English Curriculum at Apex High School
While the English curriculum may not seem captivating, so much work is put into the creation of one that works well and checks off all that is needed to be approved. Right now, the freshman curriculum is currently in a pilot program after having undergone construction for about five years. The books currently read in English I under this revised curriculum are: Of Mice and Men, The Marrow Thieves, and Macbeth. Along with those books, their last unit operates under a “literature circle” format, giving students the opportunity to choose between The Other Wes Moore, The Hate U Give, Swing, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Apex High School is one of several schools testing out this new program. The books are initially chosen off of a list of “vetted” or books that have been approved by the county and for schools, and then filtered out, making sure they fit the other requirements. The books must follow prominent themes all along high school with a personalized focus each year. These themes are home and family, culture and identity, tradition and progress, and conformity and rebellion.
The curricula proposed are teacher-made, meaning that your everyday teacher could be one of the ones piercing together what needs to be taught, and filling in why. These teachers who take on the task then must read all the books before approval. One of those teachers here at Apex High School, Mrs. Dott, helped provide the majority of my information on this article. Last year, she was co-head of the English department at the school.
Aside from the English I curriculum, the AP Language and Composition is created in a bit of a different way. Because it is an Advanced Placement class, AP Lang must follow the College Board guidelines and topics. One advantage to that is that the AP classes are allowed a bit more leeway in mature content. Because it is a college-level class, swearing and mature themes are greenlit to be taught; however teachers must have a backup book on hand in case a parent or guardian does not want their child to read the book assigned in the curriculum. Teachers must also be prepared to provide books to students who cannot find or afford their own physical copy of the books read.
Newer curriculums are now being made with more inclusivity in mind. The House on Mango Street was added to the freshman curriculum, noting that it fit well with the theme and age level as well as included a fresh perspective from a Latin American household. Many of the Literature circle books in English I reckon with social injustice and offer a variety of viewpoints. In AP Lang, In Cold Blood is offered as an option written by Truman Capote, an openly homosexual man. This reflects the ongoing push for more representation taught to kids.
Overall, the English curricula of any grade in high school are all well-developed plans, with many factors contributing to the book choice and lesson plans. Students may love or hate some of the books taught through the years, but regardless they each have an essential lesson attached to them, spanning into classes not touched on much in this article, like English II, III, and III. AP Literature also teaches a variety of classics, and there are many electives taught having to follow some of the same guidelines.
The overall selection process is very complicated but fascinating. So the next time you are assigned a book by your English teacher, consider the time and effort put into choosing it in order for you to get the best out of your classes.