This fall, KOC started its year 2 curriculum at Booker T. Washington High School. As such, six sophomore KOC ambassadors have been meeting on a weekly basis to focus on indispensable specific skills and the mental habits that will engender future flexibility and perpetual growth.
The first several lessons have focused on what we deem to be the most crucial concrete, or “hard,” skills: writing, public speaking, Microsoft Office and other technological competencies. These tools are necessary to effectively navigate the modern world, and their mastery opens doors that could not be opened any other way. While some of these skills are covered in a student’s regular coursework, many are not, most are underemphasized, and only rarely are students made aware of their functional importance.
Each lesson makes use of three assignments that sharpen essential skills on an almost daily basis: reading and critical thinking, writing, and problem solving. At the beginning of each class the students are given a problem to engage their mathematical prowess, logic, and analytical reasoning. At the end of each lesson, students complete short, graded writing assignments. The prompts typically relate to the material learned, or relate the day’s lesson to their own Community Impact Project. The first module was “writing and public speaking,” the goal of which is to introduce students to the writing and speech skills that will be required of them in both classroom and career settings.
For the first lesson, “writing crash course,” students were introduced to basic grammar through passage reading, writing, and review. The writing focused on professional writing, peer revie skills, and tools used for improving one’s writing. The aim was to familiarize students with grammatical conventions via intensive writing assignments that are closely edited by peers and teachers, then revised. During this lesson, we discussed parts of speech, sentence structure, and paragraph structure. In order to emphasize the importance of writing in a professional setting, we facilitated a discussion by posing the question “why do you think writing is important in a professional and collegiate environment?” Additionally, the students practiced their reading comprehension skills with a take-home assignment. This exercise was similar to an AP English Literature one, featuring an excerpt from “A Man of Letters as a Man of Business.”
During the second lesson, “intro to professional writing,” we familiarized students with the different forms of writing that will be expected of them in a college or career setting. We discussed the role of editing and critiquing, and also emphasized the importance of proofreading. During this lesson, we went over professional emailing, and worked with students on coming up with a hypothetical thank you email following a job interview. At the end of the lesson, we had students brainstorm some ideas for their Community Impact Projects, which they read out loud to the other students in the class.
The third lesson, “advanced writing topics,” students examined the different tools at their disposal for improving our own writing. We also took a more advanced look at sentence structure and the importance of both grammar and spelling in professional writing. We went over the ways in which the dictionary and thesaurus can improve writing, and also went over possessive nouns and verb tenses, since the students seemed to need more practice in both these areas.
The fourth lesson, “professional and public speaking,” was designed with the goal that students should be able to identify the different setting in which public speaking will be important in both a career and classroom setting. We taught the students how to convey oneself in the best way possible through speech techniques. Additionally, the students were assigned famous historical speeches that they will present during the next two lessons. At the start of this class, we facilitated a discussion by asking students why they think public speaking might teach them to become a better listener. In doing this, we emphasized the importance of listening in being able to adequately express their ideas.
The upcoming lessons will feature Price Waterhouse Cooper volunteers who will teach on financial literacy.