Language Arts – Middle School (grades 5-8)

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In the Middle School, regular reading and writing workshops continue with new focus on the strategies and formats of particular genres. Beginning in 5th and 6th grades, students increasingly work with non-narrative structures such as essays, informational brochures, letters, feature articles, and reports in writing workshop and choose from more challenging reading material. Student-centered book clubs occur with more frequency in reading workshop in the Middle School. In reading/writing workshops, Middle school students develop their skills and strategies through a range of activities that help them to read and think about what they are learning, to make connections with their prior knowledge, and to express their new learning in written forms that incorporate voice, style and accuracy. Vocabulary is developed through lessons, through extensive reading of challenging material, and through shared discussions of literature that highlight how authors select language carefully to express precise meaning. As a class, students examine mentor texts and often become individual apprentices to these writers. As in the lower grades, the conventions of writing mechanics are taught through mini-lessons and individual conferencing during the revising and editing stages of the writing process. In the Middle School, particular attention is paid to paragraphing and sentence structure. Middle School Language Arts also emphasizes the interaction of grammatical conventions with voice and style in our mentor texts, and students study how these writers manipulate diction, grammar, and punctuation to achieve a particular style. Middle school students regularly work on school laptops to word process their written work. 7th and 8th graders write on-demand pieces frequently and, in addition to reading workshop, have some shared reading experiences of a few “classics” such as Alice in Wonderland and William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience in preparation for more traditional high school English curriculum.
The middle school years bring a new focus on the conventions and demands of more advanced literary genres. In the reading and writing workshops, craft lessons develop each student’s repertoire of strategies for effective reading and writing across multiple genres.

Frequent conferring with teachers and peers builds students’ awareness of their purposes for reading and writing and provides feedback for refining and elaborating their meaning.

Student document their growing list of books read and record a developing list of strategies for approaching literacy work as thoughtful, intentional readers and writers in reading and writing notebooks.
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