HS English

The English program at Innovation Academy introduces students to a wide range of reading and writing while engaging students in extensive writing assignments and in-depth, project-based learning. Throughout the program, we place a strong emphasis on the revision process: teaching students not just to reword but to re-think as they work through multiple revisions of papers.


English courses at the high school are organized as semester-long electives. Electives are divided by age-level, with courses offered to 9th & 10th graders and 11th & 12th graders.

Standard English Electives

Electives enable students to focus on depth over breadth, delving into depth with a skill, genre, literary movement, or historical moment of interest and importance.

Electives have focused on movements and time periods, as in courses on Modernism and 21st Century Literature, on kinds of writing and analysis, as in courses on Rhetoric and Argument and on Gender, or on specific texts or authors, as in electives on Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s Othello.

Writing Workshops

Writing Workshops allow students to get large amounts of practice and feedback on their writing. Writing Workshops include substantial amounts of class time devoted to writing itself as well as teacher conferences, peer feedback, and close study of model texts.

Writing Workshops approach the skill of writing from many different angles. We have offered everything from Real World Writing and College Writing, aimed at providing practical skills to all students, to The Art of the Essay and The Craft of Fiction, which explore literary genres in depth.

Standard English Strands

Work in English encompasses a wide range of skills that are hard to summarize in a single grade. To help student and teachers communicate clearly about important skills and expectations, assessment is divided into four strands.

  • Analysis

    Students are asked to read and understand “texts” in a variety of genres and media. All analysis begins with comprehension: a solid understanding of facts, ideas and themes. Students build deeper and more complex analysis by looking carefully at contexts, by drawing on their own personal experience, and by developing their understanding of genre and conventions.

  • Composition

    First and foremost, students work to write with clarity and coherence, showing an understanding and a respect for their readers. Furthermore, students work to express their ideas in a range of media, from business letters to poetry and from podcasts to film. In all their works, students pay close attention to content, structure and convention.

  • Oral Expression

    Throughout English class, students must express their ideas orally, in formal and informal discussions, in debates, in presentations, and even through acting. Oral expression assessments ask students to speak clearly and thoughtfully, and to listen closely to the ideas of others. Students are expected to demonstrate respect, poise, and clarity in the way they address their peers and teachers in both formal and informal settings.

  • Work Habits

    The Work Habits strand reflects the effort students put into completing homework, studying regularly, and working in class. In English, we put special emphasis on reading thoroughly and consistently and on working hard throughout the writing process, including in brainstorming, planning, and revising stages.

Writing Workshop Strands

Work in writing workshops is assessed in four strands that focus on the elements of good writing.

  • Content
    Good writing begins with clear thinking. The content strand focuses on the meat of student writing: how clear and logical their ideas are, how well developed their details, and how well suited their words are to their task. The nature of the content strand depends strongly on the kind of writing being assessed: in a short story, content is the development of experiences, events and characters; in a thesis paper, content is the complexity of thinking, the clarity of logic and the strength of research.
  • Structure

    No single formula can help students write for all tasks. Rather, students must learn to organize their ideas according to their purpose and their audience, finding the best way to lead a reader forward. Whether writing a poem or an editorial, students must consider how to engage and orient their reader, how to guide them through the various ideas, images or actions that make up their text, and how best to conclude. Strong organization often requires careful planning or major revision as students think and rethink how best to present their ideas.

  • Language & Conventions
    Students must develop a strong grasp of the fundamental conventions of standard English for capitalization, punctuation and spelling. In addition, students work to improve their command of grammar and a rich vocabulary. Students also should know how to adjust their language, including word choice, tone and grammar, to fit their purpose and audience. The conventions of standard English are taught and assessed not in isolation but throughout the writing, revising and editing process.
  • Work Habits
    The Work Habits strand reflects the effort students put into completing all assignments in their workshop classes, including readings, discussions, presentations, and, of course, writing. Students are expected to work extensively on their writing both during in-class writing time and at home. Learning to write well means not just working hard, but also planning carefully, paying attention to detail, persisting in the face of difficulties, and using time effectively.