Descriptions of Our ELA Programs

  • English I-II

    In English I and II, students have learning experiences in speaking, listening, writing and reading through the study of literature themes.  The courses may be organized to integrate these four areas simultaneously or focus on one, with activities in the other areas supporting the major focus.  Whatever the arrangement, a balance is maintained among components so that students receive instruction in each area through compositions, discussions, projects, and dramatics.

    English I Pre-AP

    In English I Pre-AP, students have learning experiences in how to write the multi-paragraph essay using formatted writing. Grammar, usage, capitalization and punctuation skills are refined in preparation for the kind of critical thinking, writing and reading skills required for upper-level AP classes. Since students begin Pre-AP English I during the second semester of their freshman year, every effort is made to strengthen and acclimate students to the rigorous Sam Houston MSTC learning environment. In addition to college preparatory work, vocabulary building and practice for the PSAT, students also read widely in a variety of texts to improve their skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

    English II Pre-AP

    Students will develop reasoning and critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze, discuss, and write about what they read. Students work with reading literature from various genres, expanding vocabulary, writing essays and research papers. Skills are taught at greater depths ofunderstanding so that students are prepared to master the challenging reading and writing assignments in AP English Literature and Language courses; students also work with reading and writing portions of the TAKS and SAT exams.

    English III

    This course presents students with the scope and diversity of American literature, both fiction and nonfiction, past and present.  Students explore American literature as a reflection of human experiences, values, and emotions through the study of the changes in American history and the culture in which American authors lived and worked.  Throughout the English III course, genres are addressed in common themes and characteristics found in the literary works of American authors.  Students synthesize the American experience through compositions, discussions, projects, and dramatics.

    English IV

    Students get their final preparations for a freshman college English class by reading various genres of British Literature and by writing in different modes. British literature is studied from a historical perspective beginning with the Anglo-Saxon period and continuing to the contemporaryperiod. Student writing includes literary analysis, personal narrative, expository writing and research papers. Grammar, usage and punctuation are reviewed, and vocabulary is studied in connection with the literature and from other sources to prepare students for college.

    Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition

    Students will prepare to write and pass the AP English Literature and Composition Exam from the College Board; therefore, this course is taught with the rigor of a college class. Students will read and analyze novels, plays and poetry from different cultures and time periods. Extensive practice with multiple-choice, AP exam style questions is given along with many essay timed-writings tosimulate the AP exam experience. Students are expected to read the assigned books and plays and approach the literature with critical thinking required for in-depth analysis. This course meets district and state requirement for the fourth year of high school English.

    Practical Writing Skills (Study Skills)

    Practical Writing Skills focuses on preparing students not only on academic skills but also on life experiences. Students are able to think and reason logically / critically, taught how to organize and strategize for exams as well as classes. Students learn to recognize their learning styles, how to broaden their vocabulary, deepen their knowledge of the writing process (specifically – research papers), and practical tasks such as requesting recommendation letters, writing resumes, knowing how to calculate grade point averages, and identifying school transcripts.


    Students explore journalism through a publication process. Throughout this process, students create both a yearbook and a yearly supplement. The class begins on a base level and builds foundations in the following skills: marketing; layout and design; journalistic writing; revising and editing; photography; business management; publication process/expectations; Photoshop.

    Communication Applications

    Communication Applications focuses on helping students develop effective communication skills that are needed for successful participation in professional and social life.  Students will be expected to identify, analyze, develop, and evaluate communication skills needed for professional and social success in interpersonal situations, group interactions, and personal and professional presentations. 

    SAT Prep (Advanced Reading)

    The SAT Prep course provides students with strategies for taking the SAT verbal test and formulating academic goals.  Students enhance their vocabulary by learning new words and approaches for distinguishing meaning through content.  Reading practices includes a variety of selections from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences with questions testing the student's understanding of the facts, assumptions and inferences from this reading material.  Classroom exercises entail practice in taking standardized language exams.  In order to reduce test anxiety, students acquire knowledge of the test format and scoring methodology.

    Creative Writing

    Creative Writing will provide an opportunity for Sam Houston students to refine their creative writing skills beyond those developed in the required English classes. Students will be encouraged to explore and develop their own ideas. They will also explore different ways of conveying meaning through writing to see how methods and styles vary within cultures and time periods. Students will also be encouraged to see connections between their own writing, their classmates' writing, and the writing of classical and contemporary authors. As a community of writers, students will read, write and share poetry and stories in a safe space for creating, experimenting, sharing, and providing constructive criticism to their peers.