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English & Literature 

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The English Language and Literature Department is committed to equipping every Whitleyan with effective and affective communication skills. As a core competency in navigating the intricacies of our increasingly complex world, we believe in exposing our students to relevant language-use contexts. This is done through infusing authentic texts and tasks into our classroom pedagogies. Across the levels, students embark on a variety of meaningful tasks such as public speaking, critical thinking, collaborative research, and story creation. In 2021, we have adapted well to the challenges of the pandemic, tapping on platforms such as StoryJumper and Libby, as well as advanced software such as Scribo, to augment and deliver our English Language curriculum effectively. Indeed, our students have risen to the challenge, winning Gold Awards in the Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition. Alongside the Applied Learning Programme, all these come together in our goal to develop our students into confident communicators and curious learners.

In our Lower Secondary Literature in English programme, our students encounter a range of exciting texts across the genres of prose, poetry, and drama as they explore the human condition. Alongside a selection of classic, local, and modern poetry, our Secondary 1 students read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, which is brought to life in the classroom through meaningful discussion and activities such as storyboarding, diorama-making, and readers’ theatre. Our Secondary 2 students are introduced to the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, and to the nuances of stagecraft through drama pedagogy. At the Upper Secondary levels, our Literature students are introduced to a range of literary forms and perspectives, using them as critical lenses to unpack texts such as Fahrenheit 451 and Fiela’s Child. This year, through our Theatre Immersion Programme, our Secondary 4 students were treated to a screening of Lungs, while our Secondary 3 students will be enjoying the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) in the theatre at the end of the year. Our Choral Reading and Unseen Poetry Debate teams have also performed admirably at the National Schools’ Literature Festival 2021.

With Full Subject-Based Banding implemented in the Lower Secondary levels, Secondary 1 and 2 students are given the opportunities to take up English Language or Literature in English at more demanding levels if they do well in their current stream. At both the Lower and Upper Secondary levels, students who are eligible to offer the subjects at a more demanding level are given the learning support to help them bridge into the more demanding streams. If they continue to do well, they can then work towards sitting for the examinations for the more demanding subjects at the GCE O-Level or N-Level Examinations.

Excited Literature students on the way to the show.
Getting swabbed as part of Pre-Event Testing!
Being wowed by the show and being reluctant to leave the theatre.
Sharing of student works with the class - an affordance of MS Teams connecting students’ PLDs and teachers’ laptops.

Talent Management Programme

Students with a flair for English Language or Literature in English are also given opportunities to be groomed and represent the school at competitions. After a school-wide essay competition, budding writers are identified and mentored by their English Language teachers to hone their writing skills and prepare a polished composition to represent Whitley Secondary School at the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. This year, a record number of Whitleyans achieved the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, despite the restricted face-to-face mentoring with their teachers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tech-savvy and critical thinkers of the lower secondary English Language classes were also handpicked by their English Language teachers and prepared for the National Library Board’s annual Prove It! Contest. The select few who formed the team this year were tasked with creating a video on the S.U.R.E. (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) steps, and had to promote it in school as an advocacy effort to promote good information discernment habits.

Whitleyans also kept our flag flying high at the National Schools Literature Festival. After a virtual inter-class poetry slam for lower secondary students, the winners were selected to represent the school in the Choral Reading event of the National Schools Literature Festival. The identified talents from the upper secondary Literature in English classes also represented the school at the National Schools Literature Festival, taking part in the Unseen Poetry Debate event.

Unseen Poetry Debate Team receiving their certificates from Mrs Anba.
Choral Reading Team receiving their certificates from Mrs Anba.
Mrs Anba with the proud winners of the Gold Award of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2021.
Our school’s representatives in the Prove It! Contest receiving their certificates from Mrs Anba.

Professional Learning Teams

As part of Whitley Secondary School being a Professional Learning Community (PLC), the two Professional Learning Teams (PLT) in the Department of English Language and Literature conduct research and implement pedagogical interventions every year to learn how to improve student outcomes in a systematic, timely and holistic manner. This year, the English Language PLT studied levels of self-directed learning in students with the shift to E-pedagogy and students having their Personal Learning Devices (PLDs). The English Literature PLT investigated the effectiveness of digital annotations of literary texts in encouraging students’ close analysis and quality of writing. The yearly research foci help to enhance the teachers’ professional development, and lead to better teaching and learning for the students.

Implementing the use of PLDs in Collaborative Learning activities in English Language lessons.
Investigating the impact of PLDs on our students in Self-Directed Learning activities during English Language lessons.
Digital Annotation of texts in Literature lessons.
Teacher modelling using whiteboard and projector for students to digitally annotate on PLDs.