English at Ashbury
The Junior School English program endeavors to instill in students the foundation for a lifelong love of reading and writing along with the constant will to improve and develop their communication skills. It is this foundation that is so critical to subsequent achievement with the language through high school, post-secondary education, and beyond. The English program provides students with ample opportunities to respond to language, literature, media, and to the ideas and points of view of others. Activities and assignments require students to think, utilize their imagination, and to make personal judgments while developing their abilities to speak, listen, read, and write clearly and effectively.
The Grade 4 English program has been created for students to develop skills and attitudes consistent with proficiency and pleasure in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They learn to use spoken and written language for a variety of purposes-to explain, describe, hypothesize, question, and answer. The program encourages students to interact with others; together they read, compose, discuss, solve problems, and make plans. Students take risks experimenting with their writing and have it appreciated on a day-to-day basis.
The Grade 5 English program expands on the four areas of study: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. A structured approach to reading offers Grade 5 students opportunities to enjoy a wealth of stories while sharing and discussing ideas in depth. Students are expected to continue to read independently throughout the year and preferably to choose from the abundance of prize-winning literature available to them. Per term, one independent novel study is assigned, while a variety of writing forms and styles are explored. In addition, regular spelling and grammar exercises are completed and the writing process is expanded through the use of peer conferencing. As in Grade 4, students are given many opportunities to speak in front of their peers; these include public speaking, Reader's Theatre, dramatic readings, and reading personal pieces. Students will also participate in cross-media comparisons, write movie reviews, and examine and employ advertising techniques.
The Grade 6 English program builds on four areas of study introduced in Grades 4 and 5: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. A structured approach to reading offers students opportunities to enjoy books, share and discuss ideas, and explore novels and short stories in literature circles. Students read three core novels and a book of short stories. Literary elements such as conflict, theme, plot, character, setting, mood/atmosphere, surprise, suspense and pivotal point are studied. Students continue to read independently with one independent novel study completed each term. They are further encouraged to take risks and experiment with their writing and formal grammar is taught on a regular basis. Public speaking, dramatic reading, Reader's Theatre, performing, interviewing, and participating in Literature Circles increases students' confidence and oral communication skills. Media literacy is enhanced with such activities as cross-media comparisons, movie reviews, newspaper writing, scripting, and storyboarding.
The Grade 7 English program provides students with a variety of opportunities to respond to language, literature, media, and to the ideas and points of view of others. Activities and assignments will require students to use their imagination and to make personal judgments while developing their abilities to speak and write clearly. The English program is divided into six broad areas: literature, creative writing, media literacy, formal grammar, study/organizational skills, and listening skills. Students will be challenged to use a variety of literature mediums, from novels to prose and poetry, from audio-visual presentations to personal experiences, and from group discussions to individual presentations of selected topics.
The Grade 8 English program is designed to further challenge students and provide them opportunities to respond in a more sophisticated manner. They respond to: novels, short stories, poetry, Shakespeare, media, independent reading, public speaking, creative writing as well as the points of view of other students. The emphasis is on thinking critically, listening patiently, speaking and writing with precision, and clarity and confidence. Units include three selected novel studies, short story study and writing, responding to a variety of media and media issues, poetry, selected works from Shakespeare, and formal public speaking.
Students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning as a lifelong process in Grade 8. They are also encouraged to set goals for themselves that are re-evaluated as they progress as writers. Writing is often shared in class and students are asked to reflect personally on what has been read or discussed. Respect for others through the sharing of ideas is fundamental in the Grade 8 English program, with the value of others’ unique experiences and views being highlighted.
English Department Events
Every year the English Department runs four major events for the students of the Junior School. The first is the Abinger Hill poetry reading that begins as a class assignment for all students in Grades 7 and 8. Two students from each English class (12 in total) are selected to provide a reading in front of the Junior School student body. The same process is followed for the annual public speaking competition, however this event is held for all students from Grades 4 through 8. In addition, the Grade 8 students are asked to write a “Holiday Short Story” inspired by tales from the holiday season. Selected stories are read at the Junior School’s Holiday Celebration on the last day of the first term. Lastly, all Grade 8s also participate in the annual Shakespeare Festival in which they present selected scenes from the works of William Shakespeare.