Literature includes novels, poetry, drama, and short stories. Required literature by classic authors is studied through class activities and discussion with plenty of teacher support so that the experience is pleasurable. This will provide a sound foundation for a later and more detailed study of literature in high school and college. Younger students make the transition from reading literature for plot to exploring various perspectives and themes by critically acclaimed authors. Older students also usually read in its entirety the Shakespeare play being performed at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts before attending the performance. We work closely with area high schools to make sure that our curricular materials align with their English programs. Students are also expected to read books of their own choice outside of class, and report on their independent reading regularly with the class as a whole.
Writing assignments include personal writing, expository essays, reader responses, creative writing, journals, and research-based reports. Students write several drafts of each major assignment, participating in peer reviews and receiving the teacher's coaching on technique and structure for each draft. Creative writing, reader response, and journal assignments are designed to enhance students' enjoyment of writing and appreciation for literature. Proper techniques of research and documentation are also a part of the writing curriculum.
Grammar is taught through whole-class instruction as well as through feedback on writing assignments. A formal overview of basic grammar is part of the English grammar curriculum.
Vocabulary lessons are designed to extend students' written and spoken vocabulary and to increase awareness of etymology and word structure.
Speaking and listening skills are strongly emphasized. Students participate in class discussions, give poetry recitations, perform dramas for classmates and larger audiences, and make presentations of projects and reports. We concentrate on projection, matching of tone, pace, and volume to subject matter, use of gesture, eye contact with audience, and selection of style and content suited to audience.
English class is often the vehicle for conducting research for other academic areas. Attention is given to note taking, summary, and documentation, as well as learning how to compose a longer expository piece. Students must use a variety of resources and evaluate each resource for reliability and to what extent it helps them meet their research goals.