• Upper Division Program for 2019-2020

    This program will continue the work of the Core Program but will emphasize a higher level of student performance and will provide more demanding, complex assignments and materials. All courses will require substantial practice in the writing of structured papers, extensive reading of significant literature, regular practice in formal and informal oral presentations, and rigorous application of critical thinking skills.

    Students are urged to plan their Junior/Senior program carefully in consultation with their English teacher, parent and counselor.

    The following courses are available to juniors and seniors; however, AP English Literature is only offered to seniors. (Second semester sophomores may elect to enroll in one of the following courses in addition to English 4 with teacher permission and as space permits.) Not all courses will be offered every semester. A student should confer with his or her English teacher, parents and counselor in order to make the appropriate selection.


    Upper Division English Course Offerings for 2019-2020

    Advanced Placement English Language (open to juniors and seniors)

    Advanced Placement English Literature (open to seniors)

    Advanced Journalism

    American Literature 1/American Literature 2

    American Literature 1/Science Fiction

    Essay Exposition/Honors Advanced Essay Exposition

    Essay Exposition/Humanities

    Humanities/ Short Stories

    Humanities/Science Fiction

    Language of Humor/American Literature 2

    Language of Humor/Humanities

    Literary Walkabouts/San Francisco Stories


    Poetry/Dramatic Literature

    Shakespeare/Science Fiction




    (UC “b”, CSU)  Advanced Placement Language and Composition is a college level English course, taught over two semesters, which provides students with a chance to extend their competence by challenging them with difficult texts and writing assignments, following the standardized course of study developed by the College Board Advanced Placement program. The course is open to juniors and seniors. Students will engage in close reading of significant works of literature and write analytically and critically about that literature and other topics. AP Language focuses mostly on the study of rhetoric, with a heavy emphasis on nonfiction texts: speeches, essays, letters, etc. The writing in the course covers three distinct forms, all of which are assessed on the AP exam: rhetorical analysis, argument, and synthesis.

    See AP/Honors Admission Information on pg. 36 of the Instructional Guide Handbook.



    (UC “b”, CSU)  Offered to seniors only.  Intended to approximate the first year of college English. The course focuses on the close study of significant works of literature and on the ways to write analytically and critically about literature.  The year course is for seniors who have demonstrated high promise in their first three years of high school English.  Students may gain college credit and possible acceleration if they pass the Advanced Placement English Examination with a sufficiently high score.  Works studied may include: The Metamorphosis, Heart of Darkness, Invisible Man, Hamlet and Waiting for Godot.   See AP/Honors Admission Information on page 36 of the Instructional Guide Handbook.


    ADVANCED JOURNALISM –  (UC, “g” only)  Students will determine and create the content of The Redwood Bark’s newspaper, website, and social media channels, reporting the news, investigating events, and developing features and commentary relevant to school and the community. Students will hone their skills in reporting, interviewing, writing and revision, video production, photography, and layout and design, while dealing with the daily ethical, technological, and teamwork issues that deadline-based productions demand. Students will study professional nonfiction works and explore the changing role of journalists in society. The compositions skills and technological aptitude of students will continue to be improved through project-based assignments. Prerequisite: Nonfiction 1 and 2 with a grade of B or better.


    AMERICAN LITERATURE 1 (UC “b”, CSU) Individual vs. Society

    In this course, the texts illuminate the historical push and pull between Individual vs. Society, between outcast and community, between freedom of expression and imposed conformity, between fanaticism and tolerance, between minority and majority, between faction and system, that has shaped and re-shaped American character.  We will also use the works to discuss parallel current societal tensions that we deem relevant to our own lives, both immediate and in the near future. We will evaluate what we think of as reasonable and unreasonable individual vs. societal expectations. Texts may include The Crucible, Native Son, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Ragtime. The Metamorphosis Heart of Darkness, Invisible Man, Hamlet and Waiting for Godot…among others.


    AMERICAN LITERATURE 2 (UC “b”, CSU) This course is the second in a yearlong study of the American canon, yet American Lit 1 is not a prerequisite. How the American Dream becomes the American Nightmare is the focus of study yet is only one of the many absorbing and relevant themes found in The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, All the Pretty Horses, and Death of a Salesman. All these writers - Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, McCarthy, and Miller - have distinctive and challenging styles of telling their stories of the east and the west, the changing economy and values of American life, and the disappointing realities but ubiquitous idealism of its citizens.


    BRITISH LITERATURE (UC “b”, CSU) This course is a whirlwind tour spanning 400 years of literature, starting with the Elizabethan Age and concluding in the present.  It will, therefore, introduce students to the trends, conventions, and concerns of different periods or movements within British Lit, highlighting in the process both its history and some of its most well known literary figures.  Students will read, analyze, discuss, and write about a variety of important works (involving art and music too) indicative of the culture.  These include works that represent the literary movements in which they were written: i.e., Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Milton’s Samson Agonistes, Donne & the Metaphysical Poets, Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the Romantic Poets, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, Joyce’s Dubliners, Lessing’s The Fifth Child, and McEwan’s Atonement.  As students read and work with these texts, they will consider overarching themes concerning social class and stratification, gender distinctions, British imperialism and colonization, the political and geographical decline of an Empire, internal conflicts, Brexit, and other historical and ethical issues related specifically to Great Britain.  In this way, students will have a sound knowledge and appreciation for Britain’s long and ongoing literary diversity and achievement.


    CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE (UC “b”, CSU) Students will read, discuss, and analyze works of literature published within the last 15 years. While the focus of the course is on the novel, current and relevant short stories, non-fiction, art, film, and poetry will supplement the major texts, so that students will further develop their understanding of the contemporary issues within them. In addition, students should expect to examine the principle texts within their social and cultural contexts, to analyze their distinctly contemporary aspects as they pertain to both style and theme, and to bring their own experiences to bear upon them, in order to better understand the nature of our complex and interconnected world. Furthermore, students will write in a variety of modes, including argumentative, expository, reflective, analytical, and creative writing. The major texts include but are not limited to—Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2016 trans.), Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2016), and Ian McEwan’s Nutshell (2016).


    DRAMATIC LITERATURE (UC “b”, CSU) This course is for lovers of drama. Students will focus mainly on the plays as works of literature, although appropriate and available film adaptations of the plays will be viewed and considered in light of what students have learned. In addition, students will also consider the technical aspects of stagecraft, including set design, lighting, sound, and costumes. In-class participation is emphasized in the reading and classroom discussions of the plays. Outside of class, students will write analytically, reflectively, and creatively as they engage further with the texts and topics of the plays. Furthermore, performance of original, student work will be incorporated in the forms of dramatic monologues, radio plays, and a One Act, small group project at the end of the semester. A variety of types of plays can be covered, from Greek tragedy to modern comedy. The following list consists of some of the many possibilities:  Sophocles’ Antigone; Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold” . . . and the boys; Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight:  Los Angeles, 1992; Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire or The Glass Menagerie; August Wilson’s Fences; Sam Shepard’s Buried Child; Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard; Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia; and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.


    ENGLISH LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT 1-4  (UC “b”, CSU; up to 10 credits in English)   English Language Development (ELD) is a four-semester language arts course which may be repeated for credit.  It is designed for the student whose native language is other than English and whose proficiency falls below fluent.  The course provides ELD students with language instruction that develops their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills while following a sequential grammatical syllabus.  It further acquaints them with American culture, customs and holidays, teaches them practical life and study skills, orients them to their new school environment and integrates them into mainstream classes and into high school and community life.  Each level is a one-year course worth 10 credits; up to a total of 10 credits can be applied to UC English.


    ESSAY/EXPOSITION (UC “b”, CSU)   This class is one devoted to the development of expository skills as a mature writer, building off writing done in English 1-4, as well as other upper division electives.  Students will explore various types of exposition, both in reading the work of others and writing. We work on writing skills in the following areas: observation, narration, reflection, interpretation, and evaluation.  We will spend ample time examining the choices writers make via rhetorical, stylistic, and literary analysis in order to inform our own writing process.  Although the emphasis of the course is writing, doing that well requires a great deal of close reading, discussion, and critical thinking.


    HONORS ADVANCED ESSAY EXPOSITION (UC “b”, CSU) This one-semester course is designed to provide the college preparatory student with the opportunity to acquire the kinds of writing skills needed to make a successful start in college. While the course will focus on the expository essay, it will provide practice in personal and other types of writing and will use reading as a prompt for class discussion and written reaction and as a model for composition. (C)  See AP/Honors Admission Information on page 36 of the INstructional Guide Handbook.


    HUMANITIES (UC “b”, CSU) The focus pf this course is on examining the behaviors we see in literature and seeing how they manifest in real life and are applicable to us. Central questions about the human experience are explored, such as: What is the good life?  What are good and evil?  We also look at what it means to be human, what our responsibilities are as humans, what we believe in, how experiences such as war shape us as humans.  Students are encouraged to discover, feel, think, communicate and question.  Books that are frequently taught in this class are:  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Siddhartha, Twelfth Night, The Things They Carried, Night, Man’s Search for Meaning, and Slaughterhouse Five.  Poetry, art, film, and drama are also incorporated.   


    IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE (UC “b”, CSU)  Presents students with the diversity of the American experience. Students will examine literature that explores the quest for identity and offers them an opportunity to explore worlds outside of their experience. The literature focuses mainly on the experiences of first generation Americans in the 20th century, written by immigrants from South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Students frequently read Bless Me, Ultima, The Joy Luck Club, The Namesake, and The Breadgivers. This class will challenge students to write papers that analyze the texts named above, expanding upon and developing the analytical skills they previously learned.


    LANGUAGE OF HUMOR (UC “b”, CSU) The focus for this course is to learn the ways in which humor can be used as a rhetorical device. Students will learn how theories of humor and humor techniques help explain why things are humorous. We will study classic and contemporary novels, short stories, political texts, and stand-up comedy routines to understand the effectiveness of humor as a means of persuasion, a reaction to setbacks, humor as a tool of power, humor as inspiration, and humor as criticism, to name a few. Authors include: Tina Fey, Trevor Noah, David Sedaris, Voltaire, Mark Twain, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, John Kennedy Toole, Andy Borowitz and others. Writing in the course will range from analyses of humor to original pieces of satire to stand-up routines to humorous personal essays. Because what makes something funny is often a matter of taste, we will examine how culture, age, family, intelligence, and religion affect our tastes in humor. Finally, so much of humor comes from a sense of timing and rhythm, so students in the course will listen to and view humor, from stand-up comedy to fictional prose, to learn how authors and comedians create that rhythm.


    LITERARY WALKABOUTS (UC “b”, CSU) Course provides the opportunity to read and write about adventure and exploration. Students will read nonfiction works that appeal to the imagination through both intellectual and physical adventures. In addition to an in-depth literary analysis of each work, students will explore the cultural, geographical, political, and environmental issues of regions throughout the world and develop writing skills in the areas of nonfiction travel/adventure writing, collaborative research/writing, journal writing, and experiential writing. With the same rigorous standards of other upper division college preparatory electives in the English program, the focus of this course is on improving writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills. Students complete 4-5 major essays, using a variety of expository modes, including: Reflective essay, Interpretive essay, Controversial Issue essay, Observation essay, Evaluation essay. Texts may include Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Running the Amazon by Joe Kane, Chasing Che by Patrick Symmes,  Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, Supplementary materials include: articles, interviews, and travel narratives from selected anthologies and magazines, such as The Best American Travel Writing, Granta, National Geographic, Outside, etc.


    NONFICTION 1-2   (UC “b”, CSU) Provides an introduction to journalistic writing, nonfiction literature, and media production.  This year-long course offers students the opportunity to learn techniques for writing nonfiction such as news and feature writing, editorials, investigative reporting, and survey development. Students will be able to submit a portfolio as part of their application to the Advanced Journalism program for the following year. Texts include All the President's Men, Zeitoun, Fast Food Nation, In Cold Blood, and The New York Times, in addition to other media/texts. (May be open to 9th grade as space permits)


    ORAL RHETORIC (UC “b”, CSU)   Designed to help students improve their speaking skills and learn to listen with critical attention.  It also enables students to use oral activities to improve their critical thinking and writing skills as well as their understanding of literature.  Students will analyze the structure and content of effective speeches, and they will write and present speeches using techniques studied. Students will practice debate skills that are central to understanding how to identify and craft strong, persuasive arguments. They will study and analyze literary works and will interpret them orally. 


    POETRY (UC “b”, CSU) Students will read, discuss, analyze, and write about poetry, as well as write their own poems. There is, therefore, both an interpretive and creative, twofold focus, in which students will provide feedback to each other on individual assignments and collaborate together on group projects. In addition, exposure to all sorts of poems is a key to this course, including many traditional and contemporary forms. Furthermore, the learning approach is inductive and heuristic, discovering and knowing significant aspects of the genre as they are encountered in the selected texts. As a result, students will have a solid understanding and appreciation of how poets use language to convey their insights into life and human existence.  Although there is no official text for the course, two websites in particular will be important resources for accessing poetry: The Academy of American Poets and The Poetry Foundation. A full catalogue of poets considered in this course is much too long to include here, but the following is a solid sampling: Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Marvel, Blake, Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Dickinson, Whitman, Yeats, Hopkins, Hughes, Auden, Jeffers, Frost, Moore, Bishop, Wilbur, Plath, Simic, Oliver, Olds, Rich, Heaney, Collins, Giovanni, Bass, Tretheway, and Hayes.


    SAN FRANCISCO STORIES (UC “b”, CSU)  This one-semester course is for students interested in the literature set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and the history of the region which inspired that literature. Focus might include the Gold Rush, the 1906 Earthquake, the movement of immigrants to the Bay Area over the past two centuries, the Beat and San Francisco Renaissance literary movements of the 1950’s, and the gay movement of the 1970’s and beyond. Students will have the opportunity to research and present to the class important historical movements, architecture, and individuals in the life of the City of San Francisco. In keeping with the class’s title, the stories of our lives might also become a point of interest.  Texts may include Maltese Falcon, A Crown of Dust, Dharma Bums, 1906 and The Golden Gate.


    SCIENCE FICTION (UC “b”, CSU)   Students read and examine contemporary and classical works of science fiction and through a variety of texts, explore how changes in technology affect society, and how society responds to technological advances. Texts may include selections from H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Greg Bear, with titles including War of the Worlds, I,Robot, Fahrenheit 451, Blood Music, and Ender's Game.


    SHAKESPEARE (UC “b”, CSU)  This class is designed for students who want to further their study of Shakespeare and Elizabethan England. Through a close reading of plays and poetry, the student will learn about the conventions of Elizabethan theater and the action, characters, and themes of the plays. Students will examine and analyze why Shakespeare has been and continues to be the most celebrated and revered author in the world and why his themes are still relevant today. Students will be encouraged to attend actual Shakespearean performances in the Bay Area.  The choice of plays in the course is adjusted to match the performances available.  Students have attended such works as As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and Midsummer Night's Dream in the past. Tragedies like Richard III and Hamlet are also a focus of the course.


    SHORT STORIES (UC “b”, CSU)  Students will  read, discuss, and write about short stories written by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, and Raymond Carver. Students will write papers which analyze theme, characterization, and narrative structure. In addition, students will write short stories of their own, employing many of the techniques they have learned through reading published authors.


    TWENTIETH CENTURY LITERATURE (UC “b”, CSU)  This course explores the ideas and works of the last century.  The literature will be examined in the context of the historical and cultural forces which shaped it and studied in relation to other creative arts.  From Steinbeck’s East of Eden to Kerouac’s On the Road to Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, students read works representative of modern literary trends and modern schools of thought. Students will learn about existentialism, the beat poets, and feminism in this course.


    WORLD LITERATURE (UC ‘b”, CSU)   In this course we explore literature about places in the world outside the United States, often written by non-U.S. authors.  Culture, ethic, political and anthropological lenses allow us to peer deeply into this literature and the countries that have spawned it.  Students will complete essays and other projects to enhance their skills and understanding. Texts will possibly include One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Life of Pi, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, The House of Spirits, Things Fall Apart, White Teeth…among others.