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Home » Schools » Small Learning Communities » Social Justice

Small Learning Communities

Social Justice Center

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Course Syllabus


Course American Social Justice 11th Grade English

Course Description: American Social Justice (ASJ) is a two-year English and History interdisciplinary program with a strong emphasis on the impact that social movements have had on the development of history, humanities and the arts. ASJ is based upon the Small Learning Community (SLC) model where students build close working relationships with staff and fellow students. Students will actively engage in curriculum that focuses on the themes of social justice and use their knowledge to promote issues of social activism within their own community. Students will receive individualized student mentoring, develop and implement community service programs and fundraisers, conduct extensive research and develop study, time-management and test taking (i.e. S.A.T.) skills. ASJ meets for three periods a day. English and History classes are conducted in two-period block on alternating days with the additional period used for program planning- community service, mentoring, study skills. Students receive a total of 15 credits a year: 5 English, 5 for History and 5 (pass/fail credits) for the program planning class.

Suggested Texts:

  • Cather, Willa. My Antonia
  • Steinbeck, John. Grapes of Wrath
  • Chopin, Kate. The Awakening
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby
  • Hansberry, Lorraine. Raisin in the Sun
  • Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye
  • Shakespeare, William. As You Like It
  • Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle
  • Wright, Richard. Native Son
  • Styron, Willaim. Sophies Choice
  • Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Miller, Arthur. All My Sons, Death of a Saleman
  • Crane, Stephen. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
  • Glaspell, Susan. Trifles
Supplementary Instructional Material:


  • Atwan, Robert (ed.) (2001) America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals. NY: St. Martins.
  • Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedua (eds.) (1999) Current Issues & Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Argument, with Readings.NY: St. Martins.
  • Brown, Wesley and Amy Ling (eds.) (1991) Imagining America: Stories from the Promised Land. NY: Persia Books.
  • Colombo, Gary and Robert Cullen (eds.) (2001) Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. NY: St. Martins.
  • Dilks, Stephan and Regina Hanson (eds.) (2001) Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. NY: St. Martins.
  • Harris, Jeanette and Ann Mosley (eds.)(2000) Interactions: A Thematic Reader. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Mano, Sandra and Barbara Roche Rico (eds.) (2001) American Mosaic: Multicultural Readings in Context. NY: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Films, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, plays, artwork, photography, music.

Units of Study:

  • Immigration/Migration
  • Labor
  • Womens Movement
  • War/Anti-War
  • Civil Rights

Proficiencies: At the completion of this course, students will be able to:


    1. Recognize and evaluate the effectiveness of various elements of fiction in the works of a variety of contemporary American prose writers.

    2. Understand and evaluate selections from American Literature, and examine their importance in our multi-cultural society.

    3. Understand the role of a characters, setting, and events in a given literary work.

    4. Understand the concepts of figurative language, symbolism, allusion, connotation, and denotation.

    5. Understand the effects of literary devices, such as alliteration and figurative language, on the readers emotions and interpretation

    6. Expand vocabulary using appropriate strategies and techniques, such as word analysis and context clues.

    7. Recognize the act and importance of listening.

    8. Organize, prepare, and present a spoken presentation clearly and expressively.

    9. Collaborate by sharing ideas, examples and insights productively and respectfully in informal conversation/discussion.

    10. Recognize that reading has many purposes and demonstrate an ability to choose an approach appropriate to the test and purpose.

    11. Experience and respond to print and non-print media through active engagement with appropriate methods of analysis, interpretation, and evaluation.

    12. Use research skills to access, interpret, and apply information form a variety of print and non-print resources.

    13. Compose a variety of written and spoken responses for different purposes and audiences.

    14. Use a variety of technologies as a tool for learning.

    15. Use language arts skills for decision making, negotiating, and problem-solving.

    16. Develop a better understanding of themselves, of others, and of the world through language and literature.

    17. Read and respond to a broad range of literature.

    18. Identify in writing two potential career paths that can be taken in this subject area.

    19. Develop visual literacy skills by identifying the conventions used in film and other visual media to convey narrative, meaning, and values.

Field Trips and Guest Speakers: Field trips and speakers will be applicable to content and will be determined by the instructor. The following are suggested field trips and speakers:

  • Suggested Trips: Suggested speakers:
  • Ellis Island Maria Lurino life as a writer and reasons for the book.
  • Tenement Museum Artists, writers, social activists, public officials, and
  • Montclair Museum members of the community
  • Newark Museum
  • Yogi Berra Museum

Evaluation and Assessment: Student learning incorporates a variety of methods, strategies and skills. Therefore, in an attempt to evaluate student achievement accurately and equitably, various methods of alternative assessment may be employed in the grading of students, including:

  • Tests are an assessment of cumulative knowledge and understanding of a unit of study and may include the following: multiple- choice, definitions, fill-ins, short answers, character and line recognition, and essay questions.

  • Quizzes are evaluations of short-term knowledge and understanding of homework assignments and class lessons that may be announced or unannounced and may include the following: multiple- choice, fill- ins, short answers, terms and definitions.

  • Homework enables student to exercise and reinforce their understanding and knowledge of the contents and skills taught in a class: readings, essays, definitions, research, projects, revisions, editing, journal responses. In some cases a long-term assignment may be given; students must plan their time accordingly.

  • Class Participation is an integral part of the learning process where students demonstrate their on-going understanding of content and concepts taught. It is both a learning and evaluative tool that is a requirement of the course. Participation may include: class discussion, engagement, cooperative group work, presentations, and notebook review.

  • Papers and Projects will be assigned as both instructional tools and as assessment instrument: group and individual presentations, formal writing assignments, portfolios, letters, short stories, class anthologies, editorials, newspapers, scripts, skits, interviews, debates, artwork, cartoons, photo essays, maps and games. Papers and projects will generally have the weight of a test grade unless otherwise indicated.

New Jersey Core Curriculum Standard Alignment:

Page Updated: Feb 26, 2013
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