The 8th grade English Language Arts program is a culmination of the skills learned in the previous middle school curriculum. Students are held to a high standard in this literature-based program and are rigorously prepared for the high school English experience. Students read and discuss literature and are expected to respond to material through creative and analytical writing as well as in an oral format. Incorporated into the writing curriculum is a review of essay structure.
Students then hone and perfect the four- and five-paragraph essay to respond to questions about their reading. In addition to literature, there is a comprehensive skills program that focuses on strengthening students’ vocabulary, grammar, and spelling. Students will be given the New York State ELA exam in January. Below, find some of the specific program components:
Literary Analysis and Reading Skills
Students continue to enrich their literary knowledge through novels in the 8th grade curriculum. Some of the texts read include, The Cay, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Contender, Taking Sides, The Diary of Anne Frank, Hatchet, Halfway to the Sky, The Old Man and the Sea, A Raisin in the Sun and Hamlet. In addition, students read a litany of comprehensive short stories. Students engage in a range of activities in order to explore the pieces read, including literature circles, cooperative learning, and project-based field work. Students also read assorted literature genres throughout the year. The Language of Literature textbooks are utilized for reading additional short stories, plays, newspaper articles, and poems. The textbooks are also utilized to teach grammar and literary concepts, such as irony, conflict, characterization, and more.
Student writing in the 8th grade is geared toward preparation for high school writing. All students keep a “response log” in which they record personal responses to text selections they read. These responses are assigned as homework; one is randomly chosen to receive a grade each week. The “response log” encourages the children to further deepen their personal understanding of the text. Students also engage in a weekly writing assignment—these range from creative to informational writing. Some examples of the weekly writing assignment would be: Eyewitness Report, Poem, Character Sketch, Cause-and-Effect essay, Comparison-and-Contrast Essay, Short Story, Research Report. Students are held to rigorous writing standards in which their mechanical writing aspects (spelling, grammar, punctuation) as well as content, comprise the overall grade. Students work on multiple drafts of a written piece, utilizing self and peer-editing skills. In the 8th grade, students work diligently on 5-paragraph essays, learn to cite sources, and complete analytical research.
Grammar lessons take place weekly. The scope of grammar instruction includes, but is not limited to, homophones, run-on sentences and fragment sentences, editing techniques, subject complements, objects of verbs, nouns as subjects and complements, nouns in phrases, reflexive and intensive pronouns, interrogatives and demonstratives, pronoun-antecedent agreement, indefinite pronoun agreement, irregular verbs, troublesome verb pairs, adjectives, predicate adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, conjunctions, interjections, gerunds and gerund phrases, participles and participial phrases, infinitives and infinitive phrases, subject-verb agreement, capitalization, punctuation.
Students are introduced to new vocabulary weekly. Utilizing the current novel text, appropriate and comprehensive vocabulary is chosen from a weekly set of chapters. Students utilize the vocabulary in class daily. Students complete weekly vocabulary assignments and take a weekly vocabulary test.
Students complete weekly spelling assignments based on grade level and individual needs. Students complete a weekly spelling test.
The Shakespeare Festival is a culmination of the students’ hard work studying the life and words of Mr. William Shakespeare. The children engage in an exciting and interactive unit on Shakespeare, examining the entirety of his colorful life, learning his techniques, and reading his plays. They then create an amazing performance for fellow pupils, friends, and family at the annual Festival. The 8th grade jumps head first into the challenging Hamlet, studying the tragedy of the prince of Denmark. The Shakespeare Festival itself is a wonderful celebration of song, speech, performance and merriment developed and executed by the students themselves. It is a combination of theatrics, history and original works of writing, presented by a costumed and excited middle school each year.
8th Grade Goals – End of 8th Grade Year Benchmarks:
1) Read a minimum of 20 pages per night
2) Vary reading pace according to material
3) Read short stories, drama, poetry, novels, and essays
4) Read independently challenging material
5) Recognize main ideas
6) Draws inferences from text
7) Supports opinion with information from text
8) Infer author’s purpose
9) Develop an appreciation for literature and language
10) Follow written and oral directions
11) Learn vocabulary from reading
12) Extrapolate topics from text
13) Anticipate major plot shifts
14) Recognize theme, historical context, allusion, tone, symbol, and imagery
1)Organize and express ideas in clear, complete sentences
2) Vary sentence structure
3) Use complete paragraph structure
4) Organize paragraphs logically
5) Write four- and five-paragraph essays
6) Writes four- and five-paragraph essays in timed situations
7) Support writing with evidence from text
8) Develop a personal voice in writing
9).Use genres, including essays, reports, persuasive, stories, responses, poems, letters
10) Properly use augmentation and persuasion
11) Use pre-writing strategies, such as brainstorming and outlining
12) Use correct punctuation and grammar
13) Revise material for content and with multiple drafts
14) Edit for mechanics
15) Write with consistency
1) Listen with comprehension for extended periods of time (to a variety of texts, oral presentations)
2) Respond appropriately to what is heard
3) Form an opinion or judgment about the validity and accuracy of information, ideas, opinions, issues, themes, and experiences
4) Recognize persuasive techniques, such as emotional and ethical appeals, in presentations
5) Evaluate the quality of the speaker’s presentation style
6) Listen for more than one level of meaning, articulated and unspoken
1) Speak to share responses to a variety of texts and performances
2) Speak, using grammatical structures suited to particular audiences
3) Communicate spoken ideas in an organized and coherent manner
4) Offer verbal feedback to others in a respectful and responsive manner
5) Express opinions or judgments about information
6) Provide feedback by asking questions designed to encourage further conversation