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Language Arts
5th grade language arts
In 5th grade, students write within a variety of genres in language arts as well as working on cross-curricular projects in social studies and science class. The year begins with students thinking of turning points in their lives and writing detailed and complex personal narratives. We move through the writing process with a focus on rehearsal and revision. The unit culminates in a live “story slam” event for the community. We continue to hone our narrative craft by writing realistic fiction stories. During the third quarter, students focus on close reading and both literary and film analysis. They write literary essays and comparative literary essays that identify and explore various themes within texts. The year ends with an in-depth unit on mystery stories.

The goal of 5th grade reading workshop is to encourage a lifelong love of reading. 
Students analyze their reading life and constantly ask themselves, “How can I make my reading life the best it can be?” Within a reader’s workshop structure, in which students choose their own texts to read, we do in-depth character studies, analyze author’s choices, and begin to decode symbolism. The class has shared reading experiences with read-aloud books such as Wonder by RJ Palacio, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, and Crash by Jerry Spinelli. A highlight of the year comes when students compare and contrast the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the two films based on the book. They do a close reading of all three texts in order to identify themes. Following Roald Dahl’s lead, they also invent their own candies that solve any number of problems and create an infomercial to market their product.

6th Grade Language Arts

Sixth grade language arts aims to keep students excited about reading, writing, listening, and presenting, while stretching them to go deeper and try new skills. Warm-ups specific to each day of the week are part of our balanced approach. Whether it’s Mechanics Monday, Technique Tuesday, “Woots” Wednesday, “Thpelling” Thursday, or Free Choice Friday, students start each class gaining fresh tools or a tune up to enhance their own work. Each topic and skill covered connects meaningfully and naturally to the reading and writing work the class is doing.

In sixth grade, students transition from the reading workshop approach familiar from fifth grade to the English literature approach characterizing seventh and eighth grade and beyond. While independent reading remains a staple, the class also engages in book groups, author studies, genre studies, and whole-class reads. Novels often include Gossamer, The Giver, and The Ear, The Eye and The Arm. Students engage with excitement and interest in reading when they have diverse and authentic ways to share their understanding. The ways we do this in sixth grade include reading projects based on multiple intelligences, lively discussions, and written responses that call for creativity and critical thinking. Students also choose one author to research in depth and portray at their famous authors’ conference.

Versatility is a core skill for today’s writers. Students write for many audiences and purposes in sixth grade. They practice writing freely and creatively, using graphic organizers and pre-writing strategies, and revising and polishing work to be “published.” Students get to know themselves as writers and gather the tools that work best for their individual process. Presentation and sharing is also central to our language arts work. Students communicate ideas in many different formats, including formal and informal presentations, digital recordings, movies, blog and website entries, and more. As a culminating project, the class collaborates to develop and film an original episode of The Twilight Zone.

7th Grade Language Arts

The 7th grade language arts curriculum balances teacher-directed work with student-centered and student-initiated work to strengthen reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Students will read a variety of literary genres, including narrative fiction like John Steinbeck’s The Pearl; historical fiction like Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson; and memoir like Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers. Writing assignments will meet multiple objectives. Examples include responses to literature, poetry, and creating a narrative of the Costa Rica trip. To build speaking and listening skills, students will engage in small and large group presentations and discussions.

Throughout the year, students will apply the skills they learn, both within language arts and across other curricular areas. Additionally, they will have opportunities to foster their personal literary preferences through assigned independent reading time and opportunities to publish original writing through outlets like Poetry Punch, the Middle School literary journal.

8th grade Language Arts

In 8th grade, the language arts curriculum focuses primarily on literature in which 20th century issues impact plot and theme. There is an inter-disciplinary approach between language arts and social studies. Novels like The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, along with drama like Inherit The Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee provide perspective and depth to students’ understanding of historical eras. There is continued development in understanding poetry, genres, and building knowledge of vocabulary through the study of word roots and etymology. The writing curriculum emphasizes developing narratives and communicating effectively.

Throughout the year, students undertake independent projects like author and genre studies, and have increased responsibilities for planning and delivering presentations to the class and the wider school community. The goal of the course is to graduate students who can communicate effectively and comfortably, both verbally and in writing.