Welcome to the English Department!

In the PHS English Department, you have the opportunity to explore a variety of texts. You’ll write, speak, and create media products with purposes and for audiences that are relevant to you.

Here, you’ll experience:
open-ended, project-based, and self-directed learning
guided instruction to establish and refine specific skills and knowledge
traditional texts, texts chosen by you, Indigenous texts, and the like.

Additionally, under the umbrella of the English Department is Drama, which we encourage you to also explore.

Extra Opportunities in English

  • Creative Writing Club
  • Lunchtime Help

Department Staff

Ms. Bekendam amanda_bekendam@wrdsb.ca
Mr. Bignell chris_bignell@wrdsb.ca
Mrs. Benevides oriana_wattsbenevides@wrdsb.ca  Assistant Department Head
Mrs. Blaak karen_blaak@wrdsb.ca  Department Head
Ms. Geimer cindy_geimer@wrdsb.ca
Ms. Kiff angela_kiff@wrdsb.ca
Mr. Spacek patrick_spacek@wrdsb.ca
Mr. Thompson justin_thompson@wrdsb.ca


Video: Welcome Grade 9s

Student FAQs

Q: I’ve never taken “English” before – what is it?

A: English is all about communication. At the heart of it, it’s about…

learning to process how texts communicate with you and
learning about how effectively communicate about what you’ve learned from those texts.
The Ontario English Curriculum, much like the Language Arts curriculum, explores ways for students to consume a variety of information in a variety of ways through

Consuming Media

It then explores a variety of ways of expressing a variety of messages designed for specific and relevant audiences using

Creating Media

Another way to think of these Essential Learnings areas is this way:


Q: What if I’m not good at reading and writing? I feel like I’m not going to be good at English at all.

A: First, remember that English is more than reading and writing. You’ll listen, consume and analyze media, receive a lot of support crafting your writing, and working to deliver information in unique ways overall.

And remember: the whole process of education is to take you from…

not knowing and not being able to
knowing and being able to do

We are here to teach you how to use your strengths to support your learning and we can help you find new unknowns to tackle.

Q: Speaking is part of the English curriculum, but I am super shy and I hate speaking in public. What do I do?

A: You’re right – public speaking can be a challenge. Actually, it’s a challenge for everyone. We tend to dislike the very things we need to practice, so the first thing is to get practice.
We will help you get that practice by creating opportunities for you to get more comfortable with speaking, and then more comfortable speaking in front of others. We also create space for a wide range of spoken products. Not every spoken product is a full-class presentation. These all count as well:

small-group chats
recorded podcasts
interviews (recorded / in person)
tutorials / instructional / persuasive talks
spoken-word poetry

Parent FAQs

Q: What’s the workload like? What are the assessments like? How much homework should we expect to accommodate in the evenings?

A: This entirely depends on the class type, teacher, and student, but here are some examples of the choices individual teachers may make for their classes:


Most teachers incorporate independent work time into each class, which could allow students to complete activities during class depending on the task. Completion of work in class often does depend on the student.

Classes often embed the assignments, formative work, instructional activities, and discussion right into the time allotted for the class each day. This means that if students engage as expected, they will be able to complete all of their work before leaving class.
Classes will often entail homework throughout the semester, which may include working on spoken, written, and media creation projects that span over a unit or other period of time.
Some courses involve more self-directed learning that students design for themselves and can work on at their own pace.


Some teachers assign core reading materials (novels, plays, etc.). Other teachers may offer more choice in terms of core reading. We work to create opportunities for students to read a wide range of authors, backgrounds, lived experiences, identities, etc. We also work to offer fiction, nonfiction, longer texts, shorter texts, poetry, etc.


Assignments are tailored to each grade level.
Teachers work to create some consistency among courses, though you may notice that your grade 9 English course is taught a bit differently than your friend’s grade 9 English course; this is because each teacher designs courses for the needs in the room while also factoring in your teacher’s own areas of expertise and knowledge.

Rest assured: we always design learning through the Ontario Curriculum’s Essential Learning targets.
At the heart of delivering the curriculum to students and assessing their proficiencies from 9-12 is a diverse range of assessments that aim to include:
formative learning during which teachers can observe student progress
conferencing with students to offer feedback on their learning
final assessment products that fairly represent student growth
offering opportunities to revisit the learning for improvement

A major focus in this department is the assessment of skills and knowledge rather than working through texts and tasks; we are concerned with the learning and with teaching students how to engage with ideas; assessment products and how teachers offer feedback on those assessments are both driven by the Essential Learnings in English.

Courses and curriculum documents

ENG1DI, ENG2DI, ENG3UI, ENG4UI  English Academic and University

ENG2PI, ENG3CI, ENG4CI     English Applied and College

ENG3EI, ENG4EI, OLC4OI  English Workplace and the Literacy Course

EMS3OI  Media Studies

EWC4UI  Writer’s Craft

Please read the course description under English.

Gr 9 & 10 English curriculum document

Gr 11 & 12 English curriculum document