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This year in our American Literature course we are piloting three new units collaboratively designed by Bellevue School District American Literature teachers. These proposed pilot units will better align with the expectations of the Common Core State Standards, College and Career Readiness Standards, expand the diversity of voices in the current curriculum and focus on relevance and relationships in the American Literature classroom. During the design phase, an American Literature Adoption Committee comprised of teachers, parents and administration oversaw the proposed selection of instructional materials for the pilot units. These proposed instructional materials will be available for perusal at the district office. Throughout the 2015-16 school year we will be soliciting feedback about each new unit through student and parent surveys in electronic or hard copy form.

Below is a brief overview of each pilot unit:

  Purpose Essential Questions Proposed Texts**
Unit 2 American writers helped shape and define the genre of short fiction. Through reading a variety of short fictional stories written throughout American history, students will consider how writers use context to respond to the concerns of their times.

How do writers respond to the concerns of their lives and times through the creation of short works of fiction?

Why is the context in which authors create a piece of fiction important?

Has American culture been motivated to change by literature?

Native American Myths

“The Fall of the House of Usher”- by Edger Allan Poe

“My Contraband”- Louisa May Alcott

“The Yellow Wallpaper”- by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Cutting of My Long Hair”- Zitkala Sa

“Sonny’s Blues” – James Baldwin

“Sticks”- George Saunders

Unit 3

During this unit, students will explore the nature of truth telling. They will seek to understand whose story gets told, why it gets told, and why it is believed. They will also explore why some narratives are ignored or rejected, and the role assumptions and beliefs play in the national dialogue.


Whose story is told and accepted?

What story becomes the dominant narrative? Why?

Whose voice is credible? Why?

How do the varied elements of a narrative aid in achieving a rhetorical purpose?

Depending on the class period, your student will read either:

The Laramie Project by Moises Kauffman


Mrs. Packard by Emily Mann

Unit 6 Perhaps the defining contribution of American Literature is its exploration of the complexities of building a multicultural nation that lives up to its idealistic beginnings. In this unit, students will be asked to reflect upon their own beliefs about being an American and to explore patterns of acceptance and discrimination as a means of better understanding the present and working toward a better future.

How have historical factors affected access to success and empowerment?

How do these unique American voices contribute to and alter the ongoing conversation of American narrative?

What does the selected text suggest about America’s past and its present?


Twilight: Los Angeles 1992

Anna Deavere Smith (PBS Masterpieces)

Students will select a novel or non-fiction text to read in a literature circle that fits with the objectives of the unit.



**If students or parents have a concern about a particular text, an alternate will be provided by the teacher.

At the end of the pilot period all feedback and data will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made for the 2016-17 school year. If you have any questions or comments about these pilot units, please contact Cathy Wellington at