The Middle School English curriculum concentrates on the interrelated study of grammar, literature, vocabulary and composition. This program provides a method for developing skills in two key areas for academic success: writing and critical reading. Boys are encouraged to read with understanding and feeling and to recognize in the experience of literature a common bond with all humanity. Reading selections include modern works and classics chosen to promote the enjoyment of literature. The study of grammar and vocabulary forms an integral part of Middle School English. With a competent command of grammar and a growing vocabulary, the student will be able to meet the increasing demands for good, clear communications skills, both written and oral.
Boys in Grades Five, Six and Form I need to develop techniques and strategies that will enable them to become successful, independent learners. The purpose of this program is to help students acquire good study habits and explore problem-solving strategies. Topics covered in the study skills portion of the course include note taking (two column method), use of graphic organizers, all stages of the writing process, reading comprehension strategies, interpreting infographics, grammar, test taking skills, critical thinking, analogies, development of listening skills, organization and time management. Additionally, students expand their writing skills through various elaboration strategies and through the use of Inspiration 9, a computer program and app, designed to help students brainstorm and “web” out their ideas before writing. Students in Form I also receive extensive content review before exams.
The Grade Five English curriculum is divided into three parts: reading, writing workshop and English mechanics. As a class, students read a variety of novels that complement the history curriculum. The books may include Taylor, “The Cay”; Lowry, “Number The Stars” and “The Giver”; Curtis,“Bud, Not Buddy” as well as short stories and poetry selections. Films and other media are used to enhance the learning experience. Classroom discussions, which develop critical and analytical thinking skills, are an essential part of the course. For additional challenge, boys may read books they have chosen independently and practice their analyses of text as well as their oral expression by presenting book reviews to their classmates.
Written assignments based on the class novels are used to give the boys practice in expository and persuasive writing; special emphasis is placed upon sentence structure and paragraph development. The boys have additional opportunities to develop the fluency of their written expression, as well as their creative writing skills, through regular assignments in a writing journal and stories.
Writing, reading and grammar are emphasized in the course. The students spend time discussing the literature; working on writing projects; taking and reading notes; writing and reading first drafts; and rewriting for greater detail, effectiveness and technical accuracy. Producing fully developed, informative and cohesive paragraphs is emphasized. Vocabulary and grammar are studied in depth, and their value as aids to effective writing underscored. The study of literature focuses mainly on texts about growing up and emerging into the world at large, and students have the opportunity to discuss and write about their own experiences. Texts: Holt Traditions, “Warriner’s Handbook”; Sadlier-Oxford, “Vocabulary Workshop”; Hemingway, “The Old Man and the Sea”; Taylor, “Roll of Thunder”, “Hear My Cry”; Howe, “The Misfits”; D’Aulaires, “D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths”; Sutcliffe, “The Wanderings of Odysseus” and Hinds, “The Odyssey”.
This course seeks to integrate the study of literature with the more technical areas of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Since much of the literature focuses on situations similar to those confronting the boys, the reading provides a basis for discussions about conduct and values. Emphasis is placed on study skills. The boys learn how to take notes, schedule their time, set specific goals, do research, and take tests. Composition work stresses the five-paragraph essay and the creation of short stories.
First Semester: Adventures and Heroes. Nye, “Beowulf, a New Telling”; Bradbury, “The Halloween Tree”; Lord, “A Night to Remember”; Nielsen, “Word Nerd”; Blackwood, “The Shakespeare Stealer”; writing poetry, short stories and essays.
Second Semester: Mysteries and the Fantastic. T. H. White, “The Sword in the Stone”; Graves, “Gods and Heroes”; Orwell, “Animal Farm”; Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” abridged; selected short stories; a joint History-English project involving research into American life in the 19th century and the creation of historical fiction.
Other texts include Dimick, Voyages in English 7 and Shostak and Sadlier, Oxford Vocabulary, Level C.
This course focuses upon and refines the skills of critical reading and writing. By examining what a work says and implies, and by exploring its language and larger structures, the student develops an analytic mind. Literary works are selected for their artistic merit as well as for their appeal to the maturing reader. Independent reading is assigned throughout the year for those boys who seek additional challenges. Through frequent essay and creative writing assignments and regular grammar and vocabulary exercises, the student understands the importance of the written word and gains the skill and confidence to express himself in all areas of composition.
First Semester: Knowles, “A Separate Peace”; Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”
Second Semester: Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”; Wolff, “In Pharaoh’s Army”