Middle School English Department
Philosophy: The English department believes that our students must be prepared to read comprehensively, think analytically, and write effectively by the time they finish St. Paul’s. Furthermore, the English faculty hopes to inculcate the enjoyment and appreciation of quality literature and the cultural heritage that binds the generations together. The curriculum has been designed to challenge the most capable students and to nurture those who have difficulty with unfamiliar reading and writing tasks. We believe a variety of reading and writing experiences will engage students, broaden their horizons, and give them the tools necessary to succeed in higher education and in later life. We further believe that these educational experiences will enable them to become more effective communicators, more disciplined thinkers, and informed problem-solvers. To enhance the curriculum and provide even greater comprehension, St. Paul’s is implementing an innovative approach/method to writing called Writer’s Stylus.
Courses of Study
English 5 focuses on an in-depth study of basic grammar, vocabulary, and writing. Grammar is taught within the context of writing. Sentence structure, parts of speech, and punctuation are taught as they relate to the writing the students are doing. The Six Traits Model provides a framework for writing. Evaluation of written pieces is based on the Six Traits Assessment Method. The Six Traits Model of writing approaches writing with a common vocabulary, i.e.: ideas and content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. These traits are taught and assessed throughout the year. Students are taught to evaluate their writing performance using the common language with two fold results. Students know what is expected in their writing and are able to judge for themselves if expectations have been met. Students gain confidence in their writing, leading to improved and strengthened writing. The theme of “Adversity, Conflict, and Change” is reflected in both the English 5 and Reading 5 classes. Students study the literary works Anne Frank, Chasing Vermeer, and Where the Red Fern Grows in class. Required summer readings include Loser, Number the Stars, and Lunch Money. These selections are examined, discussed, and applied in English and/or Reading class in response to the theme of “Adversity, Conflict, and Change.” Students are encouraged to orally explore and examine the literature and are required to write responsively to each of the readings. Vocabulary development and enrichment is a component of both grammar and writing. Daily journal writing encourages creativity as well as provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate vocabulary, writing, and grammar skills. Student evaluations include daily work, quizzes, tests, journal entries, and writing assignments. READING 5
The fifth grade reading program focuses on recreational, functional and textual reading. Literature appreciation and comprehension are taught through the use of literature anthologies, poems, and trade books. Self-selected reading, in-depth study of novels, and books read aloud by the teacher form a strong component of the fifth grade reading program. Students are encouraged to interact with the text and respond to it via group discussions, author studies, individual and small group projects, journaling and artistic media. Vocabulary, spelling, word attack methods, reading strategies and comprehension skills are taught within the context of literature. The Accelerated Reader program promotes individual reading choices and develops a love for reading. Evaluation methods include tests, quizzes, projects and presentations. WRITING 5
This course is part of the Writer’s Stylus program, in which students work on revision skills within a variety of genres. Part of the program includes one-on-one instruction by working with a writing “coach.” The goal of the course is to enhance the student’s writing style and build a mastery of grammar. ENGLISH 6
Students in English 6 students are encouraged to develop an appreciation for the beauty and power of words. Sixth graders concentrate on mastering basic grammar skills including knowledge of parts of speech, predicate complements, prepositional phrases, correct pronoun usage, and basic punctuation. Vocabulary development and study are also important components of the class. Implementation of both grammar and writing skills is encouraged through personal journal writing and essay questions. Students also are required to write thoughtful responses to the literary works studied in class. The Outsiders and The Giver, both of which reflect the theme of “Culture, Values, Beliefs, and Rituals,” are well-respected works that students enjoy reading and discussing. The required summer readings also stimulate students to expand their horizons and appreciate cultures, rituals, and beliefs that are, perhaps, different from their own. READING/TECHNOLOGY 6
Through social networking students will analyze what they read by RSS feeds, blogs, podcasting, and web page creation. Students will use the social networking skills to understand main ideas and details, cause and effect, comparison and contrast, and sequencing in reading. Then students will further analyze literary terms through applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Excel. Additional reading and collaborative discussion will occur with the books, Stormbreaker and Zach’s Lie, and will reflect the theme of “Culture, Values, Beliefs, and Rituals.” STUDY/LIFE SKILLS
This course includes study skills, such as note-taking, test-preparation, and time-management. Students are encouraged to apply technologies to their current classes. Life skills such as decision-making, goal-setting, and understanding the importance of health and nutrition are all emphasized in the course. MIDDLE SCHOOL COMMUNICATION
In Middle School Communication, developing the following basic skills will enhance students’ ability to interact in an educational setting and build a foundation for effective “real-world” communication. Sixth grade is a transitional year; therefore, students will learn necessary note-taking and organization skills that are useful throughout their academic careers. Students will also study how to discern pertinent information from an auditory channel and create presentations based on that information. Studying the history and foundation of rhetoric will guide students through the research and organization of various oral presentations, whether informative or persuasive. Students will gain valuable tools of presentation, persuasion, and production as they give and record speeches for the class. Finally, the students will write, edit, and produce a newspaper dedicated to and focused on the Middle School. Communication skills gained during this Semester Elective will benefit students in multiple areas of study and communication. ENGLISH 7
Students in English 7 broaden their ability to combine prior knowledge with new information. They are given frequent opportunities to enhance skills in reading, writing, discussing, and giving oral reports. Students become more proficient in revising and editing as they master grammar and usage concepts. They also continue to develop the necessary self-confidence for meeting the expectations of high school. This course focuses on the study of grammar, literature, poetry and vocabulary. Students receive a comprehensive overview of grammar including, parts of speech, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and paragraph structure. Literature choices, working within the theme of decisions, actions, and consequences, include The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene and The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen. Students will be exposed to new vocabulary using the Vocabulary Power Plus for the New SAT Book G. Evaluation methods include homework, tests, projects, written and oral assignments.WRITING WORKSHOP 7
Writing Workshop is one-semester course that is taught in the seventh grade as a required writing class in addition to seventh grade English. The Writing Workshop curriculum is based on two ideas: that writing and reading are inextricably linked, and that writing is a process, not a single event. Producing a quality finished piece requires planning, drafting and revision. By encouraging students to make decisions about their own work, the teacher strives to create a classroom environment that enables each student to develop a sense of ownership of the reading and writing process. Assessment is based on the Six Traits Assessment method. Students explore a particular type of writing each quarter: descriptive, narrative, persuasive and expository. Poetry is written and read during the quarters that focus on descriptive and narrative writing. A persuasive essay in which a thesis is constructed and defended is done during the third quarter. Students receive instruction in the use of various kinds of online resources and employ online data bases, periodicals, encyclopedias and websites in the production of their expository writing during the fourth quarter. Technology is a major component of the Writing Workshop curriculum. In order to complete the course requirements, students must be proficient in Word and Publisher. They must also be able to easily save and retrieve information in at least two places, organize files and install a printer. ENGLISH 8
English 8 is a transitional course linking the middle and the upper school curriculum. This curriculum combines literature, grammar, vocabulary and has a strong emphasis on writing. In keeping with the theme of Social Justice, the novels Night, The Lions of Little Rock, and To Kill a Mockingbird are studied as well as a variety of short stories. Students are also introduced to Shakespeare through the study of Romeo and Juliet. Emphasis is placed on formal writing with an understanding and application of a thesis. Emphasis is placed on formal writing by answering specific prompts, developing essays with thesis statements. Students are introduced to MLA Style as they research and write an extensive term paper. Computer technology is used daily for assignments, research, communication and collaborative work. Student evaluation is based on homework, tests, quizzes, and written and oral assignments.