Students in sixth grade English class develop critical skills and perspectives as they grow in reading, writing, language usage, as well as speaking and listening. Boys work through the content themes of the social studies curriculum as they build toward achievement of these English objectives. Literature is chosen to enhance the study of Classical Rome in the fall, the Middle Ages in the winter, and the European and Modern Renaissance in the spring. Through this work, boys examine the essential question for the year: What does it mean to thrive? Students will progress through the writing process as they plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish various types of writing. These writing types include literature reactions, informative and creative essays, poetry, and narratives. Vocabulary, grammar, and spelling are reinforced throughout the writing process.
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.
How do our choices in life define our identity? Students in eighth-grade English explore iterations of this theme through a literature-based curriculum. Boys interpret and analyze literature on a deep level, practice close reading of various texts, write expository paragraphs and essays, and participate in discussions with peers. Writing mechanics, usage, grammar, and spelling make up an important part of the curriculum and are organically woven into the reading and writing boys do in class. As the oldest students at the Shaker Heights campus, boys in eighth grade are uniquely positioned to grapple with more challenging issues of empathy. In this vein, they explore literature that represents and celebrates marginalized voices of society. The Eighth Grade Speaking Contest is a longstanding tradition in English 8. Students conduct research on a topic that aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, write a persuasive speech, and present to their peers. Finalists earn the opportunity to advance to the podium of our auditorium, where they deliver their speeches to the entire middle school. Weaving one theme, that of identity, throughout every work, discussion, and student-written piece builds capacity for reflection, critical thinking, and perspective-taking. Our goal is to steer the boys toward a state of thoughtfulness and responsibility that befits their coming of age and their leadership on campus.