English Language Arts is the study of communication. At MS 8, we seek to inspire lifelong and skilled readers, writers, listeners and speakers by both allowing students to select their own texts and writing topics and providing them the challenge of exploring unfamiliar genres and subjects. We believe that students must write for real purposes and for real audiences, and we thus seek to design projects to show how writing can be a powerful tool that enables them to impact their world.
In 6th grade, students’ Humanities curriculum is centered around the question: What shapes who I am? The Humanities course will help 6th grade students develop their abilities to think critically, to reason independently, and to ask great questions of the texts we read and of the world around them. The course aims to broaden and deepen students’ content background in world history while learning about several genres of literature and styles of writing. 6th graders will produce their own creative, written work as well as visual work. We will be reading fictional anchor texts throughout the year as well as supplemental non-fiction texts to ground our understandings in historical, socioeconomic and geographical contexts. In 6th grade, there is an Independent Reading and a Social Studies class in addition to Humanities, both of which meet twice and build on and enhance the work of the Humanities course.
Core texts include The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, focused on questions about how people create their identities and how/whether they can change. The course will examine ancient and classical civilizations, as well as Aztec culture and world religions, with a view to questions of what shapes civilizations — geography, societal rules and systems of organization, beliefs and values.
In 7th grade, the ELA curriculum is grounded in our year-long essential question: What is your role in the world? Each unit of study is designed around a shared core text (or group of texts) as well as selections of short fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art in order to provide multiple lenses through which to analyze the complexity of one’s identity. As we make our way through three core texts, we consider how one’s position within a society can impact power, responsibilities, choices, and community. We examine the lives of individuals and characters with different backgrounds and experiences in order to analyze the multiple factors that contribute to why people choose to be who they are in the world.
Core texts for this year include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and Sold by Patricia McCormick. As we work our way through these texts, we have specific reading and writing foci that include tracking the development of central ideas within texts; dissecting the different levels, elements, and “rules” of a setting; examining how form and structure contribute to meaning; developing research and interviewing skills; and creating a range of written work including argumentative essays and informative books.
Core texts include American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.