Good readers make good writers.

Using works of world literature, this course will examine themes of human experience and inquiry. We will explore literary voices through time and many cultures in an attempt to discover the ideas and ideals that make people similar, or that open doors to new ways of seeing and being. The literature will include novels, plays, stories and poetry by historical and contemporary authors from around the world.

This literature-based program provides instruction and experiences for students to build their listening, speaking, reading, writing and thinking skills. Students make connections to their own lives and times in reflective reader response journals, participate in threaded class discussions, use the writing process to produce fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and analytical writing, make extensive use of internet resources to conduct author studies, and actively work on vocabulary development. 

All texts provide an opportunity to identify and explain an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques. An analytical essay will accompany the reading journal at the completion of each of the texts. The list below is a partial list.


The Color of Water by James McBride

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos

Room by Emma Donoghue

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini



The course is devoted to intensive instruction in academic writing with an emphasis on critical thinking, interpretation, reflection, and argumentation. Through an extensive study of various forms of nonfiction and fiction texts, students discover ways to interact with texts and produce thought reflective, and critical essays. Students will become proficient in writing expository, analytical, and argumentative essays. Formal essays, timed analytical essays, and informal journaling are all requirements of this class.


Students will write a number of essays responding to the following:

  • Literary analyses on all major assigned texts
  • Persuasive essays
  • Expository essays focusing on rhetorical methods
  • A Research paper using the standard format for academic research papers and learn to integrate research into an original argumentative paper.
  • A paper synthesizing information from a variety of texts
  • Throughout the course, students will also engage in ongoing assignments including journals, informal writing, vocabulary lessons, and exam practice. This work, in addition to some tests and quizzes during the various units, will be assigned in addition to the major written assignments and projects.



Class discussion is an essential component of this course. Students will each lead a class discussion using prepared questions meant to inspire conversation regarding each assigned reading.



Students should read independent of the classroom. Students can naturally find they love to read and build confidence when they choose their own reading materials. And as a result, independent reading can help improve comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.


Do inquire when you are confused, curious, or unsure

Do show your knowledge by coming prepared with homework everyday

Do think about how to get to class everyday on time

Do communicate to enhance your learning

Do show you are principled and stand up for what you believe

Do have an open-mind and respect for all beliefs whether or not you agree

Do have caring for all

Do take risks; don’t be afraid to speak up in class

Do take time to balance learning with an activity outside of school and home

Do reflect on your growth

Ms. Bylaska
IB Coordinator
ELA/ESL Teacher
IB Office at the Y
(617) 635-9989