English in 6th Grade
The sixth-grade English course integrates contemporary and classic literature to support students’ exploration of multiple perspectives and to deepen their consideration of the characters, themes, and conflicts that animate cultures and time periods studied across the history content. Literary exploration fosters a robust community of readers where students speak meaningfully about book recommendations and develop skills to present monthly book talks to one another.
Through the exploration of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction materials, students develop analytical skills with a focus on constructing a thesis and substantiating evidence to support it. Students work on narrative writing along with other holistic writing skills such as organization, sentence fluency, voice, conventional paragraphing, format of text citations, punctuation of dialogue, end marks, commas, and capitalization. In addition, students work on an autobiographical portfolio, which consists of several narrative events and a compare/contrast essay. Throughout the year, students expand vocabulary and enrich writing by exploring poetry, short stories, and mythology.
English in 7th Grade
The seventh grade English curriculum focuses on identity and community. Students explore the question, “How can we expand the ways in which we understand ourselves, others, and the world?” Students learn reading comprehension strategies and focus on literary devices, story structure, character analysis, voice, craft, vocabulary development, and issues and themes in literature. They closely examine examples of and write their own book reviews, anecdotes, vignettes, poetry, literary essays, short fiction, letters to the editor, and persuasive essays. Students use composition notebooks for reading response, brainstorms, quick-writes, and note-taking.
Students engage in an intensive reading workshop program, for which they read an independent reading book and write weekly annotation responses. Students also complete several major writing projects, including a “letter essay,” a personal anecdote, and a personal essay. Students read and respond to short works of fiction and then compose one of their own. Students practice discussion skills to analyze a class novel, and write formal literary essays. Students also create conceptual character maps, write a creative letter from a character’s perspective, and perform a scene selection in groups. Students learn vocabulary in context. In the study of grammar, students examine the ways that the eight parts of speech function in sentences and how they are expressed in one of the three forms: words, phrases, and clauses. Finally, students learn how to apply this analysis of sentence structure to the rules that govern the writing of sentences.
English in 8th Grade
The eighth grade English curriculum focuses on identity and social justice, and students explore the essential question, “When is change necessary, and what is my role in making it happen?” Using both teacher and self-selected readings, students continue their study of literary elements, story structure, voice, craft, vocabulary development, and issues and themes in literature begun in seventh grade. Special attention is paid to character analysis and text annotation.
Students closely examine examples of and write their own literary essays, short-form literary analysis, personal essays, newspaper articles, poetry, and book reviews. They engage in class discussions and individual homework assignments designed to help them think through the ways to choose strong evidence quotes from class texts and how to analyze literature quotes effectively and succinctly. Students write and perform monologues based on individual characters and complete critical essays on novels. Students learn the historical context of Shakespeare’s poems and plays and stage a scene from a Shakespearean play, interpreted through the various modes of literary criticism they study during the year.