What is taught in English courses?
One the most common comments we receive from students is, “But I already know how to speak English! Why do I have to take English classes?”
English classes teach much more than basic language conventions such as nouns and verbs. I believe all the skills we teach can fall under two headings: input and output.
What do I mean by “input”?
Put simply, “input” in being able to comprehend information being “put in.” In English classes, students learn how to decipher the wide range of information (input) that bombards them constantly, be it iPhone ads, commercials, novels, music videos, news articles, speeches, textbooks, information manuals, websites and so on. Students learn how to think deeply (comprehend, analyze and think critically) about any “text” that might come their way.
What do I mean by “output”?
“Output” is communicating or, “putting out” the information one wishes to. In English classes, students learn how to organize their thoughts and communicate them via a wide range of mediums such as essays, short stories, poems, articles, webpages, blogs, wikis, presentations, debates and so on. Students learn how to not just clearly communicate their thoughts but also how to move their target audience, aesthetically or persuasively.
What are the three skills necessary in English classes from Kindergarten to Grade 12?
So how do you assess these skills for grading and report cards?
We break each of these skills down into their basic units. For example, “reading” gets broken down into two units: 1.) Reading for Information (articles, webpages, manuals, etc.) and 2.) “Reading Literature” (poems, short stories, novels, movies, etc.). The necessary skills for each of these units are identified and then laid out in a rubric (chart) with 4 possible levels of mastery: Not Yet Within Expectations, Minimally Meets Expectations, Fully Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations. These “expectations” are the levels of mastery expected of the student by April and May of the school year within that respective course.
The four columns correspond with the following grades:
B-Fully Meets Expectations
C+, C, C- -Minimally Meets Expectations
I-Not Yet Within Expectations.