An Independent School • Grades 5-12


Inspiring students to love literature and helping them become great writers are the two highest goals of Lakeside’s English departments. Our English faculty is a group of gifted writers and incisive analytical thinkers who share a passion for designing and teaching courses that are innovative and interesting to young people. Classes are brainy, thought-provoking, and fun. Teachers create an environment where literature becomes a path to talking about topics of personal, national, and global importance.

In both the Middle and Upper schools, students read works from both long-established and newer voices, representing a rich variety of cultures and experiences. Assignments are designed to foster students’ creativity and their development of skills in writing, interpreting text, collaborating, and public speaking. In the classroom, teachers help sharpen students’ critical-thinking skills and guide them to become both thoughtful, incisive speakers and engaged, sensitive listeners.

Middle School: Nurturing a love of reading and writing

The Middle School English department is dedicated to nurturing a lifelong love of reading and writing. We strive to create a community of readers and writers who inspire each other to experiment with different written forms and support and learn from one another. Teachers help students learn how to read deeply, to consider the sound and meaning of words, and to use language effectively and artistically. We believe that developing writers flourish when they have time, choice, and regular feedback. By providing these three important elements, we hope to unleash the authentic voice of each adolescent writer.

Assignments engage students, calling on them to draw on their creativity and analytical skills and to take ownership of their learning.

In the 6th grade, for example, students read and discuss various memoirs, then write their own memoir. In 8th grade, they partner to teach their peers a lesson on “The Odyssey,” which involves designing an entire curriculum, giving tests, and leading the class discussion.

Read more about the Middle School English program in the Middle School curriculum guide.

Upper School: Developing creative, analytical thinkers

Lakeside is committed to developing students who are thoughtful, perceptive readers and skillful, versatile writers. By studying a broad range of ancient and modern works, including novels, poems, plays, films, and essays, students come to understand the historical growth of literary genres and the multicultural richness of world literature.

Our English classes are normally structured as roundtable seminar discussions — relaxed but also intellectually challenging. Teachers push students to think critically, and work hard to balance rigor with fun, varying materials and assignments.

Students write personal narratives, literary analyses, speeches, and creative fiction and nonfiction, including poetry, plays, and other forms.

Projects often include hands-on components such as recording a podcast, shooting a short film, designing a book cover, or delivering a speech. In class, students may alternate between large discussions, small-group work, teaching peers, or making presentations. We believe that drafts are an important part of the writing process, and students work one-on-one with teachers on developing their writing skills.

Students take English classes for all four years at Lakeside Upper School. The 9th grade focuses on themes related to adolescence and individuality, and the 10th grade concentrates on international literature in a variety of genres. Juniors study American literature, either by taking American Cultural Studies or American Studies (an interdisciplinary class with history). Seniors choose from electives focusing on a literary tradition, literary genre, or that have a significant experiential and/or creative component. Examples of electives are Modernism, Film Studies, African-American Literature, Russian Literature, and Fiction Writing, and include interdisciplinary choices such as Infectious Diseases (English and biology) and Chaos Theory (English and math). Seniors graduate ready for the AP English test, and alumni report being well-equipped for college-level writing requirements across all disciplines.

Read more about the Upper School English program in the Upper School curriculum guide.

Learn more about English at Lakeside

Middle School English: Connecting through poetry

Eighth graders sipped tea and munched on rice crackers as they experimented with Renga poetry.

Upper School English: Essays on identity

Connecting lived experience to literature

Meet the English faculty

Middle School English: Graphic storytelling

Eighth grade English students learn to recognize and analyze the elements of visual storytelling, then take on a creative challenge of their own.