English Courses

Supervisor: Brendan McIsaac, 908-284-7145, bmcisaac@hcrhs.org

Courses have been grouped according to level of academic rigor. The rigor of a student’s academic schedule and the grades received are key aspects considered by college admissions officers. Core Program courses satisfy graduation requirements, but may not satisfy certain admissions requirements for some colleges. Please note: sequencing need not be constant; students may move between “levels” as long as prerequisite courses are taken. While we encourage students to challenge themselves in their course selection, the demands of higher level courses can be significant. If you are considering a change in level, talk to your current teacher and counselor for guidance. Prerequisite requirements and recommendations for all courses are listed in the course descriptions. Please read these carefully, to ensure that all prerequisite courses have been taken before selecting a course.

2018-2019 English Course Descriptions:

NEW FOR 2018-2019:


From Mr. McIsaac: "Are you tired of producing work that only your teacher sees? Would you be interested in producing an online, multimedia, or print publication for the entire school community? Then Senior English in Journalism & Communication may be the course for you. It takes the skills learned in journalism to a new level. In fact, you will work as an editor in the class to coach Journalism apprenticeship students in creating content for The Lamp, The Lamp Online and other outlets. You will also learn advanced storytelling techniques along with page and multimedia design. This project-based course will fulfill your senior English requirement."


Freshmen are required to choose either #011 Honors English 1, #012 English 1, or #013 English 1 Academic Assistance.

#012 - ENGLISH 1 - 5 CREDITS
Grade: 9

English 1 utilizes a reading and writing workshop model to explore unit and course level essential questions around the experiences, goals and destinies of individuals. Each unit of study requires students to explore and synthesize ideas using a combination of common texts (Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, poems, essays), literature circles, or independent reading. Students learn how to read closely, analyze content, and cite evidence. They learn to engage in discussions and seminars as well as make presentations of research, interpretations, and arguments. Writing instruction emphasizes the six traits of writing, the writing process, inquiry and research skills, and source evaluation. Students create a portfolio that includes argumentative, explanatory, narrative, and digital writing such as podcasts, wikis, blogs and video essays. Academic vocabulary and grammar study are embedded throughout the reading and writing process.

#013 – ENGLISH-1 Academic Assistance – 5 CREDITS
Grade: 9

This course follows the framework of English 012 but emphasizes remediation and reinforcement of skills necessary to meet high school graduation requirements. Students are placed in this section based upon their performance on standardized assessments, or by teacher recommendation. This course includes the literary works, the writing focus and portfolio, and the collaboration and discussion techniques described in #012 English 1. Students study effective writing models, practice reading strategies, and learn to peer and self-assess as they move through course units of study

Grade: 9
Prerequisite: Placement Test

Honors English 1 is a more rigorous version of English 012 (described above) designed to challenge the highly-motivated student with advanced skills in critical reading and composition. Students are required to synthesize multiple texts that are longer or more complex and produce compositions with greater development and sophistication. This course provides an intensive study of literary forms, including rhetorical devices, methods of critical analysis, and various modes of composition. Vocabulary development and grammar study are important elements of the course, as is the acquisition of effective collaboration, discussion, seminars, and presentation skills. Students read challenging classic and modern texts from a variety of genres, including poetry, the novel, the short story, non-fiction, and drama. Students create a writing portfolio that demonstrates strong proficiency with a variety of writing modes and the six traits of writing. Web literacy, inquiry, and research skills are embedded into the units of study. This course is designed to prepare students for AP level work.


Sophomores are required to choose either #021 Honors English 2, #022 English 2, or #023 English 2 Academic Assistance.

#022 - ENGLISH 2 - 5 CREDITS
Grade: 10
Prerequisite: #011 Hon. English 1 or #012 English 1 or #013 English 1 Academic Assistance

English 2 continues with a workshop approach and enriches the language arts, inquiry, and synthesis skills developed in English 1. Units of study explore both the interior struggles of characters as well as the relationship between an individual and the society he/she inhabits. Students also develop questions and topics to research, explore, and argue. Literature and language study continue to emphasize vocabulary acquisition, an understanding of grammar as an element of style, analytical and critical thinking, discussion, presentation and collaboration skills, and the explication and synthesis of authors' ideas and biases in student writing. Students continue to develop an e-portfolio across genres and digital platforms informed by the traits of good writing. The course explores both whole class texts such as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Crucible, literature circles, and independent reading. Each unit of study seeks to have students synthesize reading and research in the pursuit of essential questions. Students’ continued mastery of standardized assessment skills is also goal of the program.

#023 – ENGLISH-2 – Academic Assistance – 5 CREDITS
Grade: 10
Prerequisite: #011 Hon. English 1 or #012 English 1 or #013 English 1 Academic Assistance

This is a comprehensive course which addresses the essential elements of English #022 while emphasizing remediation and reinforcement of skills required for graduation and success on standardized assessments. Students are recommended for this section based upon prior performance and/or recommendation. This course includes the same analysis of works of fiction and non-fiction, the development of writing skills across genres, the acquisition and application of academic vocabulary as well as the explication of authors’ ideas expressed in student writing as encountered in #022 English.

Grade: 10
Prerequisite: #011 Honors English 1 or #012 English 1

This course continues the intensive study of literature, non-fiction, and composition that will prepare students for success in AP Language & Composition and on the SAT. Units of study explore the relationships between individuals and the society they inhabit but also encourage the development and pursuit of student generated topics and questions. Students will develop mastery of literary forms, rhetorical devices, methods of critical analysis, vocabulary skills, and further develop their writing and e-portfolio. Collaboration skills and debate/presentation skills are also vital components of the curriculum. Students will continue to expand their knowledge of challenging classic and modern texts from a variety of genres, including poetry, the novel, the short story, non-fiction, and drama. Students will demonstrate significantly increased proficiency with a variety of writing modes, web literacy, and the research/inquiry process. This course is designed to prepare students for AP level work.


Juniors are required to choose either #086 Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, #034 Honors Humanities, #032 English 3 or #033 English 3 Academic Assistance.#MD910 AP Research may be taken by students who completed AP Seminar. See course description under Multi-Disciplinary Interdepartmental Courses.

#032 - ENGLISH 3 - 5 CREDITS
Grade: 11
Prerequisite: #021 Hon. English 2 or #022 English 2 or #023 English 2 Academic Assistance

English 3 use the lens of global issues and perspectives to introduce students to college level expository and analytical writing. Students will read fiction and non-fiction as a class, in literature circles, and independently to synthesize ideas about diverse topics such as globalization, technology, health, poverty, warfare, human rights and inequality. Using a workshop and conferencing approach students will read literature, memoirs, book length argument texts and texts that synthesize topics and ideas such as Blink and Freakonomics. Students will take an inquiry and problem solving approach to texts and topics and assemble a writing portfolio geared toward more authentic audiences and publication and with an eye towards their college and career preparations. Writing instruction will continue to be informed by the development of style, voice, purpose, and audience as well as the study of mentor texts. Students will continue to refine their collaboration, discussion, and presentation skills while making connections between texts, topics, and other subjects.

Grade: 11
Prerequisite: #021 Honors English 2, or #022 English 2

This college-level course engages students in becoming skilled readers of complex texts written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts. As they read, students develop an advanced awareness of the interactions among a writer’s purpose, audience, and subjects as well as the way conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing., Students will move beyond formulaic approaches such as the five paragraph essay to place emphasis on content, purpose, and audience to guide organization. Students become cognizant of their own composing processes: the way they explore ideas, reconsider strategies, revise their work, and write in informal as well as formal contexts to gain authority and learn to take compositional risks. The concentration on language use in this course enhances students’ ability to use grammatical conventions with sophistication and to develop stylistic maturity in their prose. Students enrolled in an AP course are expected to take the AP Exam in order to receive full AP weight for the course. Otherwise, Honors weight will apply.

Grade: 11
Prerequisite: #021 Honors English 2 or #022 English 2, and #160 Advanced Placement U.S. History or #122 History 2.

Honors Humanities 3 is a year-long course that meets both English and Social Studies requirements. Students who opt to take this course work toward meeting the curriculum proficiencies and requirements for English 3 and Global Studies by engaging in a curriculum that integrates the subjects using a humanities approach. This course is designed to facilitate students’ understanding of diverse world cultures, human rights, and global security through the study of works of literature, non-fiction, newspapers, periodicals, electronic media, film, music and art. Using a multi-text approach, students critically examine a variety of perspectives that are used to inform ideas, beliefs and values. Based on their reading, discussion, research and analysis, students will generate writings that emphasize an array of rhetorical modes and will participate in project based learning or service learning projects. Additionally, upper level honors courses begin to expose students to AP level rigor and material. Students will receive 5 Social Studies credits and 5 English credits.

#033 – ENGLISH 3 – Academic Assistance – 5 CREDITS
Grade: 11
Prerequisite: Teacher/counselor recommendation: English 2 #023, #022, #024, #S029 or #004 ESL

This course is designed to provide more support and a slower pace for students in need of academic assistance in language arts/literacy or emerging from a Special Services or English Language Learner program. While the course duplicates the scope of assignments found in English 3, teachers are able to adjust pacing and assignments to better meet the needs of struggling readers and writers. Preparation for required standardized assessments is embedded into the course.


Seniors are required to have a total of 20 English credits to graduate. Seniors must take at least 2.5 credits in a literature course. Students may meet this requirement by selecting a 5 credit literature course OR two 2.5 credit literature courses OR a 2.5 credit literature course and a 2.5 credit English elective.


#084 AP English Literature and Composition (5 credits)
#095 AP Research (5 credits) This may be taken by students who completed AP Seminar. See course description under Multi-Disciplinary Interdepartmental Courses.
#042 Honors American Literature (5 credits)
#060 Honors Imaginative Process (5 credits)
#038 Critical Issues in Literature (5 credits)
#073 Senior Journalism & Communications (5 credits)
#049 American Literature (2.5 credits)
#041 Contemporary Literature (2.5 credits)
#050 Media & Literature (2.5 credits)
#051 The Short Story (2.5 credits)
#052 Literature and Sports (2.5 credits)
#053 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature (2.5 credits)


Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

This seminar-based course offers students an intensive study of representative works from various genres and periods, concentrating on works of recognized literary merit. Students study how a work’s structure, as well as the author’s style, use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone contribute to the overall thematic meaning. In addition to considering a work’s literary artistry, students analyze the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Students also gain an awareness of literary tradition and the complex ways in which imaginative literature builds upon the ideas, works, and authors of earlier times. Writing is an integral part of the course and through expository, analytical, and argumentative essays as well as creative writing opportunities, students will increase their ability to explain cogently, even elegantly, what they understand about literary works and why they interpret them as they do. Students are expected to manage rigorous reading responsibilities.Students enrolled in an AP who take the AP Exam will receive full AP weight for the course. Otherwise, Honors weight will apply. Students will receive 5 literature credits.

Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: AP Seminar #MD094

The second course in the AP Capstone experience allows students to design, plan, and conduct a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest. Through this inquiry and investigation, students demonstrate the ability to apply scholarly understanding to real-world problems and issues. Students further the skills acquired in the AP Seminar course by understanding research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to build, present, and defend an argument. Students are assessed through the following culminating performance tasks:

  • Academic thesis paper (approximately 5,000 words) with a defined structure.
  • Presentation, performance, or exhibition and oral defense of research and presentation.

The AP Research score is based on these components and is reported on the standard 1– 5 AP scoring scale. Students who score a 3 or higher on AP Seminar and AP Research as well as four additional AP exams, will receive an AP Capstone diploma. Students who take the AP Exam will receive full AP weight for that course; otherwise, Honors weight will apply.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.
Note: Students who select this course should not select American Literature since there is a duplication of content.

This course takes two approaches in its study of the history of American literature. The first is a chronological approach that has as its focus the major writers, movements, and ideas of American literature, with a particular emphasis on the writers from the 17th through 19th centuries. The second is a thematic approach that has as its focus major works of fiction or drama, with an emphasis on writers from the 20th century. Reader response assignments, critical essays, synthesis and inquiry are components of this course. It is important when selecting this course to consider that the language and situations used to depict such concepts as courage, survival and racism are mature, controversial and sometimes graphic. Additionally, upper level honors courses begin to expose students to AP level rigor and material.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.
Recommendation: Students should have a vested interest in creative writing, be able to give and receive feedback, be willing to share work and read aloud and be able to balance both short and long- terms goals and assignments.

This course is designed for the advanced level creative writer and reader. It offers honors level creative writing and literature/non-fiction reading experiences encompassing both poetry and prose with strong individualized components. Experiences in the craft of imaginative writing and revision are grounded in independent genre studies as well as the study of philosophy, psychology and concepts such as creativity, archetypes, and motifs. Professional writers are studied as models in style and technique, and experiential and interactive writing activities stimulate imagination and craft. Students engage in publishing and performance opportunities both within the classroom and the greater school community. Readings include titles such as Jekyll and Hyde, Sula, and Slaughterhouse Five as well as extensive independent reading and critical studies of literature. Traditional and modern writers are included in addition to short stories and an extensive study of poetry and script-writing. Independent, thematic project and manuscript work are course requirements. The achievement of publication quality material is expected. Additionally, upper level honors courses begin to expose students to college level rigor and material.

Grade 12
Prerequisite: Journalism #071

Students in this senior course will act as mentors and editors as they, too, dive deeper in their study of journalism and media production, and continue to develop as writers. Because they have already taken Journalism, students will become editors of print and online school-sponsored publications and multi-media. They will be embedded with the Journalism class and work with the underclassmen to coach them in the production of pieces in a variety of genres, in order to produce a frequently updated online publication and a feature-oriented print newspaper. Students must have taken the 2.5 credit Journalism course and be versed in law, ethics and production techniques in order to become leaders and editors in the classroom as seniors. This will be a project-based experience that is student-centered and focused on regular, authentic production and publishing.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

Critical Issues in Literature examines topics of identity and society through non-fiction and literature. This course is divided into four units, each focusing on an essential question that analyzes human nature and factors that influence who we are. Students read thematic works as a full class, in small groups, and independently, and are required to complete analysis/response entries which serve as the basis for literary discussions. Other student writing consists of essays, quotation responses, personal memoir pieces and an argument research project. Throughout the course, students also devote in-class time to an independent study.


Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.
Note: Students who select this course should not select Honors Major American Literature since there is duplication of content. This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to study the major writers who had a significant impact on American literary heritage.

Through inquiry and student-generated essential questions, students are introduced to the literary movements and look at literature in the context of American history. This is done through the study of novels, short stories, essays, historical documents and poetry. Writers studied include Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Poe, Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wilson, and Miller among others. Literary discussions, Socratic seminars, analytical, synthesis and critical essays are some of the requirements of the course.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

Students will read across a variety of genres including graphic novels, short stories, and best-selling fiction and non-fiction from the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. There will be an emphasis on student choice in reading selections that highlight timely social issues such as war, identity, cultures and sub-cultures, initiations and the stigma of societal perceptions. The writing in the course includes narrative essays and literary analysis, in addition to explorations in digital writing from TED Talks to electronic portfolios and blog posting. The course challenges students to be active readers, critical thinkers, articulate speakers, discriminating viewers and capable writers. Students reflect on reading assignments, make projections of literary outcomes, engage in analysis of texts, and respond to contemporary issues and trends. In focused discussions, students also practice asking questions and finding information in the text, which helps them to answer essential questions. It is important when selecting this course to consider that the texts include language and situations that are mature, controversial and sometimes graphic.

Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

This course will study the role of sports in our culture – the competition, the struggle, success and disappointment through an examination of contemporary and classic sports writing as well as across a variety of genres (fiction, poetry, non-fiction and essays). Writing and speaking assignments include a focus on turning numbers into narrative, and include journalistic elements. Students may engage in focused study of a sport or genre and practice literary analysis and original expository writing on sports related subject matter. Students will read non-fiction and fiction as a class, in literature circles and independently.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.
Note: Students who took Media Literacy may not take this course as there is a duplication of content.

Students in this course will analyze and deconstruct fiction, non-fiction, visual, and auditory media by asking: Who created this message and why are they sending it? What techniques are used to attract and hold attention? What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented? What is omitted and why is it left out? How might different people interpret this message?Additionally, students will read fiction and non-fiction (cultural theorists from McLuhan to Rushkoff and Jhally) that engage in the issue of messages and their impact on society. Students will create original media products and maintain a media blog or wiki as an authentic forum for their analysis and writing.

Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

This course will explore contemporary and classic titles in science fiction and fantasy. Topics of inquiry can include post-apocalyptic, monsters, fantasy of the past (early sci-fi like Wells and Verne), sci-fi fantasy as coming-of-age, mythology/epic (Tolkein & Martin), "realistic" fantasy (Vonnegut), new worlds (sci-fi or fantasy that takes place in an entirely different world than ours), graphic novel fantasy, and humorous fantasy (Hitchhiker's Guide). Course essential questions include the following: How is fantasy a reflection of culture? What are the risks and rewards associated with challenging the status quo? How have prior authors influenced modern day writers?Why do people create fantasy stories in the first place? What challenges or benefits are there to writing or reading Sci-Fi Fantasy as opposed to another genre? Why do SciFi/Fantasy stories appeal to people? Units of study will involve the reading of fiction and non-fiction as well as comparative media experiences. Students write fully processed analytical, expository, and creative pieces.

Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 #032, #033, #S039, Honors Humanities #034, AP Language and Composition #086.

This course will introduce students to the art and elements of the short story as they read and listen to a wide range of topics and genres from a variety of talented writers. The selected works will cover various cultures and countries, ranging from nineteenth-century classics to last year's award winners. Students will engage in an independent study of the short story based on a self-selected author, genre, time period, or geographic region. While reading, students will consider such questions as how does story reveal truth, how does story work as social commentary, and how can story address universal questions. Writing will include literary analysis, argument, and an original short story of their own.


#085 – HONORS COLLEGE ENGLISH - CEP- 2.5 CREDITS + 3 college credits
Grade: 12
Prerequisite: English 3 (#032) or #034 Honors Humanities III or AP Language and Composition.

RVCC Credit - Students interested in taking the course for RVCC credit (ENG 111:English Composition I) must have a “B” average and do one of the following: score a minimum of 540 on the SAT Critical Reading section; score a minimum of 24 on the English portion of the ACT; or take and pass the RVCC placement test in writing and reading. Course fee plus an application fee payable to RVCC are also required for students taking the class for RVCC credit. The RVCC credit determination must be made prior to taking the course, and students must earn at least a B in the course. Honors College English-CEP provides students with the opportunity to earn college credits toward a college degree while in high school. It may be possible to transfer college credits from RVCC to other colleges and universities – check with admissions offices. This is a freshman reading and writing course that operates in a workshop setting. Students study various modes of expository reading and writing, including narration and argumentation. Typical themes/topics in a semester might include: rituals, gender issues, cultural studies and the ethics of our work, including a research paper and two in class essays. Synthesis in writing is a key skill that is at the heart of academic writing, and thus, this course. Students are required to complete a portfolio of writing, as well as pass a standardized college exam.


Grades: 9-12

In this course, students will have the opportunity to write in the genres of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, graphic novels, and scripts. Students read and analyze models, identify characteristics of the various genres, and incorporate those characteristics into original work. The class is conducted in a workshop environment where students write extensively in class each day and select their own mentor texts to utilize for the emulation of style and the improvement of specific writing skills. Students will also engage in publication and performance opportunities within the classroom, as well as within the greater school community.

Grades: 9-12

Journalism 1 is an introduction to news media. Students will learn journalistic techniques and craft, so that they can function as reporters for Central’s student publications, The Lamp or Lamp Online. Student journalists will work with senior mentors and editors to produce content in a variety of styles and platforms, including news, features, editorials, columns and sports, in print and multimedia.There will also be an emphasis on news literacy, student rights, ethics and the role of the media in both today’s society and the school community.

#047 - POETRY - 2.5 CREDITS

Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: #021 Honors English 2 or #022, #023 English 2.

Students read, analyze, and discuss self-selected and teacher-provided literary-quality poetry, and, through writing-workshop practices, produce original poems that address writing standards. Much of the learning is inquiry, research, or project-based, and students engage in units about poetic structures and devices, how poems tell stories and convey information, and sound. Additional projects include analyzing themes across languages and cultures through collaboration with World Language and ESL classes and a focus-poet study. Assessments include reading journals, original poems and reflections, visual interpretations, analysis essays, presentations, and discussions.

Grades: 10-12
Prerequisite: #011 Honors English 1 or #012, #013 English 1

This course, designed to enhance students' self-confidence by improving their ability to write, prepare, and deliver speeches, embraces the fundamentals of oral communication. Students explore a variety of public speaking opportunities which include informational, demonstration, and persuasive speeches. Consideration of audience, purpose, personal interest, dramatic interpretation, and effective discussion technique are emphasized throughout the course. Students study specific characteristics of effective speechmaking, including appearance, non-verbal expression, vocal variety, rhetoric, and organization. While the focus of the course is on speech delivery, speech writing encourages skillful use of research, structure, content, and the mechanics of written communication.

# 035 – SAT PREPARATION - 2.5 Credits
Prerequisites: Prerequisites: #011 Honors English 1 or #012, #013 English 1 Academic Assistance and Geometry (any levels)
Note: This course does not meet NCAA eligibility requirements and counts as a general elective credit only.

SAT Preparation is a course designed to help students prepare for the math and verbal sections of the SAT. Students will learn test taking strategies and improve their problem-solving skills through exposure to reading, writing and qualitative and quantitative reasoning tasks. Students can expect to strengthen their repertoire of skills in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry as well as critical reading, the study of vocabulary through context, a review of compositional skills, and the ability to write unified and coherent timed essays. Students will receive informative feedback from practice SAT tests.


Grades: 9-12

Language Arts Portfolio is a graduation requirement for any students who have not met state language arts requirements for standardized testing. Students will complete a series of language arts tasks in reading and writing to submit to the State Department of Education, in order to be eligible for graduation.