This course defines what students should understand and be able to do by the end of 12th grade. Knowledge acquisition should be the primary purpose of any reading approach as the systematic building of a wide range of knowledge across domains is a prerequisite to higher literacy. At this grade level, students are working with universal themes and archetypes. They are also continuing to build their facility with rhetoric, the craft of using language in writing and speaking, using classic literature, essays, and speeches as mentor texts.
This course is designed to be paired with Humane Letters 4 – History. Emphasizing the classical approach to teaching and learning, this course is devoted to reading, discussing, and writing based-on great works from Roman antiquity through the 19th century. In this course students strive to better understand the world around them through the evolution of the ideas of those who came before us. Through careful reading, thoughtful discussion, and persuasive writing, students will sharpen their abilities to think analytically and critically. Recommended texts for this course include, but are not limited to: Aeneid, Augustine’s Confessions, Aquinas’ Treatise on Law, Dante’s Inferno, Machiavelli’s Prince, the philosophy of Descartes, and The Brothers Karamazov (The recommended texts list entirely overlaps with Humane Letters 4—History, but the two complementary courses make use of these texts for different purposes).
The benchmarks in this course are mastery goals that students are expected to attain by the end of the year. To build mastery, students will continue to review and apply earlier grade-level benchmarks and expectations.
The Humane Letters course focuses on the great literature and texts of the American canon with special attention to the historical progression of the United States from its founding to the present. The course explores the ideas, principles, and stories that have shaped this nation into a modern republic and how these ideas are reflected in representative literature and primary source texts. Through careful reading, thoughtful discussion, and persuasive writing, students will sharpen their abilities to think analytically and critically. The curriculum acquaints students with the American tradition and encourages them to search for truthful conclusions concerning the critical questions and ideas raised during class discussions.
The primary mode of instruction in Humane Letters is the seminar, which is supplemented with direct instruction through lecture or coaching. The seminar format requires that students participate actively in their search for the fullest understanding of the texts under examination. While the instructor serves as a guide in this project, the students and the instructor together investigate and explore the many complex ideas presented in the texts.
The content should include readings from classic American literature and selected primary source documents, but not be limited to, the following:
- active reading of varied texts for what they say explicitly, as well as the logical inferences that can be drawn
- analysis of literature and informational texts from varied literary periods to examine:
- text craft and structure
- elements of literature
- arguments and claims supported by textual evidence
- power and impact of language
- influence of history, culture, and setting on language
- personal critical and aesthetic response
- writing for varied purposes
- developing and supporting argumentative claims
- crafting coherent, supported informative/expository texts
- responding to literature for personal and analytical purposes
- writing narratives to develop real or imagined events
- writing to sources using text- based evidence and reasoning
- effective listening, speaking, and viewing strategies with emphasis on the use of evidence to support or refute a claim in multimedia presentations, class discussions, and extended text discussions
- collaboration amongst peers
Honors and Advanced Level Course Note: Advanced courses require a greater demand on students through increased academic rigor. Academic rigor is obtained through the application, analysis, evaluation, and creation of complex ideas that are often abstract and multi-faceted. Students are challenged to think and collaborate critically on the content they are learning. Honors level rigor will be achieved by increasing text complexity through text selection, focus on high-level qualitative measures, and complexity of task. Instruction will be structured to give students a deeper understanding of conceptual themes and organization within and across disciplines. Academic rigor is more than simply assigning to students a greater quantity of work.
Literacy Standards in Social Studies:
Secondary social studies courses include reading standards for literacy in history/social studies 6-12, and writing standards for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects 6-12. This course also includes speaking and listening standards. For a complete list of standards required for this course click on the blue tile labeled course standards. You may also download the complete course including all required standards and notes sections using the export function located at the top of this page.
English Language Development ELD Standards Special Notes Section:
Teachers are required to provide listening, speaking, reading and writing instruction that allows English language learners (ELL) to communicate information, ideas and concepts for academic success in the content area of Social Studies. For the given level of English language proficiency and with visual, graphic, or interactive support, students will interact with grade level words, expressions, sentences and discourse to process or produce language necessary for academic success. The ELD standard should specify a relevant content area concept or topic of study chosen by curriculum developers and teachers which maximizes an ELL's need for communication and social skills. To access an ELL supporting document which delineates performance definitions and descriptors, please click on the following link: SS.pdf