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Foundations in Middle School Language Arts
This course prepares sixth grade and beginning middle school students for an advanced middle school language arts curriculum. The course is divided into four units, each of which helps students level-up their reading, writing, and public speaking skills in one of the primary genres of language arts: persuasive speaking, creative writing, research-based expository writing, and literary interpretation. Each unit is designed around a central project that allows students to apply and master these new skills through creative, language-based problem-solving.
Over the course of each unit, students produce a written work and public presentation that represents their mastery of the focal skills for the unit.
In the first unit, students study classical philosophy and build skills in critical thinking and persuasive speaking while preparing their own speeches.
In the second unit, students learn the craft of creative fiction and explore how writers wield grammatical tools to refine their writing. During this unit, students create a portfolio of creative pieces, one of which they will choose to revise, refine, and share in an author reading on the final day of the unit.
In the third unit, students develop strong research skills as they research, draft, and revise an engaging feature article, all following the process students would undertake if they chose to submit their work for publication in a real magazine.
Finally, in the fourth unit, students learn all the skills necessary to understand, analyze, and enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. This unit culminates in a competition where students analyze and perform selections from the play.
What happens in class?
Each lesson of Foundations in Middle School Language Arts is grounded in a unit project, which provides a meaningful context for students to apply and master the skills they are learning. In each day of class, students engage in activities that help them advance their project work, including a blend of the following types of activities:
- a review of the skills learned in the previous lesson
- a full-class discussion in which students practice their critical thinking and public speaking skills
- a writing assignment in which students build writing stamina through smaller writing prompts or push their unit project to the next stage
- a reading assignment in which students read a text and develop close reading skills with the teacher’s guidance and support
Students should expect to spend about 60–90 minutes on homework every week. Homework will include: practicing skills learned in class through questions on the course website, long-term writing assignments connected to the unit project, and assigned reading in one of the four quarterly textbooks.
Students will receive direct, oral feedback from their teacher during class. This in-person feedback is key in helping students revise and improve their writing while they are working on the unit projects. At the end of each writing project, students can expect to receive evaluative written feedback from their teacher.
- Quarter 1: Philosophy for Kids
- Quarter 2: Flying Lessons and Other Stories
- Quarter 3: Muse, “Mysteries of the Deep”
- Quarter 4: A Midsummer Night’s Dream