Reading. Thinking. Writing.
Throughout the Middle School English program, students learn to think and read critically, articulate their ideas through writing and speaking, and develop an independent voice.
We organize instruction and assessments around seven key English skills:
- Speaking and listening skills: using evidence, questioning, responding to others, making connections, and clearly presenting ideas
- Reading volume and comprehension of a range of texts
- Analysis and interpretation of texts, in writing and/or speaking
- Purpose, organization, and detail in writing across a variety of genres
- Written expression, including word choice, sentence structure, and attention to voice and language nuances
- Understanding and application of grammar and mechanics
- Vocabulary development and use
Middle School English Overview
A prioritized goal of the department is to instill in students the habits of lifelong reading. Through whole-class texts, such as novels, stories, poems, speeches, and essays, we teach targeted literary elements and close-reading skills and expose students to a wide variety of voices, styles, and messages. However, to build skills, students need to read far more than we have time to analyze in class. Therefore, students participate in theme- or genre-based book clubs and read self-selected independent texts for a goal of 18 books read per year by each student. Students benefit from the differentiation that both book clubs and independent reading permit in both reading level and interest so that they are each reading in their “Goldilocks zone.” We believe that reading volume builds reading stamina and comprehension, and the best way to build reading volume is by giving students choice and ownership in their reading.
In English classes, students write for a variety of purposes: literary analysis, poetry, personal essays, descriptions, letters, narratives, book reviews, and persuasive essays. Students work the full writing process, which includes studying exemplary model texts, brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revision, editing, and publication. As part of the writing process, teachers provide lessons with examples on communicating with clarity, precision, and conciseness and on developing control of sentence structure. Often students are asked to apply newly-learned vocabulary and grammar concepts to their writing. Ultimately, the goals of the middle school English department are to support students to feel confident in this challenging yet essential skill and to find their unique voice.
To hone speaking, listening, and collaborating, students frequently engage in book clubs, group discussions and student-led Socratic circles. Additionally, students explore the finer points of the English language through the study of vocabulary and grammar.
Three enduring understandings capture and guide the curricular philosophy of Middle School English:
Literature expands our understanding of the world, humanity, and ourselves
Used strategically and with purpose, language empowers
Language sparks joy, inspiration, beauty, and meaning
Our ultimate goal is for our students to stretch themselves through the richness and power of words.