The English Department believes that literature and language have the power to awaken and challenge students’ core values and beliefs by:

  • Empowering students to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Exploring and developing the potential of their writing through reflection and revision.
  • Understanding the value of literature within its historical and cultural context
  • Reinforcing standard English language skills for application in cross curricular concepts.
  • Preparing students for a twenty first century citizenship, including technological literacy.
  • Connecting to the human experience through the construction of personal meaning.
  • Fostering an appreciation of literature and language as consumers of well-constructed text.

The English Department strives to support the academic, social, and civic expectations of Berlin High School in all of its courses, particularly emphasizing reading critically, writing effectively, communicating clearly and persuasively, and using a variety of resources for academic, technological, and practical purposes.

Four full years of English (4 credits) are required for a Berlin High School diploma. They must be taken as part of the regular high school offerings as described in this booklet for all students enrolled in the high school. Additional courses or electives may be taken, but there is an expectation that one full credit of Berlin High School English be successfully completed during each year of high school.

Department Curriculum


BHS Seal of Biliteracy


English 9

HS01001G English 9
Full Year 1.00 credit

In this course, attention is given to writing and the development of communication skills including accurate language usage in written and oral form. A wide breadth of literature, primarily British and American, is read and studied. Comprehension and interpretation of fiction and nonfiction texts is a main focus throughout the year.

*Advanced English 9

HS01001E * Advanced English 9
Full Year 1.00 credit
Prerequisite: By recommendation of grade 8
Integrated Language Arts (ILA)teachers/counselors.

Students selected for this course work intensively on writing and literature at advanced levels. Considerable writing, including essays and research papers, is required. Critical interpretation skills are a main focus.

American Literature

HS01054G12 American Literature
Full Year 1.00 credit
Grade 10

This course includes instruction in communication skills and literature. There is a strong emphasis on American literature and the development of composition using the "writing as a process" approach. Vocabulary and essays are included in this course with a focus on American literature after 1900 during the second semester.

*Advanced American Studies

HS01002E * Advanced American Studies
Full Year 1.00 credit
Grade 10
Prerequisite: By recommendation of
grade 9 English teacher

This course integrates the study of American history and American literature. During the study of each theme, students have opportunities to develop their communication skills, including grammar, writing, oral presentations and discussions, vocabulary, composition, and critical analysis while studying the history, art and literature related to the themes. Research techniques and the development of SAT-level vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing skills are also emphasized

Junior Seminar: Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking

HS01003G Junior Seminar: Critical Reading,
Writing, and Thinking
Full Year 1.00 credit
Grade 11

Junior Seminar students will analyze multiple interpretations of stories, drama, poetry, and nonfiction pieces. They will gather relevant information from a variety of authoritative print and digital sources. Students will produce high quality written work in various rhetorical modes. They will use technology to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments and information. Students will initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

**Advanced Placement English Language and Composition

HS01005H ** Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Full Year 1.00 credit Grade 11

Prerequisite: By recommendation of grade 10 English teacher

This course is designed to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers

who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their reading and their writing should make students aware of the interactions among a writer’s purposes, audience expectations, and subjects, as well as how the generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing. Academic Expectations: Advanced Placement Language and Composition is a demanding course which will yield substantial benefits to the conscientious student. All students enrolled in this course are expected to demonstrate mature initiative, through preparation and willing cooperation. We expect each member of this class to take the Advanced Placement examination. Students are individually responsible for the costs associated with the Advanced Placement examination.

**Advanced Placement, UConn ECE English Literature and Composition

HS01006H **Advanced Placement, UConn ECE English Literature and Composition Full Year 1.00 credit Grade 12

Prerequisite: By recommendation of grade 11 English teacher

This course requires substantial and challenging reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing. Readings will include selections from various nonfiction as well as fiction genres. Students will consider the readings in light of a variety of critical approaches. Writing will be our primary medium for exploring meaning. Students will study and employ important grammatical, syntactic, and stylistic elements as a strategy to improve their own writing. Students will interact with the writing process across a range of compositional and assessment strategies. Students will satisfy the requirements for English 111, as described in the curriculum handbook of the University of Connecticut. English 111 is a seminar in writing about some of the world’s best literature. Academic Expectations: Advanced Placement, UConn ECE English is a demanding course which will yield substantial benefits to the conscientious student. Everybody involved in this course is expected to demonstrate mature initiative, thorough preparation, and willing cooperation. Students who complete this course with a “C” or better will be awarded University of Connecticut credit. As well, students who complete this course are prepared to take the Advanced Placement examination. We expect each member of this class to achieve University of Connecticut credit, as well as take the Advanced Placement examination. Students are individually responsible for costs associated with University of Connecticut credit and the Advanced Placement examination. Financial assistance is available for AP test fees with demonstration of need. Please see counselor.


HS04350G Mythology 1/2 year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

This course will focus on the various gods/goddesses and stories that form Greek mythology. Time will be spent focusing on the mythology of other cultures as well, including mythical religions from Rome, China, India and the Netherlands. Students will study and read interesting myths about the various deities, analyzing the creation of the gods/goddesses as a means of explaining how/why things happened on Earth. Included will be the study of the epic hero through the research of figures including Hercules, Perseus, Theseus, and Jason. Additionally, this course will take an extensive look at religious conceptions of hell derived from various cultures. Included in this section will be some studies of the various ideas involving creation and the Apocalypse. By the end of course, students will have a clearer understanding of what mythology is, why it was developed, and how it has survived in various forms throughout the centuries. Several writing assignments, a research presentation, videotape projects, and mythology web quests will be required to successfully complete the course.

Science-Fiction/ Fantasy

HS01061G Science-Fiction/ Fantasy 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

This course will explore the genres of science fiction and fantasy. It will focus on works by some of the greatest authors of science fiction and fantasy including, but not limited to, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip Pullman. We will explore the literary value of these works, study author style and craft, draw parallels between their world and ours, and examine their historical and social significance. Novels, short stories, film, and poetry will be essential in exploring these ideas. Students will be expected to engage in critical analysis and discussion of these works. The use of technology is heavily emphasized.

Issues and Methods in Writing and Peer Tutoring

HS01149G Issues and Methods in Writing and Peer Tutoring 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 10, 11 or 12

This course combines the exploration of writing studies with the application of tutoring skills. Working in collaboration with the Berlin High School Writing Center, students will read, reflect, and respond to influential essays from the fields of composition and tutoring studies. Students will conduct hands-on research, will examine practical approaches to peer tutoring, and will apply their knowledge by tutoring their peers in the BHS Writing Center. Constant self-reflection will act as a fundamental element of growth in this course. As a result, students in this course will gain new insight into their own writing practices, which will help them transfer what they know about writing from one course or subject to another. Students will also engage in the type of reading they are likely to encounter in college, namely expository essays, articles, and nonfiction books. Sophomores with teacher recommendations will be considered.


HS11101G Journalism 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

Sophomores with teacher recommendations will be considered. This course instructs students in the ethical questions and skills of journalism. Students will begin by exploring the history of journalism and censorship. Students will then engage in research; study and apply interviewing and reporting techniques; and compare the experience of writing for online media and traditional print. In addition, students will maintain the Redcoat Review’s online companion website. Students will develop skills in problem solving and critical thinking andcooperative learning.


HS01151G Speech 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

This class provides students with a chance to learn and practice the skills of public speaking. Students will analyze such literary concepts as audience, tone, bias, and purpose by asking students to analyze those elements in the works of others and then incorporate those into their own speeches. There is an emphasis on the writing process, peer collaboration and feedback, and oral presentation skills. The final exam for this course is a formal speech delivered to an audience of peers and teachers.

Theatre Arts

HS05051G Theatre Arts 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

Sophomores with teacher recommendations will be considered. This class allows students with an interest in theater to gain knowledge on all aspects of drama. It studies the history of theater from ancient to modern times, allowing students the opportunity to study classic Greek tragedies, Renaissance plays, and a variety of modern scripts. They will be expected to critically analyze the historical and cultural aspects of each piece. Students will also study improvisation techniques, set design, and theatrical production on and off the stage.

American Voices & Modern Issues

HS01065G American Voices & Modern Issues 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

American Voices & Modern Issues explores the diversification of the American culture by introducing students to key historical, cultural and literary events in our history through the experiences, eye witness accounts, and memories of those individuals who experienced them first-hand. The course includes thematic units that establish the historical, cultural, social, and political contexts of the changing voices of America through primary source documents, short stories, novels, memoirs, essays, and poetry. Students engage in discussions and debate about current issues and policies facing American society today. Students will connect literature with relevant current events that connect conflict, style, and theme.

Broadcast Journalism, Broadcast Journalism II

HS11149G12 Broadcast Journalism I HS11149G22 Broadcast Journalism II Semester I & II .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

This course provides students the opportunity to learn multiple aspects of broadcast journalism (television and radio) in three lab settings: the radio studio (WERB), the television studio, and the computer lab. With the guidance and knowledge of two teachers, a Technology Education and English teacher, students will engage in activity-based assignments focusing on: preproduction of broadcasting segments (scripting and creating storyboards), production (actual filming and recording), and post-production (revising and editing broadcasts). Additionally, students will learn interviewing skills, examine present investigative and news reporting, and consided ethical matters in broadcasting. Major projects include: producing live radio shows for WERB, TV production broadcasts from our Berlin High School studio, and video blogging on the WERB or Berlin Wall website. Guest speakers and field trips to local radio and television stations will supplement this course.

World Literature

HS01063G World Literature 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

This course considers emerging cultures that are becoming more prevalent in American society: the Middle East, India, South American, and Asia/Pacific Rim. Many of the texts are contemporary fiction, and each unit will study important historical and cultural contexts in order to comprehend each region’s style, moods, characters, and conflicts. Students will be involvedin regular research about cultures and countries.

Creative Writing

HS01104G Creative Writing 1/2 Year .50 credit Grades 11 or 12

Sophomores with teacher recommendations will be considered. A semester course designed as an outlet for student creativity. The goal is to provide opportunity, guidance, and feedback for student writers. The class will present various genres, styles, and activities to provide students with a wide range of inspiration for their writing. Students will share their writing with the class and have it discussed in a workshop setting. Through this setting, students will learn the importance of drafting and revision as well as the giving and taking of constructive criticism. Substantial amounts of writing and reading are required. Student selected texts will support their writing study in the areas of memoir, poetry, children’s literature, and a variety of modern genres. By the end of the course, students will be expected to produce a portfolio of writings from several different genres and submit to a local or national publication.

Sports Literature

HS01099G Sports Literature 1/2 Year .50 credit Grade 12

This course will focus on various pieces of non-fiction, based on historical American sports stories. Time will be spent focusing on a variety of sports, both collegiate and professional. The material will be in a variety of genres, such as memoirs, autobiographies, and news and magazine articles. Along with the required readings, students will be responsible for a number of writing assignments and a research presentation, using a variety of media formats. By the end of the course, students will have experienced a variety of literary genres, while focusing on many of the stories that have shaped American sports history. Sophomores and Juniors with teacher recommendation will be considered

Department Members:

Jamie Dirkson
Kelly Dumas
Christine Glass
Donielle Joslyn
Lauren Masterson
Evelisa Mayette
Laurie Piecewicz*
Jason Pires
Amanda Portal
Andrea Rodrigue-Johnson


  • The Writing Center - staffed by students, trained by staff to assist with writing across the BHS Curriculum