What They Need To Know:
In high-school English Language Arts, students read works of literature and informational texts with a critical eye.
They will read classic and contemporary works from various eras, cultures, and world views.
Literary texts in Grades 9 and 10 might include such novels as “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck or such poems as “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.
In grades 11 and 12, novels might include “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald or “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes and such poems as “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.
Students in Grades 9 and 10 also study historical documents such as “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. or the “Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln.
In grades 11 and 12, they might tackle “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine or such social commentary as “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell.
In writing and class discussions, students will be asked to interpret and analyze what they read, citing examples and evidence from the text. They will sharpen the skills needed to produce high-quality writing, learning to edit and revise their work over multiple drafts.
Here’s a snapshot of what students will do:
- Make fuller use of written materials, using a wider range of evidence to support an analysis
- Make more connections about how complex ideas interact and develop in a book, essay, or article
- Evaluate arguments; assess whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is sufficient; detect inconsistencies and ambiguities
- Analyze the meaning of foundational US documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights)
- Make an argument that is logical, well reasoned, and supported by evidence
- Write a literary analysis, report, or summary that develops a central idea and a coherent focus, supported with examples, facts, and details
- Conduct research projects that address different aspects of the same topic.
Speaking and listening
- Respond to diverse perspectives, synthesizing comments, claims, and evidence on all sides of an issue and resolving contradictions when possible
- Share research, findings, and evidence clearly and concisely
- Use digital media (animations, video, Web sites, podcasts) to enhance understanding and add interest
- Find or clarify the meaning of words and phrases, using multiple strategies, such as context, Greek and Latin roots (bene as in benefactor or benevolent), and patterns (conceive, conception, conceivable).
- Interpret figures of speech (hyperbole, paradox), and analyze their role in the literature or text
Classroom Task, Literature, Grade 9
Romeo and Juliet
In an eight- week unit on the Shakespeare tragedy, students read and discuss the play, read and analyze critical essays, and watch a performance on film. Students will then be asked to argue the question: Who is to blame for the deaths of the young lovers?
“Argue in support of two factors, ranking them by importance; develop a counterclaim to your argument, and present evidence for it; cite evidence from the play, a critical essay and at least one other source.”
Classroom Task, Literacy, Grades 9-10
The Power of New Media
In a 2- to 3-week unit, students read such articles as “Is Google making us stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains,” by Nicholas Carr and “Growing Up Digital, wired for distraction” by Matt Richtel.
“Write a 750-word essay in which you:
- Explain what’s at stake: Why does this issue matter?
- Develop and state your own position.
- Defend your position with a range of different types of evidence (interviews, observations, research data, and newspaper reports, etc.).
- Include research you may have conducted.
- Draw your own conclusions about the effects of media on young people and the world.”
Classroom Task, Literacy in Science, Grades 9-10
This Living Environment unit explores the role of photosynthesis in creating the world’s food supply and how methods of growing impact the environment. The unit covers metabolism, the cell process, homeostasis and ecology. Students research vertical farming, or agriculture in urban high-rises.
“You are an aide to US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Your task is to write a policy brief about whether or not New York City should begin to pursue vertical farming on at least some of the city’s vacant lots (almost 9,000 acres).”
Classroom Task, Literature, Grade 11
In a nine-week unit, students analyze the theme of jazz in Ralph Ellison’s novel, “The Invisible Man.” The narrator states : “Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he’s made poetry out of being invisible…my own grasp of invisibility aids me to understand his music.”
Assignment Part 1:
“Write an informative paper that analyzes how Ellison develops the theme of invisibility across the course of the text, and how he uses the motif of jazz music to develop this.”
Assignment Part 2:
Create a 5-10 minute podcast on the two most important points from your essay. Collect a 30-second sample of jazz music for each of the key quotations you cite. Write a script, record and edit your podcast.
Classroom Task: Literacy in Social Studies, Grade 11
10-page US History Research Project
Students do in-depth paper on any topic in American history from 1600 to 1990. They choose the subject — and are told to look beyond the subjects studied in class. Examples:
- How did coffeehouses in colonial New York City affect business and politics?
- How did dances and music that developed during the 1920s impact relations between the races in New York?
- How did the Space Race impact the medical technology in America?
- Why were so many Americans antiwar during the Vietnam War?
“You start by posing a question that you want to answer — your thesis question. Then you do research — search for, evaluate and take organized notes on evidence that supports an answer to your thesis. As you learn more about your topic, you will narrow, broaden, or shift the focus of your paper. Finally, you will organize your evidence, using an outline structure and write a formal essay, with footnotes, that clearly explains your answers . . . and demonstrates your understanding of the topic. You will research and write the way that professional historians do. Your final paper will be a piece of formal research writing that adds to the scholarship on your topic.”
Classroom Task, Literature, Grades 11-12
Are Humans Good or Evil?
Students will read political writings “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes and “The Social Contract” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then masterpiece poem “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.
According to T.S. Eliot, are humans good or evil? In your essay, argue which side you think Eliot takes. Explain whether Eliot’s thesis is supported by the ideas of either Hobbes or Rousseau. Please also address the counterclaim — i.e., why the other Enlightenment thinker’s ideas do not support Eliot’s thesis.
Students are given a list of elements the essay must include with respect to argument, evidence, reasoning and structure.
Classroom Task, Economics, Grade 12
Students read “America – The Real Lord of War” and “Defending Defense.”
1) According to each author, what is the right fiscal policy position for the US to take?
2) What values does each author see as important in shaping decisions?
3) Is his reasoning valid?
4) Is his evidence relevant and sufficient?
“Write a position paper in which you argue which defense budget you support. Be sure to acknowledge competing views and cite the texts. Recognize the possible biases that the writers of each budgetary document may hold.”
Regents Common Core ELA Exam
The exam includes reading passages with multiple-choice questions and essay-writing requirements. Here is one sample item:
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tir’d;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts—from far where I abide—
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.
—William Shakespeare, 1609
A. The narrator’s use of the phrase “zealous pilgrimage”(line 6) emphasizes:
1. an emotional attachment
2. a fatiguing journey
3. a religious conversion
4. an unpleasant memory
B. As used in line 10, “shadow” most likely refers to the narrator’s:
C. The poet’s use of figurative language in line 11 emphasizes his:
D. The couplet in lines 13 and 14 of the sonnet serves as:
1. an exaggeration
2. a clarification
3. a summation
4. an allusion
A: 1. The adjective “zealous” denotes “fervor,” and use of the noun “pilgrimage,” a journey to a shrine or a sacred place, gives more import to the poet’s thoughts of his friend.
B: 4. The pronoun “thy” informs the reader that the reference being made is to a person other than the narrator
C: 3. The poet’s choice to compare his friend’s image to a jewel highlights the precariousness and value of this relationship.
D: 3. The sonnet form ends with two rhymed lines of iambic pentameter. This standard couplet … supplies a recap of the poem’s central idea.
Full OWL Resources for Grades 7-12 Students and Instructors
This page provides resources for grades 7-12 instructors and students
Contributors:Lauren Huebsch, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2014-06-24 12:19:35
For resources specifically created for grades 7-12 students, see the other resources in this section.
For access to all OWL resources, click here. Please click on the links below to access Full OWL resources that may also be useful grades 7-12 instructors and students:
Starting the Writing Process - This resource contains tips for instructors and student on beginning writing.
Prewriting - This section explains the prewriting (invention) stage of the composing process. It includes processes, strategies, and questions to help you begin to write.
Writer's Block / Writer's Anxiety - This resource contains help for overcoming writer's block and a short series of exercises to help students begin writing.
Developing an Outline - This resource describes why outlines are useful, what types of outlines exist, suggestions for developing effective outlines, and how outlines can be used as an invention strategy for writing.
Paragraphs and Paragraphing - The purpose of this resource is to provide some basic instruction and advice regarding the creation of understandable and coherent paragraphs.
Transitions and Transitional Devices - This resource discusses transition strategies and specific transitional devices to help students' essays and sentences flow more effectively.
Research: Overview - This section provides answers to the following research-related questions: Where do I begin? Where should I look for information? What types of sources are available?
Searching the World Wide Web - This section covers finding sources for your writing in the World Wide Web. It includes information about search engines, Boolean operators, web directories, and the invisible web. It also includes an extensive, annotated links section.
Evaluating Sources of Information - This section provides information on evaluating bibliographic citations, aspects of evaluation, reading evaluation, print vs. Internet sources, and evaluating internet sources.
Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing - This resource will help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.
Avoiding Plagiarism - This resource offers advice on how to avoid plagiarism in your work—there are few intellectual offenses more serious than plagiarism in academic and professional contexts.
Rhetoric and Logic
Creating a Thesis Statement - This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.
Establishing Arguments - This section discusses the thesis statement and explains argument in writing, which includes using research to support a thesis. This resources also discusses Aristotle's logical proof: ethos, pathos, and logos and the logical fallacies.
Logic in Argumentative Writing - This resource covers logic within writing— logical vocabulary, logical fallacies, and other types of logos-based reasoning.
Rhetorical Situation - This presentation is designed for instructors to use with students to introduce a variety of factors that contribute to strong, well-organiz ed writing. This presentation is suitable for the beginning of a composition course or the assignment of a writing project in any class.
Different Kinds of Essay Genres
Writing a Research Paper - This section provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
Writing About Fiction - This resource covers major topics relating to writing about fiction. This covers prewriting, close reading, thesis development, drafting, and common pitfalls to avoid.
Writing About Literature - This material provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.
Writing About Poetry - This section covers the basics of how to write about poetry. Including why it is done, what you should know, and what you can write about.
Writing Definitions - This resource provides suggestions and examples for writing definitions.
Style and Language
Adding Emphasis in Writing - This handout provides information on visual and textual devices for adding emphasis to student writing including textual formatting, punctuation, sentence structure, and the arrangement of words.
Conciseness - This resource explains the concept of concise writing and provides examples of how to ensure clear prose.
Paramedic Method: A Lesson in Writing Concisely - This handout provides steps and exercises to eliminate wordiness at the sentence level.
Sentence Variety - This resource presents methods for adding sentence variety and complexity to writing that may sound repetitive or boring. Sections are divided into general tips for varying structure, a discussion of sentence types, and specific parts of speech which can aid in sentence variety.
Using Appropriate Language - This section covers some of the major issues with appropriate language use: levels of language formality, deceitful language and Euphemisms, slang and idiomatic expressions; using group-specific jargon; and biased/stereotypical language.
Punctuation - This resource will help clarify when and how to use various marks of punctuation. When speaking, we can pause or change the tone of our voices to indicate emphasis. When writing, we must use punctuation to indicate these places of emphasis.
Proofreading Your Writing - This section provides information on proofreading, finding and fixing common errors.
Commas - This resource offers a number of pages about comma use.
Annotated Bibliography - This resource provides information about annotated bibliographies.
MLA Formatting and Style Guide - This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2nd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page. MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.
APA Formatting and Style Guide - This resource, revised according to the 5th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. APA (American Psychological Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences.
Writing and Research Help by Email - Still have questions about your writing? Haven't found what you need? Send us an email! Our staff will provide individualized writing help online.