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Courses in all grades are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy. Students develop reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills that help prepare them for both career and further education. The consistent use of informational texts and vocabulary strategies in all grades helps to build reading and thinking skills in vocational and other academic subject areas as well as for state assessments. Literacy tasks emphasize the academic and critical skills needed to be successful in the real world and are differentiated in order to address students’ varying ability levels and learning styles.  



English 9                                   

Grade nine courses improve literacy skills through analysis of informational texts, fiction, literary-nonfiction, drama, and poetry. This involves explicit writing and reading activities that hone skills for the MCAS (reading comprehension strategies, test-taking strategies, and essay writing while synthesizing multiple texts) and also develop critical thinking and communication skills that inform their upcoming vocational and career goals. Critical evaluation of sources and research skills are also covered. The year starts with an integrated science and English unit using nature-themed texts to compare and contrast informational texts and literature. Students reflect on their exploratory experiences, helping them to developing self-awareness through reflection on their shop choice decision-making process.


Advanced English 9                                    

This course is for college-bound students and requires more rigorous reading and writing projects. It aligns with the English 9 curriculum, is supplemented with additional informational and literary texts, and includes more outside of school reading. Students are expected to perform writing tasks at a higher level of critical thinking, depth, and detail.

Grade 9 Writing

This course engages students in critical thinking and multiple forms of writing including fiction, interview, and memoir. It begins with a children’s literature unit focusing on the writing process, elements of fiction, consideration of audience and purpose, and theme. The next unit focuses on working using interviews to explore the meaning of work, work fulfillment, and work ethic. In the last unit, students engage in memoir-writing, paying particular attention to figurative language, literary elements and theme.  



English  10                                                               

Students focus on developing active reading and critical thinking skills while reading informational texts, fiction, drama, and poetry. Writing assignments engage students in synthesizing multiple texts, writing argument, descriptive, and narrative essays to prepare for the state test. Students also complete a research and writing project that helps them to build critical information gathering skills while increasing self-awareness. Analysis of literature includes understanding and analyzing theme, tone, main idea, character development, and figurative language.

Advanced English 10                                     

This course is for college-bound students and requires more rigorous reading and writing projects. It aligns with the English 10 curriculum, is supplemented with additional informational and literary texts, and includes more outside of school reading. Students are expected to perform writing tasks at a higher level of critical thinking, depth, and detail.


Grade 10 Writing

Writing courses are intended to engage students in critical thinking while developing writing skills that will translate to MCAS writing tasks, accurate research writing, public speaking skills, and improved literacy in all subject areas. The course begins with a media literacy unit in which students apply a critical lens to the persuasive powers of propaganda, then they develop and present advertisements using the techniques. For the next unit, students read a variety of informational texts and opinion pieces on a significant social problem, write a problem-solution paper on the topic they choose using the MCAS argument essay format. The final unit focuses on identifying, analyzing, appreciating, and writing a wide range of poetic forms. After drafting and revising their own poems, they will present them at a poetry reading café.



English 11                                                               

The eleventh grade curriculum is structured around increased understanding of the role that reading and literacy skills play in the classroom and in society as a whole. Students read and analyze fiction, non-fiction, and drama. A focus on informational texts culminates in a research project that allows students to explore the theme of sustainability as it relates to their careers and their roles as citizens. Early in the year, 11th graders write resumes and cover letters in preparation for mock interviews and co-op job applications later in the year.

Advanced English 11                                    

This is a course designed to meet the needs of students who are planning to attend college. It will focus on close reading of literature and how writing achieves its effects. Students will be expected to read and write extensively outside of class, while class time will be devoted to discussion, revising writing, and projects. This course will prepare students to use classical and contemporary literature as models for exemplary creative and analytical writing. PSAT/SAT verbal and composition preparation are included.  Advanced English 11 students have the option to move up to AP Literature 12, however, it is not a requirement.



English 12                        

The 12th grade curriculum focuses on the concept of embarking upon independence, in step with this important transitional period in students’ lives. The first unit focuses on the research writing process from start to finish. The topics are chosen independently, but are connected to students’ post-graduation goals. Students regularly practice the development of their organizational skills along with their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills while evaluating sources. Additionally, students read and analyze a major drama in order to study how writers use language to develop characters and themes as well as to study how universal truths about the human experience found in literature can transcend time and bring people together. The year ends with a novel/memoir in which they examine questions of truth, honor, and identity while practicing critical reading skills and composing writing that requires synthesis and reflections on themes addressed throughout the year.


AP English Literature and Composition, Grade 12                                         

AP Lit. is a demanding, college-level course certified by the College Board and intended for seniors who wish to refine their writing and reading skills, improve their vocabularies, and increase their facility with the written and spoken word. The course prepares students for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Exam in English Literature and Composition, which is administered in May. Students read, reread, and write analytically about challenging texts, engage in frequent, in-depth class discussions of those texts, and write numerous short and long critical essays. Although the course is designed to prepare students for the AP English Literature and Composition exam, the sustained focus of the course is one of the rewards and pleasures of examining literature with a critical eye and acquiring the skills to write and discuss them substantively. Students who enroll should have strong reading and writing skills, a level of comfort with the abstract, and a love for reading and rereading difficult texts.

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Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School

80 Locust Street,

Northampton, Ma 01060

Phone: 413-587-1414

Fax: 413-587-1406

Email: info@smithtec.org

Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex,gender identity, disability, religion or sexual orientation.