Within our comprehensive literacy program, we draw upon research-based practices based in current research on how best to teach young readers and writers. Children develop the foundational skills as well as the more sophisticated skills, strategies, attitudes, and behaviors that are the underpinnings for their development into highly proficient and passionate readers and writers. Our students are immersed in rich and diverse reading and writing experiences so that literacy learning is integrated into the curriculum throughout their day, allowing them to learn key literacy skills within a meaningful context of the social studies and science topics they are studying. Reading and writing are also taught explicitly within structures such as Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, phonics instruction, read aloud and word study.
We regard children as writers from the time they step into the prekindergarten classrooms of our lower school. They are writers who tell stories that are both imaginative and true, composing wordless stories told across multiple pages through their own drawings. From Kindergarten through fourth grade, teachers utilize the practice of Writing Workshop to explicitly teach children the strategies, skills, and behaviors that are necessary in becoming proficient writers. Lower school children write in multiple genres and for a variety of audiences, with a focus on writing personal narratives, informational pieces, poems, persuasive speeches, opinion pieces, and fairy tales.
English and History - Comprehensive overview of language and culture
In Middle School, students begin to master writing and literature comprehension skills alongside the study of world cultures. With teachers’ guidance, students analyze texts, begin learning about the literature essay, and do related projects. Early Middle School is a time to begin learning the conventions of formal English.
In seventh and eighth grades, students continue to strengthen grammar, notetaking, and writing skills through their own writing and through reading literature. By studying the basic elements of the novel, drama, and poetry, they practice deciphering and using figurative language and using proper essay structure. They also learn to refine and organize paragraphs while building vocabulary. Using correct grammatical, punctuation, and sentence structures, students learn to edit for clarity, accuracy, and purpose in writing.
The English department's mission is to promote both facility with the English language and students' appreciation of the rich traditions of literature in English and in translation. Core courses and electives are skills-oriented and meant to spark intellectual curiosity in our students. Students build empathy and learn to appreciate difference by studying literature and culture; this work helps prepare students to identify and challenge inequities in society.
The English department curriculum is richly diverse and firmly grounded in skill development. The goals are to provide each student with a strong literary background, to develop skillful writers and communicators through a rigorous, sequenced program, and to foster critical thinking. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, discussing, and vocabulary-building are stressed at every instructional level. Assignments range from personal response papers to formal academic writing.
A range of electives is offered to seniors in each semester of the senior year and, with proper approval, to sophomores and juniors whose schedules permit their taking a second English course. Departmental electives may be designed around genre, theme, region, historical period, distinct author, and literary theory.