English Language Arts 8

Course Description

Semester A

During the first semester of this year-long course, students will read and analyze various kinds of written texts, include novels and short fiction, informational texts representing a wide range of topics and forms, and several one-act plays. Lessons in Semester A will also guide students in writing their own narratives and essays, using the readings in the course as both examples and sources of ideas for reflection, analysis, and argument. Students will learn better ways to discuss their thoughts and perceptions with others—they will practice their skills in collaborative discussions as well as informal journal entries, presentations, and speeches. Writing assignments include personal narratives, analytical and persuasive essays, and an original one-act play. Special emphasis is placed on reading in certain content areas, such as science and history, as well as understanding and thinking critically about news and media sources.

Semester B

In Semester B, students will examine the role of historical autobiographies and diaries in our understanding of history. In the process, they’ll study the impact of point of view on nonfiction texts. Students will be given opportunities to write autobiographical narratives of their own and then asked to connect their experiences to universal themes or philosophical positions, which they explore through writing about them. In the second half of the semester, students will study the relationship between poetic expression and several conventions of language, including syntax, voice, sentence types, and punctuation. Next, they will explore the nature of creativity, the processes that tend to produce good literature, and the features of experimental and multi-genre forms of fiction. Near the end of the semester, students will reflect on their own growth and development throughout the year, compiling a portfolio that illustrates the progress they’ve made. Finally, students will consider what high school will ask of them and how they might fulfill those expectations, having gained a better understanding of their strengths as well as areas ripe for continued learning and progress.

Course Requirements

Grade Level

8th Grade

*Materials

Required Anthology:

  • Poetry Speaks Who I Am

ISBN-10: 1402210744

ISBN-13: 978-1402210747

Required Novels:

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  • Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Optional Novels (Choose 2):

  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by Christopher Collier
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • The Ox-Box Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  • That Was Then, This Is Now by S. E. Hinton

Duration

2 Semesters

Prerequisites

None

Technology Skills

  • Internet Navigation
  • Word Processing
  • Email Communication
  • Multimedia Presentation Software and Skills

Semester A

Major Concepts:

  • historical fiction
  • literary analysis
  • collaborative discussions
  • scientific texts (structure and style)
  • historical documents
  • primary vs. secondary sources
  • journalism
  • media literacy
  • dramatic irony
  • playwriting and screenwriting

Semester B

Major Concepts:

  • forms of autobiography
  • writing to reflect on experience
  • methods of persuasion
  • revising for unity and coherence
  • public speaking
  • debate
  • digital storytelling
  • poetic devices
  • language conventions
  • modern forms of short fiction
  • portfolios, self-assessment