We Focus on Middle School

Hyla Middle School

7th and 8th Language Arts

Kimberley Trick

The English program at Hyla Middle School is a comprehensive language arts curriculum. Our ultimate goal is to support enthusiastic, thoughtful, articulate, and confident students of literature. The two-year program offers students the opportunity to mature at their own pace and addresses individual needs. Classes are built around a discussion based format, celebrating student-guided, cooperative learning. Students are encouraged to explore the meaning of assignments and ask questions.

In both the 7th and 8th grades, students are challenged to move beyond literal meaning, reaching from the concrete to the abstract. Emphasis is placed on developing interpretive, expressive, and technical skills. These skills are strengthened through the exploration of different genres of literature. Over the course of two years, students will examine both fiction and non-fiction. We will look at novels, short stories, plays, memoirs, autobiographies, biographies and poetry. This literary foundation provides a stepping stone for expository writing, creative writing, grammar, and vocabulary. All assignments are designed to help students prepare for high school and instill an appreciation for literature.

WRITING: The writing program helps students develop sincere, authentic writing voices and challenges them to expand their experiences by writing different types of essays, including descriptive, comparison, and persuasive essays. The traditional “5 paragraph” essay structure is utilized for critical essay writing. Students will also learn how to write resumes, and business and cover letters.

While there is considerable emphasis on developing formal writing skills, students have plenty of opportunities for creative writing. Students have time each week to journal, free-write (from story starters and prompts), and invent stories of their own. Hyla students in the 7th and 8th grade are encouraged to publish their writing in contests, newspapers, reviews, or magazines.

GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY: Grammar and vocabulary lessons are class-wide practices derived from common challenges and the examination of literature. Weekly grammar and vocabulary tests are routine practices. Attention to individual challenges is provided to each student during workshops and can be arranged after school or during lunch. Students are introduced and work thorough lessons discussed in The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and the Writing Stylist Sheet used by Bainbridge High School.

READING: In each grade, students pursue a common theme. Students strengthen their reading skills through the examination of characters, plots, themes, point of view, mood, and settings.

This year, the 7th grade is focusing on themes surrounding identity. Students begin by studying selected short stories, such as “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. Students read the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and created their own peculiar characters. The 7th graders also read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, selected poems, and articles.

The 8th grade is grappling with gender issues and the influence of the media. Students read Conversion by Katherine Howe, The Crucible by Arthur Miller and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, selected poems and short stories, and a memoir of their choice.

PORTFOLIOS: All English students maintain two writing portfolios. The first portfolio is kept in the classroom. It contains a hard copy of all the student’s finished and assessed papers. This portfolio helps both the student and the teacher evaluate and track assignments over the course of the year. A second portfolio is on Google documents. Students use this folder for working on assignments at home and at school.

ASSIGNMENTS: Students should spend thirty minutes on English homework each school night. All assignments are posted on RENWEB. Students are encouraged to use their planners and contact me whenever they are absent.

SPECIAL PROJECTS: Throughout the year, students are encouraged to attend readings at local libraries and bookstores, such as Eagle Harbor and Elliott Bay Book Company. This connection to the Bainbridge literary community is invaluable.