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You are right, right, right -- both types are needed. One set is a skills focus, while the other is a body ofknowledge focus. The body of knowledge doesn't apply until a certain level of skill and life experience is reached. I am reminded (unpleasantly) of a sixth grade teacher who handed a small groups of her students copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal fram and and set them to independent reading because they were "able to read on that level." Of course, they were far too young to figure out what the books were about -- especially on their own. Skills first, then both simultaneously, sliding ever closer to a complete body-of-knowledge focus.


I agree. I was hired to teach composition, but the administration added several literature courses to my teaching load. Four of my comp students are also in my English lit class, and their literature essays are so much better than those of my non-comp students. I do teach some writing in the literature classes, but it's just not enough to give them a little bit here and there. Writing is hard work, and it requires an intensive, writing-only class.

I have already approached the administration about having a required composition course (in addition to literature) for high-school students (either freshmen or juniors). We'll see what happens with that (keeping fingers crossed)!


This is so easily forgotten, so thank you for the reminder. Recently the private school at which I teach re-organized our English department curriculum to reflect a better progression, we hope. Middle schoolers have 2 periods for "English." One is language based, with time spent on grammar, vocabulary-building, spelling, writing; the other is literature based, with a strong focus on building reading comprehension and speed as well as literary terms and genres. In high school, our 9th and 10th graders have a writing-focused English class, with one literature unit per quarter. Our 11th and 12th graders have American Lit and British Lit survey classes, with research paper projects each semester.

I'm proud of the design that we teachers came up with, which our administration approved heartily. We have 3-4 sections of each grade level, and one teacher for each grade level's English class in the high school.

I teach 11th graders, and this year's group are the first of my students who had both the 9th and 10th grade writing-focused classes. Their writing is much stronger than previous classes, as you might expect.


Never did I understand this division better than when I moved from teaching 9th/11th grade to teaching 7th/8th grade. Both types of teacher have valuable knowledge to bring to the table, but it's hard to get them to work together well. It sounds like Jeri's school has a good plan in place though.

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