Effective communication between people is essential; students in eighth-grade English will have an opportunity to connect and communicate as readers and writers to send an authentic, individualized message. They will investigate works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and short stories from the 1800s to the present, focusing on how characters in these stories either accept or reject the norms given to them by society, for better or for worse. Through analyzing the various artistic tools in each work such as its genre, structure, imagery, symbolism, and rhetorical devices, students will discern what worldview or message each author is trying to portray. They will focus on the interplay between content (the story a writer wants to tell or the moment he or she wants to capture) and form (the way the story or moment is offered to the reader). Students will learn about window texts, texts that teach us about ourselves, and mirror texts, texts that teach us about the world around us. . Students will also have the opportunity to study critical lenses such as the gender lens, the social power lens, the morality and justice lens, and the psychology lens.
The class is a dialogic, student-centered classroom that takes a constructivist approach to text. Therefore, student success will largely be dependent upon creating dynamic and meaningful connections with their teacher and classmates, making personal connections to the material, composing individual learning goals, having the opportunities and gaining the confidence to be both curious and creative, and being willing to take intellectual risks. Students are given instruction, assessed, and receive feedback on active reading and annotation skills, Socratic Seminars, vocabulary and grammar, public speaking, and effective writing. Writing assignments focus on argumentative, expository, and narrative forms of writing. We will also be using a pedagogical triangle from the Facing History Organization with which to respond to the works we read. Upon completion of the course, students will have gained the necessary reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills for success in high school English classes.