English Language Arts

Middle School English

The goal of the English program is to develop the ability in our students to read critically, to write clearly, to speak effectively, and to think in analytical, reflective, and creative ways. Literature discussions and seminars in diverse formats expose students to a variety of texts, which challenges them to consider the nature of their own humanity and the humanity of others. In addition, we expect our students to write in a range of genres and styles with the end goal of mastering a formal academic essay, experimenting with poetry and short stories, presenting for an audience, and engaging as active participants in discussions. 

Another integral part of the English program is the Novel Studies Program which starts in third grade and continues through middle school. We believe reading is an innate part of education as it allows children to develop vital skills they can use throughout their lives. Reading materials can help with spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary building – all areas necessary for effective communication. Most importantly, reading increases knowledge and imagination; exploring new ideas can help young minds grow in new ways. Furthermore, children can apply critical thinking to analyze prose or literature when reading. Listed in each grade level summary are the possible selection of novel studies supported by Hebrew Day and part of ELA curriculum standards. Novel choice varies by grade level based on teacher preference and general appropriateness for each class year to year.

5th Grade

Instruction is integrated so that reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language develop together and are mutually supportive. Students read a variety of literature including mythology, poetry, plays and novels throughout the year.  Students strengthen their writing voice as they create poems, short stories, reflective essays, and research projects. The emphasis is to promote higher-order thinking skills and interdisciplinary approaches that integrate inquiry, problem-based learning and technology that apply to learning in relevant, real-world scenarios. Students also have several opportunities to hone their public speaking skills, including presenting a Spoken Word Poem to the wider school community at their annual Poetry Night Showcase.

Fifth Grade: Four novels per year, one each trimester

(First novel is read over the summer prior to start of school year)

  • Running Out of Time by Margeret Peterson Haddox
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

6th Grade

Every Grade 6 student is at a different stage of their own journey toward reading and writing competence. The sixth-grade curriculum, therefore, is designed to accommodate a wide range of learning styles to ensure that every student is individually challenged. The writing expectations for sixth grade cover a wide variety of genres: free verse poetry, short story, book review, essay for a test question, an argumentative essay and an autobiography based on a fictional character. Students also cover vocabulary with a wide range of grade-level grammar instruction and review. Students also have several opportunities to hone their public speaking skills, including impersonating a fictional character to the wider school community.

Sixth Grade: Six novels per year, two each trimester

(First novel of trimester one is read over the summer prior to start of school year)

  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • The Giver by Louis Lowry
  • REFUGEE by Alan Gratz
  • Restart by Gordon Korman
  • Crash by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner

7th Grade

Skills learned in earlier grades are further developed in English 7. Grammar study includes a review of the parts of speech and instruction in the parts of a sentence including pronouns, complements and prepositional phrases. Students review paragraph writing and essay development which leads to the composition of larger essays focusing on personal and literary analysis. In preparation for more formalized public speaking, students will contribute to in-class discussions and perform a scene from a variety of plays. Study and organizational skills include note taking, topic selection and development, and in-class essays.

Seventh Grade: Six novels per year, two each trimester

(First novel of trimester one is read over the summer prior to start of school year)

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
  • Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Julius Caesar by Shakespeare 

8th Grade

The primary course objective of English 8 is to further develop the skills of organized argument, clarity of expression, and analytical thought, each through careful study of the various ways we use formal language–in other words, literature and writing. The study of literature in Grade 8 reflects the belief that, in this age group, classics ought not to be taught in a vacuum, nor should modern books be presented absent of their connection to the influential works of the past. Ultimately, through literary allusion, symbolism and recurring plot device, our reading selections demonstrate the importance of classic literature not only for its own sake but for the sake of literary excellence then, now and onward. In a similar manner, our written work uses a progression of essays from personal and literary analysis to short story and poetry to scientific analysis in the form of a research paper completed in conjunction with the annual science fair milestone in eighth grade. Along with this comprehensive study of writing and literature, grammar and vocabulary are taught through required assignments and literature texts.

Eighth Grade: Six novels per year, two each trimester

(First novel of trimester one is read over the summer prior to start of school year)

  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Nothing But the Truth by Avi
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • Turn About by Margeret Peterson Haddox
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding