Reading and writing are embedded as part of our interdisciplinary humanities program in the Middle School. Teachers provide many opportunities for students to engage in analytical reading and model strategies for reading comprehension and analysis.  Students express themselves creatively within the social studies content and beyond it. Throughout the sixth through eighth grade years, students write poetry, personal narratives, literary essays, research papers, and short stories. The emphasis of the curriculum is on encouraging middle schoolers to take ownership over all aspects of the writing process. Vocabulary development and the rules of spelling and grammar are incorporated into lessons; students are encouraged to recognize the importance of self-editing. Students read fiction and nonfiction independently and in small groups, and share their thinking about reading with their peers. 

6th grade

Sixth graders examine character development across a wide range of literature. They compare and contrast themes in different genres such as poetry and short stories. Students expand their ability to converse about what they are reading through regular discussions and small book groups. Some of the novels that students may read: Amina’s Voice, The Kite Rider, Inquisitor’s Tale, and Crispin. Students work in genres such as essays and narratives, bringing new craft techniques and critical thinking skills to these forms. In addition, they make connections between their own family stories and those they are learning about. 

7th grade

In 7th grade students are introduced to the works of William Shakespeare and have the opportunity to enact scenes from his plays. They examine closely the use of language and experiment with writing in a similar style. Some other books that students may read: The Hate You Give, Chains, and The Giver. Their writing includes fiction as well as persuasive and informational pieces that provide students with a chance to do more in-depth integration of research-based evidence.  

8th grade

Eighth graders are able to employ a variety of literary techniques such as metaphors, variation in point of view, and comparison of themes across texts in their writing. They analyze complex texts and think about abstract themes in literature such as: how social norms affect character’s choices, or the ways in which characters find happiness in the face of adversity. They incorporate this analysis into both written and oral presentations. Some of the books students may read: The Diary of Anne Frank, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Maus. 

Essential Questions

What are ways in which authors create characters who change over time?

What strategies can authors use to create a sense of identity for their characters?

How does a text reflect a set of cultural values?

How does the text rely upon or break cultural assumptions?

How can you use writing techniques to be persuasive?

Key Literacy Skills: Middle School

  • Analyze an author’s point of view.
  • Compare and contrast texts, themes, genres, points of view.
  • Engage in collaborative conversations about texts by building on others’ ideas.
  • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.