Academics
Curriculum

English

Department: English

Milken's English Program employs the power of language to sharpen sensibilities and create a capacity for civil and informed discourse. By expanding their vocabularies, evaluating texts, and writing essays, students embark on journeys of discovery toward insight and empathy. The program nurtures an analytical and emotional intelligence that supports learners in communicating effectively and understanding divergent points of view.

For the curious and creative, there are endless opportunities. Budding journalists communicate with the Milken and greater Jewish community through the publication of The Roar, Milken’s Upper School online newspaper. Creative writers and screenwriters are regularly published in the school literary magazine and in a variety of outside publications such as Fresh Ink for Teens and the selected works of the Scholastic Writing Award. Our nonfiction writers have published in The Jewish Journal, frequently won the Norman Alexander Award for Excellence in Jewish Student Writing, and have performed their personal essays at storytelling events similar to The Moth.

Milken’s English Program thrives by helping students put words to thoughts so they can communicate effectively and more confidently navigate the world around them.

Course Listings

List of 12 items.

  • English 6: Worldbuilding in Literature

    In English 6, students will read and analyze various literary texts informed by and connected to their social studies content of ancient civilizations. They will examine how authors build a world in their works through study of setting, character, and descriptive imagery. Through annotation practice, students will become skilled at noticing details in the text and analyzing authors’ choices to include them. In addition to writing for various purposes and audiences, such as narrative, persuasive, and poetic pieces, students will make the leap from expository to analytical writing through skills of evidence selection and thesisdriven compositions.
  • English 7: Dynamics of Power

    In English 7, students will examine the dynamics of power in relationships, be they interpersonal, governmental, or societal. They will read and analyze various literary texts connected to their social studies content of comparative political systems. Students will continue to annotate for key details and evidence of meaning, analyze literary characters and universal themes. In addition, they will also become skilled in using academic conventions in their literary analysis as they write in various genres.
  • English 8: American Identities

    English 8 provides students the opportunity to explore the various ways Americans express their identities, past and present. Through reading diverse American authors who span a variety of time periods and experiences, students will craft their own understanding of their Americanness as it intersects with other facets of their identities. Students will continue to develop their close reading and annotation skills as they read for literary devices, symbolism, and theme. They will continue to develop their academic writing skills as they move to thesis-driven essays and more complex analysis of literary texts. The course culminates in a poetry showcase where students write and perform their own poetic compositions.
  • English 9: Study of Genre

    English 9 focuses on analytical reading, writing, and familiarizing students with a variety of rhetorical modes and literary genres. Students explore themes within each literary work and genre. Significant time is devoted to practicing and honing the essay-writing process.
  • English 10: Hero in Western Literature

    English 10 traces the development of the hero in Western Literature from classical texts to the early 20th century. There is a strong focus on gender issues and how texts become a lens through which we question ourselves. Particular attention is paid to the development of increasingly sophisticated writing skills. Research approaches and techniques, including internet resources, are explored.
  • English 11: American Lit

    English 11 provides a lens for questioning what it means to be an American. Central to the course are the concepts of freedom, democracy, equality, race, gender, class, and religion--in addition to the question deciding who is able to claim, or is denied these freedoms. Another idea that the course centers on is the power of the spoken and written word: the seminal texts explored do more than mirror the issues facing the nation, they help construct the idea of America.
  • English 11: AP English Language and Composition

    Students study essays, memoirs, letters, speeches, short stories, poems, novels, plays, and visual media such as films, photographs, advertisements, comic strips, and music videos. Students write for a variety of audiences in a variety of modes, including speeches, personal narratives, expository essays, analytical essays, research-based position essays, and screenplays. Students develop a personal style and ability to analyze and articulate how the resources of language operate in any given text.
  • English 12: AP Literature

    Students hone their understanding of complex, canonical literature through analysis of sophisticated literary devices and application of college-level critical theory. Students gain a heightened awareness of the highly symbolic nature of literature as a means of understanding truths about themselves, their community, and human existence. Students foster a capacity for listening and challenging, trusting and contending. Co-requisite: H Adv Jewish Thought.
  • English 12: Marginalized Voices

    Students explore race, class, and gender as culturally and self-imposed markers of American identity. Students discuss each of these roles separately, moving toward discussions of the ways these identities intersect, and compete with each other.
  • Creative Writing + Magazine Publication (Elective)

    Students learn to generate and refine ideas into short stories and poems. Students produce a professional art and literary publication that reflects the creative work of those at Milken Community Schools. Students solicit and evaluate work for publication, and gain practical experience using InDesign software for editing, layout, and production. Students publicize and promote the finished product. The format of this elective takes many forms: small and large group activities, collaborative learning, dedicated writing time, and workshops. Creative Writing is a CSU/UC approved general elective and Magazine Publication is a CSU/UC approved visual arts elective. To fulfill the arts elective, students must take this semester course two times to equal a year of coursework.
  • Journalism (Elective)

    Students hone their ability to write clearly, prioritize and synthesize information, perform under deadline pressure, and compose articles in a variety of journalistic writing styles. The course focuses on reporting, research, interviewing, grammar, concise writing, web publishing, photography and video production. Students are expected to write both informally (in response to readings), and formally to produce a variety of reporting (features, interviews, columns, etc.) that is suitable for publication in the Milken Roar. This course is a CSU/UC approved general elective.
  • Screenwriting (Elective)

    Students learn idea generation, the elimination of writer’s block, scene writing, story structure, plotting, screenplay format, specialized writing skills (character, dialogue, etc.), the process of writing the first draft, evaluation skills, and creative rewriting techniques. Students engage in a writer’s boot camp building specific techniques and culminating in the creation of first acts and shorter pieces; students focus on producing a longer screenplay in level II. This course is a CSU/UC approved general elective.

English Department Faculty

List of 10 members.

  • Photo of Leora Smith

    Leora Smith 

    English Instructional Leader
    310.903.4800
  • Photo of Gabe Bitto

    Gabe Bitto 

    English Teacher, Upper School
  • Sophe Friedman 

    English Teacher
  • Photo of Ari Karpel

    Ari Karpel 

    English Teacher
  • Emily Levine 

    English Teacher
  • Photo of Joshua Marcus

    Joshua Marcus 

  • Photo of Tiffany Rogers

    Tiffany Rogers 

    Humanities Teacher
  • Andrew Terhune 

    Creative Writing/Magazine Publication Teacher
  • Photo of Caroline Wilcox

    Caroline Wilcox 

    Humanities Teacher
  • Photo of Grace Zanotti

    Grace Zanotti 

    English Teacher (Long Term Substitute)

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At Milken Community School, we think education is more than what you know. Our School, founded on Jewish values, is about who our children can become and how they can help others become who they might be. Because the world our children will create tomorrow is born in the School we build today, our mission is to educate our children so they can surpass us.