Arturo Schomburg Satellite

Core English
Teachers: Jackie and Noah

Narrative Overview of the Course:

Core English is designed to introduce and welcome new students to the Bronx Satellite community. We begin with the premise that Core needs to be exciting, engaging, and must allow students to feel successful in their new learning environment. We will explore the various aspects of identity, including family, decision-making, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and media depictions. We connect these issues of identity with our learners' own lives as they begin to express new understandings of their own lives and decisions. Students will learn to articulate their own identities in the context of the various arenas in which people relate to each other in contemporary society.

Topics to be Included:

This course will be broken into eight units, which are as follows:
� Introductory activities
� Family
� Race and Ethnicity
� Gender
� Sexual Orientation
� Media and Discourse Analysis
� Connections to Self
� Autobiographical Work

Skills to be mastered:

The skills we work on in Core English stem from a focus on critical thinking about issues of identity: each skill revolves around inspiring our students to actively engage with the world and understand their place in it. At the same time, we work to afford our learners skills that will make them successful in their future academic endeavors at Satellite and beyond. Students learn the conventions of expository writing, such as writing a thesis, evidencing their points of view, organizing their ideas, and decoding difficult vocabulary. We also work on study habits, research skills, mechanics of writing, and comprehension abilities.

Instruction Strategies and Assessment Strategies

This course provides a balanced approach toward learning, a blend of progressive and traditional methodologies. Projects alternate between individual and communal work, and traditional skill work is employed so that learners can become comfortable with the conventions of Standard English. When doing skill work, modeling is vital so that learners always have examples from which to begin. As shared meanings and interaction are extremely important to the learning process, group work is held in high esteem, yet students are also individually assessed through their own writing. Large and small group discussions, writing shares, and personal letters ensure that each student's voice is heard to some degree. In all of the course's activities, the goal is to begin with the familiar and, through "scaffolding," to continually build on the known by guiding learners through new ways of thinking and communicating.

Students are mainly assessed through unit projects from which their final course portfolio will be comprised. To ensure that students see the differences between writing and speaking genres, many projects are multi-genre. This allows students to learn how certain forms of writing or speaking are useful (or not useful) in terms of reaching the desired goal of communication. Assessment of written work is done with rubrics that are similar to the grading method used on the ELA. Group projects, class discussions, vocabulary quizzes, comprehension and grammar work, and regular homework also contribute to assessment of students' progress in this course.

Alignment with State Standards:

This course is aligned to the New York State Performance Standards in terms of the guidelines for reading, writing, responding to literature, speaking and listening, and usage of English. Learners work on the skill of reading for specific information and learn new vocabulary through context clues. Similarly the expository writing in the course corresponds to the requirements for the writing component or the standard section of responding to literature. Group discussions and shares (for both individual and communal projects) fulfill the speaking and listening needs of learners. The focus on revision and the writing process also provides skill work to accord to the usage of the English language component.

Core English Long-term Plan
Week one: Introductory Unit Team building, icebreakers, writing diagnostics, overview of course and class procedures

Week two: Unit on Family Reading selection from The Women of Brewster Place, class discussions, persuasive essay and writing process (self, peer, and teacher editing procedures)

Week three: Reading selection from The Men of Brewster Place

Week four: Unit on Race and Ethnicity Reading introduction The Invisible Man, poetry

Week five: Selections from Drown, The Color Purple, and Bodega Dreams, critical lens essay and revision processes

Week six: Unit on Gender Worksheets on gender assumptions, Reading Three Lives in the Drug Trade, watching film Girlfight

Week seven: Reading and discussing "X: A Fabulous Child’s Story," poetry of Sarah Jones, film Billy Elliot.

Week eight: Unit on Sexual Orientation Reading "The Two," selections from Gay and Straight Teens write about Homosexuality, film work and review for The Women of Brewster Place film

Week nine: Watching and discussing Boys Don’t Cry, poetry by Rafael Campo

Weeks ten and eleven: Unit on Discourse Analysis and Media Analysis, project on power issues in language (discourse analysis), create an ad project, analysis and production of hip hop video (group project)

Week twelve and thirteen: Unit on the Self Self project (newspaper/magazine interview, discussion of formation of individual identity)

Weeks fourteen and fifteen: Unit on Personal History, Autobiographical writing

Week sixteen: ELA prep, taking and assessing practice ELA exams

Week seventeen: Portfolio preparation and practice for presentations