Welcome to Middle School English! Our time together is spent learning to enjoy, uncover, critically discuss and creatively become inspired by English literature. Through a workshop format, we explore both the mechanical and creative sides of writing. Topics to delve into include but are not limited to explicit word study, mechanics and grammar, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, critical analysis and persuasive writing. We write in a variety of styles, for a variety of audiences, emphasizing ideas/content, organization, word choice, voice, fluency and mechanics. Good writing skills are intrinsically linked to good reading skills — subsequently much of the writing we produce is inspired and guided by what we read together. We explore a number of novels as well as short fiction, plays, contemporary and classic poetry and critical essays and articles.
Evaluation: Assessments guide and inform instruction. Students will be assessed through a variety of formats including written feedback, numerical notation and frequent conferencing. Evaluations will be based on quiz points, tests, written assignments, oral reports, individual and group projects and class participation. Students are also given credit for choice reading, which will be evaluated through response journal entries and presentations.

Below our our units of study, as organized by the MYP framework.

 6th Grade Units of Inquiry

Title Duration Key & Related Concepts Global Context Statement of Inquiry:
Heroes Among Usby Gillian Kessler 6 weeks (30 hours) Key Concepts

Connections Connections
Time place and space Time, place and space

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Point of view
    • Setting
Fairness and development Fairness and development
Statement of Inquiry:The influence of time, place and space help us understand power and privilege through different points of view.

Inquiry Questions:

F : What is point of view? What is a hero?
C : How is heroism determined by one’s culture?
D : Is heroism a constant quality? Is there a universal definition of heroism?
Inside Out and Upside Down: A Refugee Experienceby Gillian Kessler 4 weeks (35 hours) Key Concepts

Culture Culture

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Character
    • Context
Orientation in space and timeOrientation in space and time
Statement of Inquiry:
Personal histories and cultural migrations can be understood through learning about the context in which character’s exist.

Inquiry Questions:

C The notion of home can be complex for the refugee: What is home?
F We can see commonalities over time and geographical location through examining the experience of the refugee : What was the Vietnam War? What is a refugee?
D Through stories, we can help give voice to the refugee experience: To what extent to stories shape our understanding of history real life?
Dystopian Disruptionby Gillian Kessler 6 weeks (35 hours)  

 

Key Concepts

Change Change

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Intertextuality
    • Style
Scientific and technical innovation Scientific and technical innovation

7th Grade Units of Inquiry

Title Duration Key & Related Concepts Global Context Statement of Inquiry:
Sharing Stories:  Comparative Literature through the lens of Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar by Gillian Kessler 8 weeks Key Concepts

Connections Connections

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Point of view
    • Setting
Identities and relationships Identities and relationships
Statement of Inquiry:Shared values found through comparing experiences connect people from different times and places.How does learning about a political situation through one person’s perspective impact our understanding of the actual historical events?

Inquiry Questions:

F : What are you learning about the political situation of the time and place of your text?
D : How does learning about a political situation through one person’s perspective impact our understanding of the actual historical events? ,
C : In what ways are Anne and Jean’s situations similar? In what ways are they different?
I’ll Stand By You: The Outsiders by Gillian Kessler 4 weeks (25 hours) Key Concepts

Communities Communities
Identity Identity
Relationships Relationships

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Character
    • Theme
Identities and relationships Identities and relationships
Statement of Inquiry:
Themes and characters in a novel help us understand our own identities as formed through our relationships.

Inquiry Questions:

F Social class can define our identities.: What is a gang? What is social class? What is theme?
C : How do our friends shape our identity? What are some themes found in the novel?
D : To what extent does peer pressure impact our choices? What themes do you relate to in the novel?
Contemporary American Poetry by Gillian Kessler 8 weeks (40 hours) Key Concepts

Creativity Creativity

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Genres
    • Self-expression
Identities and relationships Identities and relationships
Personal and cultural expression Personal and cultural expression
Statement of Inquiry:
Self-expression and creativity can be developed through the artistry and craft of poetry.

Inquiry Questions:

F Poetry revolves around universal themes.: What are some commonly utilized poetic devices?
C Poetry can help readers understand another person’s perspective: How does self-expression help us develop empathy?
D Poetry has a didactic purpose- communication of ideas and enjoyment: To what extent has poetry as an art form persevered across cultures and time?
I
 

8th Grade Units of Inquiry

Life Lessons in Mockingbirdby Gillian Kessler 8 weeks Key Concepts

Identity Identity

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Audience imperatives
    • Context
Identities and relationships Identities and relationships
Statement of Inquiry:Race and gender shape our identity and can be understood through context and audience imperatives found in literature.

Inquiry Questions:

F : What was the civil rights movement? What are gender roles?
C : Why do gender and race form identity?
D : To what extent does fiction help us understand identity?
Fairies and Fools by Gillian Kessler 6 weeks (40 hours) Key Concepts

Aesthetics Aesthetics

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Self-expression
    • Style
Personal and cultural expression Personal and cultural expression
Statement of Inquiry:The timeless and universal themes in Shakespeare can be appreciated through literature, analysis and performance.

Inquiry Questions:

F : How can we connect to Shakesperean language?
C : What can we learn abou the human condition through the study of historic, humorous and fantastical texts?
D : How does theatre allow us to process our experiences?
Talk to Meby Gillian Kessler 6 weeks (40 hours) Key Concepts

Perspective Perspective

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Purpose
    • Self-expression
Identities and relationships Identities and relationships
Personal and cultural expression Personal and cultural expression
Statement of Inquiry:Life teaches many lessons that we have the power to pass on.

Inquiry Questions:

C : What is my truth? ,
D : Do our stories shape our beliefs? ,
F : What makes a good speech and speaker?
The Pearl: A Timeless Parable by Gillian Kessler 4 weeks (20 hours) Key Concepts

Culture Culture

Related Concepts

     Language and literature

    • Genres
    • Setting
    • Style
Personal and cultural expression Personal and cultural expression
Statement of Inquiry:Parables transcend time and place to help a reader understand universal themes.

Inquiry Questions:

F Humankind can be driven by negative ideals.: How do money, posessions and greed drive the characters in the novell?
C A particular geographical place can be learned about through literature.: How is the setting of The Pearl relevant to our culminating trip to Mexico?
D Social oppression can hinder individuals and societies from progressing.: How do the character experience discrimination?