Curriculum Development

Years 1 and 2


The C2C academic program for the first two summers focuses on strengthening basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for success in college.

Both content (what is studied) and metacognitive strategies (how content is learned) are emphasized. Four classes per day—reading, writing, math, and vocabulary/grammar—meet for one hour each, and half hour on Saturday morning, before the students head out for their field trip of the week. Classes are small, six students with two instructors, to maximize individual attention.

Note: You will need to register and create a log in to Perspectives for a Diverse America to access some of the following suggested resources.


The goal for Year 1 Reading is to develop critical comprehension skills for evaluation of media: newspapers, internet sites, and video. The cooperative learning strategy of Reciprocal Teaching is introduced for two reasons: (1) Research supports that students who study together in college are more likely to persist to graduation; and (2) the Reciprocal Teaching strategies of predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing strengthen metacognition for all learners, and especially for those who are not well prepared for college.

Year 2 Reading focuses on speeches and writings of leaders in the students’ cultural groups: Native American, Latino, and African American. The major metacognitive strategy remains Reciprocal Teaching, as well as reflective writing through analytical reading logs. A major source for short texts and learning tasks is Perspectives for a Diverse America, an anti-bias literacy compendium keyed to Common Core standards.

Reading Downloads (PDF)

Year 1 Reading   |   Year 2 Reading    |   Reciprocal Teaching Cards


In Year 1 Writing class students develop essay writing skills. The major assignment features birth order research to help students develop a thesis, present evidence for/against using personal reflection, write introductory paragraphs, and end with a strong conclusion. Their response journal entries feature an article on bullying and a video of a teen finding her place in her group.

Year 2 students work on development of narrative writing skills through the topic of a profile essay on a neighborhood hero. Descriptive writing skills are honed using sentence-strengthening strategies featured in Image Grammar by Harry Noden. Response journal entries, based on selections from Perspectives for a Diverse America, speak to the question: How does struggle define who we are?

Writing Downloads (PDF)

Year 1 Writing   |   Year 2 Writing    |   Brush Strokes

Vocabulary and Grammar:

Numerous research studies of first-generation college students from low-income communities cite vocabulary and basic writing as major stumbling blocks for college success. Based on this research, a separate class dedicated to these important skills was added to the Countdown to College curriculum for the first two years of Countdown to College.

Year 1 Vocabulary focuses on Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes through a discovery approach: Students are given a root, e.g. “tract,” and their job is to find words that contain that root. Through teamwork, the students discover the meaning of the assigned root. By creating word webs they also discover the meaning of prefixes such as “in” and “de.” C2C students also learn the metacognitive strategy of deconstructing dictated polysyllabic words by syllables and sounds, using a process called Slash and Dash. This results in phonetically-written words that are entered in Franklin Speaking Dictionaries to find the orthographic (correct) representation of new words.

Year 1 Grammar features sentence expansion through use of coordinating conjunctions and complex sentence structure. However, rather than the traditional prescriptive approach to grammar teaching—rules and academic labeling—they find sentences that fit the pattern being studied (Sentence Stalking) and write their own AAWWUBBIS (complex) and FANBOY (compound) sentences. Year 1 grammar also features recasting short narratives from present to past tense.

Year 2 Vocabulary continues the study of Latin roots using word webs, in anticipation of the highly enjoyable Jeopardy vocabulary face-off between Year 1 and Year 1 students at the end of the second week. Greek root study is added, using a discovery method, Walking Through Words by Meaning, where students deconstruct a Greek word into constituent roots, list words that they know for each root, and then discover the meaning of the target word. Slash and Dash continues to be a focus of Year 2 Vocabulary, with the goal of helping students become proficient users of print, online, and handheld word finders. The Franklin Speaking Dictionaries are sent home as presents, with admonitions that they need their Franklins to board the bus for return to camp Years 3 and 4.

Year 2 Grammar reinforces the narrative writing assignments of their Writing class by particular focus on sentence writing following the five basic “brush strokes” featured in Image Grammar: Painting word pictures with participles, absolutes, appositives, adjectives shifted out of order, and active verb choices.

Vocabulary and Grammar Downloads (PDF)

Year 1 Vocabulary/Grammar   |   Slash and Dash    |   Grammar AAWWUBBIS

Root Words   |   Sequence and Roots    |   Year 2 Vocabulary/Grammar

Spelling by Meaning  |   Year 2 Image Grammar

Reciprocal Teaching Video:

The demonstration of a Reciprocal Teaching group study strategy.