In literature, 12/13s students do in-depth readings of books selected because they are engaging and challenging for students at this age. Typical texts include: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Romeo and Juliet, Persepolis, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Will Grayson, and Lord of the Flies. A wide range of genres lets students examine important themes through different lenses. Students in this year go beyond reading comprehension and towards interpretation. They explore complex works using performance, visual analysis, and an exploration of elements of fiction. They are introduced to the writing of essays about literature. In addition, 12/13s students are expected read independently. In the fall, they participate in Bank Street’s mock Printz Award program. In the spring, they do themed independent readings which include historical fiction and books in verse.
Students write for many purposes and in many forms. In class, they often write to gather their thoughts or to process material in Social Studies and other classes. They write self-reflections, essays, journal entries, letters, and speeches by historical figures or characters. They answer comprehension questions and write responses to their readings. In this year, students sharpen their skills in research and hone their ability to organize the five-paragraph essay. They have many opportunities to practice both in-class essay writing and essays related to curricular content that they work on over time. In our poetry unit, they read poems that highlight aspects of specific forms and write their own poems to experiment with those elements. We work on revision and performance skills with a resident poet, culminating in a whole-grade performance at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. In the spring students complete a major research project on a historical topic of their choice from the 19th century.
Language Skills work in the 12/13s year includes completing the Wordly Wise 7 vocabulary curriculum. Students practice revision and editing skills, working independently, with their teachers, and with peers. Weekly grammar lessons allow students to practice with a concept or skill in class and at home.
Students participate in the mock Printz program. Working with Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, the children’s librarian solicits donations of current young adult books appropriate for 12/13s. Classroom teachers tailor the curriculum to their students’ needs. Students practice and refine their critical thinking and public speaking skills by evaluating and discussing books eligible for Bank Street’s mock Printz award.
By the 12/13s year, students are developmentally ready to work with formal grammatical structures. Students in French and Spanish become comfortable with grammatical terms and usage in each language. They put their expanding vocabulary to work with more opportunities for reading and writing.
In Spanish, the overarching theme of the year is a study of Spain. Students explore the cultural and geographic diversity of the Iberian Peninsula. They learn about Spain’s cities, architecture, cuisine, art, music, and festivals. As more formal grammar is introduced, students learn to correctly use verb tenses. Homework assignments reinforce grammar and writing skills. Final projects bring together the students’ knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and culture.
In French, this is the year when students begin to understand and apply grammatical structures in speech and writing. They conjugate regular and irregular verbs. They make decisions about adjective agreement and placement. They learn a range of idiomatic expressions. Grammar and vocabulary continue to be embedded in interesting content. Lessons may focus on French Impressionist Art, French cuisine, and West African folktales. Each lesson provides opportunities to speak and write creatively. Culminating projects may involve art, music, and cooking.