Avid Readers & Writers
In eighth grade English, students consider social issues with profound moral implications. Important questions such as “How do situations in our lives shape our character?” inform conversations and writing assignments throughout the year.
Works by Maya Angelou and Robert Frost and core literature such as Night and A Christmas Carol help students understand that books are both “windows” and “mirrors”: windows into other people’s experiences and mirrors that reflect their own lives. Your child will immerse himself in the difficult process of writing, delving into genres like memoir, poetry, literary analysis thesis essay, and a persuasive research paper. Truman Capote said, “Good writing is rewriting.” That’s why we teach eighth graders the powerful process of ratiocination as an editing tool. By the end of the year, your child will be able to think more independently, read more critically, and articulate his ideas more effectively, both in his speech and on the page.
All eighth graders are enrolled in either Level or Honors English. Students in Honors English read additional literature, complete more writing assignments, and work at a faster pace than students in Level English classes. In addition to their core English class, eighth graders may take Reading & Writing Seminar in lieu of Spanish.
Language Arts Offerings
Glance into the Honors English class, and you might wonder whether people are simulating a U.N. summit. Gathered in Harkness style, students discuss social issues that serve as a backdrop for much of great literature. The overarching theme of “The American Experience” permeates Honors English in tandem with eighth grade U.S. History. Your child will research and develop a thesis argument in a History/English Position Paper about a burning social problem. As she reads Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech, and the poetry of Tupac Shakur, your child will discover the power of words to define reality and galvanize action. Open-ended assignments give students the freedom to let their creativity take the reigns. For example, when asked to dream up ghosts of their past, present, and future selves like Ebenezer Scrooge, they may create costumed Barbies, elaborate Lego structures, or abstract art. Our eighth graders leave this course inspired and confident, surer of themselves, their voices, and their potential to change the world.
Students in Level English will learn to write strong, research-based papers and incorporate feedback during the editing process. They will apply their growing understanding of sentence structure to strengthen their writing. A poetry project offers an outlet for students to reflect on their feelings and memories. Your child will experience the joy of book clubs by choosing texts that interest her, pacing her reading, and responding critically with a small group of classmates. Harkness-style discussions develop students’ ability to analyze and converse about literature without teacher intervention. Your child will incorporate technology as a tool for creativity and collaboration, using Flipgrid to discuss literature with their peers and Animoto to create a movie trailer with animation, stop motion, or mixed media.
In this class, students gain a better understanding of short fiction and poetry alongside grammar and vocabulary. They will work with familiar material in new ways by revisiting topics from their core English class and practicing valuable study techniques. For example, the class will augment its reading of Night with supplemental materials about the Holocaust. Students will watch TED talks about how to improve their listening skills, then listen intently to classmates’ ideas. Your child will write journal entries about current world issues and read short stories that illustrate the power of empathy, justice, forgiveness, dignity – themes common to our shared humanity.