District 127 plans to implement alternative courses to fulfill the English requirement for seniors beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The classes are offered as electives for either one semester or a full year, replacing a traditional English credit. Designed to cater toward more passion-based interest, the new classes look toward future aspirations by focusing on a variety of interests.
“It was…the district’s objective and my own personal objective to offer more variety by the time you get to be a senior so that you can take something that aligns with your interest…[and] the skills that you think you might need post high school,” Central’s English Department Chair Melissa Thurlwell said.
The new one semester classes are diverse voices, speech, world literature (previously as a two semester class) and writers’ workshop, along with the new two semester class: broadcast journalism. According to junior Ella Jensen, the junior class has shown a positive response to the new classes.
“[The juniors] have all been thrilled. They are all super excited. I think they feel the same as I do; they’re so excited to have more opportunities to learn,” Jensen said.
Because the courses are being offered to next year’s seniors, students closer to college and beyond have first choice.
“I think that by the time you’re 16-17 years old, you do start to have an idea [of]…what you like, what you dislike…When you get closer to those post high school ambitions, you can begin to make more thoughtful choices,” Thurlwell stated.
Although the courses pose potential benefits for students, it could be challenging for teachers.
For the new senior English courses, “the curriculum doesn’t really exist… Teachers are really going to have to decide what skills they want to teach, and how they’re going to teach them,” English teacher Jeff Barry said.
The classes motivate students to be more engaged with the material in the new curriculum and connect with the ideas they’re more interested in learning.
“I’m excited to have some new curriculum, and it…gets me excited for class. It’s not just a basic subject, it’s something I’m interested in and I can pick between those interests,” Jensen said.