Our English Department at A.Y. Jackson fosters an environment where the students are encouraged to develop a skill set which will allow them to communicate effectively in all areas of language and culture. We pride ourselves on offering students a rich balance of classical selections and contemporary pieces of fiction. The English Department recently added a challenging piece of new literature to our curriculum — The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. We have a multi-cultural population of students and it is a perfect fit to teach such a provocative piece of literature.
In December of 2010, the English Department continued with the tradition of bringing literature to life. Eric Walters, an award winning teen novelist (Shattered, Bifocal), visited with our Grade Ten student population and offered two captivating workshops. To incorporate more contemporary literature into our courses, we have also added Hunger Games to our English 3C course of study.
Students, in English classes, are made aware of the societal and historical contexts in which the texts they read were written to further enhance their understanding of the text. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are all areas of focus within each English class.
The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) that most students write in grade ten may be a concern parents share. Our students at A.Y. Jackson, however, are very well prepared for the OSSLT. Any student who may have difficulty with this test is invited to participate in one of our “boot camp” preparation sessions. In very small groups, students work with a specialist in the area of English. As a result of this format, we experience results which are higher than both the Provincial and O.C.D.S.B. results.
A.Y. teachers consider literacy to be a cross-curricular initiative and thus we have a literacy committee which has representation from all departments in our school. A.Y. offers students many opportunities to excel in areas of writing by participating in writing Our Writer’s Craft classes in the regularly published Kanata Standard, our community newspaper.