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What Your Child Will Learn in High School English

English 9, 10, 11 Curriculum

English Language Arts College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards

HCPSS has adopted the Common Core State Standards and has integrated them into the Essential Curriculum. The Standards address four main categories with sub-topics as outlined below. Specific descriptions of each sub-topic may be found at

Anchor Standards for Reading (literary and informational text)

Students will grow in their ability to comprehend complex text, drawing inferences and making connections between texts.

  • Key ideas and details
  • Craft and structure
  • Integration of knowledge and ideas
  • Range of reading and level of text complexity

Anchor Standards for Writing

Students will write in a variety of modes in response to evidence found in their reading and research.

  • Text types and purposes (argument, explanatory, narrative)
  • Production and distribution of writing
  • Research to build and present knowledge
  • Range of writing

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

Students will grow in their ability to communicate in formal and informal situations while developing the interpersonal skills required for effective collaboration.

  • Comprehension and collaboration
  • Presentation of knowledge and ideas
  • Research to build and present knowledge
  • Range of writing

Anchor Standards for Language

Students will use language correctly and effectively and grow in their knowledge of content-specific and general academic vocabulary.

  • Conventions of standard English
  • Knowledge of language
  • Vocabulary acquisition and use


Composition is a key component of the English curriculum. Students are required to write in a variety of modes as described below. More information about the modes of writing, organizational structures, research, and rhetoric is provided for students through the HCPSS High School Writing Manual and Style Guide. This manual is also available here.

Students will be able to:

  • Compose in the following modes of discourse:
    • Explanatory, including analysis of both print and non-print texts.
    • Argument, using a variety of rhetorical devices.
  • Compose a research paper.
  • Narration using effective techniques
  • Respond to SAT-type timed writing prompts, reflective of current SAT and the revised SAT writing prompt.
  • Respond to AP-type writing prompts.
  • Compose creatively.

Literature and Literary Non-fiction

A variety of literary genres including short stories, poetry, novels, drama, and essays are included in both the English 9 and English 10 curricula. Teachers select appropriate texts from the Approved Textbook list, which is available here. The following units at each grade level are designed to reflect a thematic approach.

English 9 Units

Reflections: Past to Present
Dramatist as Social Commentator
Coming of Age
Imaginary Worlds

English 10 Units

Hope and Fears
Individual and Society
The Pursuit of Power
The Hero’s Journey

English 11 Units

American Dreams: The Society
American Visions: The Individual
American Perspectives: The Challenge
American Destinies: Reality and Hope

Research Skills

All students complete a written research paper at each grade level, demonstrating the ability to:

  • Define an information problem.
  • Identify information needed in order to solve the information problem.
  • Determine the range of possible sources and prioritize those sources.
  • Locate sources, using print, non-print, and electronic media.
  • Evaluate sources for credibility.
  • Engage with the information in a source (e.g., read, listen, or view), and extract relevant information.
  • Document sources using MLA format.
  • Organize and integrate information from multiple sources.
  • Present the information in a multi-paragraph paper: create a thesis, identify the audience, and select an appropriate mode of writing.
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of both the written product and the research process.

Sample PARCC Assessment Questions

There will be two PARCC Assessments for English Language Arts and Literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects. The first is a Performance-Based Assessment that consists of three tasks. Each task assesses reading comprehension and writing ability:

  • Narrative writing task
  • Literary analysis task
  • Research simulation task

The second assessment, administered at the end of the year, asks students to read passages and answer questions about the reading.

Types of Questions

  • Two-part evidence-based selected response questions: Students read a passage and answer questions that require them to identify evidence to support their answers.
  • Technology-enhanced questions: Students use computer features to drag and drop, highlight, or cut and paste their responses.
  • Prose response questions: Students write essays that demonstrate their understanding of a text or texts and show their skills in written expression, grammar, and usage.

Two-Part Questions

Sample #1

Part A: In “Daedalus and Icarus,” what do the lines “he turned his mind to arts unknown/and nature unrevealed” (lines 9–10) imply about Daedalus and his invention?

  1. that his invention will bring him wealth and fame
  2. that his invention will be something beyond common understanding
  3. that the primary motive for his invention is revenge
  4. that he is nervous about the success of his invention

Part B: Which quotation provides the best support for the answer to Part A?

  1. “But Daedalus abhorred the Isle of Crete—/and his long exile on that sea-girt shore,/increased the love of his own native place.” (lines 1–3)
  2. “While he was working, his son Icarus,/with smiling countenance and unaware/of danger to himself, perchance would chase/the feathers, ruffled by the shifting breeze,/or soften with his thumb the yellow wax,” (lines 17–21)
  3. “. . . ‘My son, I caution you to keep/the middle way, for if your pinions dip/too low the waters may impede your flight;’” (lines 30–32)
  4. “Beneath their flight,/the fisherman while casting his long rod,/or the tired shepherd leaning on his crook,/or the rough plowman as he raised his eyes,/astonished might observe them on the wing,/and worship them as Gods.” (lines 50-55)

Sample #2

Part A: In line 11 of Sexton’s poem, what does the use of the idea of “tunneling” reveal about Icarus at this point in the poem?

  1. He is engaging in an intensely concentrated action.
  2. He is doomed to become the victim of an accident.
  3. He is trying to visualize an impossible goal.
  4. He is forced to begin a puzzling quest.

Part B: Which words from Sexton’s poem best help the reader understand the meaning of “tunneling”?

  1. “Admire his wings” (line 9)
  2. “Feel the fire at his neck. . . .” (line 10)
  3. “. . . he glances up and is caught” (line 11)
  4. “Who cares that he fell back . . . .” (line 12)

Sample Technology-Enhanced Question

Part A: What do lines 38–45 from Ovid’s poem most suggest about Daedalus?

  1. Daedalus is worried about the quality of the wings.
  2. Daedalus is sad to leave the Isle of Crete.
  3. Daedalus is a caring parent.
  4. Daedalus is proud of his invention.

Part B: From the list below, select two quotations that provide additional evidence to support the answer to Part A. Drag and drop your answers into the boxes labeled “Evidence.”

  1. “He said, ‘The unconfined skies remain/though Minos may be lord of all the world/his sceptre is not regnant of the air,/and by that untried way is our escape.’” (lines 5–8)
  2. “…He fashioned quills/and feathers in due order—deftly formed/from small to large, as any rustic pipe/prom straws unequal slants. He bound with thread/the middle feathers, and the lower fixed/with pliant wax; till so, in gentle curves/arranged, he bent them to the shape of birds.” (lines 10–16)
  3. But when at last/the father finished it, he poised himself,/and lightly floating in the winnowed air/waved his great feathered wings with bird-like ease.” (lines 24–27)
  4. “… ‘My son, I caution you to keep/the middle way, for if your pinions dip/too low the waters may impede your flight;/and if they soar too high the sun may scorch them./Fly midway. Gaze not at the boundless sky, …but follow my safe guidance.’” (lines 30–37)
  5. “And as he called upon his father’s name/his voice was smothered in the dark blue sea,/now called Icarian from the dead boy’s name.” (lines 69–71)
  6. “The unlucky father, not a father, called,/‘Where are you, Icarus?’ and “Where are you?/In what place shall I seek you, Icarus?’/He called again; and then he saw the wings/of his dear Icarus, floating on the waves;/and he began to rail and curse his art.” (lines 72–77)
  7. “…Wherefore Daedalus/enraged and envious, sought to slay the youth/and cast him headlong from Minerva’s fane,–/then spread the rumor of an accident.” (lines 96–99)

Sample Essay for the Narrative Writing Task

This passage is written as a first-person narrative told from Miss Summerson’s point of view. Write a narrative story that describes the major events in the passage from the point of view of the stranger, emphasizing his thoughts and feelings about Mr. Skimpole, Miss Summerson, and Richard

Sample Essay for the Literary Analysis Task

Use what you have learned from reading “Daedalus and Icarus” by Ovid and “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph” by Anne Sexton to write an essay that provides an analysis of how Sexton transforms “Daedalus and Icarus.” Develop your claim(s) of how Sexton transforms “Daedalus and Icarus” with evidence from both texts. As a starting point, you may want to consider what is emphasized, absent, or different in the two texts, but feel free to develop your own focus for analysis.

Sample Essay for the Research Simulation Task

You have studied three sources involving the establishment of American independence from Great Britain. The sources are:

  • Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776
  • A passage from Patrick Henry’s March 23, 1776, speech to the Second Virginia Convention
  • The video “From Subjects to Citizens”

An important idea presented in the sources involves the colonists’ notions of the purpose of government. Write an essay in which you explore the perceptions of government’s purpose presented in the sources. In writing your essay, consider how the authors of the two written documents describe the ideal relationship between a government and its people, and how they describe the actual relationship between the government of Great Britain and the colonists. Consider also the perspective presented in the video. Remember to use evidence from all three sources to support your ideas.

How to Help Your Child at Home

  • Help your child understand the difference between struggle and frustration.
  • Discuss with your child what he or she is learning instead of what he or she is doing.


  • Together with your child, select journaling topics to which you both will individually respond in personal creative journals. Determine if and how the entries will be shared. Rule: No texting symbols or shortcuts.
  • Share your own work-related writing.
  • Request evidence in everyday discussions and disagreements.
  • Ask to see your child’s writing folder whenever you visit his or her teacher.


  • Recommend your child read one of your personal favorites and share time discussing the book.
  • Read and discuss a combination of fiction and non-fiction aloud with your child.
  • Have books, magazines, and newspapers available in the home.
  • Set aside some time each day for reading.
  • Take family visits to the public library.