Middle School English
Sixth grade literature opens students up to the complexities of familial, social, environmental, and ethical issues of their own lives in relation to those of other time periods. The goal is to show both the universality and individuality of the human condition, with some attention given to the characteristics of a hero in Western texts.
Seventh grade literature challenges students to appreciate literature more deeply in learning basic literary devices and elements used in short stories, novels, plays, and poetry. Students begin to analyze how authors use those devices and language to convey thoughts, opinions, images, or messages, and learn to use the same methods in their own writing. This class also focuses on expanding vocabulary and improving spelling.
In eighth grade, students delve into literary treasures of ancient Greek literature within a modern context. Through classics such as Aeschylus' trilogy of plays The Oresteia and The Odyssey by Homer, students wrestle with thought-provoking issues like fate vs. free will, the value of a human life, and public vs. private responsibility in society. Vocabulary is studied in the context of Greek and Latin roots, which helps in later years to discover meaning in previously unencountered words.
In Composition, sixth grade students practice various methods of summarizing material they read to help them become aware of the structure of written texts and how to break those down into coherent ideas. Writing in the first and second trimesters consists of varieties of shorter genres, including creative writing. In the third trimester, students produce a multi-genre biographical project on a person who has made a significant, positive impact on the world. Grammar study focuses on parts of speech and their uses, phrases and clauses, and diagramming.
Seventh grade students are challenged to think not just about what they are writing, but how they write. Writing is taught as a process this year: prewriting, outlining, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students are taught grammar that serves to make them stronger writers and speakers, and of course, diagramming! Students will also complete three large unit pieces.
In eighth grade Composition, students learn to read and think analytically so they can also write more analytically. They practice the skills of paraphrasing, quoting, and citing information from research for use in this class and across the curriculum. This year, students complete a research paper in which they explore several points of view on a controversial issue and formulate their own opinions in the process. In the third trimester, students produce a cross-curricular, multi-genre research paper with a focus on a scientific invention or theory or a technological innovation.