An MVCDS Education

Explore Our Curriculum

English


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.

  • E-AP English Lang **

    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, as well as the 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 (Estimated exam cost: $95).  Students must be recommended for or successfully petition the English Department to be placed into this course.
  • E-AP English Lit**

    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 (Estimated exam cost: $95).  Students must be recommended for or successfully petition the English Department to be placed into this course.
  • E-Applied Ethics

    What should we do and how should we live? These questions form the heart of moral philosophy. In this course we will explore these questions. We will start by comparing competing theories of what makes actions right or wrong: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. By examining arguments for and against these views, students will develop a framework for writing and reasoning about moral problems and evaluating judgments of right and wrong. Weeks 2 and 3 of the intensive will be devoted to particular issues: abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, genetic enhancement, animal welfare, and criminal justice and punishment. With the help of guest speakers, field trips, and hands-on research, students will apply the study of moral reasoning to these problems by developing and defending moral arguments about the issues of their choice. Through this process, students will learn to ask questions, identify their own moral assumptions, raise and respond to challenges to their own points of view, and write and revise a paper that presents and defends a stance on a moral issue. At the end of the intensive students will have the opportunity to present their arguments and field questions from the wider community. English or Social Studies credit.
     
  • E-Banned Books

    Prerequisite English III
     
    Do you think certain books shouldn't be taught in schools, shelved in libraries, or sold in bookstores? This course is intended to take literature off-the-page and into our real world of beliefs, power, freedom, and community. In this course, we will explore book bans through reading literary and journalistic texts, classroom discussion, and argumentative writing assignments. We will look at the various arguments surrounding book bans and read texts from books that have been challenged or banned throughout history and around the world. Books such as The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple, which are now considered classics, were often challenged and banned around the time of their publication. In our times and across the nation, books featuring characters who are people of color or LGBTQIA+ individuals, or written by authors from such communities, are disproportionately likely to be challenged or banned. Why is this the case? The focus of this course will be on honing our ability to communicate our views clearly and effectively about complex literary and social questions through essay writing, debate, projects, and classroom discussion.
  • E-Children's Literature

    Everybody Poops.  The Cat in the Hat.  The Wizard of Oz. All of these stories, despite their differences in style and topic, are written for children.  Children’s Literature is designed to teach us lessons - some overt, some not so obvious - but all of them are supposed to help us grow and develop into morally sound, and socially productive members of our culture.  But what lessons do they teach and why? At what times is a child most likely to be open to these lessons and how do writers (and publishers, and child psychologists) craft these stories to hit kids at the right time to help them grow and develop?  In this course, you’ll be reading literature aimed at children and that teaches different developmental lessons, then examining readings in sociology, psychology and child development to understand how children develop cognitive, linguistic and moral reasoning skills. You’ll research the topic, apply the theories to the books we read, and write several analytical and argumentative papers examining this.  You’ll also get to show how much you’ve learned by writing your own children’s story - one that is targeted to a specific age group and that teaches or reinforces a specific trait or behavior that is beneficial in society.
  • E-Creative Nonfiction

    This is a course designed to familiarize 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.  We'll 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. We 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 your prose.  You’ll write often, think deeply, and develop solid skills as a writer through hard work and revision.
  • E-Creative Writing

    Writing is a life skill. No one, not the president, not a monk, not a stay-at-home mom, is exempt from writing. Rather than regard writing as a task, we should learn to savor it as a joy, a release, and a method of constant self-improvement. In this course, we will acquire the ability and the attitude to make writing a useful tool and a constant companion.

    In this semester-long course, we will write in three genres: fiction, poetry, and the personal essay. We will read the works of twentieth and twenty first century writers to learn about structure, development, metaphor, diction, and syntax. We will keep a nightly journal that we will daily share in class to gain inspiration. We will then craft our own short stories, poems, and personal essays that we will “workshop” in class—listening to critiques from our peers. Thus, the students will learn how to edit each other’s work, which will make them more self-aware.

    We will conclude the semester by presenting our best work in a reading open to the community. (Grades 11, 12)
  • E-Dystopian Lit

    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 its 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.
  • E-English I

    English I, 9th grade, 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, addressing 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.
  • E-English II

    English II is a year-long survey course for most freshmen, offering 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 how 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.
  • E-English III

    This course explores the literary genres of Tragedy and Comedy, 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 will 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 that is interspersed throughout all units. Students will continue to practice literary analysis, creative writing, and constructing a well-reasoned argument. They will also build upon their existing foundation of rhetorical appeals, but now additionally analyze the role of rhetorical devices and techniques. Students will demonstrate their knowledge in process essays, in-class writings, and projects.
  • E-Fiction Writing

    Do you have stories you want to tell?  Have you ever wondered how writers put their stories together - 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.  You’ll learn about how plots develop, how scenes drive fiction and the seven essential elements of a scene.  You’ll read a ton of stories - likely from writers you’ve never heard of - and study how they put their tales together, and you’ll write your own stories.  We’ll work together as a class to give extensive feedback at every stage of your 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 your audience and thrill them with your tales.  If you’ve completed Speculative Fiction studies, you may use your World Building project as a setting for your stories.
  • E-Film Criticism

    What makes a film good or bad? Can a movie be better than the book? Can a film review be objective? How do economic forces shape movies? What is a “spoiler”? This intensive will dive into the art of film criticism and the history of film as popular and serious art. In addition to watching great films and writing reviews and criticism, we will read related works of fiction and nonfiction and analyze their relationship to film as forms of storytelling. Writing, reading, and discussion figures heavily in this course.
  • E-Invented Language

     Prerequisite: English I and II
    In this intensive, students will review constructed languages in popular media, as well as create their own language for a designated purpose of their choosing. Linguistics as a broad area of study, encompasses all facets of language creation, evolution, and use. This intensive will be looking specifically at constructed languages (or conlangs), which are languages that do not occur naturally, but are instead created for specific purposes (including books, movies, television shows, video/board games, etc.) Students will not only familiarize themselves with popular constructed languages (such as The Lord of the Rings’  many Elvish languages, or even Star Trek’s Klingon), but they will also choose a form of media, and then construct their own language for use in that setting. Through this process, they’ll learn about the many quirks that both natural and non-natural languages have, and will see the expansive capacity for human communication through their ability to create new language. They will also be introduced to the expansive conlanging community, as well as useful conlanging tools. By the end of the intensive, not only will students be able to confidently create languages for both personal or public use, but they will have a better understanding of how humans use language and how we tailor communication for our entertainment. At the end of the course, each student will have a functional skeleton for a language, and maybe even a new hobby.
  • E-Journalism

     In this course, students will study a variety of journalistic genres, 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.
  • E-Journalism

     In this course, students will study a variety of journalistic genres, 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. 
  • E-Medieval Lit/Miss

    In this course, students will read and write about important works from the Middle Ages, and they will also construct small-scale medieval weapons.  Beowulf, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Canterbury Tales, and Tales of King Arthur will be the focus of the reading part of this course.  These works incorporate character types, themes, and values that are typical of the heroes and villains, as well as the aristocrats and the commoners found in the Middle Ages.  Students will have regular in-class and at-home writing assignments, including a research paper.   The other part of the course involves students working on a variety of tabletop weapons seen in the Middle Ages.  The materials may be wood, popsicle sticks, clothespins, rubber bands, duct tape, and glue, but you can still get quite a bit of power out of these small catapults, trebuchets, ballistae, bows and arrows, and other weapons.  Students will explore the physics of each project to try to get maximum oomph with minimal materials.
  • E-Modern Graphic Novel

    Prerequisite: English II
    This intensive will look at the development of the modern graphic novel from the roots of sequential art in cave paintings and historical artifacts such as the Bayeux Tapestry through the development of comics to its current form. We’ll look at how sequential art tells a story visually and how even the text in a graphic novel has visually communicative elements. We’ll be reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and selections from Will  Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling. The Graphic novels we’ll look at include Eisner’s Dropsy Avenue, Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman, as well as selections from other graphic novels, and comics from the 40s to present day. The focus will be on understanding how the graphic novel is both like and unlike the prose novel, and how sequential art enhances the telling of the story, but has its own limitations. You will write several short papers ­including one research­ based assignment, as well as several creative activities.
  • E-Mystery Story

     Prerequisite: English II
    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, its 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 of 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 of close reading and writing, as well as problem solving, will be tested in this class
  • E-Myths/Legends

    This class may be taken for Life Science or English credit.  For both, we’ll begin the course by looking at historical myths and legends - the incredible feats of heroes and gods, the tall tales handed down from generation to generation, as well as more modern urban legends.  We’ll look back at the roots of these myths to find their earliest forms, try to understand the cultural context of these myths, as well as their function within the culture.  If you’re taking the course for Science credit, you’ll look at those myths through the lens of a scientist.  You’ll apply the scientific method to an examination of the Physics, Biology and Chemistry behind the myths to answer questions about whether these heroes could have done the things they are reported to have done or if there is any scientific truth to the legends.  The emphasis will be on analyzing the scientific claims of the myth or legend, researching the plausibility of those claims, and in experimentally testing them when possible.  If you’re taking the class for English credit, you’ll focus on looking at how the stories are shaped - the story frames that have allowed them to be passed down verbally or in writing, and how this passing down gives rise to variation in the story (and, if you’re thinking about the science, inaccuracy in reporting).  We’ll trace the stories through their roots and look at connections to more modern tales (Hercules, for example, bears some relation to Paul Bunyan - why is that?)  When we all come back together, the Science students will get to work together with the English students to tell a modern day version of these myths - one that sounds like a myth, but is biologically and physically possible.  English OR Life Science Credit.
  • E-Political Rhetoric


    Prerequisite: English III
    , Grades 11-12.  This course may be taken for either English credit or social studies credit.
    This course explores questions about justice, liberty, authority, and power that lie at the heart of contemporary political debates. We will take up these questions through five principal texts: Plato’s Socratic dialogues, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. Topics include the nature of wisdom, the basis of authority, the trade-off between freedom and security, the scope of rights, and the role of moral values in politics. Students will write in a variety of genres and apply their understanding of course texts to current events.
  • E-Spec Fiction

    In this literature-based course, we’ll look at the foundations of Science Fiction and learn what makes Speculative Fiction tick.  You’ll read some of the earliest examples in the genre through the present day, and look at what forces in our world have fueled the themes that have fascinated Spec. Fic. writers.  You’ll spend some time figuring out exactly what Science Fiction is, then you’ll look at one common theme (the advance of technology) and write about it like a speculative writer - imagining what its impact would be on our world.  You’ll also read other works that deal with specific topics like the Apocalypse or Politics and Power, or "The Other".  Finally, you’ll get to try your hand at building your own world within which a speculative artist might work (and you can write stories in that world if you take Fiction Writing during second semester).
  • E-Women in Lit

    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.
  • E-Women In Lit II

    This course will examine feminism in all of its stripes through its different movements and ideologies. Though our primary text will be the seminal Madwoman in the Attic by Elaine Showalter, we will also conduct a chronological exploration of feminism from its political roots with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman through materialist, social, psychological, and cultural manifestations of feminism. Though the course reading will consist largely of nonfiction, we will study the feminist schools of thought as they play themselves out in works of drama and poetry by Caryl Churchill, Wendy Kesselman, Adriene Rich and Marilyn Hacker. (Grades 11 and 12)
  • E-Women in Literature

    Prerequisite: English II
    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. 
  • E-Worldbuilding/Narrative

    Prerequisites: English II and Evolution of Human Thought

    In this intensive, students will look at how stories are told across media - film, short stories, and video games.  We will be collaboratively building a shared world with interesting characters to meet, enticing settings to explore, and things to discover.  This world will have a history, a government, and an economic system, and will be designed to be consistent with other worlds we encounter in stories, film, and video games.  Students will have a choice to build a post-apocalyptic world, a futuristic science fiction world, or a high fantasy world.  For English credit, we will learn about character, setting, and plot, and students will write short stories about the characters in their world, demonstrating their skill in creating engaging characters and immersive settings.  For social studies credit, the students will be focussed on building realistic political and economic systems and looking at how they can function in the setting they have chosen. So if they go with a high fantasy setting, they would need to figure out what types of political units exist in the world, and how they interact with each other. Does magic exist? If so, how does it alter the economic activity of the people? Questions that are, more often than not, ignored in most fantasy stories.
    We will have a Model UN-style crisis simulation with other territories in this world, the outcome of which will change the world we have built, and become the “hook” for our roleplaying adventure.  Finally, the class will break into gaming groups and spend time with a character they’ve developed role-playing in their world - discovering the places they’ve created and building a shared narrative, which will lead to the final major story students will write about their character’s adventures with their group (plot).
    Expect to read a lot, write a lot, game a lot (video games and roleplaying), and build a deeply immersive shared world with your friends and classmates that you can explore through games.
    Required: A Steam account (free), a PC or MAC for playing online games, and access to a video streaming service (or have a DVD player).  We will provide dice, roleplaying rules, and a wiki for building our world.
    Recommended: Role-playing experience, game-mastering experience, and video game experience with RPGs, as well as a love of stories and writing.
Maumee Valley Country Day School is the only age 3 - 12th grade accredited, co-educational, independent school in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.