English 8

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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.





Unit Essential Questions Habits Of Mind Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources Multicultural Dimension Integrated Learning
Literature Study

What is it that makes us an individual? A member of a local society? A member of a global society?

What do I believe to be true about the world? (related to "This I Believe") 

What is social justice and what is its significance in our own experience? In literature? 

What are the fundamental elements of novel, memoir, essay, and poem?

How do we use the drafting and revision process to build a novel, memoir, essay, and poem?

How does a reader discover the author's intention?

What is a "classic" and who creates this distinction?

What is dystopian fiction and in what ways does it reflect current societal trends?

What is censorship and how does it impact access to information? 

How does the media impact our interpretation of the world? 

What responsibilities do we have to one another as compassionate humans (What is our "Universe of Responsibility"?)



Attentive class participation during discussion, instruction, and collaborative group work

Organized and thoughtful drafting and revising

Organization of class materials as well as short and long term reading/writing projects

Consideration/reflection of ourselves as individuals and society members

Introductory letter to teachers

"Random Autobiography" poem

"Character" Sketch

Test essay for The Glass Castle

Short essay responses to "Philosophy Friday" topics

Letter to author Jeannette Walls

Lessons on media related to advertising and technology

Group work focused on social justice

"This I Believe " essay focused on personal philosophy


Active reading-both literal and inferential (includes annotating texts)
Reading to discover voice, tone, theme, symbol, imagery, and allusion

Reflecitve writing in an interactive response journal
Planning, pre-writing, writing, editing, and revising a memoir, expository essay, creative fiction, poetry, friendly letter, and

Responding to peer and instructor feedback on writing

Collaborative group work in small and large groupings




Interactive Response Journals

Reading comprehension quizzes and tests
Essays, creative fiction, and letter (assessed with rubrics)
Teacher, peer, and self evaluations on writing projects

Individualized writing conferences

Critical Response Process (verbal feedback provided art critique-style)

Teacher, peer, and self evaluations on collaborative group work

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut

"All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury

"The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury

Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

 Various poems, short stories, and student work

Themes explored: Poverty, homelessness, race relations, disparity in education, gender roles,

Coordination with Holocaust and Civil Rights units in 8th History

Declaration of Human Rights

Coordination with Middle School Library during "Banned Book Week"

Curiosity Quest ( a multi-genre research project)

What kind of questions are "researchable"?
What is "good" research and how do I find meaning and interpret findings?
How do I best communicate research findings? 

Organization of research materials

Coordination of meetings with field experts

Time management


Designing a research question

Collecting, storing, and classifying research materials

Active reading-both literal and inferential (includes annotating texts)

Synthesizing and interpreting research

Reflecitve writing in an interactive response journal

Planning, pre-writing, writing, editing, and revising a written report

Collaborative group work in small and large groupings

Critical Response Process


Interactive Response Journals
Group Presentation (with rubrics)
Periodic Self-evaluations

Various books, periodicals, poetry, documentaries, interviews, galleries, and museums

Varied--Depends on the student's question

Coordinated with local community and other grade level content areas