Category Archives: Language Arts

Natural Latin (Michael J. Coffey)

Estne Quintus mortuus?  Minime, tantum aeger, quia is de arbore cacderit (“cadit” in tempore priore).  Qui spirat, vivit!  Pro dolor aeger est, sed… non mortuus est?  Mirabilis! 

In Capitulo Duodecimo (XII), fratrem Aemiliae videmus.  Et in Capitulo Quinto-Decimo (XV), Marcum in schola videmus.

But enough teasers for what’s to come.  The class will continue to use Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata  by Hans Orberg, and students will be expected to actually read the chapters and practice between classes, with the bar set higher than was achieved in Winter term.

For this to be “natural” Latin, you should be comfortable using most of the 400+ very common Latin words the book has introduced so far.  If you’re not, reviewing your notes, re-reading, looking up unfamiliar words, and practicing are great choices prior to the start of next term.  (I do all those things in English, and that’s my native language!  What’s more natural than the language you learned as a baby?)

About the instructor: Michael knows people are paying attention when they're taking notes on paper, because not taking notes at all looks the same as zoning out, and taking notes on a computer looks the same as playing video games.

Fearless English, continued (Scobie)

This is the class where each week, you write things you’re genuinely excited to read to your classmates, mostly fiction. I am nowhere near out of good, provocative prompts, and I’ll take ANY of my wonderful writers from winter term, as well as ANY new writers!

Yes, “Summarize This!” will be back next year, but for this year, let’s keep writing and fearlessly reading our work aloud to each other!

PS: I promise to write at least one of the prompts this spring term and read my piece to YOU!

Analyze That! (hannah)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

In accompaniment to the classic writing class Summarize This!, this class is geared towards honing skills of analytical writing. We will read / listen to / watch different pieces of juicy stories and media. We will then learn and practice how to think critically, look closely, and translate thoughts into arguments framed by reasoning. 

This class is for students with deep ideas, who look at the world through a critical lens, and want to learn how to write with clarity and power. It will require some outside-of-class prep work and accompanying writing assignments. 

George Orwell’s 1984 (HS) (elizabeth ortega)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

A classic. Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a classic literary example of political and dystopian fiction. Written more than 70 years ago, this novel is a chilling prophecy about the possible future. And while 1984 has passed along, this book is a timely read. Thematically, it centers on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of people and behaviors within society. More broadly, the novel examines the role of truth and facts within society and the ways in which they are/can be manipulated. Come join the journey of reading this quintessential novel and put it under your literary belt.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Each week we will read, take notes, engage in critical writing reflections and complete a personal project throughout the term.

HIGH SCHOOL ONLY (8th graders talk to me)

Just Write (MS) (Sam)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

Just Write (MS)


Do you wish you had more time to write down your ideas, but don’t know where to start? Well, this is the class for you. The whole purpose is to make time to write and use those moments to increase our ability to see things in a creative way. You might find yourself writing short stories, creating poetry, sketching song lyrics, or even working on a big writing project. 

I want us to gather and work on building up our writing skills in a relaxed way. I find that just taking the time to write and process thoughts and ideas helps us to stay connected to the great skill of writing. We will have time to free write (journal), work on specific projects, blog, and even the chance to do collaborative work. If you’re looking to get more into writing or take the time to just write more, this is the class for you!

The Hate U Give (hannah)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

In this class, we will read, analyze, discuss, and write about the book, The Hate U Give. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

This acclaimed story handles themes of identity, racism, community, family, the power of language, injustice, and social action. Everyone I know who reads this book loves it and is moved by it. This is a class for middle school students excited to dig into a book, learn about big concepts, and study how they connect.


Required texts/materials:

Ishmael (Dan Gillmore)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

“Ishmael is a 1992 philosophical novel by Daniel Quinn. The novel examines the hidden cultural biases driving modern civilization and explores themes of ethics, sustainability, and global catastrophe.”

A difficult book to describe, but one of monumental importance. Each week we will read a few chapters and then come together in class to discuss the reading. This is a rare “serious Dan” class, so come ready to engage with complex ideas and good dialogues. Expect a few hours of reading time outside of class, and to start reading before the first class convenes.

About the instructor: Former PSCS student, current PSCS volunteer, future billionaire.  

Required texts/materials: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn   Students will be responsible for obtaining their own texts/materials. Materials should be procured by: Procured and at least the first chapter read, preferably two.