Components of all English Classes
Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught at all levels. The assumption with freshmen and many entering sophomores is that they know very little of these, and these disciplines must be taught completely and thoroughly from scratch. Diagnostic tests are used to discover competence of juniors in these areas, and teachers proceed accordingly. Teachers of seniors work on reinforcing these skills through essay writing. A mastery of grammar reinforces basic writing skills and gives student and teacher a mutual vocabulary which is helpful in the discussion of writing.Reading:
Students at all levels are exposed to the different genres of literature: story, novel, essay, drama, and poetry. The hope is that students will develop interest and taste in good books, but the main job is to teach close, intelligent, perceptive reading. More sophisticated reading is assigned at the higher levels. Vocabulary development is emphasized to encourage more precise and effective eading and writing.
The literature program affords individual teachers flexibility in selecting works that they are enthusiastic about teaching, while also establishing clear guidelines:
- Students read from each of the major genres each year.
- Students read at least one work by Shakespeare or another classical work each year.
- Students read works from a variety of time periods and cultures, though juniors concentrate on American literature.
The basic standard is one significant piece of writing a week at all levels.
Teachers assign a variety of topics, some based on the student’s own experiences, some based on literature under study. In general, the writing program is closely coordinated with the study of literature, though we recognize the importance of helping students to discover their own voices. In the freshman year, the subject of student writing is often personal experience, but as students develop stronger skills, they are more frequently asked to write more analytical essays, developing and supporting their own interpretations of the reading. We recognize that students must be able to write solid, straightforward, coherent prose in order to succeed at the college level, but we also strive to encourage creativity. Larger papers, including research topics, are assigned at higher levels, but all students become acquainted with the research process. Students also write regularly on quizzes and examinations.KUA Writing Center:
In conjunction with KUA’s Learning Center
, the English Department supports a Writing Center where students may come for help with all stages of the writing process: brainstorming, organization, development, sentence structure, and revision. Writing tutors, who are volunteers from the junior and senior honors and Advanced Placement English classes, staff the Writing Center nearly every class period of the day. Students are welcome to visit the Writing Center for assistance with any aspect or phase of the writing process. The Writing Center is aptly emblematic of the schoolwide commitment to writing at Kimball Union.
Writing Across the Curriculum:
Kimball Union's Junior Writing Portfolio program encourages, improves and promotes student writing. Juniors are required to submit a portfolio of their best writing from different academic departments, together with a one-page cover letter describing those choices. The Writing Across the Curriculum Committee evaluates the portfolios and designates them as Honors, Pass, or Fail. These designations will affect neither the student’s grade point average nor their promotability to senior year, but they will be noted on the student’s transcript. As more colleges move away from standardized testing toward graded papers, this portfolio may prove to be a valuable resource in the college application process.