Eleventh Grade Course Descriptions

American Literature

Grade 11 English is an American literature course designed around the essential question, “What does it mean to be American?” In tackling this broad question, we will study important American texts with thematic links that form a coherent (though limited) narrative of the American experience. In each of the major texts we read, we will look closely at the relationship between the individual and society. Ultimately, these are texts about marginalized people struggling for representation as “Americans.” Students will attempt to question, identify, and understand the American experience, as well as discover how their own identities have been formed and represented in America. Additionally, students will spend a sixth hour of English 11 focusing on reading and understanding a variety of nonfiction texts in order to better prepare them for the rigorous reading they will do in college. Throughout English 11, students will develop the skills of critical thinking and analytic reasoning, as well as college-level reading, writing, research, and speaking.


The 11th grade physics course will introduce students to the fundamental physical principles of our universe. The course is designed to help students construct knowledge about how the world around us functions, while simultaneously teaching important skills and real-world applications. We will strive to understand why things fall, how the school building holds itself up, why the sky is blue, and many other topics. There are four main content areas that the course will center on. The first is motion – we will study the tiny motion of particles as well as the massive motion of the planets. We will also delve into concepts like energy and momentum, while relating our learning to modern issues like alternative fuels and the energy crisis. A second major content area is waves and vibrations. We will learn about sound and light and how we can use and manipulate them. Third, we will study thermodynamics. How do engines work? Why do things explode? Lastly we will study electromagnetism. We will learn about circuits, magnets, and other important parts of the electronics we use every day. We will intertwine our study of the content with lessons on important mathematical and analytical skills. Graphing, problem solving, and quantitative reasoning will all be stressed as we unlock some of the universe’s properties and mysteries.

U.S. History II

This course is the second half of a two-year survey of United States History. Topics of study include westward expansion and Native Americans, industrialization, the Great Depression, the World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. This course will combine tests and quizzes that assess students’ basic understanding of the course content with analytical essays, debates, presentations and creative writing that will require students to demonstrate deeper understanding of course material. Particular emphasis will be given to reading and interpreting primary sources, and using those sources to write historical essays using the “document based question” (DBQ) format.

Advanced Placement US History II

This course is the second part of the two year Advanced Placement U.S. History sequence. This year, students will examine historical content from late 19th century to today. The principal purpose of this course is to prepare students for the Advanced Placement exam in United States History. Therefore, this is an intensive, advanced course in which students will be required to understand and retain a large number of historical facts, and use those facts to write analytical essays. Students will complete a series of skill based writing workshops in preparation for the essay and document based question (DBQ) portions of the AP exam. In short, this course will ask students to spend a significant amount of time reading, writing, and thinking deeply about United States history.