The language arts program integrates the development of speaking, listening, reading, and composition. Our approach to teaching language arts is holistic and based on the concepts of developmental learning, oral language development, literature-based reading instruction, and writing as a process.
The goal of Language Arts is for students to read, write, and speak well. We engage students in learning:
- word recognition
- appreciation of literature
- to develop coherent compositions
We teach reading and writing in a natural way, introduce students to entire stories, and foster understanding and meaning before skills. Students engage in the process of communicating in writing using their own ideas and focusing on clear presentation. They also use the writing of real authors to develop the use of descriptive language, spelling, and grammar.
Reading literature, interpreting feelings, and sharing thoughts in a variety of ways helps students acquire language in a complex, interactive, and social process. The language arts program uses strategies which build on the vast warehouse of knowledge children bring to the classroom.
The middle school language arts curriculum is considered an accelerated program. Each grade reads a variety of texts. Each text reflects a common theme that is woven throughout the year’s curriculum. The vocabulary is culled through the text. The students engage in many opportunities to write from the formal to the creative. Power of the Pen and Power of the Pencil are two models that are put into play in the classroom. In the seventh and eighth grade, six students from each grade are chosen to participate in a statewide writing competition.
The theme for this year is survival. The students will explore this theme through 5 pieces of literature:
• The Cay by Theodore Taylor
• A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hanseberry
• The Night Journey by Kathryn Lasky
• Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
• Call it Courage by Armstrong Perry
All the characters in these works struggle to survive. The students will read these books with a critical eye and learn about character development, elements of a plot, and about the different types of conflicts.
The students also complete a book of their own memoirs where they read works of poetry by poets like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and translate these poets’ works into their own voices. Power of the Pencil model is used in the 6th grade.
The theme for this year is Identity. The students will explore this theme through four pieces of literature:
• The Pearl by John Steinbeck
• Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
• The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
• Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples
All of the characters in these works struggle to figure out their own identity. The students will take what they know from the 6th grade and build on it as they ask questions and further explore literary techniques such as the use of symbols and figurative language. The seventh grade students train for the Power of the Pen competition which is creative writing based on prompts.