English Language Arts

9th Grade

Course Summary

In the preface of Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, Hill defines what it means to be othered and a nobody: “To be Nobody is to be vulnerable. In the most basic sense, all of us are vulnerable; to be human is to be susceptible to misfortune, violence, illness, and death [...] Unfortunately, for many citizens—particularly those marked as poor, Black, Brown, immigrant, queer, or trans—State power has only increased their vulnerability, making their lives more rather than less unsafe." An individual’s vulnerability and the tension of being there but not being seen are at the heart of this 9th grade English course including its texts, themes, and essential questions. It’s also the place in which many students find themselves at the beginning of high school - searching for a place, desiring to be seen, feeling overlooked and not heard, and searching for self. While students will read a plethora of contemporary, traditional, and multimedia texts about underlying themes of invisibility, marginalization, and otherness, they will also examine the structures and institutions that show how race, class, nationality, gender, sexuality, and community shape the extent to which someone is visible. Students will read, speak, and write about fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama and can expect to write a compelling literary/rhetorical analysis essay by the end of the year. Students will also be able to write in other modes, styles, and genres. 

Course Level Essential Questions

  • What does it mean to be invisible?
  • How are people or groups made to feel “invisible” or marginalized by society, social institutions, and the “majority?
  • In what ways do invisible people become visible?

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Course Material Overview

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Unit 1

15 Lessons

Visibility & Invisibility in Short Texts

Students will explore the factors, people, things, and characteristics that make people more or less visible in the eyes of others through their reading of a plethora of short stories, poems, essays, and letters.

Unit 2

21 Lessons

Power, Alienation, & The American Dream in Of Mice and Men and The Central Park Five

Students will explore the complexity of power and its relationship to otherness and the American Dream through their reading of Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, excerpts of Sarah Burns' The Central Park Five and Ava Duvernay’s When They See Us. 

Unit 3

20 Lessons

Coming of Age and Patriarchy in Dominicana

Students examine what it means to come of age and be disenfranchised as a female undocumented immigrant in a community plagued by machismo culture. While reading Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, students will track pivotal moments in the psychological or moral development of the protagonist, Ana from youth to maturity, specifically noting when she recognizes her place in the world.

Unit 4

20 Lessons

Humor, Love, and Systemic Oppression in Born A Crime

Students explore the complexity of navigating race and racism within societies and analyze how Trevor Noah leverages elements of fiction such as characterization, figurative language, humor, symbolism, elements to develop his complex argument about racism and its impact on identity development through their reading of the memoir, Born a Crime.

Unit 5

Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Students explore the effects of patriarchy on societal expectations for women and engage with Shakespeare’s use of humor and wit including puns and innuendos through their reading of Taming of the Shrew and supplemental texts.

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