English Language Arts

10th Grade

Course Summary

In his "Letter from Birmingham Jail", Martin Luther King Jr boldly proclaims, “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...This is the inter-related structure of reality.” 

Our humanity and interconnectedness with other individuals and society that Martin Luther King Jr. highlights for the clergy are integral to this 10th grade English course including its texts, themes, and essential questions. This course calls on students to examine the tension between being selfless and selfish, between being an individual and being part of a community. Through reading of core texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, students will consider the following question: what, if any, is our social responsibility? Additionally they will examine the things, people, and places that motivate people to act in the best interests of others. Students will engage with a variety of writing assignments including analytical essays, personal response essays, and creative writing and participate in weekly seminars to discuss and share their evidence based ideas about the texts they read. 

Course Level Essential Questions

  • What is the individual’s responsibility to society? 
  • To what do we owe society and the world? To what do we owe individuals? 
  • In what ways are all humans interconnected? 
  • What motivates people to act in the best interest of others? Is it altruism or self interest? 
  • Why is it important to know we are all connected? How are we all interconnected?
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Unit 1

11 Lessons

Altruism and Interconnectedness in Short Texts

Students will explore the individual’s responsibility to society and the ways in which all humans are interconnected through their reading of excerpts from several texts, letters, poems, short stories and articles. 

Unit 2

20 Lessons

Censorship, Truth & Happiness in Fahrenheit 451

Students will explore the concept of “cancel culture” through their reading of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 and study of the historical and social context of 1619 Project including the pros and cons against it.

Unit 3

21 Lessons

Feminism and Self-Respect in Sula

Students examine what it means to have true self-respect and what it means to be a feminist in a society that associates a women’s role with wife, mother, and dependence on men through their reading of Toni Morrison’s Sula and supplemental texts. During their reading of the novel, students will explore how Morrison’s complex and literary style develops characters and themes.

Unit 4

22 Lessons

Home, Grief, and Storytelling in Men We Reaped

In Unit 4, students will examine the thematic idea of home, the intricate relationship between personal responsibility and public responsibility, and the significance of telling historically untold stories by reading Men We Reaped: A Memoir and supplemental texts. 

Unit 5

A Streetcar Named Desire and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

In Unit 5, students will engage in comparative textual analysis through their reading of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Specifically, students will use psychoanalytic and existential lenses to explore the concepts of sanity, truth, and power as it relates to major characters in the texts.

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