What is a keystone?
A keystone is the stone that completes an arch. It is a wedge-shaped stone that you can find at the top of the arch. Without this stone, an arch cannot exist.
What is a keystone curriculum?
A keystone curriculum provides students with necessary information in manageable blocks. In English education, a manageable block is a grammar point. At the end of the term, teachers ask their students to combine the blocks through some kind of creative project called a keystone project.
The keystone project requires students to use much of what they learned in the term "for the purpose that knowledge was intended to serve".
In the case of English education, we teach students grammar points for the purpose of communication. As such, keystone projects in English education provide students a chance to communicate using all the knowledge they have gained during the course of the term.
Sample keystone projects
- JHS 1st grade
- Self-introduction. Write one's self-introduction.
- Daily life. Write about one's daily life.
- My favorite memory. Write about one's favorite memory.
- JHS 2nd grade
- My Dream. Write an essay about one's future.
- Reading for Pleasure. Read stories in English.
- Expressing opinions. Say one's own opinion on a topic.
- JHS 3rd grade
- Travel. Write about the school trip.
- Daily life. Write a diary of summer vacation.
- World poverty. Learn about education in Nepal.
- War, peace, and culture.
- Environment. Learn about environmental issues.
Can the entrance exams serve as a keystone?
Learning in context is important. If you teach your students English for tests, they will learn how to take tests (at best), and not how to communicate. Keystone projects must involve communication.
Exams are important, and especially so in the Japanese education system. Keystone projects do not replace these exams. But, a keystone projects can be good follow-ups for exams. During the keystone project, students use material they learned for an exam to creatively communicate.
At the end of the keystone project, the grammar points are combined into a single arch of knowledge, and the keystone experience gives that arch strength. As a result, both students with weak exam results and students with strong exam results can move on to learning new material, having fully mastered the old material.