What we emphasize in our course of instruction
We agree that reading, writing, language development, appreciation of literature, and oral communication are the cornerstones of a healthy and vibrant language arts education.
For the Love of Reading:
The Department's reading list is not dictated by a textbook company or faceless editors. We have our students buy texts, so they can annotate them and own them. We hope that they will build a personal library of books, wonderful books, which they first read at CCHS. Of course, there is a down side to not subscribing to a course of study as designed by Houghton Mifflin or Holt since they provide amazing ancillary materials which take the guesswork out of course design; however, we celebrate the ability to pursue a theme or skill set using a variety of materials, ones that work for our students. We consult many sources, including each other. We have ancillary support through publications by the Center for Learning, a values in literature program, Jane Schaffer Associates, Great Source, Teacher's Pet, and others.
We also instituted a school-wide summer reading program. We select texts for students, and they receive orientation on the philosophy of the program as well as the requirements the last week of the second semester. The front office keeps copies of our reading assignments available all summer. The purpose of the summer reading program is to keep the brain sharp and provide quality materials for those summer months, but it also serves to unify the class, especially the freshmen, when they return in August.
Our Silent Sustained Reading Program serves many purposes. We pick the classroom texts for curricular study (based on the California list of recommended readings and the College Board recommendations for English language and literature AP and English language and composition AP); however, for SSR, our students pick the texts – they choose what they want to read! We model reading for them, too. School wide SSR if for all classes, all teachers, and you will see us poring through our latest read. We encourage our students to talk about the books (SSR assessment grades 9-12 consists of an oral book report). We also steer them to high interest books, and for that purpose, we keep a variety of texts in the classroom. Our Department is also the home to the Book Club, which just makes sense.
For the Love of Writing:
When the English Department talks about writing, we all agree on the following: all written work has to have a point. We encourage this "point" to be developed through the writing process. Not all assignments go through the writing process, but most graded assignments do.
We incorporate elements of the Six-Trait Writing Program and also work with writing expectations for the open-enrollment AP courses (English language, 11th grade; English literature, 12th grade).
We agree on the following when it comes to English language arts instruction:
- Revision does not mean correcting errors: it means rewriting/revisiting the work. The real writing comes in the revisions.
- Peer editing techniques can work if students are trained on what to look for and comment on in the submission.
- Students need to write to be writers, so we must give them opportunities to write (graded and ungraded assignments; formal and informal assignments).
The following are examples of the types of writings assigned:
- Journals, free response, quick writes, reader-response
- Formal writing in a variety of modes (expository, persuasive, informative, narrative, etc.)
- Literary analysis
- Fully-documented research papers
- I-Search papers
- Multi-Genre papers
- Business writing
We have just put in place three Educational Improvement Plans for the English Department:
- Implementing the California Common Core State Standards (we are working on lexile alignment with Dr. Robert Foreman, CSUS Department of English);
- Enriching our students' digital literacy through technological integration;
- Assuring our students are striving in their courses, not just surviving (appropriate placement)
We invite you to be part of our department's work. Please contact Susan Dillon at 524-9611 for more information.