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In middle school, students are enrolled in both Language Arts and Literature. Throughout the academic year, students develop their skills as critical thinkers, with an emphasis on reading, writing, listening, and speaking. These skills are not just important for the classroom. Reading, for example, helps create new pathways in the brain. Learning to write helps communicate with others. Strengthening listening and speaking skills can help convince others to take on a new point of view.
Students can expect to read every day. They read a variety of genres and styles, including novels, short stories, news articles, poetry, and nonfiction essays. Several times throughout the year, students are able to choose their own reading.
Throughout the year, students learn about and practice the craft of writing. A strong emphasis is placed on a technique called “evidence-based writing,” which helps students structure their paragraphs and use strong evidence to support their points of view. Students gain experience writing narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive pieces.
As a daily practice, students begin each morning with a Bell Ringer. These are short exercises that focus on evidence-based writing, grammar, vocabulary, figurative language, and mentor-text writing.
Vocabulary acquisition is critical to being successful in middle school. Students focus on five new words each week. We also study Greek and Latin roots to help students predict word meanings.
Grammar instruction is a blend of review, direct instruction, game-based practice, and spiraled review. Sixth grade focuses on a solid understanding of pronoun cases, intensive pronouns, pronoun shifts and vague pronouns, and punctuation for nonrestrictive and parenthetical elements. In seventh grade, students will master recognition of phrases, clauses, sentence types, misplace and dangling modifiers, and coordinate adjectives. Eighth grade concentrates on verbals, passive versus active voice, verb moods, ellipses, dashes, and commas.