Ninth Grade Composition and Literature (E9)

I. Introduction:

The transition from middle school to high school is a significant and, in many cases, difficult one for young people. They come to us with all sorts of expectations — some outrageous, some legitimate. They are, at once, apprehensive and excited about the coming years at the high school. With respect to academics, ninth grade students come needing more exposure to the literature of their own and other cultures; further instruction in basic and higher writing skills; and development of their ability to think and to read abstractly and critically. The ninth grade program was conceived with these emotional, psychological, and academic factors in mind.

Ninth grade English emphasizes writing and reading. Writing instruction gives students important writing skills and trains them in a variety of types of writing. Specific writing assignments are organized under the broad categories of informal, formal and creative writing.

The literature instruction concentrates on the intensive reading of literature, which may be organized around a specific theme, such as justice and vengeance, choice and responsibility, prejudice, family relations, and love. Literary study emphasizes the analysis of the various aspects of works, such as style, structure, and setting.  Students respond to the literature with various kinds of writing.

Successful completion of E9 will prepare students to meet the reading and writing requirements of the upperclass elective program, from which students, as tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders, will choose — with teacher input and guidance — specific courses that are appropriate for their individual needs and interests.

II. Writing

Rationale and Goals

It is important for students to be able to write in a variety of modes, as a means both of communication and of self-discovery. Writing is a tool students will use throughout the Lincoln-Sudbury curriculum, as well as in college and the work place. Writing researchers have divided writing into three basic categories: informal, formal, and creative. Research also shows that professional writers view writing as a stage-by-stage process and that students should develop writing in this manner. For additional information on the writing process, see the description of the writing process on the supplements page.

The goals of the writing instruction, therefore, are as follows:

  • To give students practice in informal, formal, and creative writing;
  • To teach them, through practice, the value of a process approach to writing;
  • To give them practice in specific writing skills, such as logical organization, diction, figurative language, precise punctuation, parallelism, transitions, conciseness, use of textual evidence, use of forms of citation, etc.;
  • To make them more at ease with the act of writing;
  • To make them intelligent editors of their own writing; and
  • To help them appreciate the importance of clear, expressive writing as a means of thinking independently and communicating in a real, personal voice.


Teachers use a combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing during which students may receive individual help with their writing. Specific methods or techniques used commonly by teachers include the following:

  • requiring and responding to drafts of compositions;
  • using writing conferences;
  • organizing students into peer editing groups;
  • grading for specific criteria only;
  • using writing models to teach a specific form of writing;
  • using literature as a springboard to writing assignments; and
  • using technology productively and responsibly (see English Department statement on plagiarism and cheating).

Specific Types of Writing

Specific types of writing that teachers may require students to do are listed below by broad category (informal, formal, creative).


  • journal
  • letter
  • personal narrative
  • satire
  • interview
  • dialogue
  • free response


  • expository essay
  • persuasive essay
  • descriptive essay
  • critical (analytical) essay
  • essay test


  • poem
  • short story
  • one-act play
  • myth/legend
  • song lyrics
  • new ending to a short story/novel
  • another scene for a play
  • parody
  • rewrite of a story using a different setting or point of view

III. Literature

Rationale and Goals

The broad goals of the study of literature are as follows:

  • To introduce students to the study and close analysis of novels, short stories, lyric poetry, drama, nonfiction, and film;
  • To expose students to a variety of perspectives on the social, ethical, and philosophical issues that the literature addresses;
  • To help students clarify their own thinking about such issues;
  • To help students become more proficient at abstract and critical thinking;
  • To acquaint students with the formal elements of literature and to help them understand how these elements combine to produce a work of imagination which is moving and meaningful;
  • To foster students’ development as writers through literature;
  • highlighting the inclusiveness that is a crucial feature of our curriculum, e.g., gender, race, class and culture; and
  • To reinforce the Mission and Core Values of L-S.


Teachers use some combination of discussion, lecture, and student presentation or group activity. Discussion is generally the primary means of instruction. The discussion questions range from the specific and technical to the broad issues raised by a piece of literature. Students may work in groups to analyze a work and to present their interpretation to the class. Student groups may have a longer term project, such as performing a scene or act of a play, writing their own short play, or making a film that draws on material of the course.

Students use some of the forms of writing to respond to the literature. Teachers evaluate students’ grasp of the reading through writing assignments and through their participation in class discussion.


Students are expected to participate in all classroom activities. Students will be required to read regularly. There will be a minimum of four to six major writing assignments per semester.


Most readings for E9 are drawn from the following list:

  • African Myths
  • Animal Farm, Orwell
  • Antigone, Sophocles
  • Annie John, Kincaid
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Sáenz
  • Assistant, Malamud
  • Au Revoir Les Enfants, Malle
  • Catcher in the Rye, Salinger
  • Children’s Story, Clavell
  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Haddon
  • Dear Martin, Stone
  • Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury
  • Feed, M.T. Anderson
  • The Hate You Give, Thomas
  • Homegoing,Gyasi
  • House on Mango Street, Cisneros
  • Inherit the Wind, Lawrence and Lee
  • Into the Wild, Krakauer
  • Iron and Silk, Salzman
  • Julius Caesar, Shakespeare
  • Gathering of Old Men, Gaines
  • Lord of the Flies, Golding
  • Lost in Place, Salzman
  • Metamorphosis, Kafka
  • Night, Wiesel
  • Nine Stories, Salinger
  • Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck
  • Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway
  • Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry
  • Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
  • Separate Peace, Knowles
  • Tale of the Unknown Island, Saramago
  • Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare
  • Things Fall Apart, Achebe
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini
  • Twelve Angry Men, Rose
  • Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons
  • White Deer, The, Thurber
  • You’re Welcome, Universe, Gardner


  • Au Revoir Les Enfants
  • Big
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Elephant Man
  • Field of Dreams
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Great Expectations
  • Grizzly Man
  • Hand, The
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Into the Wild
  • Julius Caesar
  • Last Days, The
  • Life is Beautiful
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Outsiders
  • Princess Bride, The
  • Rain Man
  • Raisin in the Sun
  • Real Women Have Curves
  • Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli and Luhrmann versions)
  • School Ties
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Slamnation
  • Stand and Deliver
  • Stand by Me
  • Taming of the Shrew (Zeffirelli)
  • Ten Things I Hate About You
  • Twelve Angry Men
  • Wall-E
  • West Side Story

rev. 10/17

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