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ELA 9: Introduction to Literature—Semester A

Reading, Writing, and an obvious lack of Arithmetic.

Welcome to high school, Shmoopers. There's no going back. Unless you find a time machine, in which case, we'd really like to know who was truly the bigger stud: Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson.

Oh right, back to the point.

Over the course of the next four years, you're going to learn everything there is to know about literature. But you have to start somewhere, right? And that's what ELA 9 is all about.

In Semester A's Common Core-aligned lessons, you will

  • get your feet wet with grammar, essay-writing, short fiction, and poetry—and we'll even give you a taste of novels, including everyone's literary sweetheart, To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • complete close-reading and big-picture analysis activities.
  • write a shiny new literary essay and complete all sorts of creative projects that'll prove that reading is just as fun as your teacher always told you.

By the end of the course, you'll be a regular ol' bibliophile.

P.S. Introduction to Literature (ELA 9) is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.

Course Breakdown

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Unit 1. The World of Words

This unit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about words—and then some. We'll be talking grammar, syntax, diction, and everything else you'll need to master the rest of ELAhood.

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Unit 2. Essay, You Say, We All Say: An Essay

By the end of this unit, you'll be able to write a five-paragraph essay like a pro. We'll walk you through the steps until you're ready to go solo.

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Unit 3. Short and Sweet

Short fiction is the name of the game in this unit. We'll be reading authors like Raymond Carver, Alice Walker, Richard Connell, Flannery O'Connor, James Joyce, John Updike, Jack London, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and John Steinbeck, all while tackling the Big Topics in literature: characterization, themes, symbolism, narration...and everything else on your checklist.

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Unit 4. Poetry

We'll read plenty of classic poems in this unit, but the main focus will be on learning how to read poetry. Shmoop's got you covered.

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Unit 5. Shmoop's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is so beloved that it deserves its own unit. Through Harper Lee's classic, we'll think more about the novel form and how to use our fancy reading skills to analyze it.


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  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 110
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • College Prep
    • English
    • Literature

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