The 11th grade learning experience consists of 7 mostly month-long units aligned to the Common Core State Standards, with available course material for teachers and students easily accessible online. Over the course of the year there is a steady progression in text complexity levels, sophistication of writing tasks, speaking and listening activities, and increased opportunities for independent and collaborative work. Rubrics and student models accompany many writing assignments.Throughout the 11th grade year, in addition to the Common Read texts that the whole class reads together, students each select an Independent Reading book and engage with peers in group Book Talks. Students move from learning the class rituals and routines and genre features of argument writing in Unit 11.1 to learning about narrative and informational genres in Unit 11.2: The American Short Story. Teacher resources provide additional materials to support each unit.
In this short unit, students will spend three lessons exploring the importance of themes and main ideas in fiction and informational texts. Now would be a good time to have them take an assessment of their reading and writing skills. They'll explore theme through O. Henry's classic short story "The Gift of the Magi" and consider how this piece compares to the main idea in the article "The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting."
In this unit, students will explore great works of American literature and consider how writers reflect the time period in which they write. They will write two literary analysis papers and also work in groups to research and develop anthologies of excellent American stories.
Students read and analyze stories from several 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century American authors. After researching a time period, they select stories from that period to create an anthology. The readings enhance their understanding of the short story, increase their exposure to well-known American authors, and allow them to examine the influence of social, cultural, and political context.
Students examine elements of short stories and have an opportunity for close reading of several American short stories. During these close readings, they examine the ways that short story writers attempt to explore the greater truths of the American experience through their literature.
These questions are a guide to stimulate thinking, discussion, and writing on the themes and ideas in the unit. For complete and thoughtful answers and for meaningful discussions, students must use evidence based on careful reading of the texts.
If you were to write a short story about this decade, what issues might you focus on?
What defines a short story? Just length?
To what extent do these stories reflect the era or decade in which they were written?
To what extent are the themes they address universal?
History.com has short videos on the Vietnam War (“Vietnam” and “A Soldier's Story”).
In this lesson, students will begin the short story “The Swimmer.” As an introduction to the story, they will also read the myth “Echo and Narcissus,” considering Narcissus as a way to view the protagonist of “The Swimmer.”
Using The Secret Life of Bees as the text, students work through topics to create thematic statements. This is scaffolded so students are working with the teacher as a class first, then in small groups, then individually for teacher feedback. This can easily be adapted to fit any text being used in class.
In Lesson 1, students focus on the first stave of the novel as they identify the meanings of words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to them. This activity facilitates close examination of and immersion in the text and leads to an understanding of Scrooge before his ghostly experiences. In Lesson 2, students examine Scrooge’s experiences with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and discover how Dickens used both direct and indirect characterization to create a protagonist who is more than just a stereotype. In Lesson 3, students focus on stave 5 as they identify and articulate themes that permeate the story.