Literacy Overview

GDQ’s literacy program equips students with a strong command of language by providing them with  balanced instruction in the four areas of communication — speaking, writing, reading and listening — so that they might communicate their ideas with clarity and understand, appreciate, and examine the ideas of others based on God’s truth. In doing so, the program seeks to ensure that students

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding.
  • recognize the aesthetic beauty of literature.
  • analyze ideas through a variety of lenses including logical, cultural and biblical.
  • comprehend and critically analyze a variety of texts.
  • research a variety of topics, using credible sources and communicate their research in a variety of forms.
  • clearly communicate orally with confidence in both formal and informal settings.
  • become lifelong readers, reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of conventions for reading, writing and speaking.
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
  • use discussion in order to learn, elaborating where needed and explaining clearly their understanding and ideas.

Lower School Literacy Program

GDQ’s lower school literacy program focuses on meeting and enhancing the individual learning needs of each student. The program incorporates standards and curriculum from both Britain and the US. Curriculum maps, overviews and unit plans focus on whole class teaching elements while allowing for individualized student differentiation as the school’s student population is highly international.

Curriculum for the K5 program takes a thematic approach and promotes growth in reading comprehension, writing, listening and speaking. Skills and objectives are integrated across the subject disciplines.Reading and spelling are individualized to best meet student needs. Reading programs are based on DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) for accuracy and comprehension, DIBELS fluency probes and guided reading books published by Heinemann Literacy Worlds and Comets. Supplemental leveled readers, both fiction and non-fiction, come from Reading A-Z. The Nelson spelling program supports individualize spelling.

In kindergarten and grade 1, reading, spelling and handwriting are taught through the use of systematic programs that use multi-sensory and multiple intelligences approaches to learning. The integration of phonics learning with reading, spelling and handwriting exposes students to the practical and real-life purpose for learning. The learning of and use of the basic high frequency words, including those that are not phonetic, are also integrated into the K1 program to ensure that students develop a solid base of English language acquisition skills for future learning. Reading comprehension, oral language, grammar and writing skills are integrated and taught through the use of cross-curricular themes from science and social studies.

 Middle School Literacy Program

GDQ’s middle school literacy program seeks to represent all areas of language arts through modeling skilled communication and providing students with individual feedback to further skill development. Students are challenged to read and analyze increasingly difficult texts. They have opportunities to grow as writers of both fiction and non-fiction texts ranging in length from individual paragraphs to essays. They are also given multiple opportunities to practice incorporating research into their writing. Students develop speaking and listening skills through avenues such as group discussion, drama, formal debates and public speaking. The literacy department is working to establish systematic grammar and vocabulary instruction so that students will use increasingly sophisticated mechanics and language in their writing. Standards are pulled from both the US and the National Curriculum of England.

High School English Program

The high school English program pulls together learning aims from both British and US educational systems (Cambridge International, Common Core, Advanced Placement) with standards based on the National Curriculum in England and Common Core.

Instruction for students in grades 9 and 10 builds up to the IGCSE English as a First Language exam and English as a Second Language exam for non-native English students. The exam assesses reading comprehension and directed-writing aptitude. The reading section places emphasis on understanding explicit and implicit meaning, writer’s effect, analysis and evaluation of a specific purpose. The directed writing section assesses students’ abilities to organize information in an argumentative, descriptive and/or narrative form. The English as a Second Language also has a listening and speaking component. Grade 10 students take the exam in May. Overall learning objectives focus on reading, writing, listening and speaking. Individual and group work reinforce skills through a variety of activities. Throughout these two grades, students are also exposed to different works of literature, with the aim of enjoying the experience of reading and enhancing the ability to critically interpret a text through individual responses and class discussion. Grammar and vocabulary acquisition are built into the program.

Students in grades 11 and 12 spend one year focused on literature and another on language and composition. In both courses the acquisition of new vocabulary is continued. The literature class offers students a broad introduction to significant works of literature across time periods and cultures. While focused on literature, the course continues to develop students’ skills in writing, research, critical thinking, vocabulary acquisition and grammar. The AP Language and Composition course develops students’ skills in reading non-fiction texts with a purpose and developing thinking and writing skills specific to analysis, synthesis and argumentation in preparation for university study. The AP Language and Composition exam is taken in May. Depending on universities attended, students earning a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam may acquire course exemption and/or college credit.