English department revamps curriculum

Freshmen undergo Grammar Boot Camp, sophomores learn American literature.

Freshmen undergo Grammar Boot Camp, sophomores learn American literature

By Caroline Wood
INDEPENDENT STAFF

To ensure that future English students have the same knowledge of certain grammar concepts, freshman English classes have now installed an “intense” Grammar Boot Camp, ninth and tenth grade English teacher Allison Lane said.

  Along with the change, sophomores are taking American Literature as opposed to British Literature.

“English departments from grades 6-12 talked last summer to work on an informal grammar program.” All freshman English teachers are going to try to stick to a schedule that they came up with at the beginning of the year, Lane said.

  According to Lane, the teachers assigned grade levels and for the years in which teachers will introduce the material, practice, and then reinforce it.

  “At the beginning of the school year, we gave a diagnostic test to see the strengths and weaknesses of the students,” she said.

  According to freshman Neil Henry, the test was easy, and now he is learning more grammar than he has before, but some of it can be review.

  “The Grammar Boot Camp is an intense grammar curriculum, given to freshman students, for the whole first quarter,” Lane said. “By the time this year’s sixth graders are ninth graders, we will still have some version of the boot camp, but it will be less of a review and more introduction of new material,” she added.

  Along with the new boot camp, the English curriculum is switching the sophomore English class from British Literature to American.

   “The purpose of the switch is to align the sophomore English class more closely with the history curriculum,” Lane said. It made sense to allow the students to read the literature from the time period that they were learning about in their history classes.

   “It seems to be really effective. I’m already seeing kids bringing knowledge from their history classes and applying it to English. The alignment helps kids connect to the time period they are studying and help better understand the culture,” she said.

  Sophomore Vikki Gonser agrees that she can tell she is bringing what she learns in history class to her English classes.

  The sophomores will learn British Literature during their senior year, Lane said.

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New superintendent strives to familiarize herself with students, faculty

By Kaitlin McDonagh
INDEPENDENT EDITOR 

After former superintendent Marcia O’Neil’s retirement, the school district hired Pamela Beaudoin last summer to replace her as superintendent. Beaudoin’s last position was the curriculum and technology director at North Reading High School.

  Graduating from Simmons College with an undergraduate degree in political science and a graduate degree in education and teaching, Beaudoin worked in Peabody as the assistant principal and in Andover as the program adviser of the high school before her last job in North Reading.

  According to Beaudoin, what made her want to apply for the job as superintendent was the opportunities she could create for the students.

  “So many schools are caught in this cycle of trying to just satisfy MCAS and just have that as their ultimate goal. Here we’re in a position to really reach beyond and give opportunities to kids that other districts would take much longer to get to,” she said.

  “Ms. Beaudoin stood out as the candidate with the necessary vision, skills and passion to lead the [school district],” chairperson of the school committee Anton Giedt said. “She is a very talented and effective administrator and it is a pleasure to work with her.”

  Beaudoin’s main goal this year is to understand the needs and opinions of the students, faculty, and community better.

  “I think it’s really hard when you’re new. People want you to have a lot of answers, but I feel like I need to have a good knowledge of who we are and who we want to be before I can really help give informed responses,” she said.

  Although she wants to understand the district better, Beaudoin is already impressed with what she has learned because the district has a reputation as a “top notch organization.”

  “What’s really stood out to me is that people are just really warm and friendly,” she said. “The way students interact with the adults and the adults with students is just a very pleasant, welcoming environment.”

  Even though she is looking forward to the months ahead, Beaudoin said the large class sizes and budget are the two issues she wants to address. “That’s going to be our big job this year, [making] ends meet,” she said.

  “I’m kind of hoping in January, as the result of all my meetings, I’ll be able to put all my ideas out on the table of what I think we should do,” Beaudoin said.

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History curriculum expands to global studies

By Melissa Moore
INDEPENDENT EDITOR 

AP Comparative Government and Current Global Issues, both taught by history chair Daniel Jewett, were new additions to the history curriculum this year.

According to junior Casey Weld, who takes AP Comparative Government, the class is slightly hectic yet enjoyable.

“It’s interesting to learn about the world,” Weld said.

AP Comparative Government prepares students for the AP test by comparing different politics and governments of six different countries, Jewett said. These countries, selected by the AP Comparative Government curriculum, are China, Russia, Nigeria, Britain, Mexico, and Iran.

“Since the class is new, we’re still figuring out the curriculum,” Weld said.

The class of 12 is divided into two groups of six, senior Olivia Rice said. Two class members study each country, so each group has one member from each nation. Students then blog about current events occurring in their countries.

“I really like it,” Rice said, “Mr. Jewett is the best.”

According to Jewett, it has been a challenge to contrive a completely new curriculum; however, the foundation has been set for students to teach each other through the blogs.

“Though it was last minute, I hope for it to become more popular in coming years,” Jewett said.

Current Global Issues is the honors version of AP Comparative Government, he said. The countries studied, however, are different. Students in Current Global Issues selected their nations, which are China, Afghanistan, Japan, North Korea, Australia, Nigeria, and Mexico.

“Since there is no AP test, we have more liberty to focus on events and countries students are interested in,” Jewett said.

“I’m excited to learn more about this country [USA] and others,” Weld said.

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