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All English courses in the Middle School incorporate aspects of the Harkness philosophy. Students are expected to arrive to class prepared and ready to engage in meaningful discussions. Close reading and marking the text are essential to this process and to student success. For this reason, unmarked paper copies of all books (i.e. novels, plays, short stories, anthologies) are required.
Level: 6th grade
Description: English 6 is devoted to the study of literature, written expression, vocabulary, and grammar. Students increase their vocabulary knowledge and language skills through the use of both Membean and words selected from the literature studied. Grammar instruction includes parts of speech, sentence structure, complements, punctuation, and capitalization. Literature study emphasizes the genres of classical mythology, poetry, and the novel, as well as independent reading. Literature study targets reading comprehension, identifying various literary elements, broadening vocabulary, and understanding theme and characterization. Students write a variety of compositions in order to practice the writing process. Harkness discussions and presentations help to develop effective public speaking skills, and cooperative learning activities require students to work collaboratively. English 6 also provides instruction in study and research skills.
Level: 7th grade
Prerequisite: Successful completion of English 6 or equivalent.
Description: English 7 students learn to be accurate, thoughtful readers of a variety of literary genres and to write clear, correct, and fluent English. Literary study in English 7 challenges students to explore individual identity and to consider what makes them who they are. It also introduces the elements of narrative in the form of the short story. In addition, poetry study provides students with a more abstract, analytical way of approaching literature. Reading and comprehension skills are applied to an in-depth study of novels allowing students to critically analyze literary works. Grammar study refines students’ understanding of the simple sentence through review of subjects, verbs, complements, and phrases. Thorough understanding of the basic parts of speech is also emphasized. Writing instruction is an ongoing component, first focusing on paragraph development, and eventually moving into multi-paragraph responses. Throughout the year, effective oral and written communication is emphasized. Vocabulary development utilizes Membean to tailor vocabulary instruction for each individual student in addition to vocabulary learned from literature. English 7 students will also hone their organizational and executive functioning skills, and practice better time management and self- advocacy.
Level: 8th grade
Prerequisite: Successful completion of English 7 or equivalent.
Description: English 8 further develops students’ skills in language, reading, and writing. Working with the overarching theme of empathy and perspective, students build on the 7th-grade emphasis of individual identity, shifting their focus from individual identity into who they are in relation to the world and others around them. Students learn to read critically in literary terms, focusing on such concepts as theme, conflict, characterization, and figurative language. Through this approach, students gain a clearer understanding of how a literary work is constructed. The emphasis in literature is on intensive study and interpretation of short stories and poems, an approach that forms a natural transition into larger works, specifically the study of a coming-of-age novel and a Shakespearean drama. Students write literary essays using specific details and quotes from the text to support their theses. Throughout the year, effective oral and written communication is emphasized. Grammar study includes an in-depth study of phrases and verbals. Finally, vocabulary development utilizes Membean to tailor vocabulary instruction for each individual student in addition to vocabulary learned from literature.