Learn English Through Classic Literature The Short Stories And Essays Of Mark Twain

Born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Mark Twain “came in with the comet” and as he predicted he went “out with the comet” passing away on April 21, 1910, the day after Halley’s Comet returned. His real name was Samuel Longhorne Clemens, and he took his pen name from his days as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River where the cry “mark twain” signaled the depth of water -- about 12 feet was required for the safe passage of riverboats.

Mark Twain was a talented writer, speaker and humorist whose own personality shined through his work. As his writing grew in popularity, he became a public figure and iconic American whose work represents some of the best in the genre of Realism. As the young country grew in size but not in a cultural manner to the liking of the European gentry, it became fashionable to criticize "the ugly American.” Twain famously travelled abroad and disarmed his audience with his wit and humor with pronouncements like the following, “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and would later use that location as the setting for two of his most famous works, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He started his career as a typesetter at a newspaper, worked as a printer, then riverboat pilot and then turned to gold mining. When he failed at gold mining he turned to journalism and it was during that time that the wrote the short story that would launch his career, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County -- a story that captivated me when read out loud by one of my teachers in elementary school. Children may enjoy reading Mark Twain: A Child's Biography.

While Twain’s career as a writer enriched him, his turn as a gentleman investor did much to impoverish him. He lost a great deal of his writing profits and much of his wife’s inheritance on different investments, the costliest was his backing of a promising typesetting machine. The machine had great potential but it failed in the market due to frequent breakdowns. Twain recovered financially with the help of a benefactor from Standard Oil, Henry Huttleson Rogers. Rogers guided Twain successfully through bankruptcy and even had Twain transfer his copyrights to his wife to keep his royalties from his creditors. Further success from book sales and lectures restored his financial health and in the end all his creditors were paid.

Mark Twain is also well remembered for his witty quotations, a small sampling follows:

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.

An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.

Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

And as Ernest Hemingway wisely observed:
"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.""

Enjoy some illustrated Short Stories from Mark Twain; click to read.

(1 credit)

This course is designed as a comprehensive study of composition and grammar principles. The texts introduce grammar at an advanced level, utilizing Michael Clay Thompson’s four-level analysis of grammar that encourages student s to understand grammar as not only the foundation of language but of thought as well. This allows students to reflect on how language and grammar shape their cognitive processes, encouraging a metacognitive process in their study of English grammar and composition. The writing process, basic writing mechanics, and basic types of essays, which build on the grammar exploration, are then introduced and practiced, allowing students to use the principles of grammar to increase sentence fluency in writing assignments. Activities on the writing process include prewriting, organizing material, drafting, revising, and editing. Students will write a documented essay and persuasive letter as part of this course.

An Introduction to Great Books

(1 credit)

This course is an introduction to the Great Books shared inquiry method. Students learn to think critically while analyzing literature.

Language & Literacy

(A & B)
(1 credit)

This course is a comprehensive study of reading comprehension skills and strategies for students. Upon completion of this course, students will have met many of the state standards for reading and writing. This course is designed to enhance students’ ability to read, understand, and respond appropriately to texts ranging from poems to short stories to nonfiction essays.

Literature and Composition 9

(0.5 credit)

This course is designed for freshmen; it is a survey of various short stories, poems, plays, and novels. Some of the authors and poets read during this course are Bill Cosby, Langston Hughes, Leslie Marmon Silko, R.K. Narayan, Nelson Mandela, Richard Connell, Rebecca Walker, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and H.G. Wells. The primary focus of the curriculum is reading and literary response. Students are also asked to analyze various films and radio dramas. Films analyzed in the course include Cry Freedom, Romeo and Juliet, War of the Worlds, and The Importance of Being Ernest. In addition, the course incorporates AIMS reading preparation, vocabulary, and 2-level analysis of grammatical structure.

Literature and Composition 10

(0.5 credit)

This is the follow-up course to Literature and Composition 9 for sophomores; it is a survey of various short stories, poems, plays, and novels. Some of the authors and poets read during this course are Ray Bradbury, Rachel Carson, William Carlos Williams, Federico Garcia Lorca, Sherman Alexie, Dylan Thomas, T.H. White, Cormac McCarthy, N. Scott Momaday, Lorraine Hansberry, William Shakespeare, and Miguel de Cervantes. The primary focus of the curriculum is reading and literary response. Students are also asked to analyze various films and radio dramas. Films analyzed in the course include Smoke Signals, Snow Falling on Cedars, Julius Cesar, All the Pretty Horses, and A Raisin in the Sun. In addition, the course incorporates AIMS reading preparation, vocabulary, and 4-level analysis of grammatical structure.

Literature & Composition III-IV A

(0.5 credit)

This course is designed as a comprehensive study of literature and composition. The texts introduce literature, including poetry, short story, non-fiction, and novel excerpts from various cultures. Students are encouraged to actively read each piece of literature through guided reading exercises in the Daybook of Critical Thinking and Writing. Students take the active reading skills learned in the Daybook and apply them to the short stories they read in the Great Books text. After studying the elements of literature, students demonstrate their knowledge by writing their own short story utilizing those elements.

Literature & Composition V-VI A

(0.5 credit)

This course is designed as a comprehensive study of literature and composition. The texts introduce literature, including poetry, short story, non-fiction, and novel excerpts from various cultures. Students are encouraged to actively read each piece of literature through guided reading exercises in the Daybook of Critical Thinking and Writing. Students take the active reading skills learned in the Daybook and apply them to the short stories they read in the Great Books text. After studying the elements of literature, students demonstrate their knowledge by writing their own short story utilizing those elements.

Literature & Composition VII-VIII A

(0.5 credit)

This course is designed as a comprehensive study of literature and composition. The texts introduce literature, including poetry, short story, non-fiction, and novel excerpts from various cultures. Students are encouraged to actively read each piece of literature through guided reading exercises in the Daybook of Critical Thinking and Writing. Students take the active reading skills learned in the Daybook and apply them to the novel they read in the literature unit. Students demonstrate their knowledge by writing literary analyses, a poetry explication, their own poetry, and analyses of critical essays.

Macbeth

(0.5 credit)

This course examines complex themes such as crisis of conscience, good vs. evil, and fate vs. freewill. Perhaps the greatest and best-known writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare takes students on a ride that ends in the tragic fall of the tortured, manipulated, and bloodthirsty protagonist Macbeth. Written in the early 1600’s, Macbeth is the first of the “Jacobean” plays written in post-Elizabethan England for the new monarch, King James. It is also Shakespeare’s shortest play. Students will watch the play and interpolate personal perspectives to the inherent themes through literary analysis.

Of Mice & Men

(0.5 credit)

This course gives students the opportunity to interact with a classic piece of American literature. Some of the areas the students will challenge themselves with are drawing on experiences that relate to the story, describing emotions and opinions, writing descriptive paragraphs, exploring the use of repetition, metaphor, simile, and foreshadowing, and drawing story charts. Students will embark on writing a final essay in which they explore theme, character comparisons, morals/ethics, researching the era of the story, or even writing a new ending to the book.

Writing and Grammar 9

(0.5 credit)

This course is designed for freshman and follows Literature and Composition 9 as its companion Writing course. It has sections that cover descriptive essays, writing for business, personal narratives, expository essays, and speech writing. In addition, the course incorporates AIMS writing preparation and 4-level analysis of grammatical structure.

AIMS Reading Prep

(0.25 elective credit)
This is a preparation for the reading portion of the AIMS test. This course is designed to review strategies to comprehend any type of text. Students will predict text content using prior knowledge and text features, generate clarifying questions in order to comprehend text, use graphic organizers to clarify the meaning of a text, connect information and events in text to experience and to related text and sources, and apply knowledge of organizational structures of text to aid comprehension.

AIMS Writing Prep

(0.25 elective credit)
This is a preparation for the writing portion of the AIMS test. This course is designed to review concepts of writing including the six traits, the writing process, reading and answering writing prompts, and essay test taking skills. Additional information about the AIMS test is provided as well as multiple opportunities to practice the skills and concepts reviewed.

Test-Taking Skills: Language Arts

(0.25 elective credit)
This course is a review of language arts concepts likely to appear on a freshman standardized test.

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