Middle School Language Arts

Sixth grade is an exciting step up from elementary, but the curriculum of ELA 6 provides the scaffolding for success. Students are surprised by the end of the year when they discover how many books they have read. They notice how much more specific their writing is. And after a year, they–to use our special sixth grade lingo–can create a “power paragraph” using “zesty” words.

One of the ways I show love to my students is by reaching from bell to bell,* from the first day in September through the last period in June. That doesn’t mean I’m lecturing that whole time. On the contrary! Come to ELA 6 and you’ll witness student participation, active learning, humor, and a variety of methods from individual whiteboards to 21st century technology to wild vocabulary games to quiet reading in the bean bag chairs. You will see that we evaluate literature from a Christian perspective, treat each other with respect, and learn cooperatively.

Goals

  • Comprehend different types of text with increasing precision
  • Enjoy the power of a good story and unforgettable characters
  • Increase vocabulary and word sense
  • Write with clarity and power
  • Support ideas and opinions with specific examples and textual evidence
  • Use the conventions of English writing
  • Define and use figurative language and imagery
  • Delight in language
  • Identify the parts of speech
  • Participate thoughtfully in literature groups and peer writing conferences

Resources

  • Newbery Award-winning novels
  • independent reading chosen from the annual Battle of the Books list
  • Six-Way Paragraph Comprehension book
  • Newsela.com
  • teacher-created grammar resources
  • Daily Oral Language 6
  • Vocabulary Workshop A
  • Words on the Vine: Latin and Greek roots and prefixes

Seventh grade is the year of student choice in reading, and Reading Workshop continues to get top votes for favorite unit. We explore different comprehension strategies good readers use, but first and foremost everyone reads A LOT! (Speaking of a lot, those two words are part of a spelling demon list that starts in sixth grade and grows through eighth grade. No more misspelling separate or definitely!) In fact, we even get a little competitive with our reading during a special awards ceremony.

“Show not Tell” is our writing refrain, and seventh graders enjoy each other’s pieces in our classroom magazines. We also attend a formal British tea after exploring A View from Saturday, and we end the year with the beginning–the beginning of written language, that is–the Iliad and Odyssey. The study of traditional grammar takes on a new twist in Teams, Games, and Tournament, an active learning strategy that uses cooperation and competition.

One of the ways I show love to my students is by reaching from bell to bell,* from the first day in September through the last period in June. That doesn’t mean I’m lecturing that whole time. On the contrary! Come to ELA 7 and you’ll witness student participation, peer conferences, humor, and a variety of methods from individual whiteboards to 21st century technology to wild vocabulary games to quiet reading in the bean bag chairs. You will see that we evaluate literature from a Christian perspective, treat each other with respect, and learn cooperatively.

Goals

  • Comprehend different types of text with increasing precision
  • Enjoy the power of a good story and unforgettable characters
  • Analyze elements of fiction such as point of view, motif, theme, etc.
  • Increase vocabulary and word sense
  • Write with clarity and organization
  • Revise for better communication and power
  • Support ideas and opinions with specific examples and textual evidence
  • Use the conventions of English writing
  • Define and use figurative language and imagery
  • Delight in language
  • Identify the parts of speech
  • Participate thoughtfully in literature groups and peer writing conferences

Resources

  • Newbery Award-winning novels
  • hundreds and hundreds of young adult novels in Room 212 and beyond
  • selections from the Iliad and Odyssey
  • Newsela.com
  • teacher-created grammar resources
  • Daily Oral Language 7
  • Vocabulary Workshop B
  • Words on the Vine: Latin and Greek roots and prefixes

 

Eighth grade is get-ready-for-high school year, with more focus on classic literature and formal writing. We complete many traditions begun in sixth and seventh grades such as the spelling demon list, usage and punctuation practice, the elements of literature, and vocabulary instruction. But we intensify our emphasis on inference, theme, and exploring the worldview of a piece.

Eighth graders do a lot of writing; at this level all final products are typed and we make more use of digital tools. Having mastered support of a thesis, students now focus on tone: What constitutes a formal essay? How do I follow the conventions while still being lively and conveying my voice? When are colloquialisms welcome? Our students can present their ideas with precision when they master the finer points of pronouns and their antecedents and know when to choose fewer vs. less, effect vs. affect, etc.

Although the curriculum is rigorous, we make time to have fun in ELA 8. Two highlights of eighth grade are the Greek Fest and the Medieval Feast, celebrations that pair students’ learning in social studies with corresponding ELA units.

One of the ways I show love to my students is by reaching from bell to bell,* from the first day in September through the last period in June. That’s doesn’t mean I’m lecturing that whole time. On the contrary!  Come to ELA 8 and you’ll witness student participation, peer conferences, humor, and a variety of methods from individual whiteboards to 21st century technology to wild vocabulary games to quiet reading in the bean bag chairs. You will see that we evaluate literature from a Christian perspective, treat each other with respect, and learn cooperatively.

Goals

  • Comprehend different types of text with increasing precision
  • Enjoy the power of a good story and unforgettable characters
  • Analyze elements of fiction such as point of view, motif, theme, etc.
  • Infer underlying messages and themes through tone and diction analysis
  • Support ideas and opinions with specific examples and textual evidence
  • Increase vocabulary and word sense
  • Write with clarity and organization
  • Revise for better communication and power
  • Use the conventions of English writing
  • Articulate the conventions of formal essay
  • Write a lively formal essay
  • Delight in language
  • Participate thoughtfully in literature groups and peer writing conferences

Resources

  • New and old classics: e.g., The Hobbit, Animal Farm, The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Explorations in Literature
  • teacher-created and online usage resources
  • Daily Oral Language 8
  • Vocabulary Workshop C

 

Phil-Mont faculty - Betsy RockeyAbout Mrs. Rockey

I love Jesus, words, and middle schoolers, so Phil-Mont middle school is a great fit for me. Secondarily I enjoy hiking, biking, gardening, and reading. Some people are convinced that my high energy comes from my preference for Sumatran coffee and dark chocolate, but I think my enthusiasm comes from loving my work! I am married to Jonathan, a Latin and Greek teacher who shares my nerdy passions, and we have two grown daughters.

BA Calvin College
MA Villanova University
Pennsylvania Writers Fellow