Middle School is the opportune time to begin more rigorous coursework as students prepare to transition into high school. Literature and Composition 7/8 offers a challenging yet engaging one-year, literature-based, complete English class that allows middle school students to continue to build upon the foundational skills acquired in Literature and Composition 6/7 (although it is not a prerequisite).
Students continue to practice and perfect their skills in spelling, reading comprehension, literary analysis, grammar, writing, vocabulary, listening, speaking, and critical thinking. The skill of annotation is regularly practiced and reinforced as students read a variety of texts and genres. Critiquing and analyzing literary works and engaging in meaningful discourse are also essential components of this class. Through Socratic seminars, which are organized discussions, students seek a deeper understanding of complex ideas by asking questions. Beyond literary discussions, students, through carefully crafted essays and thoroughly researched arguments, also practice the art of persuasion and oral communication through informal debates.
This class helps students respond to literature through a variety of methods, including thought-provoking questions, story summary charts, essay writing, group assignments, online discussion boards, journaling, oral reports, and creative projects.
Direct instruction in writing is taught beginning with a review of basic elements of a sentence and proper paragraph construction, and culminates with the creation of multi-paragraph essays. Conducting research, developing a thesis statement, summarizing a variety of texts, critiquing literature, and responding to a given prompt are some of the composition skills practiced throughout the year. The variety of literature and informational texts read in this class serve as models to improve writing skills. Students mature in their ability to write through practicing expository, narrative, descriptive, creative, and persuasive writing.
Students read nine books as well as several short stories, articles, and poems. All Internet links to short stories and poems will be provided by the instructor. Books, however, must be purchased in advance and brought to class as needed. Because an important component of this class is learning how to provide textual evidence when writing about or discussing literature, it is helpful for all students to acquire the same editions of each book. Please refer to the ISBN numbers in the Required Texts tab above when ordering.
- a 2-inch, three-ring binder
- set of dividers, preferably with pockets (5-6)
- lined notebook paper for binder
- a composition notebook or spiral for journaling (unless a digital option is preferred)
- highlighters–yellow, green, blue, pink, orange
- Post-It Notes (various sizes, shapes, colors–yellow, green, blue, pink, orange)
- pens and pencils, erasers
- colored pencils, thin markers
- white, unlined copy paper (stored in course binder)
Weekly homework includes vocabulary, grammar/mechanics, reading, and writing assignments. Students learn to annotate assigned novels, short stories, poems, and articles. Students also respond to literature through a variety of methods including thought-provoking questions, story summary charts, essay-writing, group assignments, online discussion boards, journaling, oral reports, debates, dramatizations, and projects.
For students who desire more of a challenge or wish to pursue a more in-depth study and analysis of literature, an honors level for this course is offered. Students participating in the honors level have the option to complete additional thought-provoking, creative, and analytical writing assignments and projects. Please see the course calendar for a list of honors assignments.
Who should enroll?
This class is designed for 8th graders and advanced 7th graders. Students who have taken Literature and Composition 6/7 will be well prepared.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Headset and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
- Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are extremely helpful. If using a different word processing program, documents should be saved or exported as a pdf in order to submit them on Canvas.
Evaluation and Feedback
Asking students to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter is an integral part of the learning process. Both formal and informal assessments are administered in this course. Grammar and vocabulary quizzes are administered periodically. Comprehension of literature is assessed through live class and online discussions and written responses such as journal entries and essays.
After concluding each literature unit, students are assessed through a variety of methods including essays and major exams. Students are also asked to apply and demonstrate their ability to analyze literature by completing special, creative projects or oral presentations.
Providing consistent feedback is imperative for student growth and success especially with writing. For this reason, I provide a detailed critique of each major writing assignment as well as general comments on all other assignments. In addition, I schedule individual writing conferences as needed where students and I meet one-on-one to address their specific writing needs.
Communication is an essential component of any educational endeavor. With that in mind, I encourage all of my students to contact me whenever they need assistance with an assignment, and I make it a priority to promptly respond to student inquiries. I also send a weekly “wrap-up” announcements outlining the learning objectives accomplished in class as well as reminders about upcoming assignments.
Beyond email correspondence, I have set aside an additional hour each week to assist students with writing, grammar, and literary skills. To participate in this extra learning opportunity, students must register separately. See Language Arts Lab 7/8 for details and to register.
Parental inquiries are welcomed and encouraged as parental involvement is essential to student success. To best serve parents, I have established “office hours” on Friday mornings from 9:00–11:00 AM (ET) for responding to emails and phone calls. In addition, I am available for requested individual writing conferences periodically throughout the year where students and I meet one-on-one to address their specific writing needs. I consider it a great privilege to be able to walk alongside parents and assist them in educating their children.