The English Department guides students to become critical readers and writers, able to articulate and justify their ideas in writing and speaking.  

Throughout the required and elective English courses, students learn to:

  • follow conventions for standard written English;
  • write with clarity and focus;
  • think critically when analyzing and discussing literature;
  • read for meaning and understand literary techniques;
  • understand plagiarism and its consequences;  
  • confidently deliver a well prepared presentation to a group of peers; and
  • understand and complete the steps of a research project.

Eight Semester Credits Required for Graduation
English 9: Writing and Speech OR Honors English 9 
English 10: American Literature OR Honors English 10 
English 11: World Literature OR AP Language and Composition
Senior English Electives OR AP Literature and Composition


Freshman Courses


This two-semester course introduces ninth graders to fundamental speaking and writing skills. Students learn to respond in writing to poetry, short stories and a memoir. Students also develop their research skills as they gather and synthesize information for both written and oral assignments. Grammar review and vocabulary development are integrated into this year-long course.
Freshman Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


This intensive reading intervention program provides individualized instruction through teacher-directed lessons and adaptive software for students who experience challenges with reading. The program includes high-interest, leveled fiction and non-fiction texts to develop reading independence. Direct instruction of higher order reading and critical thinking skills and strategies are taught with a focus on rigorous academic writing and literacy skills and practice. Prerequisite: Entrance into this course is based on the Placement Exam and/or recommendation by parents and instructors.
Freshman Elective
2 semesters - 2 credits


Sophomore Requirement


This survey course acquaints students with major authors and genres from the pre-Colonial period to the present. Literature from a variety of cultures and perspectives will be explored. Students will be introduced to basic literary terms and concepts. Writing includes both reflective and analytical pieces. Students continue to develop research and oral presentation skills.
Sophomore Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credit


Junior Requirement


This survey of literature from around the world begins with works whose roots are in the oral tradition and continues to the present. Students compare not only content and style of various works but also philosophical and cultural differences. Students respond to the readings in class discussions and work to refine oral presentation skills as well as analytical and reflective writing skills.
Junior Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


Junior/Senior Electives


In this course, students learn that the literature of mythology, in both oral and written forms, is the foundation of every culture. They will recognize the close relationship between the ideas expressed in ancient literature and those in modern society. Students will develop greater understanding and tolerance of traditions and ideas other than their own. Areas of focus include Middle and Near East, Africa, Greece, Western Europe and North America. Students respond to the readings in writing and class discussions.
Junior/Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


This course is designed for those students who wish to focus on writing fiction. Students write short stories, poetry, and a short play. Work will focus on development of characters, conflict resolution, endings, and dialogue. Considerable time will be spent exploring the use of figurative language along with other writing devices and techniques.
Junior/Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


Students will read, analyze, discuss, present and write about 21st century novels from a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, dystopian, fantasy, and mystery. With novels like The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time and The Night Circus , students will research modern genres and explore trends in the publishing industry. Students will be introduced to contemporary authors, exploring writers’ techniques. They will practice close reading skills, develop vocabulary and comprehension, explore literary elements like plot devices, theme, symbol, metaphor, simile, irony, satire, and discuss an author’s intent. They will develop presentation skills and technology skills through the novel of choice unit. Students will learn to pressure write in timed settings and longer instances where they will move through the writing process from brainstorming through final draft.
Junior/Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


Students in Journalism I will explore different types of journalistic writing and produce TG’s online Eagle Newspaper by conducting research and writing articles for sports, news, and feature sections. Journalism I students will explore reporting, interviewing, journalistic ethics and writing reviews, commentaries, editorials, and in-depth articles about current events in our community. With an emphasis on writing clear, concise, and engaging prose, writers will learn to write for an authentic audience. Gathering research and writing articles will be the focus of this semester. The emphasis will be placed on the five w’s of journalism: where, who, what, when, and why? Students will also have a chance to explore photography, work with our online newspaper site, develop infographics, and will learn more about media and mass communication.
Junior/Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


The focus of Journalism II will be editing for style, revising, publishing, and learning the roles of reporter, columnist, editor, and copyeditor. Students in this course will work on refining skills within these positions and the visual and graphic appeal of the online newspaper as well.  Using social media, students will build a readership within the Totino-Grace community not only in terms of student body but also a readership in the Twin Cities and broader communities.  Understanding of the audience of a newspaper and data of online visits will be evaluated to address the questions: What do our readers want to know? What are effective ways to grow our readership? How can we sustain and grow our publication from its infancy to maturity?
Junior/Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


Senior Courses

All courses are college preparatory. The instructors of these Senior electives will assist any student writing his/her college essay. 


Advanced Composition is designed to strengthen students’ understanding and skills in writing. Students will study sentence structure and grammar rules, use figurative language effectively, and write clear and concise compositions. Assignments will include a variety of essays of comparison, examples, and definition, an annotated bibliography, a commentary and summary, and a persuasive research paper. At least six weeks will be spent on developing the skills associated with writing research, namely, finding reliable sources, creating the works cited page, taking accurate notes, paraphrasing properly, citing sources, understanding intentional and unintentional plagiarism, organizing an argument, introducing sources into a paper, and refuting the counterargument.  
Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit  


Psychological Literature provides the student with ways of understanding human nature and how personality is determined and influenced. Psychological conflicts and themes found in novels, short stories, and films are analyzed through writing assignments such as essays, research papers, and literary analysis.
Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


This course will emphasize and further develop the students’ reading, writing, and speaking skills as they transition into their post high school years. Students will examine a number of selected short stories, poems, newspaper and periodical articles while improving their writing skills through summarizing, discussing, journaling, and analyzing the literature. Interspersed throughout the course, the students will review the standard rules of grammar and the effective tools of public speaking.
Senior Elective
1 semester - 1 credit


This senior elective will present challenging assignments aimed at a variety of expository kinds of writing.  While some punctuation, usage, vocabulary, and grammar are reviewed, the expectations are that students registering for this course have maintained a B average throughout their previous English coursework since this course's syllabus mirrors that of a college composition course. This course is meant to challenge both the students' cirtical thinking and writing skills. A number of smaller essays (750-1000 words) and one larger research paper will determine 75% of the students' final grade.

Senior Elective                        
1 semester - 1 credit


Honors English Program

The Honors English sequence is designed for those students who have a high level of ability in English. Honors English 9, 10, and 11 contain music and art components as they relate to the themes and eras studied. In AP English 12, students prepare for the Advanced Placement Test in English Literature. In all classes, students read, discuss, and write critically, applying the higher level thinking skills expected in all Totino-Grace Honors courses.

Entrance requirements for Honors English:
9th grade:  Placement Exam scores and a writing assessment 
10th - 12th grade: writing assessment and recommendations from English instructor

Criteria for continuing in Honors English:
class performance annual writing assessment


This introduction to the Honors English sequence focuses on the idea of "hero." What is a "hero"? Why does humankind need heroes? Students begin with a study of the literature and culture of the Ancient World and end with a study of Shakespeare and Cyrano de Bergerac. Critical textual analysis, expository writing, and class presentations are central to the course, as is a close examination of selected works. Students entering the class are expected to read well and have an interest in reading, writing, and independent thinking.
Prerequisite: Entrance into this course is limited and based on exam scores and a writing assessment.
Fulfills Freshman Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


The second course in the Honors English sequence continues to focus on the question of “hero.” What is the role of “hero” after a person/culture has lost innocence? This course includes selections from Western European and American Literature. Together with higher level thinking, research and writing skills, students are expected to develop strong oral communication skills. Students will write two literary analyses and a research paper and five formal essays generated from novels of the students' choice.
Fulfills Sophomore Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


Advanced Placement Courses


The AP English Language and Composition course aligns to an introductory college-level rhetoric and writing curriculum, which requires students to develop evidence-based analytic and argumentative essays that proceed through several stages or drafts. Students evaluate, synthesize, and cite research to support their arguments. Additionally, students read and analyze the rhetorical elements and their effects in non-fiction texts, including graphic images as forms of text from many disciplines and historical periods.
Fulfills Junior Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


The final course in the Honors sequence continues the intensive reading and writing of the first three years. With an emphasis on critical writing, this course includes selected works from all genres and eras, ancient through modern. Students explore these forms as reflections of and influence on the modern consciousness. Students continue to develop higher level thinking skills through writing, which will focus on compare-contrast papers and literary criticism. Students will be encouraged to take the Advanced Placement English Literature Test.
Fulfills Senior Requirement
2 semesters - 2 credits


Totino-Grace High School

1350 Gardena Avenue NE, Fridley, MN 55432
Main: 763-571-9116 | Fax: 763-571-9118

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