English department offers new essay options

Carly Berger

For the first time, students in both junior English courses and Advanced Placement English Literature have the option to write essays based on an alternative prompt.  As a response to the English Department’s “renew and review process,” English teachers Jeremy Michaelson and Jocelyn Medawar, along with several other teachers, proposed to create a bank of assignments to draw upon for alternative creative essay prompts.

Alternative options will be offered to students for all assignments except the first and last, but students can only choose the alternative option twice per year. These prompts are designed for some students to veer away from the standard analytical essay and take a more imaginative approach.

“We have many able writers who aren’t always served by traditional analytical essays,” Medawar said.  “The alternative assignments give them a chance to express themselves a couple of times a year in different ways while still responding critically to the text.”

One alternative prompt this year for English III students includes creating two alternative titles for the novel ‘O Pioneers!’ and explaining these choices. Another, for AP Literature students reading ‘Hamlet,’ is to choose two scenes and explain why they should be cut or retained.

“The alternative option allows me to express my creative mind in English in ways that were once not given,” English III Honors student Jason Gabaee ’15 said.