Course Description: This course revolves around the central questions that are pertinent to all ninth graders: the issue of human conflict and the influences of environment upon decision-making. We focus on examining how humans content with benevolence, individualism, and harmony in relation to hostility, oppression, and contradiction. To explore these ideas, students read classical and contemporary works, apply reading strategies, implement skills of literary analysis and identify literary elements. The course involves the careful reading and discussion of the major literary genres including poetry, non-fiction, drama, the short story and the novel. Core works are: The Odyssey by Homer, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Students explore these as well as various supplemental texts to examine the nature of human conflict and if the negative consequences of conflict could be averted. Students compose literary analyses, and expository essays with a clear focus, logically related ideas and supporting detail, such as textual evidence to uphold their arguments. Students will use their knowledge of the standard conventions of the English language to edit their work. Students learn the essential study skills needed for high school success: listening, note-taking, organizing, highlighting, and planning as well as reading strategies such as predicting and making inferences. Other emphases include: MCAS preparation, instruction and review of grammar, sentence combining. Students gain experience with both writing process and writing on demand, they research the Victorian or Elizabethan worlds and enjoy creative writing. Library skills and technology use are other important facets of the course.