Fairhaven High School

English Department

The English Department at FHS promotes an open minded approach to literature and cultures of English. Beyond understanding, we strive to nurture deep analytical thought and the synthesis of diverse ideas and viewpoints. Each year’s curriculum is crafted to nurture thinking that stretches beyond a single text.  In collaboration, units are designed around an anchor text, unifying themes, and an essential question. Supplemental readings and activities are selected to add depth to students’ analysis and engagement with the anchor text.

A department comprised of veteran, mid-career, and relatively new teachers who bring a wide range of professional and life experiences, we share a common love for literature and the movies and television shows that attempt to bring it to life, however adequate or remarkable. We know that what works for some doesn’t work for others; it is this belief that compels us to try different approaches, share our experiences, and collaborate for the betterment of all students. In 2014, we began work as a Humanities group, combining both History and English teachers. Our work with History teachers has helped us align our expectations across departments and work toward common goals in reading and writing.

Freshman English offers a survey course exposing students to Greek Drama, Shakespeare, and cultural touchstones such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451. In addition, all freshmen participate in a ten week Freshman Experience course where they learn the skills of analyzing nonfiction texts for discussion and research.

Sophomore English focuses on both classic and contemporary British texts. It is the year of the state’s standardized test (MCAS) and the PSAT (a precursor to the SAT).  Sophomores complete the PSAT at no cost to families as a sort of benchmark before taking the SAT at the end of their junior year. The department prides itself on knowing the standards and demands of each test well enough to prepare students for success.

Junior English dives into American literature beginning in the industrial period moving forward.  In 2014, we worked closely with the History Department to align U.S. History II (junior course) with English III.  The alignment has been successful in providing a context for historic periods in America’s history.  In addition to English III, juniors have the option to take Advanced Placement  Language and Composition, a rigorous college level course that steeps students in critical reading and writing skills. While students read fiction novels, the AP Language and Composition class works mostly with nonfiction texts.

Senior English has been under construction in the last few years. Construction began with and remains focused on providing students choices.  Students choose to focus on Past to Present - Who Are We and Why does it matter? or Present to Future - Where Are We Going and Why does it matter?  Exposure to topic driven fiction and nonfiction texts is designed to set up student driven inquiry, research, and writing. Units are designed to prepare students for the workforce and further academic pursuits.
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