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English Department. Mary Ellen Phelan, Supervisor. A book is a gift you can open again and again. – Garrison Keillor. How to Read and Why.

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English department

English Department

Mary Ellen Phelan,


A book is a gift you can open again and again.

– Garrison Keillor

How to read and why
How to Read and Why

Teaching students to examine texts deeply, evaluate the author’s craft and purpose, and develop an understanding of greater themes and ideas are important reading skills that students need in order to comprehend and appreciate texts.

-- Christopher Lehman and

Kate Roberts

Falling in Love with Close Reading

The red wheelbarrow
“The Red Wheelbarrow”

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


-- William Carlos Williams, MD

Focus on the skills for the 21 st century
Focus on theSkills for the 21st Century

  • Career and College Readiness

  • Time Management

  • Research Writing

  • Critical Thinking

  • Effective Writing

  • Problem Solving

  • Analytical Skills

  • Media Fluency

  • Collaboration

  • Innovation

  • Creativity

Focus on the common core standards
Focus on the Common Core Standards

  • Reading: Literature

  • For example: Demonstrate knowledge of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-Century

  • texts and compare and contrast their themes and literary

  • approaches.

  • Reading: Informational Texts

    For example: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its

    development over the course of the text, including how it

    emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide

    an objective summary of the text. Informational texts to be the source of 70% of academic information across the school


  • Writing

    For example: Research projects to answer a question or synthesize multiple sources on a subject to

    demonstrate understanding of the subject under investigation.

  • Speaking & Listening

    For example: Use digital media strategically in classrooms to model the effective use of audio, visual,

    and interactive elements in presentations.

  • Language

    For example: Write and edit work so that it conforms to MLA style guidelines.

Our e ssential question how can data drive student achievement
Our Essential Question:How can data drive student achievement?

  • Reading

    -- How does literature connect to our everyday life?

    -- In a world of information overload, what are the essential questions?

  • Writing

    -- How can we help students connect their

    thinking to their writing?

    -- What tools and tactics will prepare our

    students to reach their academic potential?

  • Critical Thinking

    -- How can we help students recognize

    morality and aesthetics in their reading and


  • Listening and Presentation Skills

    -- What communication and multi-media

    skills do students need in the 21st Century?

  • Time Management

    -- How can we help students focus on achievement given the temptations of technology and

    social media?

Academic placement and criteria
Academic Placement and Criteria

College Prep for students who have a passing average in English; to advance to an Accelerated class in 10th grade, students need a 95% average in their 9th-grade College Prep course.

Accelerated for students who have at least an 80 average in English and a 7th-grade NJ ASK score of Proficient; to continue in an Accelerated class in 10th grade, students must maintain an 85% average in their 9th-grade Accelerated course; to advance to an Honors class, students need to achieve a 95% average in their Accelerated course.

Honors for students who have at least a 90% average in 8th-grade English, a 7th-grade NJ ASK score of Advanced Proficient, and a teacher recommendation. To continue in an Honors class in 10th grade, students need a teacher recommendation and an average of at least 85%.

Students who are dropped from Honors to Accelerated or from Accelerated to College Prep will need a teacher recommendation and an an average of 95% to move into the more rigorous class in the next school year.

English sequence
English Sequence

All students take four years of English. Students are assessed annually for placement in the next appropriate level.

All students are encouraged to enroll in electives.

  • 9th Grade: College Prep, Accelerated, Honors

  • 10th Grade: College Prep, Accelerated, Honors

  • 11th Grade: College Prep, Accelerated, AP Language and Composition

  • 12th Grade: College Prep, Accelerated, AP Literature and Composition

Ninth grade syllabus fiction nonfiction drama short stories and poetry
~~ Ninth-Grade Syllabus ~~Fiction, Nonfiction, Drama, Short Stories, and Poetry

English department electives
English Department Electives

All students are encouraged to participate.

Creative Writing I and Creative Writing II

Women and Gender in Western Literature

Shakespeare I and Shakespeare II

Philosophy I and Philosophy II

MultiCultural Literature

Fantasy/Science Fiction

American Humanities

Graphic Novels

Visual Image


English department clubs
English Department Clubs

Philosophy Club

Diversity Club

Anime Club

School Newspaper: The Arrowhead

Literary Magazine: Folio

Fusion Club for the Arts

Closing thoughts xcvii by emily dickinson
Closing Thoughts“XCVII” by Emily Dickinson

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, --

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few.

Questions comments
Questions / Comments

My office is always open.

Feel free to contact me.

908-647-4800, ext. 6849


  • mphelan@whrhs.org.