Language Arts

Each student will develop a strong foundation in English through extensive experience with writing, speaking, and reading. In writing, we stress precision and organization in order to foster strong writing skills and analytical thinking. Students express their ideas orally through discussion and presentations; they also come to value the exchange of ideas produced by discussion. We practice literary analysis on a variety of texts that offer young adolescents a chance to view the world from perspectives other than their own. Finally, it is our hope that through writing, speaking, and reading, students will begin a process of self-exploration and discovery that will guide them on their journey through Middle School.

Sixth Grade Language Arts

students studyingHow exciting it will be to see how your words can impact the greater world around you! While researching and writing about issues related to student activism, you will see how one voice can truly make an impact. Building upon skills and structures introduced in lower school, you will hone your craft as a writer. You will explore the power of language by supporting your claims and opinions with research and examples. Our narrative writing projects will include a deeper understanding of personal narratives and memoirs, writing and reading examples in class. Do you like talking about books you like to read? Just like adults do in their book groups, you will meet with small groups to discuss high interest literature. These discussions will help you to get to the heart of the story in a fun and interactive way. Having more choice in what you read will help build your reading comprehension and fluency. Did you know you can use video games to explore the setting of a story? Do you enjoy build web sites? Are you an amateur videographer or have a flair for using iMovie? You will have many opportunities to use technology in the classroom by developing book projects related to your reading. Let’s do away with traditional vocabulary books and use your phone or computer to learn new vocabulary at your own pace and level. We use Membean, a fun and interactive program sure to teach you new words for enhancing your writing projects throughout the year.

Seventh Grade Language Arts
Step back into history to a time when America was born of revolution as you read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and learn about life as a slave at the time of the revolution. Then become an author yourself as you travel to Williamsburg, VA to collect information for your own historical fiction story. We’ll alternate between reading texts together and choosing our own books. Then we will talk about them using writing, video game technology, animation, and any technology you can dream of. We’ll listen to Elvis Presley croon as we read The Outsiders and jump into the future with science fiction.

Want to win arguments? We’ll learn how as we learn to construct thesis statements and use evidence like good lawyers. Refine your research skills as you argue for and against topics, asking many questions. Should pets be in the classroom? Should schools serve chocolate milk in the dining hall? Is nuclear power the best form of energy? Are single-sex classrooms an effective way to learn?

Present your original poetry before your peers in a coffeehouse setting, design your own online poetry portfolio, use your phone or iPad to continue improving your vocabulary using Membean, begin your exploration of Shakespeare, and become the best seventh grade reader and writer you can be.

Eighth Grade Language Arts
What is your responsibility as a citizen of the world? How can you use your own skills and voice to bring about change? You will engage in genre study of science fiction, conduct a brief research unit, and write your own science fiction story as a force for change about a social justice issue important to you. You will explore social justice through texts such as Octavia’s Brood, an anthology of short science fiction stories, Night by Elie Wiesel, and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, books that challenge their readers to contemplate what justice means. You will learn to turn your strong feelings about your reading into a well-reasoned, well-crafted literary essay. You will gain research writing experience by researching, writing, and presenting about an issue that matters to you as a citizen of Pittsburgh and the world; this project is a cornerstone of the 8th grade year. By writing an MLA-cited, thesis-based research essay, you will develop advanced writing skills for Upper School and beyond. Using Membean, you will learn exciting new words and the roots of words in order to improve your writing and prepare you for your transition into Upper School. In addition to reading texts assigned for class, you will continue to participate in reading independently and sharing about your reading with your peers through informal writing.