Mr. Kevin Wittmaack
7 - 12 English/ELA Supervisor
Phone: 973-535-8000, x8038
The English Department believes that language is the foundation of all learning and is essential to the acquisition of knowledge in all content areas. Therefore, our mission is to enable students to use language precisely-- reading, writing, listening and speaking—in an integrated way. We aim to instill in our students a lifelong appreciation and love for language as readers, writers, and effective communicators in accordance with the Common Core State Standards.
The department is committed to providing a rich language curriculum that enables students to explore, take risks, and create. We are responsible for developing varied activities which foster sensitivity and respect for others, celebrate diversity, and encourage pride in accomplishment.
At each level, courses are dedicated to presenting the knowledge necessary to meet the ever-changing needs of our complex world. Our students must become problem solvers and decision makers. Our curriculum emphasizes the many facets of information processing and provides opportunities for students to use and apply these skills. We encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning and self-assessment. The development and refinement of language skills will enable students to become productive thinkers who consider ideas from many perspectives, make connections, and transfer and apply knowledge to new situations.
Since the primary goals of an English Language Arts curriculum are recursive in nature, all four units for each grade level have been vertically articulated. In other words, students in each grade level focus on the same units of study; however, each year highlights a specific set of skills and understandings, which scaffold in sophistication. The four thematic “threaded” strands that course through all four years are: Influences on Perception, The Human Condition, Ideal Relationships, and The Emotional Response.
All four units begin with essential questions that are designed to guide students’ thinking. These questions recur throughout the introductions to each unit, at the end of each unit, and before and after the study of each literary selection. Students will have opportunities to revisit these questions in light of new information about a literary period or a new reading or writing experience. All summative assessments will be designed with student understanding and appreciation for the complexity of each of these essential questions.
It should be noted that while each unit in the curriculum is designed with specific targeted areas of attention and skill sets in mind, this is not to say that teachers and students will be limited to only these foci. Since the teaching and learning of English Language Arts is a recursive process, many of these understandings and skills will be revisited, reinforced, and strengthened throughout other times in the school year.
College Prep Level (CP) courses provide standard pacing and emphasis is on a level of instruction that promotes independent and abstract thought. Students read at or above grade level and express and support ideas in both written and verbal communications with little teacher direction. College Prep Level courses require student analysis, synthesis, application, and evaluation. Homework assignments are designed to generate, reinforce and expand upon classroom discussion and conversation. Homework facilitates additional opportunities for abstract and open-ended thinking.
Honors courses provide instruction which promotes greater depth and breadth of content at an accelerated pace. Emphasis is on creative problem solving and making connections between concepts and ideas. Students read above grade level in the content area and express and support ideas in both verbal and written communications. Emphasis on intensive and complex assignments is an integral component to success at this level. Homework assignments are designed to generate, reinforce and expand upon classroom discussion and activities. Assignments at this level are intensive and complex in that they promote expansion of concepts, creative problem solving, and critical thinking. Interest in literature and learning, analytical insight in class participation, analytical insight in written assignments and disciplined work habits are key criteria for success in the Honors level.