The job of Middle School English is to teach students to produce crisp, sophisticated, analytical writing. Every aspect of the Ribét Academy program is designed with this outcome in mind, and is comprised of the following components:
Vocabulary teaches precision of meaning and increases depth of thought. Here, vocabulary is taught with a focus on usage. Students learn a single word often contains many layers of meaning and that it can work as one of several parts of speech. Students are guided through multiple correct usages for each, and through this process, develop a deep, intuitive understanding of both the meanings of the vocabulary words and their functional utility.
Grammar teaches precision of delivery and internalizes the logic of the language. At Ribét Academy, students learn grammar one step at a time. They begin with the basics – things they have likely encountered before. They learn to draw visual representations of basic sentences. New components are added one element at a time; gradually, the diagrams become larger and more complex. The order in which the elements of the grammar are presented is tightly regimented, but the speed of delivery is flexible, allowing students at all levels to achieve real, lasting, demonstrable results.
The writing program itself is characterized by high standards, multiple drafts, and individuated, teacher-guided instruction for each student. Short fiction, essays and timed writing prompts serve as launching points for generating text. This sets the Ribét Middle School program apart from just about any other. While most other Middle School students spend their time reading and discussing novels, ours spend their time writing. We prioritize writing because it has a high results-to-time ratio. A student with excellent writing skills cannot help but develop excellent reading comprehension skills as well. This is so, because the student has learned to think like a writer – to break down text and truly understand how it accomplishes its ends.
Finally, there are philosophical underpinnings that guide how instruction proceeds. Foremost, we, the Ribét faculty, believe that guided work achieves better results than explanation. Thus, abstract concepts are taught by guiding the students through concrete processes. Secondly we believe that student work should be precise, carefully executed and formatted to promote clarity and readability. Lastly we believe in individuation. We want to each student to achieve to the maximum of their potential. Thus, we nurture each student’s voice, and celebrate graceful, elegant text in all its forms.
This is the Ribét Academy Middle School English program.