Inquiry in English

Keep Scrolling

Inquiry in English

What does inquiry look like in English? What distinguishes English classrooms at Cate? What are the main aspects of our English program?

Foundational Principles and Distinctive Features of the English Program at Cate

  • The English curriculum at Cate embraces the dual responsibility of teaching great literature and of developing the students’ skills as readers, writers, and speakers.
  • Cate’s English program is well-known among colleges for its emphasis on writing in all forms.
  • All courses begin with a dedicated “writing period” in the fall.
  • English courses also emphasize depth and the skills of close textual reading.
  • The English scope and sequence follows a progressive development of skills:
    • 9th grade Humanities combines English and history in an interdisciplinary approach to studying Western civilization.
    • 10th grade English explores a wide variety of genres.
    • 11th grade English is organized by movements in American literature.
    • A common 12th grade fall trimester course focuses on writing and Modernism, followed by elective offerings in the winter and spring trimesters.
  • Advanced or honors levels are offered in grades 10, 11 and 12.
  • Small class sizes (10 to 14 students) allow students to receive frequent feedback from teachers and peers.
  • Cate classes are characterized by student-led discussions featuring rich interaction among students and the teacher that contributes to the collective understanding of the group.

Student Skills and Learning Responsibilities

Cate students will be able to:

  • Read actively, examining both content and form.
  • Consider and contribute to a discussion informed by diverse views, opinions, and perspectives.
  • Write with increasing clarity and precision through practice, feedback, and revision.
  • Formulate various types of questions (factual, clarifying, & inferential).
  • Employ the inquiry process of (1) observe, (2) question, (3) infer, (4) assert, and (5) connect as a method of generating curiosity and furthering understanding.
  • Show increasing independence and initiative in their work and take on more responsibility in class, up to and including leading class discussion.
  • Choose and develop their own writing topics.

Teaching Practices and Pedagogy

Cate English teachers:

  • Structure each class and unit to inspire and develop student curiosity as well as to develop and encourage all the student skills shown on the left.
  • Lead discussions but also promote student leadership and different voices.
  • Prompt student discussion with questions such as:
    • “What do you observe?”
    • “What do you wonder?”
    • “What can you infer?”
    • “Why do you think that?”
  • Demonstrate passion for writing and literature.
    Model techniques and strategies for close reading.
  • Challenge students to speak with clarity and conviction and to write precisely and persuasively.
  • Ensure that content emerges through student inquiry and not simply through direct instruction.

Treat the classroom as a collaborative experience where the best learning occurs in an atmosphere of diverse perspectives.