In English we will use the essential questions below to explore identity and ground our reading, writing, and discussion. These essential questions connect directly to the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards.

  • How does one’s perspective or individual and group identities change or inform their understanding of the world around them? (Identity)
  • What can literature’s “windows and mirrors” reveal to us about characters, our individual identity, our diverse community, and the world? (Diversity)
  • How does power (or lack thereof) shape people’s lives and inform their understanding of justice? (Justice)
  • What tools does an author use to create a unique narrative and voice, and how can we use these tools to inspire our voices and lead us to be change-makers? (Action)

Grade 7

Seventh grade English students develop skills in order to be effective readers, writers, and communicators. Throughout the year, students practice and deepen close reading and analytic skills by studying and considering thematic ideas in short stories, novels, and poems. Among the readings offered are The Outsiders, Look Both Ways, a selection of short stories from Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures, and Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix. These rich texts shape our class discussions, activities, and writing assignments during the year. 

Students develop the skills of effective time management, notebook organization, underlining and margin noting, vocabulary-building, and grammatical analysis. Short-term assignments, frequent reading quizzes, and an emphasis on class participation help students practice careful and prompt preparation. Imaginative and analytic long-term writing assignments along with more open-ended projects allow students to explore their creativity while they learn to plan and execute their ideas responsibly. 

Grade 8

Grade 8 English students consider ideas in literature in increasingly abstract terms and make exciting leaps in understanding relationships within and between readings. Through discussion, writings, and activities, students find parallels within literature and between these works and their own lives. Texts studied during the year include The Rock and The River, selections from Leaving Home, an anthology of readings about journeys, 12 Angry Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Separate Peace, and a selection of work of nonfiction. Writing assignments throughout the year grow out of the ideas and strategies identified in the reading and include a ten page fictional story, descriptive and personal paragraphs, analytic essays, and poetry. The Grade 8 curriculum reinforces study skills introduced in Grade 7. Class time is devoted to discussion, group work, peer editing, acting, short writing exercises, grammatical analysis, and other activities that help students hone their reading and writing skills.