The Middle School English Program develops students’:
- proficiency in writing and speaking
- reading comprehension and retention
- facility with figurative language and literary abstraction
- understanding of grammar, usage, and syntax.
The department chooses literature to challenge, encourage, and engage students at each grade level. In addition to the reading that students are assigned in English class, each student also has a free choice book going at all times. A period is set aside each week for all students and faculty in the Middle School to read for pleasure. During this period, students read with their advisors, who are modeling pleasure reading themselves. Writing assignments, creative and expository, often are paired in some way with assigned reading. Each student’s vocabulary study is individualized through Membean, a web-based program, and vocabulary growth is monitored by each student’s teacher. Students study grammar at each grade level. Each year every student chooses and then declaims a significant work to his or her English classmates. Thus begins a school-wide series of auditions to discover approximately twelve excellent declaimers, three to five from each grade, who perform before the whole school each February or March.
The sixth grade English program encourages a love of reading, instills appreciation of language, and develops students' abilities to express themselves. It emphasizes vocabulary, grammar, and composition skills that are reinforced across all disciplines in the core classroom. The individualized writing program targets areas that need improvement for each student. In addition, students improve dictionary and research skills through their writing. The program shares multidisciplinary units with history and is a component of the grade theme (To Inspire: Nature and Civilization). Literature includes: Goodnight Mr. Tom, And Then There Were None, The Trojan War, and Slake’s Limbo. Students also read selections from D’Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. The Trojan War and D’Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths complement 6th grade history.
The seventh grade English program exposes students to more literature and develops each student's ability for self-expression. While English covers many important skills, if there is a focus at this grade level, it is reading. All students, even the best readers in 7th grade, have reading skills that can be improved. We identify them quickly and help students improve over the course of the year. With their writing, students learn the importance of revision as they sharpen their word choice and phrasing in various descriptive, narrative, and expository compositions. Grammar study builds on the parts of speech students were exposed to in 6th grade. Rules of punctuation are included. Literature includes Of Mice And Men, selected short stories and poems, A Long Way from Chicago, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, A Long Walk to Water, The Giver, and Whirligig. Literature, some discussions, and some writing assignments support further understanding of the grade theme (To Rise: The Individual and Society).
The eighth grade English program widens students’ experiences as writers, readers, and speakers of English while preparing them for the expectations of humanities in the Upper School. After a quick review of 7th grade material, students study more abstract levels of grammar and usage that are applicable to their speech and writing. Literature includes Chains, My Antonia, Julius Caesar, The Book Thief, Fahrenheit 451, and To Kill a Mockingbird, plus selected short stories and poems. Literature, some discussions, and some writing assignments in this course support further understanding of the grade theme (To Contribute: Citizenship and Leadership).