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Language Arts Level 4
In the Level 4 course, students examine pivotal moments from American history through the lens of language arts, and come away with a new awareness of the power of writing to shape and reflect history. Students who complete this course will have experience in discerning and utilizing credible sources, presenting evidence-based writings and project creations to an audience, and producing skillful works written to entertain, inform, persuade, or defend.
Students engage with authentic literature and analyze a broad array of works — from Revolutionary propaganda and speeches of the Civil War, to the essays that fueled the battle for the ballot — as they learn to craft masterful writings of their own. While the foray into American history serves our Level 4 students primarily as an exciting, multifaceted theme, it also serves the intentional purpose of introducing students to a critical subject found in later coursework.
Each unit extends students’ capacity to drive their exploration as much as possible. Students research and critically examine historical accounts from multiple perspectives and angles, giving them an in-depth awareness of the shifting—and often competing—narratives that build history.
In the first unit, students explore influential texts of the Revolutionary period from a language arts perspective, including misleading texts on both sides. Students complete the unit by taking their study of competing narratives to write a one-act, humorous Revolutionary play that clearly communicates a Loyalist or Patriot point of view. Throughout the unit, students examine the craft of narrative writing across the brainstorming, planning, and drafting stages, and learn to create quality narratives of their own.
In the second unit, students are introduced to both prominent and lesser-heard voices from the Civil War era, as they use careful analysis to develop evidence-based expository essays. Students’ essays serve as the foundation for a live “documentary” presentation in class. Throughout this unit, students practice implementing expository structure, drafting well-defined thesis statements, and incorporating clear, concise supporting ideas.
In the third unit, students continue their study of influential texts as they shift their focus to the quest to secure voting rights in the United States. Studying several primary and secondary texts, students learn to evaluate the author’s point of view, analyze various methods of persuasion (symbols, exaggeration, metaphor, etc.), and discuss how popular opinions are often formed. Students end the unit by developing a persuasive proposal to nominate a chosen historical figure to be memorialized in a town square.
In the fourth unit, students’ experience thus far of interpreting texts and voices of diverse perspectives culminates in the study of masterful poetry. As they read and analyze a work of poetic memoir, students craft their own personal narratives in poetic form, thereby contributing to a collective “history” of their class’s lifetimes.
What happens in class?
Each unit begins with an investigative period in which students focus on a main text and hone critical thinking and writing skills. In class, students are introduced to an array of fiction and nonfiction texts to further explore and evaluate source material, language choice, intent, and audience. They exercise their skills in independent planning, purposeful research, and responsive writing as each unit progresses. Each unit ends with a final project that is developed through a structured process of brainstorming, drafting, and revising -- culminating in a final presentation.
Each day of class includes a blend of the following types of activities:
- Warm-Up: An engaging skill-based warm-up activity and brief skill review of the previous week.
- Homework and Comprehension Focus: A full-class activity and discussion centered on the completed readings and individual homework contributions, encouraging ongoing literary analysis of the unit text in a fun way.
- Vocabulary Extension: A small group or full-class analysis of related, text-derived vocabulary.
- Lesson Focus: A deep dive into course objectives.
- An engaging full-class activity introducing the week’s objectives, including guided practice for scaffolding and student support.
- An independent or peer/small group activity focused on practicing the week’s objectives with instructor and peer support.
- Project Connection: A challenging, independent opportunity for students to implement the week’s objectives within their ongoing projects. This allows students the time to continue developing their quarterly project with an instructor readily available.
- Recap and Homework: A celebratory recap of the day’s lesson, a check-in on objectives and projects, and a brief discussion of homework assignments for the week.
Students should expect to spend about 1-2 hours on homework every week. Homework includes:
- assigned readings with related questions to extend literary analysis;
- at-home work on any unfinished unit project components;
- honing skills learned in class through various online homework assignments
During class, the teacher provides students with ongoing support through direct, oral feedback on skills and projects. This in-person feedback is key in helping students revise and improve their writing in the context of unit projects. Further, during each writing project, students receive evaluative written feedback from their teacher at the completion of critical stages, such as preliminary outlines and rough draft completions.
- King George: What Was His Problem?
- Last of the Name
- The Woman’s Hour
- Brown Girl Dreaming
For an extra challenge, students can read 2 books per unit and take quizzes on the Reading tab.
- Who Could That Be at This Hour?
- The 39 Clues
- Case Closed?
- Something Rotten
- Chasing Vermeer
- Book Scavenger
- I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition)
- Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution