As we highlighted two weeks ago in this
post looking at the work of the Social Science department, each academic department is working toward departmental goals during the 2011-2012 school year.
The English department's
focus on formulating a standardized writing rubric to be implemented across its curriculum has sparked valuable discussions within the department regarding how to most effectively teach writing.
One of the beauties of teaching (and learning) at Proctor is the individuality of teaching styles. No two instructors take the exact same approach to communicating the same content. Therefore, identifying the core processes necessary to teaching good writing becomes an important process as we work to ensure graduating students leave Proctor with a clear understanding of how to effectively communicate through the written word.
Embracing the notion that Proctor's breadth of program affords students the opportunity to personalize their curriculum within the framework of graduation requirements, the English department
has developed a wide variety of electives, all teaching similar skills.
The evolution of these electives has allowed both students and teachers to pursue areas of interest while maintaining a core focus on the development of writing and analytical skills.
This fall, all English electives, including both AP English: Language & Composition and AP English: Literature & Composition, have a heavy writing concentration, ensuring every student works intently on developing his or her voice through a wide variety of content.
Thursday's visit by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eileen McNamara
will undoubtedly provide Peter Southworth's Journalism students with valuable insights into the craft of reporting, teaching skills the class will then apply to its own writing this fall and again in the spring.
Also offered this fall, Tom Morgan's Ecological Literature course utilizes published writing through a class blog
in addition to formal papers and a final project based on the ecology of the Blackwater River, while Laurie Zimmerman's Poetry course unlocks a creative world within each student that many never knew existed.
As the Winter Term quickly approaches, teachers will shift their focus to analytical literature, through courses like Jane Barban's The Bible as Literature, Peter's Novels of Nature, and Tom's Moderinism.
Similarly, during the Spring Term, the two concentrations will be present in the variety of electives offered: Laurie's Poetry class, Jane and Laurie's Literature to Film course, Tom's Creative Non-Fiction class, and Sarah Will's Native American Literature and Chinese Literature electives.
As the English department's curriculum continues to evolve, both students and teachers benefit from the diversity of offerings. Department Head Shauna Turnbull notes, "Students love having a choice in what courses they take and the variety of options we are able to offer is much more in line with what they will see at the college level."
Turnbull adds, "Learning how to learn from a variety of teachers is an incredibly valuable skill for our students to develop. Understanding how teachers communicate and rapidly adjusting to their expectations prepares students well for their future both in the classroom and out."
Ensuring underlying skills are taught across the curriculum, as a standardized rubric for writing will provide, remains essential to the English department's continued evolution. However, the strength of the department, as is with every academic department at Proctor, lies in its willingness to embrace individuality by offering a curriculum representative of teachers' diverse interests.
To see Proctor's English classrooms in action, watch this video at the following LINK