Freshman English

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Freshman English focuses on writing as a process and on reading from culturally defining texts of Western civilization. Students concentrate on the process of developing their essays through such stages as pre-writing, outlining, first and second drafts, and peer edits. Students are introduced to elements of style while also learning the importance of introductory paragraphs, topic sentences, textual evidence, and strong conclusions. They acquire the fundamental patterns of critical thinking and the vocabulary necessary for written and spoken analysis of literary texts. Imaginative expression is encouraged and, in the course of the year, original poems and personal narratives emerge. Other skills important to a student’s Upper School career, such as class participation, note-taking, and proofreading, form an essential part of the course. Oral skills develop through recitations and presentations. The literature of the course includes Oedipus the King, The Odyssey, and Romeo and Juliet, as well as selected poems and short stories reflecting diverse voices and points of view.


Unit Essential Questions Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources Multicultural Dimension
English 9
  • What are the characteristics of the following literary genres: short story, epic, tragedy, drama, lyric poetry?
  • How do we discern and interpret the relationships between protagonists and the forces arrayed against them?
  • What are some of the roles played by narrators?
  • How does the nature of the audience influence a text intended for it?
  • How do we construct compelling narratives and persuasive analytical essays?
  • How do we collaborate to produce writing and effective presentations?



Knowledge of the following texts:

  • selected short stories
  • Oedipus the King, by Sophocles
  • The Odyssey of Homer, translated by Robert Fagles
  • Opening lines of The Odyssey in ancient Greek
  • I Corinthians 13
  • Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
  • Modern lyric poems based on The Iliad and The Odyssey, selected by students
  • selection of Shakespeare's sonnets, selected by students


  • Rhetorical modes for writing assignments
  • Elements of a Persuasive Essay
  • Introduction to first 20 style guidelines for CGS students
  • Process and usefulness of peer editing
  • Terms of Greek drama and literary terms related to narrative and to lyric poetry
  • Techniques of active reading, note-taking, test-taking


  • Study a variety of literary genres while reading some foundational texts of western civilization and some less traditional ones
  • Develop vocabulary of literary criticism
  • Focus on process of both creative and analytical writing through independent and collaborative work
  • Promote confident discourse through recitations and presentations
  • Foster analytical thinking and leadership skills through class discussion and listening
  • Analytical and Imaginative Papers
  • Tests on short stories, Oedipus, The Odyssey, Romeo & Juliet
  • Weekly quizzes on reading
  • Recitations of Corinthians, Odyssey prologue, Greek myth poem, Shakespearean sonnet

Departmental handouts include:

  • Be Active
  • Style is How You Say What You Say
  • Elements of a Persuasive Essay
  • Eliminating "To Be" Verbs
  • How to Study English at Catlin Gabel
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Introduction to MLA Manuscript Format
  • Works Cited Guidelines

Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

Romeo and Juliet allows for consideration of age and gender