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.
In addition to English, boys have one trimester of Library class, where the focus is on both research skills and promoting a love of literature.
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) in order 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, is used to review and expand the student’s understanding of the basic rules of mechanics, usage, and grammar. 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 Campus, boys in eighth grade are uniquely positioned to grapple with more challenging issues of empathy. In this vein, they analyze how women are portrayed in the media and read a book of choice by a female writer with a strong female protagonist. The hallmark of the curriculum is the Eighth Grade Speaking Contest, a culmination of two months of research, writing, and public speaking practice during which boys refine a persuasive speech on a topic of personal importance and strive to earn the opportunity to advance to the podium of our auditorium, where the final six deliver their speeches to the entire Middle School. Boys will enter the Upper School with a strong foundation in rigorous analysis of literature.