Middle School English Language Arts
Wit and Wisdom, a nationally regarded curriculum from Great Minds, is used for sixth, seventh and eighth grade ELA. For each grade level, there are four modules, focused on the building of background knowledge, reading and writing skills, and vocabulary development, among other things. The Wit and Wisdom approach, and the approach taken at St. Elizabeth, is an inquiry based one, in which students look at essential questions throughout a module as a means of deepening the depth of their understanding of not just the English language, but also of the world they inhabit. The curriculum revolves around novels, and the immersing of young minds into the minds of authors, challenging students to see and use the English language in a similar way.
Module 1: Resilience in the Great Depression
- Essential Question: How can enduring tremendous hardship contribute to personal transformation?
- Texts: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis; Out of the Dust by Karen Cushman
Module 2: A Hero’s Journey
- Essential Question: What is the significance and power of the hero’s journey?
- Texts: The Ramayana by Sanjay Patel; The Odyssey by Gillian Cross
Module 3: Narrating the Unknown
- Essential Question: How did the social and environmental factors in the unknown world of Jamestown shape its development and decline?
- Texts: Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607 by Elisa Carbone; Written in Bone: Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally Walker
Module 4: Courage in Crisis
- Essential Question: How can the challenges of a hostile environment inspire heroism?
- Texts: Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong; I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick
Module 1: Identity in the Middle Ages
- Essential Question: How does society both support and limit the development of identity?
- Texts: Castle Diary by Richard Platt; The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Module 2: American All
- Essential Question: How did World War II affect individuals?
- Texts: Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston; Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
Module 3: Language and Power
- Essential Question: What is the power of language?
- Texts: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Module 4: Fever
- Essential Question: How do times of crisis affect individuals and society?
- Texts: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson; An American Plague by Jim Murphy
Module 1: The Poetics and Power of Storytelling
- Essential Question: What is the power of storytelling?
- Texts: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Module 2: The Great War
- Essential Question: How literature and art illuminate the effects of World War I?
- Texts: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Module 3: What is Love?
- Essential Question: What is the love?
- Texts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Module 4: Teens as Change Agents
- Essential Question: How can teens inspire social change?
- Texts: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Regular assessments will be given in the form of exit tickets, quizzes, tests, and essays. In-class exams will generally be assessing a student’s grasp of certain information covered, while essays will assess the progress and status of an individual’s writing.
All grades will be based upon summative assignments (individual assessments – not classwork, group work, or homework). Summative assignments will account for 100% of the final grade in English Language Arts, and will include all of the forms of assessment stated above.
Regular, daily writing, as well as longer essays, are a staple of English classes. Essays consist of narrative writing, information-based research papers, and expository writing of all kinds. Grammar, and a focus on syntax, are the ground upon which strong sentences are built, and therefore, are a staple of writing instruction.