The uniqueness of our Catholic curriculum is evidenced in our incorporation of our province’s Catholic Graduate Expectations into our learning goals. While many of these expectations are shared by the secular school system (effective communication; creative thinking; self-directed learning, collaboration and citizenship) our Catholic curriculum goes farther in that we also specifically celebrate the value in being a caring family member and a child of God. Certainly the uniqueness of our English curriculum lies in specifically demonstrating to learners the value in living in communion with our immediate and extended families and in seeking communion with God.
Our focus on these two graduate expectations (individual’s relationship with their family/community and with God) are simply addressed in the English curriculum through the regular incorporation of open-ended response opportunities, usually by way of the Minds’ On portion of the English lesson. Open-ended response activities that invite learners to share their thoughts and to actively listen to their peers, provide the necessary space for learners to be able to reflect and to understand their connection to each other and, by extension, to their family and their God.
While providing learners with open-ended response opportunities serves to move lessons forward, push students deeper into the topic, settle their minds and to access their prior knowledge, schema, these activities also imply a collaborative and creative response to a given text. The combined effect is to humanize the learning by providing space for moments of insight which are often generated by peers who are relying on and drawing from their own out-of-school lives to enrich their learning. In this way, the subject matter of our English courses can become a wonderful pretext for creating opportunities to connect with classmates, which can greatly influence how we teach learners to connect with their community, their families and with God.