Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Sept. 23, 2010

English department releases new curriculum

by Eli Schwadron, Online Sports Editor
The English department launched their new curriculum for 12th grade regular, Honors and Advanced Placement (A.P.) English classes this school year, which consists of broader themes as well as units designed to prepare seniors for college. The curriculum change was intended to give students a larger worldview and focus less on strictly textbook material. Although it was piloted last spring, the curriculum did not take effect for all grade 12 English classes until this school year.

Jeremy Stelzner teaches a 12th grade Honors English class. Molly Ellison
Jeremy Stelzner teaches a 12th grade Honors English class.
The new curriculum for Honors English is comprised of four major themes: “Joining Conversation,” “Search for Meaning,” “Challenging Perspectives” and “Commencement.” Previously, the over-arching theme for 12th grade English classes has been “Voices” and has included classic readings as well as Shakespeare plays.

The curriculum change was made in an attempt to expose students to other aspects of the world. “It puts more of an emphasis on global technology and global issues,” English department resource teacher Vickie Adamson said. “It’s more focused on the rest of the world and it’s intended to take students out and beyond the confines of the classroom and of the textbooks.”

The “Searching for Meaning” unit includes time spent on college essays, with the intention to prepare students for life after high school. According to English teacher Adam Clay, it is a popular unit among students because it allows the students to get help and ask questions about their essays. Senior Andres Gomez said he is taking advantage of this opportunity. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s helpful for our future and will help us get ready for college,” he said.

“Metamorphosis,” a novel by Franz Kafka, is a new addition to the Honors English curriculum and also serves as a guide for senior students. “Metamorphosis is important because it’s story about a man who hates his job,” Clay said. “It’s good for the 12th graders because it helps them think about a career path. You should do what you want to do, not what other people tell you to do.”

According to Adamson, the new curriculum kept a few of the old readings, such as “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in A.P. Literature courses, but also added several new ones such as “Farming of Bones” by Edwidge Danticat. Reading Shakespeare is no longer mandatory for English 12 classes, as it had been previously.

According to Adamson and Clay, the new curriculum has been a success throughout the first three weeks of school. “It’s a big world,” Adamson said. “And we all have the ability to understand it.” Clay expressed his approval for the new curriculum. “Challenging Perspectives is a favorite of mine because it focuses on critical thinking, really thinking about the world and questioning things,” Clay said. “If you take everything at face value, you’re not really thinking and evaluating.”

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  • Brian (View Email) on September 24, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    The new curriculum launched by English Department of WHAT?

    ..,has been a success throughout the first three weeks of WHICH school?
    • Mike on September 25, 2010 at 12:19 AM
      What school do u think?? It's blair's online newspaper...
  • Rayna (View Email) on September 24, 2010 at 1:01 PM
    Um, the Metamorphosis is a novella, not a novel.
  • Croatia on September 24, 2010 at 10:16 PM
    because making that distinction between a novella and a novel is hugely important
  • Barb on September 30, 2010 at 6:41 PM
    It was under my impression that the county changed the curriculum not the Blair English department.
    I was actually talking to the 12th grade lead, Ms. Jacobs-Ivey, about the change, and according to her the college essay unit isn't a part of the curriculum. It was something that the 12th grade English teachers thought was necessary and decided to keep.
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