The English Department is charged with fostering an appreciation for the history and beauty of the English language, and with improving our students' ability to read, write, listen, and speak. This appreciation and these skills are essential to the academic component of the school's mission. They are needed to ensure mastery of content area and learning skills across the curriculum. They are needed also to develop intellectual curiosity and creativity, qualities that are important for success in all subjects and in life.
The department strives to foster in students a love of literature and writing. This goal is achieved through assignments and activities that not only enhance the comprehension, analysis, and interpretation of literature, but also help students develop their own writing voice and recognize and appreciate the voices of other writers. In addition, English teachers endeavor to enhance students' critical and creative thinking skills and to develop further their skills in listening and speaking. The ESOL program (English for Speakers of Other Languages) focuses on similar goals, with specific attention to developing the English-language skills of non-native speakers to help them achieve success in the classroom-both in English class and in all other subjects.
English classes at Saint Andrew's School provide opportunities for students to explore a wide variety of literary genres and works, and to cultivate their writing skills in a variety of modes. In addition, students build their vocabularies and improve their application of grammar skills.
In the Lower School, students continually develop their skills in reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary through an integrated curriculum. To foster curricular coherence and consistency, the K-5 program uses the same reading series, Houghton-Mifflin, which includes spelling and grammar. All students have a running reading record, are grouped according to level, and are expected to test independently on or above grade level at the end of each section. Fourth and fifth graders also read novels at the same time and are introduced to a variety of genres to foster an appreciation of literature. Explicit, implicit, and evaluative skills are stressed to enhance critical thinking. The fifth grade curriculum prepares students for the demands of the Middle School, not only in Language Arts but also in the area of study skills and computer literacy. Listening and speaking are nurtured, as well, through readings and presentations.
Students in the Middle School expand and refine the knowledge and skills they acquired in the Lower School. All aspects of the writing process are stressed again, but special attention is given to revision. Students learn to use the Write Traits model, which articulates quality writing as the combination of six traits: ideas, word choice, voice, organization, sentence fluency, and conventions. By using this model in all three grades, students acquire a consistent vocabulary with which to discuss their writing throughout their Middle School experience. Students continue to explore many literary genres, but an even more analytical approach is taken as students examine character, theme, conflict, and style. The Middle School also gives many students a chance to publish their writing in its literary magazine, Sun Moon Stars Rain. Additionally, students participate in a reading strategies class designed to provide them with the tools to engage in a variety of academic reading. Vocabulary study occurs in both reading and English classes. Grammar, however, continues primarily in English classes with an integrated approach connecting grammar concepts to writing and editing. To develop speaking skills, students learn the basics of public speaking and have the opportunity to use this skill in their presentations across the curriculum, including the chapel program. To increase their ability to remain attentive during presentations, lectures, and discussions, students learn active listening skills such as sustaining conscientious body posture, questioning, and note taking.
Within the Upper School, the faculty stresses the development of comprehension, critical thinking, and evaluative skills by interpreting works of literature and writing analytically about them. English teachers work in grade-level teams to plan and implement the curriculum in literature, writing, grammar, and vocabulary, as well as to construct comparable assessments. Each team works closely with teachers in the grades above and below to ensure careful, vertical development of skills and content areas. In addition, electives allow students to explore specialized areas of literature, rhetoric, writing, and public speaking. Special departmentally sponsored activities also promote the development of skills and provide opportunities to recognize students' talents. These activities include the production of the school newspaper, The Bagpiper, and the literary magazine, The Literate, as well as the English Speaking Union and the National Council of Teachers of English essay contests. Special programs featuring speakers and visiting writers provide additional opportunities for student enrichment. The Writing Conference invites students at all levels and in all disciplines to discuss and revise individual papers or projects with an English teacher; this program, available every period of the day, reinforces writing as a process. Finally, through robust discussions, presentations, debates, and performances, students are presented with opportunities to become discerning listeners and articulate speakers.
Our mission is that graduates of Saint Andrew's leave with a positive, confident self-image as readers, writers, speakers, and listeners, well equipped for future success in college and prepared to become responsible, thoughtful citizens.