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 create a passion for, and thus 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 English program in Grade 4 has been developed to provide ample opportunities 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. They take risks and experiment with their writing and have it appreciated on a day-to-day basis.
As with Grade 4, the English program in Grade 5 focuses on four areas of study: reading, writing, listening and speaking. A structured approach to reading offers Grade 5 students opportunities to enjoy books, share and discuss ideas, and explore four core novels and a wealth of stories 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. One independent novel study per term is assigned. A variety of writing forms and styles are explored. The writing process is expanded with the introduction of peer conferencing. Weekly spelling and grammar exercises are completed. 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 participate in cross-media comparisons, write movie reviews, and examine and employ advertising techniques. A variety of stories and poems are read aloud by students and teacher.
The English program in Grade 6 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 depth. Literature Circles are introduced. 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 and one independent novel study is completed each term. They are further encouraged to take risks and experiment with their writing. 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 program is designed to be the foundation of solid linguistic and good study skills for the high school years. The course encourages students to communicate effectively in written, spoken and visual forms while making connections to other areas of study by thinking critically, creatively and reflectively. Students will also use a variety of technologies to communicate their ideas. The course is divided into five broad areas. These areas include: (i)Literature/Creative Writing; (ii) Media Literacy; (iii) Formal Grammar; (iv) Study/Organizational Skills; and (v) Library Skills.
The Grade 8 course is designed to further build upon the foundation established by the Grade 7 program and develop the skills required for high school. The students are provided with opportunities to respond to novels, short stories, poetry, Shakespeare, media, independent reading, public speaking, creative writing and the points of view of other students. Students are encouraged to think critically, listen patiently and to speak and write with precision, clarity and confidence.The major theme of the course will follow the thread of the importance of historical context to fictional storytelling.
In addition to the regular course work the Junior School English Department holds a Public Speaking Competition at all grade levels, a Grade 7 and 8 Poetry Reading and all Grade 8 students participate in an annual Shakespeare Festival.Students are also encouraged to enter their written work in external writing competitions and take part in the Senior School Debating program.