The English Department is in the third year of its implementation of Keys to Literacy, and both students and teachers continue to develop from its use. We have integrated KTL strategies into the curriculum across all grades and all levels, which has really helped us to focus on necessary skills and effective scaffolding. Here’s just some of what we’ve been up to in our hallway this year.
As part of an activity on how to prepare for critical frame student-led discussions, students generated questions that reached different cognitive levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy. After working in groups to develop inquiries that addressed understanding, analyzing, and evaluation, Mrs. Janovitz’s students wrote their questions on the whiteboard tables in our alcove and engaged in a “silent discussion” by walking around the room and answering them. Now, when students prepare for in-class discussions, they know to create a list of questions that facilitate academic conversations and help their peers access the text at different levels.
Seniors in AP Literature and Composition have also spent a lot of time using the KTL categorizing strategies to help them write about complex material. As part of the AP Literature and Composition exam, students need to read unfamiliar passages from challenging texts, analyze the passages, and write an insightful essay on them - all within 40 minutes. The KTL categorizing strategy has really helped students approach challenging literary passages and outline their writing. This has been a go-to strategy for Ms. Bularzik’s students.
While BHS seniors are really familiar with KTL at this point, the strategies were new to our ninth graders. Ms. MacKay effectively introduced them to the top-down web as a way to understand narrative elements, organize thoughts, and begin preparing for writing assignments. While reading Lord of the Flies, her students identified different types of conflicts, found textual evidence of those conflicts, and organized them in a visual display in our hallway.
Introduction to Film and Media students have been using two-column notes to help them understand how media representation impacts social behavior, as well as how filmmakers use visual techniques to convey meaning. This is an assignment students completed after talking about two contemporary family sitcoms, Modern Family and Blackish. Here is an assignment that is helping students organize their thoughts about substantive scenes in the film Pleasantville.
KTL has been really helpful in giving students the foundational skills they need to read and think critically and communicate effectively. We look forward to continuing this work.