In English 8, students are encouraged to discover the existing links among literature, history, and humanity. Texts used in this course are provocative, and call upon readers to consider individual and group identity, as well as social exclusion. As students investigate the human condition, they train their mind’s eyes to both notice and communicate the simple aesthetic experiences that create joy and hope, passion, frustration, fear, and intrigue.
English 8 students read, interpret, and write nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. While doing so, they develop a lens for analyzing their own and published writers. As the year progresses, students move from literal comprehension to a deeper understanding and appreciation of literary technique. Reading and writing are inextricably tied, so writing assignments are often in response to, or in emulation of published writers who represent a variety of stylistic devices and voices. Drafting, editing, and revision are central to the curriculum of English 8, and a clearly structured self, peer, and teacher review process (via writing workshop) encourages students to enrich their writing, as well as discover their own writing voice.
Discussion is also central to English 8, as it requires students to reason, to marshal evidence for their arguments, and to defend their ideas orally. It is through discussion that students recognize important issues, develop intellectual interests, and engage in problem solving. Periodically, students have “Philosophy Fridays”, during which they consider controversial topics and learn to debate respectfully. Student ownership of discussion grows progressively from participating in small group discussions to conducting whole class inquiries.
In addition to reading, writing, and discussion, students in English 8 conduct research during a multi-genre project entitled “Curiosity Quest”. Curiosity Quest encourages students to construct knowledge focused on a personal interest. After learning about the taxonomy and validity of questions, students design their own essential question and methodology for research. They then collect, store, and classify data, all while considering their question from multiple perspectives. In addition to honing their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills, students learn academic citation methods and refine their presentation skills to share their findings with the larger community. This project is the culmination of 8th Grade English.