When Woodward Academy students arrive at college, they arrive with well-developed writing and research skills, understanding the mechanics of composition, the rules of grammar, and the beauty of literature. They arrive with skills and insights that are incredibly valuable, in college and in the world beyond.

Our English teachers want students to understand the literature of our culture and other cultures and to grow as human beings by experiencing the worlds contained in literature. Teachers work closely with students at every Upper School grade level to develop and refine their writing skills, with assignments including essay tests, creative writing, journals, and formal, well-researched essays. We teach pre-writing strategies, using brainstorming, outlining, inspiration graphic designing, mapping, and other creative and organizational tools. In the end, students take pride in the works they produce.

English Courses

9th Grade - English 1

Ninth grade students review grammar and mechanics and apply vocabulary and formal grammar to improve efficiency and variety in writing. Literature studies focus on classical literature from Greece and Rome and in-depth study of a Shakespearean play. Special projects and reports allow freshmen to use their unique abilities while gaining confidence speaking before peers.

10th Grade - English 2

Sophomores conduct a chronological study of American literature from the traditional canon, including Hawthorne, Twain, Dickinson, and Frost, to modern and lesser-known authors, providing students with a sense of the cultural and historical connections of literature. Students complete a lengthy research project on an American writer's work.

11th Grade - English 3

In 11th grade, students follow a chronological approach to select works in the British Literature and Composition course, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Austen and Orwell. Composition assignments correlate with the literature, with emphasis on the research process.

11th Grade - AP English Language & Composition

This course for junior honors students adds the study of British literature to an intense preparation for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam. Emphasis is placed on analysis of nonfiction and the syntax of English. Students learn to recognize and employ several types of critical methods to interpret literature.

12th Grade - English 4 - Literary Types

During first semester, seniors review English skills necessary for success in college-admission testing and receive help writing college essays. Semester two covers such topics as Sartre, Southern literature, psychology in literature, and modern narrative voices.

12th Grade - English 4 - Honors

This course for stronger senior students provides opportunities to study drama and includes challenging writing assignments with opportunities for creative and analytical oral and written expression. A major research project is assigned.

12th Grade - AP English Language & Composition

This course includes two components with a focus on accelerated British literature as well as learning to recognize and write about rhetorical strategies in nonfiction essays, speeches, and letters. Students construct and critique arguments, select and incorporate evidence, identify the purpose of a work, and discuss features that make a piece effective for its audience. The course culminates in May when students take the AP English Language and Composition exam.

12th Grade - AP English Literature & Composition

Seniors who have demonstrated superior verbal ability throughout high school English classes can be recommended for this course, the equivalent of college freshman English. It culminates in students taking the Advanced Placement exam, which can exempt from freshman college English. In addition to an anthology, the class studies works such as "Paradise Lost," "Moby Dick," and "Jude the Obscure."


Our English electives for Upper School students include Creative Writing, with focus on poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction; Contemporary Literature, in which students study fiction and nonfiction written since 1960; Writers Workshop, an intensive composition course; and Multicultural Literature, a study of works from around the globe.


Students may take a semester course focusing on publication of "The Blade," student-produced news published continually online at woodwardblade.com and quarterly in newsmagazine format. Students may take a year-long Yearbook Journalism course focusing on publication of "The Phoenix."