At the heart of our TOPS English courses you will find an independent reading program that promotes the joy of reading. Students have access to classroom libraries with diverse authors and texts and are encouraged to increase their volume of reading without compromising their comprehension throughout their time in TOPS. 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.
Our English courses, based on the work of Thomas Newkirk, Penny Kittle, and Kelly Gallagher, are structured in a way that students first study and compose narrative texts, then move into informing and explaining, and end with argument. This year, our English courses have promoted choice, voice, and collaboration. 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.
In grade 11 English, students examined their own biases, power, and privilege and looked at the work of Ibram X. Kendi, Malcolm Galdwell, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. They then chose from one of 9 different text clubs to further investigate issues that plague our society today. To culminate, students wrote and produced their own inform and explain texts based on their research of an issue that mattered to them. Students produced informational graphic texts, podcasts, and essays that applied the craft moves studied throughout the course.