The Middle School English Department's goals are to enable our students to read, write, and speak well. We seek to enhance critical thinking through reading, writing, and class discussion. In addition to these primary goals, we build a comfortable and open community for girls through the sharing of ideas, and each student gains an awareness of self through reading and writing. The Middle School English curriculum includes the analysis of literature, the study of grammar and usage, vocabulary and spelling, and the development of writing skills at every level.
The literature component in the fifth grade includes close readings of international folk talks, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and a novel written in verse. The selections are chosen to meet the developmental needs of the students. Vocabulary and writing are tied to the reading, and students are introduced to literary elements and poetry terms. To begin establishing a strong foundation in grammar, fifth-graders study parts of speech, parts of the sentence, and usage. At this age, writing begins with strong sentences and moves to paragraph development. As research skills are introduced, students write reports and create presentation materials. Students are also required to do outside reading.
The sixth grade English curriculum concentrates on writing, grammar, and vocabulary in order to strengthen and enhance our students' appreciation of the English language. The writing process, with its focus on paragraph development, teaches students the importance of clear, coherent writing. Students also write creatively through short stories and poems. The grammar focus in sixth grade builds on the foundation that is laid in the fifth grade, reviewing the concepts of parts of speech, parts of the sentence, and usage while working with more complex sentences. In their study of vocabulary, students learn to determine unknown word meanings using Greek and Latin roots. The sixth grade year ends with a Distinguished Woman project which allows each student to research and write poetry about a distinguished woman of her choice and then to present her poem to the middle school community.
The seventh grade English classroom is a place where girls explore the writing process from beginning to end, analyze literature, make connections between grammar and writing, and develop the skills of reading actively and critically. Beginning with poetry, seventh graders delve into the writing process not only as a means of creating their own “Where I’m From” poems but also to experience firsthand the value the writing process brings when practiced. Beginning in this way creates a true commitment to and practice of the process that continues throughout the year with both academic and creative writing. In the study of grammar, parts of speech, parts of the sentence, phrases, and clauses are taught directly but also serve as a scaffold to support the incorporation of grammatical constructs into writing. The literature in seventh grade spans genres from poetry to short stories to novels to memoir and is organized as much as possible around the idea of voice to encourage connections among works. Seventh grade English students also develop basic skills, such as learning to break down larger tasks like a project or paper into manageable pieces and using technology as a support to note-taking and drafting. Girls depart the seventh grade proficient as writers and thinkers and confident in their preparation for eighth grade.
The eighth grade English curriculum focuses on the analysis of literature, the study of grammar in its most complex forms, the process of writing, and vocabulary. Students gain experience in reading and analyzing short stories, novels, poetry, and Shakespearean tragedy. For eighth graders, the grammar course covers parts of speech, parts of the sentence, phrases, clauses, and agreement. In the writing program, an emphasis is placed on the process of prewriting, writing, peer feedback, and revision. Students write paragraphs, essays, critical analyses, and research, along with writing both prose and poetry creatively. Vocabulary is studied in context through literature and is used as a means to improve grammar, enhance writing, and boost critical reading skills. The frequent use of technology throughout the year enhances the learning process and prepares our students for the future.