Middle School English

The two-year fifth and sixth grade English curriculum seeks to nurture students’ love of reading and a critical eye towards texts and the world at large. Year One of the course begins with the study of short stories to help students develop a shared language for talking about literature. The class then delves into the study of mystery novels, emphasizing the connection between using clues to solve a mystery and employing evidence to support an assertion as students begin to write arguments of their own.  Students then consider how fiction about both recent history (September 11th) and contemporary issues (immigration) works to teach, inform, and persuade readers about their role as critical thinkers and upstanders beyond the classroom. Year Two of the course begins by considering family stories and histories (both in literature and in their own lives) to examine the role of multiple perspectives and individual bias in storytelling. Students then apply this to various works of historical fiction as they continue to develop their understanding of key literary elements. Centered around the autobiography-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming, students study novels-in-verse in order to explore key aspects of poetry and experiment with writing their own.

In 5th and 6th grade English, the key curricular elements include developing increasingly complex strategies for reading comprehension, inference, and analysis across genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry). As writers, students engage meaningfully in every step of the writing process from brainstorming to revision; emphasis is placed on mastering the paragraph form as students practice developing and presenting their own ideas in clear, logical prose. Throughout both Year One and Year Two, students write narrative, persuasive, and informative pieces, while thinking critically about the purpose and audience in each of these types of writing. Grammar and mechanics are taught in the context of students’ own writing as they revise and edit their work. The collaborative approach to learning and making meaning nurtures students’ skills as listeners, speakers, critical thinkers, and community members.  

In 7th and 8th grade English, the key curricular elements include analyzing how an author’s choices (point of view, structure, genre) help to determine the meaning of a work of literature. Students develop strategies for comparing and contrasting different texts as well as tracing important themes within a single text and across the reading curriculum. As writers, students continue to engage meaningfully in every step of the writing process from brainstorming to revision; emphasis is placed on developing assertions and linking them together to make a logical argument. Throughout both Year One and Year Two, students continue to write narrative, persuasive, and informative pieces of increasing depth and complexity. Grammar and mechanics are taught in the context of students’ own writing as they revise and edit their work. The collaborative approach to learning and making meaning nurtures students’ skills as listeners, speakers, critical thinkers, and community members.