The English curriculum at CESC focusses on developing excellent reading and writing skills. We believe in children experiencing as many texts as possible, and support them to make links between what they read and what they can write.
Students are given the tools they need to access texts, with a clear emphasis on the comprehension strategies that are the step above being able to read the words in the texts aloud. The students are encouraged to read a ‘Just right book’, using the five word test – if there are more than five words on a page that are unknown or too difficult to decipher, the text is too hard. The students are then supported to further understand the text they’ve chosen using these comprehension strategies:
- Activating and connecting (linking our thinking, memories and knowledge to what we are reading)
- Determining importance (knowing what to look for in texts and how to use the structure to give us clues)
- Inferring (working out what the writer is hinting at in the text)
- Predicting (looking for evidence with regards to what will come next)
- Visualising (creating a mental picture of the text)
- Monitoring (checking ourselves for understanding, confusion, fluency in reading)
- Questioning (wondering what will happen next, where the text goes to from here, why things are done in the text the way they have been done)
- Summarising and synthesising (converting the text and ideas into our own words and linking them to knowledge we already have)
After this has become a part of the process students use to access texts, we introduce a deeper analysis of the ideas the writer shows, why the writer might be showing them, and how their ‘craft’ (writing techniques, style, structure and language) is used to put across the ideas.
This is then linked to how our students are taught writing. We have three basic writing types: Expository (instructional and informative), persuasive and creative. Students are taught to think of their writing in terms of SIX writing traits, which are:
- Ideas (what you’re going to say and show)
- Organisation (the form and expectations of that form)
- Word Choice (the types of words you use)
- Sentence fluency (the sentence types of which there are three)
- Voice (how authentic your ‘persona’ is)
- Conventions (grammar, punctuation, spelling – all the rules)
This basic premise is seen throughout the curriculum, and is underpinned by VELS (the Victoria Curriculum documents). With this we look at three main areas: Reading and Viewing, Writing, and Speaking and Listening. All of this is designed to give the students a broad experience and develop essential literacy skills required in senior studies, tertiary experiences and life itself.
Reading and writing is supported by literature circle texts, where students are able to read a variety of fiction texts and discuss the ideas in groups. Students in years 7 and 8 are grouped according to need. At times this is an ability grouping, and other times mixed grouping, or specific groups based on learning updates that are needed. Years 9 and 10 are in mixed ability home groups, with the exception of the LEAF program, which looks at extending the students’ ability. Students in years 9 and 10 are also supported in an online learning environment.
The following is a breakdown of the units studied at the college:
When the students are in the literature / reading circle groups they have access to a range of text choices that suit their interests and needs.
EAL also has an additional outcome which is a series of LISTENING tasks.