An MVCDS Education

Explore Our Curriculum


The mission of the MVCDS English Department is to promote literacy; we want students to read, write, and think critically, communicate effectively, and understand a variety of perspectives.

English Department Transfer Goals
  • Students will have the ability to write effectively for varied audiences and purposes, in different genres and styles, with a unique voice.
  • Students will overtly reflect on how they read and listen.
  • Students will become competent and proficient readers.
  • Students will understand diverse cultures and experiences.
  • Students will gather, analyze, and communicate complex information effectively.
  • Students will express themselves creatively in ways that reflect original thinking.
  • Students will develop speaking skills that allow them to engage in meaningful discussions and to present their ideas with clarity and supporting evidence.

  • AP English Language and Composition

    AP English Language and Composition is designed to help students become skilled readers of texts written in a variety of genres, time-periods, and rhetorical contexts, and in becoming skilled writers capable of composing for a variety of purposes, audiences, and occasions. This course will focus specifically on rhetorical analysis; development of a personal writing process through reflective exercises and appropriate stylistic development according to audience and purpose; and development of a vocabulary appropriate for critical evaluation of texts. Students will produce writing in a variety of genres and for a variety of purposes including analytical and argumentative essays, research and synthetic writing, critiques, and timed writings. In the spring, students are required to take the English Language and Composition Advanced Placement Examination.
  • AP English Literature and Composition

    The focus of this course is the student’s development of accurate, insightful reading through the close study of major works of imaginative literature from the Renaissance to the present. Students will examine the structure, style, and themes of the works they read as well as such smaller scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding literary works within their historical and cultural context, and understanding how those works either reflect or critique the values of their time. Students will be asked to apply a wide variety of literary approaches to their analysis of literature. Students will write essays based on readings. In the spring, students are required to take the English Literature Advanced Placement Examination.
  • Creative Nonfiction

    This course familiarizes students with the techniques and narrative structures of creative nonfiction, and how to apply storytelling techniques to nonfiction prose pieces, including personal essays and their various alternative forms, memoir, and others. They read and study a number of creative nonfiction works by authors like David Sedaris, John McPhee, and Annie Dillard to see what similar techniques and ideas make them each work despite the genre covering such wide territory. They will take a workshop approach to the writing of creative nonfiction. Frequent writing assignments will be critiqued by the group to help the writer enhance the use of figurative language and focus on story principles such as plot, tension, scene and dialogue as well as increasing the effectiveness of prose. Students will write often, think deeply, and develop solid skills as a writer through hard work and revision.
  • Diversity in Children's Literature

    Books are one of the first places children begin to learn about the world around them. They are mirrors when we recognize ourselves in characters and windows for experiences that are not our own. Thus, books have the power to help children understand and respect not only their own cultural groups but also those of others. Unfortunately, our repository of children’s literature does not equitably reflect the diversity of our country. In this course, students will learn how our own identities are represented and compare that to the representation of different cultural identities as the course explores the history of multicultural children’s literature. Students will address cultural stereotypes, invisibility, appropriation, microaggressions, intersectionality, cultural authenticity, and authorial responsibility and analyze how these are reflected in a wide range of children’s literature. During the course, students will complete reading responses, engage in purposeful discussions, create an annotated bibliography of high-quality multicultural children’s literature related to a specific cultural group, and complete a final project in which they apply critical cultural analysis techniques to discern how the chosen culture is represented and social messages are delivered.
  • Dystopian Literature

    Ever since George Orwell published his 1949 novel, 1984, the term “Big Brother” has become synonymous with mass surveillance and government abuse. The dystopian genre has grown immensely in popularity in recent years, and this course will investigate how it has pervaded our culture, but also where it originated from and its essential elements. Lord of the Flies and Never Let Me Go will be foundational texts, but students will also read an array of short stories, in addition to analyzing their presence in film and television shows. During the course, students will complete in-class and at-home writings, work with their hands to build their own dystopian world, and exercise their creativity in producing their own original dystopian tales.
  • English I

    English I is a survey course offering students opportunities to explore styles of writing and genres of literature. Students will read classic and contemporary works with a critical focus that helps them go beyond the basic plot to understand point of view, character, and theme to addres the human condition through both fiction and nonfiction. Some books that may be covered in this class include "Richard III" by William Shakespeare and "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder. As students read and hear a diverse range of voices, they will develop critical thinking and project-based learning fortitude. Students will focus on all aspects of the writing process. Students will gain an appreciation for academic reading and writing and bring these skills to their other courses.
  • English II

    English II is a year-long survey course for most freshmen that offers an overview of works of non-fiction and fiction. Students read classic and contemporary works with a critical eye and ear to go beyond basic plot in literature to understand point of view, character, figurative language, and theme. Examples of books used in the past are "The Catcher in the Rye," "Walden," "Mythology," "Spoon River Anthology," "Rebecca," "Sherlock Holmes," and "Macbeth." As students read and hear a diverse range of voices, they are also challenged to write about the characters and the meaning of their actions. Students write essays in various modes – expository, analytical, persuasive, and creative – and are given opportunities to revise their essays before compiling a semester writing portfolio that represents their best efforts. Students learn how to structure their essays and to provide evidence from the texts to support their arguments. Grammar units, such as punctuation, pronoun usage, and misplaced modifiers, help students hone their syntax. Projects are also a part of most units. Vocabulary study is based on Latin and Greek roots.
  • English III

    This course explores the literary genres of tragedy and comedy by essentially investigating and attempting to answer: Is humanity more tragic or comic? In order for students to successfully answer this question, they will read and analyze a wide array of literature beginning with the ancient Greek tragedy "Medea" by Euripides and ending with a contemporary American novella, "The Awakening," by Kate Chopin. In between, students explore the following major works: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby" and William Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing." Analysis will center upon students’ abilities to identify patterns, analyze authors’ device choices, and their effect on characterization and theme. Furthermore, students will read short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and William Faulkner along with assorted philosophy in regards to tragedy and comedy, while also reading poetry interspersed throughout all units. Students will continue to practice literary analysis, creative writing, and constructing a well-reasoned argument. They also will build upon their existing foundation of rhetorical appeals and how to additionally analyze the role of rhetorical devices and techniques. Students will demonstrate their knowledge in process essays, in-class writings, and projects.
  • Fiction Writing

    Do you have stories you want to tell? Have you ever wondered how writers put their stories together and how they come up with characters that are deeply imagined and real or with plots that are exciting and engaging? This course will focus on fiction writing: short stories, flash fiction, and related forms. Students learn about how plots develop, how scenes drive fiction, and the seven essential elements of a scene. They will read a ton of stories – likely from writers you’ve never heard of – and study how they put their tales together and then they write your own stories. They work together as a class to give extensive feedback at every stage of the writing process, learn about the tools writers use to manage the complexities of a story as it develops, and work on getting all elements of a story (character, plot, setting, mood, theme) to work together with carefully worded language to capture an audience and thrill them with a tale.
  • Journalism

    In this course, students will study a variety of journalistic media, including magazine, newspaper, and broadcast. Students will practice reading different news stories and then work to emulate writing styles and create their own versions. Skills will include effectively conducting interviews, avoiding bias in writing, using photography and video to enhance a story, and editorializing. The emphasis of the course will be creation, and students will work to create their own collaborative versions of a newspaper, a magazine, and a television broadcast. Guest reporters and field trips to WNWO and The Blade will also be part of this course to help students gain an understanding of journalism in action and allow opportunities to learn about journalism as a profession.
  • Mystery Story

    In this course, students will discover the elements, conventions, and pleasures of the mystery story.  The appeal of these stories comes from the puzzle-like plots, their characters (including memorable detectives and villains), and the strange, spine-tingling atmospheric settings created by mystery writers. We will explore the beginnings of the genre with Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and move to the Golden Age British classics through reading and viewing works by Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and the queen of mystery herself: Agatha Christie. In addition, our study will include contemporary mysteries where we will read and analyze African American detective fiction and investigate how women writers have used the genre to challenge the definition of gender roles. We will ponder over the following questions: What are the limitations and potentials of the detective genre? What can a close study reveal in regard to sociocultural concerns or gender relations? As students become familiar with and write about types of mystery stories (such as locked-room capers) and elements (such as red herrings and arrogant detectives), they will write their own mystery stories too. Hands-on work includes basic forensic science labs (such as blood spatters and fingerprinting) and the recreation of crime scenes. Your powers of observation and close reading and writing, as well as problem-solving, will be tested in this class.
  • Poetry

    As writer and philosopher David Abram once said, "Every poet is aware of this primordial depth in language, whereby particular sensations are invoked by the sounds themselves, and wherby shape, rhythm, and texture of particular phrases conjure the expressive character of particular phenomena." Modeled after the time-honored writer’s workshop, the poetry writing course will involve engaging in meaningful craft conversations, reading diverse mentor texts, writing through generative prompts, and sharing work through a process of critical response. Poets will be able to identify, discuss, and deploy elements of poetic craft, including rhythm, figurative language, poetic lines, syntactical play, poetic forms such as sonnets, and the art of revision. Students will also learn about the world of literary publishing and have opportunities to apply for awards and summer enrichment activities for young writers.
  • Political Rhetoric

    Do politicians believe what they say? What does it mean for voters to have a fair choice? Can political disputes be resolved through discussion or only by force? Does the public know what it wants? These questions lie at the heart of current debates about political speech and the future of democracies. In this class we will dive deeply into these topics by exploring classic texts whose ideas continue to shape modern debates about the relationship between politics and language: Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Hobbes’s Leviathan, Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, among others. Along the way, students will create, present, and critique their own political rhetoric about current events. Topics include the basis of authority, the trade-off between freedom and safety, the justification of war, the nature of wealth and property, and the role of morality in politics. This course may be taken for English credit or Social Studies credit.
  • Propaganda Studies

    This course examines the nature of propaganda and persuasion. We start by discussing the psychology of belief in order to explain the success of common propaganda techniques in media and advertising. Next, we examine the role of propaganda in politics, focusing on the rise of dictatorships and legal challenges to free speech. This area of the course draws on a variety of texts, including film, speech, and memoir. In the third part of the course, students break into teams to compete against each other by creating their own advertising campaigns, asking as they go whether the manipulative techniques of mass persuasion can be justified if the propagandist uses them for a good end. Students will gain an understanding of the ways they themselves create, pass on, and are targeted by various forms of persuasive messaging and will debate the role of truth and honesty in their own speech and writing. This course may be taken for English credit or Social Studies credit.
  • Women in Literature

    This course will use literature as a springboard to examine all media forms explored by women: film, painting, performance, dance, and music. We will study both seminal texts from the 19th century (such as Pride and Prejudice and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf ) and recent works (such as the Pulitzer-Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and The Color Purple by Alice Walker). We will also explore poetry, short stories, and essays by Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Sandra Cisneros, Adrienne Rich, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Gloria Steinem. Our ultimate goal will be to define a female vision and aesthetic.
Maumee Valley Country Day School is the only age 3 - 12th grade accredited, co-educational, independent school in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.