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Intermediate Literature, Writing
(offered every year)

Taught by Andrew O'Brien

Taught by Andrew O'Brien

Why take intermediate lit?

Join us on an amazing survey tour of the world, where our motto will be “Build the mental timeline!” Over two academic years, our goal is to begin at the beginning, as we explore the rise and fall of major civilizations from the time of the earliest farmers in Mesopotamia right up through the Age of Exploration and the discovery of the New World. What did these cultures value? What lasting contributions did they make? How does Western Culture as we know it harken back to those who went before us in Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance or Reformation times? How have changes in the human understanding of law, community, and our relationship to God shaped the world we live in today?  Perhaps most importantly, what can we learn from history about living ‘the good life’ ?   

Our in-class work will consist of lively discussion to unpack some great texts and slideshows developed by the instructor in our dynamic community of learners.  The at-home student work of this course will be to channel those vibrant discussions toward creating an Archive: an artifact of learning in the form of a bound book.  We will dedicate a double page spread to the history under study each week which might include maps, sketches, important events, diagrams, or drawings as the student chooses.  Guidance will be given each week about “sifting information” so as to make good choices to add to the Archive. Techniques will be presented on clever and creative ways to present information in order to create a personal keepsake that represents real learning.  One double page spread of work is assigned each week, along with 10 or so pages of reading preparation.  

Course Summary

Intermediate Literature and Writing is a reading and writing course for 8th and 9th graders that serves as a bridge between New Hope's Middle School Literature and Writing and the high school language arts programs. Students discuss works including Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, and To Kill a Mockingbird while refining their skills of critical thinking, writing, and debating. Students write in a variety of genres, and the course is designed to increase the ability of students to work as independent learners.

Major topics covered

Our major topics are tied to our readings and paper assignments, but conversations range from theories of growth and challenge, epistemology, how to spot and understand symbolism, how to empathize and why to bother, if we are products of our genes or our environment, what "othering" is and how to overcome it, and more.

Major skills developed

Students will have guidance in reading and understanding difficult passages of prose and poetry--reading between the lines and understanding the relationship of seemingly disparate ideas within a piece. They will learn to understand the value of separating the literature from their immediate impressions about it. We will write persuasive essays, literary analyses, short stories, poems, and more. Each of these written genres is a skill in its own right, demanding different processes, techniques, and goals. Students will be given guidance and structure at the beginning of the year, and as the year progresses, they will be expected to do more and more work on their own.  The goal of this process is to equip students for success and allow them to enjoy the benefits of independence as the year progresses.

Book list

Short Stories, Essays and Poetry, Instructors choice [handout]

A Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter ISBN 1400077885

A Separate Peace by John Knowles ISBN 0743253973                                                                      As You Like It (No Fear Shakespeare) ISBN 1897377770                                                                Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ISBN 0141441143

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo ISBN 141650026X                                                                          Lord of the Flies by William Golding ISBN 0571056865                                                             Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Burton Raffle ed.) ISBN 9780451531193                                                             To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ISBN 0060935464
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  • two main objectives: develop critical literacy and thoughtful written expression

  • read some of the greatest works published in English

  • develop confidence in writing academic essays

  • improve the quality of our writing through skills acquisition

Course Description

Intermediate Literature, Writing is an 8th/9th grade reading and writing course which attempts to develop critical literacy and thoughtful written expression. These two objectives are always balanced by the overall purpose of the language arts: to hone skills of communication. Because reading and writing are so closely tied together, students will always work to improve their writing when they are dealing critically with a literary text and, through excellent writing, they will learn to be strong readers.

This course will introduce more mature literature than offered in our MS literature class, and will engage more complex contexts for various writing genres. Writing assignments cover a wide range of written expression geared toward the students’ specific ability levels: reflection, exposition, persuasion, literary analysis, narrative, poetry, etc. This class prepares students to begin to do mature literary analysis and to communicate this analysis through writing. Students who fulfill all requirements of this class will demonstrate the skills needed for the high school level English courses-of-study offered by New Hope.

Students will write approx. 1 ½ to 2 ½ typed pages every two to three weeks. Assignments will vary, sometimes connecting to the reading curriculum and sometimes independent from it. At least one longer paper will replace this pattern, giving students the time they need to work on a more complex and far-reaching essay. I will teach basic concepts behind persuasion, expression, exposition, theme writing, narrative and verse, and I will ask students to write within these genres (at their ability levels). Students will have the option of sharing their writing with the class, although this is almost never mandatory. Outlining, paragraphing, and effective syntax (sentence structure) will be stressed and taught.

This course includes some of the most delightful works of our literary tradition. Books like Les Miserables and Jane Eyre are fondly remembered as the years go on. To Kill a Mockingbird is most often identified as students’ favorite book of all their years of literary study. These are the books which have served so well in teaching students how to read novels, and most of them are books I never grow tired of reading.

The Last Leaf

If you are new to New Hope, please download the following PDF and return it to the office along with your application.

Book List

Short Stories, Essays and Poetry, Instructors choice [handout]
A Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter ISBN 1400077885
A Separate Peace by John Knowles ISBN 0743253973 As You Like It (No Fear Shakespeare) ISBN 1897377770 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ISBN 0141441143
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo ISBN 141650026X Lord of the Flies by William Golding ISBN 0571056865 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Burton Raffle ed.) ISBN 9780451531193 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ISBN 0060935464