We Focus on Middle School

Hyla Middle School

6th Grade Humanities

Melissa Dempsey


Much has been written about the power of story and humanities class at Hyla is designed so students learn to make the most of that power.  Shaping our study around a series of essential questions, we examine the diverse ways in which stories shape and reflect our understanding of ourselves, each other, and our neighborhoods, whether they be local or global. In order to do this, students need to understand how and why stories are written whether it be a book, poem or play.

Lessons are designed to analyze a writer’s style and structure in order to read beyond the plot and discover the deeper levels in literature.  Lessons are also planned to connect the writing to its historical context when appropriate.  For instance when we read Shakespeare, we will also be learning about the culture and politics of Elizabethan England and how they influenced his writing. The readings are drawn from a wide range of genres: realistic and historical fiction, memoir, non-fiction books and articles,drama, poetry, fantasy and short story.

We write constantly gathering ideas for our own writing, responding to what we read, and crafting formal paragraphs, essays and narratives. Lessons are designed to utilize specific Writer’s Craft, grammar, and mechanics. In addition to expressing ourselves on paper, we also learn to organize and articulate our thinking in other ways such as small group literary discussions, oral presentations, and visual projects.

A typical class block of 80 to 100 minutes usually includes the following: Writer’s Workshop or Reader’s Workshop, Social Studies, small group or large group discussion, and lessons in reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, history, geography or research. Organization and time management are emphasized in all planned units and activities.

The humanities curriculum at Hyla is based on some simple beliefs: literacy matters, independence matters, collaboration matters, and there is value in the process as well as the product.  All we know of ourselves is learned through story and humanities class is designed to better know who we are and enlarge the world we live in.