English Department

Mission Statement

The mission of the First Colonial High School English Department is to teach the English curriculum as set forth by VBCPS through a variety of quality educational methods.


The goals of English education are to teach students to read and to prepare students to participate in society as literate citizens, equipped with the ability to communicate effectively in their communities, in the work place, and in postsecondary education. As students progress through the school years, they will become active and involved listeners and will develop a full command of the English language, evidenced by their use of standard English and their rich speaking and writing vocabularies.

Students will become familiar with exemplary authors and literary works through a sustained and structured study of literature. Students will read selections which encompass all literary types and exemplify universal themes, that transcend time and place, and encourage students to acquire a lifelong love of reading. A significant percentage of readings at each grade level will be literary classics, that is, poems, stories, essays, plays, and books that have withstood the test of time. Proficient use of the English language will enable students to explore and articulate the complex issues and ideas encountered in public and personal life. Students will acquire the ability to make full and effective use of the written language in their future educational, occupational, and personal endeavors.


Standards for each grade level are organized in four related strands: oral language, reading/literature, writing, and research. Each grade level is preceded by an overview that describes the major concepts and skills that each student will be expected to understand and demonstrate. The standards reflect a balanced instructional program and document a progression of expected achievement in each of the four strands. English standards are organized by grade level because schools are typically organized by grade levels. This organization of standards also reflects the gradual progression in the development of skills.

Oral language includes speaking and listening. In the early grades, students will learn to participate in classroom discussion. Over the course of several grade levels, students will learn to prepare and to deliver presentations and to critique them in order to improve delivery. Students' homes and cultural languages are the starting point for all language learning; however, competency in the use of standard English is the goal for all students. Therefore, daily speaking opportunities, both formal and informal, should be a part of every English program.

Reading begins with an awareness of the concepts of print and the sounds and structure of language. Students acquire a strong foundation in phonetic principles in the primary grades. Students will use independent reading strategies to read fluently and with comprehension. Students study the structure of words and language throughout all grades. Frequent interaction with a broad array of quality literature will engage the reading skills of students and invite them to develop an appreciation for the power and beauty of the written word.

Writing begins with letter formation. Students become increasingly aware of the structure of language and improve written communication through frequent opportunities to apply narrative, persuasive, and expository skills. Daily reading, writing, and oral language experiences are essential for all students. A combination of teacher-guided reading experiences and student reading choices is necessary in helping students develop a lifelong reading habit and an appreciation for literature. Developing this appreciation is a process that should be emphasized at every grade level.