Washington State recently made significant changes to the graduation requirements. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is still required, but the alternative pathways to meet that graduation requirement have changed. Bridge to College ELA is now part of that alternative pathway as a transitions course, making it more important than ever for schools and teachers to understand the course. Over the next few months, I plan to highlight student reactions to the course and a few modules to continue the conversation.
This is my third year teaching the Bridge to College ELA course at Davenport High School and I have blogged about the course in two previous posts: “When the Stars Align” and “The First Year.” Debbie Webb also wrote about her experience in her post “Bridge to College and College in the High School.” More resources about the newest version of the program, as it has evolved over the last few years in order to be financially sustainable, can be found at OSPI and the Bridge to College website. Major changes include funding, community of practice implementation, and the significant increase in the number of modules available to teach. The core of the class remains the same though: prepare students for the rigor of English 101 and beyond.
There are many features that make it worth the time to take a look and see if it is appropriate for your school.
Is it a good fit for your school?
Will it meet the needs of my students?
It is important to remember that the course is not remedial in nature. It is a stepping stone for college, and that is not for all students, but there are many modules to choose from in order to tailor the course to your student needs and interests. If your school’s junior year studies rhetoric, you can skip some modules and dive into Juvenile Justice or Racial Profiling. If your students need a little background, Rhetoric of the Op-Ed page is a good place to start.
Does it emphasize writing?
Almost every unit has a writing assessment based directly on the readings of the module. Whether the students are writing about the topic or emulating the author’s style, the final writing project clearly connects to the reading skills practiced throughout. The writing process is one of the strongest features. Students learn the difference between revising and editing and giving students the time to do so is emphasized! All too often the writing process is neglected in favor of content, but in Bridge to College a class must cover six modules, that includes two novels. This allows teacher to truly dedicate time to the writing process.
What type of reading is central to the course?
So much of a student’s success in a post-high school institution is whether or not the student is proficient in reading and writing. Most of that reading, as much as my literature loving heart wants to deny it, is non-fiction. The wide selection of non-fiction topics as well as several non-fiction books (my class reads Into The Wild), gives them a glimpse at both text complexity and text variety.
How does it support success beyond high school?
Beyond the content, coordinators review a module for practicing the necessary habits of mind to be successful college students. This is built into all aspects of a module. One example would be the emphasis on reflection. Students are often asked to reflect on how their perspectives have changed pre and post reading or what process they used to tackle the text. Through the habits of mind practice, students start to move toward independence and see it for themselves. The course focuses on skills that students needs to be self-sufficient readers and writers. By the end of semester, I don’t tell them to label the structure or question the purpose. I don’t require each step of the writing process. They do it because they know that it is the process that leads to a successful product.
I could go on and on, but the truest measure of the success of the course is in the opinion of the students. Next month I want to allow them a place to voice their experience with Bridge to College. Do you have questions for students? Pose your questions in the comments!
I enjoy working with teachers to pool our collective ideas and talents.To fill my teaching bucket in this way, I participate in the ESD 101 ELA Fellows, lead a community of practice for Bridge to College and enjoy working with the CorelaborateWa teachers.
I am in my twelfth year teaching; two doors down the hall, my husband is in his second year as an AgEd teacher and FFA adviser . Our two young daughters, 8 and 5, keep us crazy-- I mean busy--as we juggle 4-H, dance, basketball, t-ball and more.
Latest posts by Jennifer Hargrave (see all)
- Bridge to College: A Closer Look - May 3, 2018
- So Your Student Wants To Take Film Studies: 5 Reasons Why They Should - April 4, 2018
- When the Stars Align: Science and English Collide - March 4, 2018