8th Grade English

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:


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. festivalThe 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:
Students will:


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









Parent Bravos

Here is a small sample of some of the  beautiful comments from our Parents

From a 6th Grade Parent:

Dear Mr and Mrs Stark,
And all our wonderful LHS teachers! We want to support all parents in sending our deepest gratitude for giving our kids some sense of normalcy during these very challenging times.
It’s very important for us to know that while my husband, as many other ICU doctors and nurses, are fighting every day with this vicious disease, our children can still follow their routine, learn, and communicate with their teachers and friends. It helps us, parents, and it definitely helps kids to continue their growth as individuals.
I see excitement in (our daughter’s) eyes when she is getting ready for school in the morning, when she is running to the printer to get an assignment, or just talking to her friends during breaks.
Thank you so much to every single one of you!

From a 3YR Old Parent:

“We wanted to say thank you for accommodating the preschool families with the tuition suspension during this time.
We are also amazed (and truly grateful) that the zoom on- line learning format is continuing despite the circumstances.
I know this is not an easy time for businesses, organizations etc. If there is anything at all we can do to help the school during this time or once we return, please let us know. Maybe a fundraiser or maybe there is something we can do for our individual teachers. Just brainstorming…
Finally, some thoughts as we’ve entered week 3 of zoom/on-line learning. It’s been such a wonderful experience participating in our kids’ learning! Yes managing working from home and helping with homeschool can be exciting… but I’ve enjoyed seeing firsthand how dedicated our teachers are to not only teaching and providing additional resources to enhance learning, but also doing it with such great enthusiasm.
 There’s a great sense of community and collaboration between administration, teachers and parents, and it is evident that our main goal is how to make this experience the best it can possibly be.
How lucky are we to have such amazingly dedicated teachers in our kids’ lives! How blessed are we to be part of the
Laurel Hill family!
In the midst of chaos you have given us a sense of normalcy and we are genuinely appreciative of all your efforts.


As Charles Dickens famously observed…
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .
it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope . . .
We at Laurel Hill live “the best of times” every day because we are blessed by the beauty, by the serene innocence, and by the precocity of our boys and girls.
We at Laurel Hill live “the best of times” every day for the blessing of totally dedicated teachers and support staff who clearly know why they selected to do what they do in career and in life and give, and give, and give tirelessly to fulfill their greatest ambitions for their children’s growth and well being.
We at Laurel Hill live “the best of times” because we are blessed to have families joined with us to support and to build – partners in turning great ideas into great accomplishments, partners ready to share their skills and to help in the work that needs to be done.
Ms. Bond’s Zoom Classroom
Never in my teaching career would I have thought that I would need to teach elementary class via online classes. Yet, here we are in uncertain times, teaching in a media platform that is geared towards the children of this generation.
As apprehensive as I was before the first day of Zoom (I woke up a number of times during the night like it was my first day of school!), I now feel energized and excited about what we are able to do with the Zoom program. I’ve found that I’ve been able to keep most of my teaching the same as when it is a live class! In Reading, we’ve done an author study and vocabulary work in just three days! I am so proud of how much hard work my students continue to do while they are at home!
I hope this email finds you well and safe. I have been thinking about you & Mr. Stark often and must first apologize for the time lapse in reaching out to express my deepest gratitude. I can’t believe that we have just completed 3 weeks of successful and engaging remote learning. Your steadfast leadership at the onset of this crisis was inspiring. As this crisis turned into a nationwide tragic pandemic, your engaging and detailed remote learning program did not waiver. In fact, it strengthened! Our children were the lucky ones to maintain a sense of normalcy with their routine schedule and engaging “live” classes with all of their treasured teachers and classmate friends.

View additional parent testimonials and all other news updates by visiting Laurel Hill In the News.