our own writing. By critically analyzing how our writers write, we learn how to write better ourselves. As  students  practice writing through essays and shorter writing assignments, they will strive to use feedback on their earlier projects to make subsequent compositions stronger. 

    Essay assignments in English IV-YAS are longer than those in regular English IV; similarly, quizzes are substantially more challenging in the YAS course. Periodically, YAS students are given additional projects and supplementary readings, including scholarly literary criticism and documents that contextualize the main readings. Finally, YAS students are expected to participate vibrantly and regularly in class discussions.
  • English V: Issues in Social Justice

    The primary goal of this semester course is to prepare students for college-level writing. We are writing now more than ever: emails, texts, tweets, blogs, posts—not to mention the more formal writing that college, graduate school, and professions demand. This course aims to help students become more confident and skilled, preparing them for this diverse world of writing. Engaging in writing as a reflective, metacognitive process, they discover answers to the questions “Who am I as a writer?” “What are my strengths?” “What skills need honing?” “What processes work best for me?” “Where do I want to push myself?” Students learn the core tenet of rhetoric: that each writing situation is a contextualized act with a particular audience and purpose, necessitating close consideration of the reader’s needs. The course is grounded in the theme of social justice, giving students ample opportunity to write about real-world issues. They practice in-depth research skills to create a web page and informational paper, followed by a formal presentation of their findings. Students then learn the art of persuasive writing as they write essays which require them to construct effective arguments, including the establishment of a clear purpose and the integration of opposing views. By the end of the semester, students should be confident in these broader abilities as well as the more granular skills of source citation, quotation integration, fluid syntax, and correct grammar. Students receive detailed feedback regarding their writing’s focus, support, organization, style, and mechanics and are encouraged to meet with their teacher for individual writing conferences throughout the semester.
  • English V: Literature of Science

    From foundational writings of modern civilization to contemporary journalism, this course will approach a wide range of science writing in order to study it as literature. Students will not only grapple with the concepts contained in each text, but will assess the ways in which science writers seek to balance fidelity to complex, scientific concepts with the need to be understood by a specific audience. Students will read and write frequently, drawing on the tools of great science writers to craft their own pieces, including at least one full-length article. 
  • English V: Narrative Nonfiction

    Vladimir Nabokov once said, “If I tell you that the king died, and then the queen died, that's not narrative; that's plot. But, if I tell you that the king died, and then the queen died of a broken heart, that’s narrative.” Narrative nonfiction is a marriage of storytelling and journalism which uses the tools of the fiction writer to narrate the observable world of real people, real places, and real events. The best practitioners of the form set scenes, depict multidimensional characters and, most important, tell the story in a compelling voice. This course will cover the major genres of narrative non-fiction – web writing, short and long magazine articles, and books – and sample from a diverse list of masters.

    Students will write analytically in response to what they read, considering style, content and questions of accuracy and truth. They will also engage in writing exercises to generate their own story ideas, practice crafting tone and voice, and write at least one full-length narrative piece.
  • English V: US-American Women's Voices

    How does identity shape who we are, as residents of the United States, and how does the history of the United States shape us? What perspectives are unique to those whose lived experience occurs at the intersections of multiple identities? How do these perspectives give others insight into their own lives and identities? And where are universal truths born? These are the essential questions we will explore in this literature-based course that focuses on a selection of important US-American authors. Readings span from a seminal slave narrative by Harriet Jacobs, to the writings of celebrated authors Louise Erdrich (Ojibwe), Sandra Cisneros (Mexican-American), bell hooks (Black), and Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese-American). Students will engage in regular discussion and write in multiple modes in response to the literature: personal narrative, literary analysis, and research. Students will receive detailed feedback regarding their writing’s focus, support, organization, style, and mechanics, and are encouraged to meet with their teacher for individual writing conferences throughout the semester.

Faculty

  • Photo of Jennifer Berry
    Jennifer Berry
    English Department Chair
    Bio
  • Photo of Christina Nielsen
    Christina Nielsen
    English
  • Photo of Dan Rubado
    Dan Rubado
    English; Leadership; 8th Grade Dean

Curriculum

York School

9501 York Road
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831-372-7338
Fax: 831-372-8055
We inspire and prepare a diverse community of creative, independent thinkers.
Since 1959, York School has created an exceptional college-prep experience for our youth: inspiring them to develop intellectual curiosity; challenging them to create and try new things; and preparing them to be passionate contributors in college and in life.