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Courses

English at CMHS...

At Cheyenne Mountain High School, students learn to read critically and imaginatively, to write cogently in their own voice, and to participate fully in classroom discussion—both by articulating their own thoughts and feelings and by listening to those of their classmates. The basic teaching strategy of the English department is one of critical thinking and active engagement of the students in the learning process.  Cheyenne Mountain High School allows students and teachers to work together on a personal level to achieve the departmental goals by meeting the individual needs of the students.

The English Department prepares students to be informed, discerning, analytical, and enthusiastic readers who write clear, precise, original, and fluent prose. Students participate in a variety of activities and projects to complement their reading and extend their experiences with an understanding of the works they read. In addition to the systematic study of vocabulary and grammar, student work includes analytical and creative writing, informal journal entries, small and large group discussions, dramatic presentations, speeches and oral reports, and debates.

Course Descriptions

English I: College Preparatory Freshman Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English 8

Ninth grade English serves as an introduction to the basic genres of literature: novels, short stories, drama, poetry, and non-fiction. Core literary works may include Anthem, The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, Romeo & Juliet, and Lord of the Flies. The study of vocabulary and the mechanics of grammar both in and out of context are focal points of the curriculum. Ninth grade students practice and develop both analytical and creative writing skills, experimenting with style and genre as they navigate the writing process, especially cause and effect. This course includes the integration of literary theory, specifically psychoanalytic theory and Marxist literary theory. The thesis statement and the paragraph are refined throughout the year in conjunction with the five-paragraph essay, the fundamental organizational form of expository writing. Students are also introduced to the essentials of MLA formatting.


English I: Honors Freshman Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English 8 Honors

Honors English classes differ from those at the College Preparatory level not only in pacing, but also in much higher expectations for complex, sophisticated approaches to all assigned work.  There are, therefore, much more stringent measures of assessment.  Honors students must:  
Have initiative and be willing to take responsibility for their own progress

  • Be self-disciplined
  • Have exemplary writing and communication skills
  • Possess the ability to critically analyze and actively discuss issues
  • Be internet and computer literate
  • Be problem solvers
  • Practice self advocacy

In addition to the college preparatory core readings, Honors students may read A Tale of Two Cities and an additional Shakespearean drama.  Summer reading assignments will be posted online.  Prerequisites for placement in Honors English include: exemplary performance as an eighth grade student and teacher recommendation. Transfer students must show evidence of necessary reading and writing skills on an Honors entrance assessment.

The Honors/AP track sequence of courses focuses on the observation and selection of the concrete details that make writing vivid. Students practice the use of such details in a variety of assignments that may include descriptions, narratives, letters, journal entries, expository paragraphs, and essays. They also write a freshman paper of 3-5 pages in length, short in-class essays, and overnight responses to their reading. Assigned readings often complement the emphasis on writing from experience.


English II: College Preparatory 10th grade World Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English I

In this sequence of courses, readings introduce broader and more complex personal and social issues. The reading list includes plays by Shakespeare.  Students are required to read closely, to develop their ability to deal with abstractions and symbols, and to derive from them a specific understanding of the thematic concepts they represent. Summer reading assignments will be posted online.

College Preparatory 10th grade World Literature and Composition also includes an intensive writing focus. The writing assignments—ranging from personal narratives and personal essays to letters, editorials, poetry projects, and responses to the readings—encourage awareness of audience and exploration of perspective. In the spring term, students will write a sophomore paper of 4-6 pages in length as well as other in-class and out of class writing assignments. Through the creation of a variety of expository and compare and contrast essays, students explore their own authentic voices and attend to the requirements of good writing, including proofreading and revision, logic and coherence, originality, depth and complexity of thought, and the effective use of textual evidence.


English II: Honors 10th grade World Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English I Honors

Honors English classes differ from those at the College Preparatory level not only in pacing, but also in much higher expectations for complex, sophisticated approaches to all assigned work. Summer reading assignments will be posted online.  There are, therefore, much more stringent measures of assessment.   Honors students must:

  • Have initiative and be willing to take responsibility for their own progress
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Have exemplary writing and communication skills
  • Be able to critically analyze and actively discuss issues
  • Be internet and computer literate
  • Be problem solvers

In addition to the regular core readings, Honors students may read additional novels and an additional Shakespeare.  Summer reading assignments will be posted online.  Prerequisites for placement in Honors English include: exemplary performance as an eighth grade student and scores of High Proficient or Advanced on CSAP reading/writing. Transfer students must show evidence of necessary reading and writing skills on an Honors entrance assessment.

This sequence of courses focuses on the observation and selection of the concrete details that make writing vivid. Students practice the use of such details in a variety of assignments that may include descriptions, narratives, letters, journal entries, and expository paragraphs, and they gain experience in distinguishing showing from telling. They also write a sophomore paper of 3-5 pages in length, short in-class essays, and overnight responses to their reading. Those readings often complement the emphasis on writing from experience. Honors 10th grade World Literature and Composition focuses on short stories, poetry, and several plays of Shakespeare; novels may include Les Miserables and The Kite Runner. Discussions and lessons on these texts then prepare students for the process of writing.


English III: College Preparatory 11th American Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English II

College Preparatory 11th American Literature and Composition undertakes the study of American literature through the historical survey. This course celebrates the infinite variety and experimental visions of American writers suggested include the Native American oral tradition, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Dickinson, Whitman, Twain, Fitzgerald, Williams, Silko, and Baldwin. The predominant thematic undercurrent involves an exploration of social intelligence and conformity versus natural intelligence and individuality. Major characters—artists of the beautiful—show us ourselves, as they attempt to understand who they are through the power of the imagination and the myths of a self that transcends reason. Summer reading assignments will be posted online.

Composition focuses intensively upon rhetorical analysis essay writing. English III will focus on a 6-8 page paper and is predicated on logical progression of an original argument and the convincing employment of textual evidence. Creative assignments venture into fable/myth and poetry. Readings may include The Crucible, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, the drama of Tennessee Williams, and poetry and short stories from the Puritan tradition through the proliferation of multicultural voices of the twenty-first century.

In order to put its most able students in the strongest possible position to apply to competitive colleges, Cheyenne Mountain High School offers a broad range of Advanced Placement courses in which students may earn transferable college credit. Each year the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey, provides examinations that are given to students who are enrolled in Advanced Placement courses.


English III: AP® English Language and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English II or English II Honors

Students in this introductory college-level course read and carefully analyze a broad and challenging range of nonfiction prose selections, deepen their awareness of rhetoric and how language works. Course readings feature expository, analytical, personal, and argumentative texts from a variety of authors and historical contexts. Students examine and work with essays, letters, speeches, images, and imaginative literature. Through close reading and frequent writing, students develop their ability to work on language and text with a greater awareness of purpose and strategy, while strengthening their own composing abilities.

As this is a college-level course, performance expectations are appropriately high, and the workload is challenging. Students are expected to commit to a minimum of five hours of course work per week outside of class. Often, this work involves long-term writing and reading assignments, so effective time management is important. Because of the demanding curriculum, students must bring to the course sufficient command of mechanical conventions and an ability to read and discuss prose.

Advanced Placement Language and Composition enables students to learn at a rate commensurate with their ability; to deal with material that intellectually mature students find engaging; to refine reading and writing skills important for success, not only in college but also in the business and professional world; AND to cultivate habits of reading, writing, and thinking that characterize life-long learning and enjoyment.

Reading Assignments:
Students will read from essays to prepare for class. Summer reading assignments will be posted online.  For all discussions, students should consider the following topics: thesis, audience, purpose, structure, rhetorical strategies, logical fallacies, significant examples, syntax, and diction.  Each student will be expected to make creative and insightful comments using textual evidence on all of the readings.  Daily and weekly reading quizzes will test student comprehension.  Categories of readings will follow the published AP course curriculum and contain representative readings from history, biography and autobiography, essays, critics, journalists, science and nature writers.


English IV: College Preparatory 12th Grade European Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite: English III or English III Honors

This is a course devoted to the study of classical and modern literature that have helped to shape and define Western culture, with an emphasis on critical-thinking. All seniors not enrolled in AP English take a year devoted to the study of British and European literature.

Students read, discuss, and write about texts from Beowulf to Atonement, including Hamlet and 1984. Texts such as these have moved the Greek epic to the English tradition, created new traditions by structurally integrating old ones, foreseen the vision of modern man, and warned the future of totalitarian societies. Additionally, students will encounter poetry, drama and expository prose spanning from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, rounding out an overall study of traditional Western thought in art.

This course stresses preparation for writing college-level analytic, expository, and argumentative essays, including studies of non-fiction pieces. Students will also have the opportunity to write creatively, particularly focusing on the college essay. Indeed, reviews for college entrance exams will accompany students’ reading and writing. Finally, students will gain experience writing the MLA-documented 8-page research paper based on a novel or non-fiction work/s of acceptable literary merit.


English IV: AP English Literature and Composition
Two semesters, one credit
Prerequisite English III, English III Honors or AP Language

An AP English Literature and Composition course engages students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.

This reading necessarily builds upon the reading done in previous English courses. In their AP course, students read works from several genres and periods—from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, but, more importantly, they get to know a few works well. They read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form. In addition to considering a work’s literary artistry, students reflect on the social and historical values it reflects and embodies. Careful attention to both textual detail and historical context provides a foundation for interpretation, whatever critical perspectives are brought to bear on the literary works studied.

Writing to understand a literary work may involve writing response and reaction papers, along with annotation, freewriting, and keeping some form of a reading journal. Writing assignments focus on the critical analysis of literature and include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. Some of the writing is informal and exploratory, and some involves research; much writing involves extended discourse in which students develop an argument or present an analysis at length. In addition, students will write under time constraints that they encounter on essay exams. Although critical analysis makes up the bulk of student writing for the course, well-constructed creative writing assignments may help students see from the inside how literature is written.