Teachers emphasize writing, grammar, punctuation, and literature studies. Students extend their writing skills through both creative writing and book review projects. Vocabulary, spelling, and Latin and Greek etymologies are incorporated into the class studies. Literature is read and discussed, and the class writes essays and reaction papers. Students read in their textbooks a number of important, valid literary selections, both classic and modern, including the plays The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Grandpa and the Statue by Arthur Miller. The list of texts available to this grade is continually expanding; currently, students read and review Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbett, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and Holes by Louis Sachar. Students write book reviews throughout the year on these texts and on books of their own choosing.
The study of grammar continues, as does the study of the Latin and Greek roots of the English language, but the focus of seventh grade is on writing. Students compose essays, book reviews and reports, and creative writing papers. They will occasionally imitate the writing style of the authors and works discussed. Students study the qualities of great writing, in addition to such literary elements as plot, theme, and characterization. Important selections of poetry, dramas, and novels complete the seventh-grade English curriculum. Poetry from Frost, Shakespeare, Dickenson, and others; plays, such as The Monsters are Due on Maple Street by Rod Serling and A Christmas Carol based on Charles Dickens’ story; and the novels The Call of the Wild & White Fang by Jack London and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton are read and discussed. The list of titles is continually expanding and, depending on reading level and prior placement, other titles from other grade levels may be introduced. Optional titles for this grade include The Red Badge of Courage and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; of course, if students are able to cover these titles in Grade 7, then a portion of the second list of 8th grade titles (Ivanhoe, etc.) will be used during their 8th grade studies.
In 8th Grade English, students read and study various works of literature in order to better feel and understand the power of good writing. As a part of this process, thoughtful reading and disciplined writing, as well as vocabulary work and grammar study, are stressed. The emphasis in writing is on the process as well as the product; students are expected to produce carefully revised and polished pieces of writing. Through the independent reading program and in-class reading and study of literature, students are exposed to and will develop an appreciation for literature. Important selections of poetry, drama, and novels complete the eighth-grade English curriculum. Poetry from Tennyson, Shakespeare and Eliot, plays such as The Diary of Anne Frank and selections from Life is Beautiful are covered. The following novels are also read and reviewed: Carne’s The Red Badge of Courage, Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, George Eliot’s Silas Marner , and Steinbeck’s The Pear. Depending on reading level and prior placement, the following titles may also be assigned: Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott; A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens; and The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fennimore Cooper.