MENLO SCHOOL • SINCE 1915

English 7

Biography

Seventh-grade English continues the work of building reading, writing, and language skills but with increased sophistication and nuance.

The reading goal of seventh-grade English is for students to expand their reading horizons through a balance of whole-class texts, small-group book clubs, and high-volume independent reading. The whole-class texts include extended studies of both poetry and short stories. These units are designed to expose students to multiple authors and their distinct cultural perspectives and writing styles, as well as teach close reading skills. Additionally, students participate in three in-class book clubs centered on the genres of novels in verse, historical fiction, and memoirs. Lessons about each genre’s distinct characteristics support readers in diving more deeply into their chosen text. Finally, students engage in high-volume independent reading and expand their reading horizons by meeting requirements for a range in genres, identity commemoration months, and book awards. The idea is for students to try less common genres, experience reading as “windows” or “mirrors” to a variety of cultural identities, and to read quality titles recognized by recent American Library Association book awards.

In seventh-grade English, students learn that good writing is really revision. They come to see that revision is more than just slight tinkering, but a committed endeavor to delete, add, and rearrange, always to master the piece’s purpose. The writing assignments alternate among analytical writing, authentic writing, and creative writing. Some of the major writing pieces include a book review, literary analysis of poems, poems, a description essay, a letter to an author, and an extended comparison of two short stories. The course also emphasizes precise word choice and serious attention to detail as essential elements of powerful written expression.

Vocabulary words are drawn from the whole-class literature and from students’ book club choices and independent reading titles. Students engage playfully with new vocabulary in quiz games and “vocab slams.” The goal of vocabulary instruction is for students to enjoy and find power in learning and using new words. Grammar lessons are targeted to enhance student writing skills, rather than to be grammar for grammar’s sake. Grammar lessons ask students to induce patterns in syntax, identify those patterns in mentor texts, and apply those patterns to create variety and impact in their writing.

This course underscores the natural interconnectedness of reading, writing and language usage.