English 91: Developing Fluency in Reading and Writing

The goal for students in English 91 is to build fluency in both reading and writing. Fluency refers to the ability to understand reading assignments and to write comprehensible essays. Because the primary focus of English 91 is the development of fluent expression and comprehension, students will do a significant quantity of reading and writing. These reading and writing activities ask students to focus on the construction of meaning as they build fluency.

Students in this course produce writing in a variety of genres such as freewriting, informal reading journals, personal narratives, and reading-based essays. Throughout the course, students learn to write through the careful revision of their essays based on teacher, tutor, peer, and self-response. By the end of the course, students must demonstrate an understanding of essay organization and coherence, and their essays must be developed with adequate use of logic and evidence including explanation, examples, paraphrases, direct quotations, and analysis. The course strongly emphasizes the connections between reading and writing, and at least two of the three essays in students’ final portfolios must be based on reading.

Students also read extensively and in a variety of genres including whole books (either novels or nonfiction), essays, and articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals. The course distinguishes between extensive reading (reading quickly to get the main ideas) and intensive reading (reading shorter texts, very carefully, to understand fine shades of meaning). Students often use writing to respond to their reading in the form of focused freewriting, summaries, paraphrases, and responses to questions related to general comprehension, main ideas and supporting details, inference, and so on.

By the end of English 91, students should:

  • Understand that writing and reading are recursive, social processes that require feedback from others.
  • Reflect on their own learning process in a way that helps them take responsibility for improving their reading and writing.
  • Master the process of drafting their essays, which includes revision, editing and proofreading, first with and then without teacher and peer feedback.
  • Write essays that respond meaningfully to a topic and develop ideas at length (at least three typed pages)
  • Provide a thesis statement for their essays.
  • Summarize, paraphrase and quote information relevant to their essay topics as a way of supporting their thesis.
  • Make connections between the ideas in different texts and their own experiences.
  • Organize ideas in their essays in a logical way.
  • Understand and use the conventions of academic discourse in their writing.
  • Improve their ability to analyze ideas, both from texts and their own experiences.
  • Identify the main idea(s) in texts and distinguish main ideas from supporting details.
  • Use a variety of reading strategies to approach challenging texts: annotation, figuring out meanings from context, prediction, close reading.
  • Engage the challenging work of critical thinking that will be required in all of their future English courses.

Extended Course Description
Sample Course 1
Sample Course 2
Portfolio Information for Students Handout
Final Portfolio Response Form
Sample Department Final Reading Exam