College-Preparatory Literature, Writing, and History
for High School Students
Click on the High School Curriculum Map to see how courses align; students who join North Fork School classes in middle school by the 2nd Year Program gain the most from our vertically-aligned core curriculum over the course of their middle and high school years. We believe that a slow, integrated, steady development of AP (college-level) skills is best begun in middle school, when academic habits are still forming.
To see an overview of North Fork School curricula, including which classes are offered for each grade level, please select this link to see the curriculum map:
Designed for students who have not yet experienced the North Fork School process, English I explores various literary genres through short stories, drama, essays, poetry, and novels. Students learn to take notes as they read, looking for evidence that supports their own personal interpretations of a text. Later in class, students will explore the many possible interpretations of the same text, learning, as they hear other points of view, to expand upon, support, or even change their ideas of textual meaning.
By writing summaries of their ideas, and learning to organize their arguments into longer, cohesive essays as the year progresses, students gain a gradual knowledge of clear, focused, essay-writing skills. Novels in English I include: The Outsiders, The Awakening, and Fahrenheit 451 or Wuthering Heights. Short Stories are taken from two anthologies: Perrine’s Story and Structure, and Wayside Publishing’s Little Worlds.
English I students also write a research paper on a topic of personal significance to their lives. By learning how to sort information and select valid sources, both from print media and from the internet, students begin to understand the significance of honest, thorough research. Students also learn interview techniques to use as they pursue their search for information from primary and expert sources.
Along with analytical essay-writing in English I, students begin to explore writing fiction. By working on fiction pieces and on poetry, students discover that their developing skills of organization, logic, and grammatical usage are as essential to creative writing as they are to literature analysis.
In addition to SAT-prep vocabulary, English I students will spend significant time on grammar skills, including identifying grammatical errors in writing, and diagramming sentences.
High school students are engaged in the process of discovering individual paths to the adult world. As they leave the restrictive boundaries of home and adult authority, they begin to synthesize a world-view that is uniquely their own. This course explores literature in which characters leave the protected environment of home to find their own way in the world.
Discussions of short stories and novels lead toward students’ learning how to find personally-significant themes that unite these apparently unrelated works. Novels include: The Catcher in the Rye, The Odyssey, The Little Prince, The Metamorphosis, and Things Fall Apart. Students write several essays relating and comparing various works, and develop their own essay questions & theses as themes emerge in the reading throughout the year.
A section on the poetry of Robert Frost and e.e. cummings further challenges students’ ideas of place, and allows them to begin the process of connecting poetic themes through analytical writing.
In addition to honing their analytical writing, students produce creative nonfiction (memoirs, travel pieces, interviews, and technical brochures), and spend significant time writing, editing, and grading SAT II-type essays under timed conditions. SAT-prep vocabulary, grammar skills (including identifying grammatical errors in writing), and diagramming sentences further strengthen students’ basic skills.
A careful study of both Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, and William Zinsser’s On Writing Well helps students begin to grasp the uses of excellent grammar & style in constructing their own prose. English II students also begin to explore publishing opportunities, especially those which provide editing response on returned pieces.
American History I continues where the Second Year Program ends, providing an overview of American history from Reconstruction to the present day. As a preparation for AP US History in the eleventh grade year, students will acquire excellent note-taking and outlining skills as they learn to prepare for exams which focus on cohesive, coherent essay writing.
Primary source readings will supplement readings from the American History textbook, and will be completed prior to class lectures; students will learn to use a “learning journal” approach to class preparation. Group study strategies, time management skills, and a thorough understanding of preparing good questions for class discussion are paramount.
A study of Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Steinbeck, Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, O’Connor, Faulkner, & American poets. This course integrates the needs of students who have acquired basic skills in NFS programs with those of students who have little background in literary analysis.
Students will read several works by each author, including short stories and novels, and will learn to take lecture notes on the both the backgrounds of authors, and on elements of the authors’ individual themes & writing styles.
By examining several stories and novels, students will discover patterns of theme and style in an individual author’s work. The study of each author will culminate with a 1000-word paper analyzing themes in various pieces; students will learn how to develop their own essay questions and theses as the year progresses.
English III requires an intense schedule of reading. Writing requirements include: a research paper that links literary criticism of an author's works with an in-depth analysis of one of those works ~ logical arguments in analytical and SAT II-type timed essays ~ selecting, writing, and editing successful college application essays ~ understanding how to do a detailed analysis of short literary passages, (a required element of the AP exam) ~ choosing, writing, and responding to creative nonfiction pieces ~ exploring publishing opportunities, especially those which provide editing response on returned pieces.
In Advanced Placement U.S. History, students develop analytical skills and acquire a thorough knowledge of United States History. The approach to this course includes, but is not limited to, developing substantial knowledge of social, cultural, economic and military events relevant to the history of the United States. In addition to the acquisition of factual skills, students will demonstrate reasoned and interpretive skills through the writing of precise and coherent analytical essays.
Primary source readings supplement the AP college level textbook and must be completed prior to class discussions and activities. Students are required to keep a detailed notebook. Practice AP exams and both free-response and document-based essays are completed throughout the year. In May, students may elect to take the College Board Advanced Placement exam.
AP Literature & Composition enables students to hone their ability to do college-level work. Students should expect challenging reading, which they will prepare in order to lead discussions; immersion in essay-writing and in oral exercises of essay development; poetry analysis; and grades which reflect motivation, tenacity, and performance. Expect to read -- a lot. Expect to write -- a lot.
Class includes significant portfolio writing of AP-type essays, which will be graded and reviewed for strengths and weaknesses, but will not be revised in the manner of previous NFS courses. The course will also include an in-depth study of poetry & poetic techniques, with an emphasis on analyzing techniques authors use, and the ways in which such techniques alter the reader’s experience of each poem (text is Perrine’s Sound and Sense).
Students will take a number of practice AP exams, including two full-length (three hour) practice exams as preparation for the real thing.
Readings for in-depth analysis include: epic poetry (Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight); plays (The Glass Menagerie, A Doll’s House, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Ernest, Death of a Salesman); novels (Frankenstein, Grendel, The Heart of Darkness, Beloved, Slaughterhouse Five); and selected short stories & essays, including Joyce’s Dubliners & Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
photo licensed by Creative Commons: Ile de la Cite by Moyen Brenn