Language Arts/English

students reading and writing

All aspects of literature, writing, and speaking fall under the large umbrella of Language Arts/English. Integrated within the Language Arts Program is also the study of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. All these domains are interwoven as closely as possible so that discrete skills and concepts that are learned are reinforced and used in a meaningful context. The broad goals of the program are to help the students see themselves as thinkers, as readers, as writers, and as presenters who can have the tools and techniques to meet a variety of differing audiences. We seize every opportunity to integrate our Social Studies and Language Arts themes as the connections exploring literature, history, geography, civics, the arts, anthropology, psychology, and different cultures are all interwoven throughout the courses.

5th and 6th Grade

Language Arts is seen as part of our Humanities program in 5th and 6th Grades, where a focus on reading, writing, and presentational skills draws the worlds of literature and Social Studies together. As students study ancient civilizations, the great myths, legends, and literature of those eras are experienced in depth. Our study of US history also includes a parallel exploration of great historical literature that deepens an understanding of both the people and events of this period.

7th and 8th Grade

Our 7th and 8th Grade English courses include an important study of contemporary and classical American texts, an exploration of works of different cultures, as well as a Shakespeare I course in 7th Grade and a Shakespeare II course in 8th Grade. The approach to Shakespeare is based on interpretation of text with a performance-oriented approach. Master Classes (Electives) in drama as well as drama/theatre clubs and a Middle School play may connect with these studies.

Student Outcomes

Literature

  • Students should apply many strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate a wide variety of texts from novels, poetry, and plays to editorials, essays, and media articles.
  • Students should read a wide range of texts to build understanding of textual material, of themselves, and of other cultures; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment.
  • Students should read both great classical and contemporary literature from differing periods and in many genres to build an understanding of human experience both within the classroom and independently.
  • Students should demonstrate the traits of the good reader such as the ability to decode conventions, comprehend textual material, understand context, interpret texts to develop an argument, synthesize ideas, and evaluate the author’s ideas and writing style.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to analyze English words and their roots and acquire and use a rich vocabulary in a variety of settings.
  • Students should be able to locate and analyze relevant sources, synthesizing material through the research process, taking notes, creating outlines, and producing commanding research reports that reveal individual and original thought.

Writing

  • Students should produce a range of different types of writing such as poetry, stories, essays, letters, editorials, and research papers for different audiences reflecting excellence in the craft of language.
  • Students should be able to use all stages of the drafting process independently and effectively from brainstorming/webbing and producing initial drafts to reviewing and editing selected pieces for final polishing.
  • Students should demonstrate the traits of the good writer such as the ability to express ideas forcefully and clearly, organize texts efficiently, craft individual voice that enlivens written expression, choose words for their beauty and power, construct and experiment with sentence structure, and use the conventions of mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation) accurately.
  • Students should explore and experiment with advanced figurative language and poetic writing devices.

Presentations & Public Speaking

  • Students should employ many strategies as they produce public presentations, and they should use appropriate elements to communicate to different audiences when faced with a variety of situations such as storytelling, acting, giving a speech, participating in a group discussion, working in a collaborative team, giving directions, and presenting information and arguments.
  • Students should demonstrate the traits of a good public speaker such as the ability to prepare effectively for the occasion, demonstrate understanding of the content, make good eye-contact with the audience (where appropriate), display an effective posture, enunciate clearly, and project their voices clearly and expressively.
  • Students should be able to offer persuasive, cogent arguments in debate, using evidence to support their opinions and demonstrating awareness of counter arguments.