The 5th and 6th grade English/Language Arts program fosters a love of reading and writing while also developing a solid foundation in reading comprehension, literary elements, grammar, and vocabulary. Literature for the 5th grade program enhances a yearlong exploration of identity, while literature for 6th grade emphasizes fiction that is appealing to adolescents. Selections in both grades serve as windows and mirrors, giving students the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the literature while also providing insight into the lived experience of others. Discussions, group activities, and projects are designed
to push students to develop a deeper understanding of
the material they are reading. Students write regularly
in a variety of ways, including journaling, poetry, short stories, personal expressive writing, book reviews, and commentaries. Students work through multiple drafts,
and teachers provide direct instruction in proper sentence construction, correct word use, and parts of speech.
The English/Language Arts program in 7th and 8th grade concentrates on developing the skills of close textual analysis and written expression. Students continue to work with the genres of the short story, the novel, drama, and poetry. In 7th grade, teachers choose from major texts, including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Miracle Worker, A Raisin in the Sun, Twelve Angry Men, The Martian Chronicles, and a Shakespeare play, as well as shorter works of prose and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry, Langston Hughes, Hernando Tellez, Naomi Shihab Nye, Emily Dickinson, and others. In 8th grade, teachers construct thematic- based studies, choosing from major texts, including Year of Impossible Goodbyes, So Far From the Bamboo Grove, Animal Farm, Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths, a Shakespeare play, Purple Hibiscus, Things Fall Apart, and The Odyssey, among other works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Teachers supply sufficient scaffolding for students to come to terms with these challenging texts. In both 7th and 8th grades, teachers emphasize analytical and creative writing. By investing in the process of composition, students learn to plan, draft, evaluate, and revise paragraphs, essays, and imaginative pieces. A study of grammatical principles enables students to develop a structural understanding of their writing, and teachers address vocabulary through both a vocabulary textbook and within the literary context.