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Grades 5-12 All-Girls Middle and Upper School

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Writing at SPSG

SPSG seeks to develop strong writing skills in all students whether a piece of creative writing or a historical research project. Students must first understand the various styles of writing. We encourage them to develop an understanding of appropriate content and voice depending on the discipline and audience. Ultimately, we strive to foster students’ critical reading, writing, and editing skills to be clear communicators of their ideas. 

A key component of our writing program is the Writing Workshop model. The technique is introduced in a more limited manner at the eighth grade level and used throughout a student’s Upper School years. Students are writing new assignments every other week, working with peers to edit and polish their pieces in class, and submitting rewrites of assignments. The goal is that students begin to understand that writing is a fluid and collaborative process. 

The rigor of our writing program and the commitment of our faculty to academic writing is exemplified in our sequenced English term papers assignments outlined below. 


In the tenth grade, students in the standard sections choose one or two novels that they have read in class and design their own thesis for a comparison paper using primary and secondary sources. The process is heavily monitored with many in-class due dates. The tenth grade honors assignment requires that students compare and contrast two novels. 

In standard English 11, students select a nineteenth-century work, read it on their own, and design a thesis, which they support with primary and secondary sources; again, they are given in-class help at each stage of the process. AP English requires that students design a research question about 19th century society and use primary and secondary sources to answer that question. 

The sophomore and junior years are in preparation for the senior term paper assignment, which is intentionally similar to previous assignments to scaffold writing skills as well as importantly different to challenge students in a new wayThe senior paper is the culminating paper of the research sequence that begins in tenth grade English at SPSG. The final paper is an analysis of the significance of one theme, belief, or concern that is common to all three primary sources. All students have now chosen their authors, have been assigned their mentors, and have reviewed the criteria sheet with their English 11 teachers.

The senior term paper assignment asks each student to read three works by a twentieth century author and study related literary criticism in order to develop a strong understanding of her topic. This paper is intended to do the following: 

  • Provide an opportunity for students to practice their analytical writing skills, the most common form of writing in college seminars
  • Compare and contrast several novels, a more challenging synthesis skill required by colleges
  • Learn to work with a faculty mentor outside of the classroom and to complete research and writing independently
  • Manage their own time and edit their own work, outside of the classroom in anticipation of similar research projects in college

11232 Falls Road
P.O. Box 8000
Brooklandville, Maryland 21022
TEL: 410-823-6323
SECURITY: 443-862-2294
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