Reflecting recently on what students need to do well on the (sometimes) dreaded SAT test, I started thinking about my high school English classes.
Even though the SAT test was not recommended much at my high school, the teachers were giving the students the skills needed to do well.
Unlike the current trend, teachers didn't have a standardized test in mind when creating lesson plans. I believe their goal was to teach us every aspect of English.
In 9th grade English with Mr. Kohler, and 10th grade English with Mr. Holland, we were taught grammar:
the 8 parts of speech
the 'be' verbs
clauses and phrases
We also read and discussed good literature and poetry.
It seems that many English curriculums have moved away from diagramming sentences and identifying parts of speech in a sentence because they are deemed unnecessary. While it may seem like busy work, it actually prepares a student to find grammar errors in written passages.
In 11th and 12th grade English with Mrs. Lane we studied vocabulary extensively and read voraciously.
Every week we were given 15 vocabulary words with daily quizzes. At the end of 3 weeks we were given a comprehensive vocabulary test in the form of a crossword puzzle. Many of the words I know and use today are because of those 2 years of high school vocabulary.
In Mrs. Lane's class we were always reading something. We had daily reading assignments and daily quizzes over the current assignment. Class discussion of the assignment was part of the reading lessons.
Writing is one thing I don't remember doing much in my English classes. I consider that the weakness of the classes.
However, my History teacher took care of making sure the students had plenty of writing experience. Mr. Pahl taught us to write a research paper and gave essay tests. I'm sure the essay tests were more work for him, but I know it gave me valuable writing and study skills.
How does your high school English curriculum compare?
Are you thoroughly teaching grammar?
Do you have a vocabulary plan?
Is good literature being read?
Are your students writing regularly?
Are they learning to edit correctly?
Even though it sounds like a lot, those skills are all essential to effective communication and college readiness. As a bonus, your student will be well prepared for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.