At the heart of our TOPS English courses you will find an independent reading program that promotes the joy of reading. Throughout the English program, students have access to classroom libraries with diverse authors and texts and are encouraged to increase their volume of reading, while learning advanced comprehension and analysis strategies. Daily independent reading and one-on-one reading conferences with the teacher allow students to explore their reading interests and encourages them to read widely increasing reading stamina and background knowledge for their post-secondary endeavors. The second main component to our English program is our quickwrites, where students study mentor texts and write daily to, of course, improve their writing skills, but most importantly to write for themselves and explore their creativity.
In TOPS English, our educators have completed a lot of professional development around new ways of thinking and learning about reading and writing. We are restructuring our courses, based on the work of Thomas Newkirk, Penny Kittle, and Kelly Gallagher, so that students move through the study and composition of narrative, inform & explain, and argumentative texts. Our English courses promote choice, voice, collaboration, social justice and equity.
For example, in grade 12 English, through an inquiry-based approach, students studied non-fiction texts that examined issues around truth and reconciliation. They produced their own podcasts and documentaries in response to their inquiry questions. In small groups they also studied a variety of plays from Hamlet to the Pulitzer Prize winning play Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar.
Grade 9 students study the art of memoir, graphic texts, comics, and classical epics. This is paired with student choice book clubs featuring authors from diverse backgrounds and field trips that explore the media machinations of Ikea or the storytelling of escape rooms.