English Department

Through active exploration of current and classical literature, students read, examine, and construct meaningful understanding of the different genres of writing. Vocabulary, grammar, and spelling instruction serve our students as they learn sophisticated ways to present their thoughts in writing. Using the 6+ Traits of Writing, students learn the importance of each component of the writing process. With varied written practice students learn to convey clearly, accurately, and purposefully what they intend to say.


Sixth graders develop critical skills and perspectives as they grow in reading, writing, language usage, speaking, and listening. Literature is chosen to expand a student’s literal, interpretive, and evaluative comprehension skills. Many texts are centered around the theme of characters thriving with exceptionalities, while others relate to America and societies around the globe. Reading strategies that improve fluency and comprehension of fiction and non-fiction are incorporated into the class. Students progress through the writing process as they plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish various types of writing such as literature responses, informative and creative essays, poetry, and narratives. Vocabulary, grammar and spelling are reinforced.
The heart of the seventh-grade English program is a year-long reading and writing workshop designed so that each boy can develop his own writing voice, gain an understanding of how narrative works, and deepen his understanding of the topic-evidence-significance structure of the expository paragraph. In reading workshop, boys choose the novels they wish to read to promote the joys of reading and to enhance their understanding of the techniques all writers employ. In writing workshop, boys read within the genre in which they will write (memoir, poetry, short story) to understand how writers learn from other writers. Boys best learn skills within the context of their own writing, and the self-guided study book, English 2200, and exercises on IXL.com are used to review and expand the student’s understanding of the basic rules of mechanics, usage, and grammar. Over the year, boys develop an ability to write at greater length and to use vivid detail in their narratives and specific details in their essays.
English 8 begins with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,” which propels students into a yearlong exploration of literature that represents and celebrates the many voices of society. Using novels, poetry, plays, podcasts, graphic novels, and primary sources as model texts, students interpret and analyze on a deep level, practice close reading and annotation, write expository paragraphs and essays, and engage in dialogue with one another. Instruction is provided in revising and editing as well as sentence combining, conventional usage, vocabulary, and recognizing and employing literary devices. The Eighth-Grade Speaking Contest is a long-standing tradition in English 8. Students conduct research on a topic of personal meaning, write a persuasive speech, and present to their peers. Every discussion, text, and student-written piece builds capacity for reflection, critical thinking, and perspective-taking.

English Chair

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Melissa Hamburg

    Mrs. Melissa Hamburg 

    Middle School English Department Chair / 8th Grade English/Social Studies Teacher
    216-321-8260 x8310

Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
GRADES 9 – 12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves over 850 boys in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved. 
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