The American Experience (Focus: English I)
Summary of Unit 1: Click to access The American Experience_Unit1
TED is a forum for experts from diverse fields to present their observations and innovations, thus doubling as an online community that is truly contributing to the “information age.” As a course designed to foster our students’ ability to frame modern issues through a historical lens, to critically assess and synthesize information from a variety sources, and use those understandings to promote positive community action, the TED Talk project is a perfect complement to the Humanities course. By constructing a TED Talk, students will craft an informative piece inside of a narrative structure with the goal of synthesizing historical context with current issues in order to promote INFORMED ACTION on behalf of a target audience/community. In the process of crafting this speech, students will learn how to critically analyze, draw inferences from, and compare and contrast a variety of complex texts from past and present, perform research that is consciously unbiased, use specific language and structure for a purpose, present information formally for a specific audience and purpose, and explore the implications of becoming active citizens in their community.
Summary of Unit 2: Click to access The American Experience_Unit2
Multiple political, social, and economic factors caused American territorial expansion. The rapid expansion and transformation of the American economy contributed to regional tensions, social reform, political compromises, and an expansion of democratic practices. The expansion, however, was not without its costs to Native Americans, African Americans and women. The Civil War was caused by ideological, economic, and political differences about the future course of the nation. Efforts to reunite the country through Reconstruction were contested, resisted, and had long-term consequences.
Summary of Unit 3: Click to access The American Experience_Unit3
Students will be asked to answer the driving question (What drives the choices we make) in a response that includes a multimodal, purposeful text that can both persuade and engage an audience. The scope of choice in terms of method and content should allow students to not only showcase their understanding of a literary theme but manipulate the language and structural strategies used by Shakespeare in the play, “Romeo and Juliet,” as well as the research and persuasive skills utilized during the “debate” portions of the unit, in a way that is personal and meaningful to the students themselves and targets a real community to inspire authentic change.
Summary of Unit 4: Click to access The American Experience Unit4
Students will be asked to answer the driving question (Why do we celebrate heroes?) in a response that includes a research paper and a purposeful narrative film that celebrates a community hero. The scope of choice in terms of method and content should allow students to not only showcase their understanding of a literary theme but manipulate the language and structural strategies used in texts such as the Odyssey in a way that is personal and meaningful to the students themselves and reflects social values they see as needed in their local community.
The Political Experience (Focus: English II)
Summary of Unit 1: Click to access Political Studies-Unit1
Horror as a genre is reflective of the political climate and, in contemporary literature and media, is used to challenge social and political structures. This first unit will examine the vampire motif in several literary texts using the foundational text BramStoker’s Dracula as an anchor text. This examination is important because it encourages the objective analysis of literature as a source for understanding political structures and it frames the author as a voice of protest and/or a mirror of a time period’s values and ideas. This unit will be framed by a “Haunted House Simulation,” which is an immersive, multimodal adaptation of Dracula or the various short stories included throughout the introductory phase of the unit. Studentswillexaminethepoliticalvalues, beliefs that characterize the text and controversies framing the literary work through scholarly research, and will use the research, in addition to character and plot analysis, to “recreate” a visceral experience of the text in the form of a “Haunted House.” For this reason, the unit will also encourage examination of the critical connection between fiction and nonfiction, as students will need to develop a rationale for their adaptation of the vampire motif and their adaptation of the characters and plot sequence for a modern audience. The unit will include a formal panel presentation, wherein students pitch a “Haunted House Simulation” and use research to support their adaptation, and a community event, where students simulate the text and explain the thematic relevance of the novel through a political lens for a modern audience.
Summary of Unit 2: Click to access Political Studies-Unit2
Poetry and journalism are guided by distinct styles and structures, but both can be used to examine controversial historical and contemporary issues. Poets, journalists, and audiences alike can examine the array of stories that can be told about a specific person, event, or place. The second unit will focus on the intertextual nature of poetry and journalism, and throughout the unit, we will examine authors from Tagore, to Neruda, to Langston Hughes and will develop a conversation between these renowned individuals and the most reputable news sources in society. We will create our own “found” poems that demonstrate our interpretation of the most pressing political issues, and will subsequently open a dialogue with our class community and the outside community of Orange.
Summary of Unit 3: Click to access Political Studies-Unit3
Theater has been used since the birth of democracy as a way to open a dialogue about the most tempestuous political issues. Julius Caesar, a historical figurehead and subject of one of Shakespeare’s most reproduced works, will be identified as a politically charged play ripe for adaptation. In this unit, we will focus on the ways playwrights have interpreted William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and have manipulated the characters, plot design, and structure, as well as the setting to make controversial statements related to the political climate of the place and time. We will Identify the limits of artistic expression and the gray space between art and propaganda to assess the value of these various adaptations.
Summary of Unit 4: Click to access Political Studies-Unit4
Dystopian texts have been used for decades by authors as a subversive genre that closely, critically dissects the political and social structures of their time. By creating a perfect world founded upon devastatingly imperfect morals, values, and beliefs, dystopian texts issue a clear warning to future generations and present a challenge to change. We will examine Fahrenheit 451 and explore the implications of censorship and the power of stories in shaping the fate of human society. Paired with shorts stories by Vonnegut, Ovid, and Le Guinn, as well as nonfiction articles linked to the ethics of control in North Korea, the impact of technology and media on today’s society, and historical trends linked to censorship, this text will open a gateway to a larger research project that will ask us to answer the question: What kind of society would we build if we had to start from scratch?