Ms. Hannaford: 8th Grade English

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Eighth Grade English


Ms. Hannaford

Welcome to eighth grade English! ________________________________________________________________________

Course Goals and Objectives

We will concentrate on four areas of study in eighth grade English. These areas and their related skills will be explored and detailed in comprehensive thematic units. Our goal is to provide a wealth of opportunity for you to grow as a perceptive reader, a critical thinker, and a competent writer.

I. Literary Fluency
   A. To advance critical analysis and discussion of both prose and poetry
   B. To identify, define, and manipulate literary terms
   C. To read for both comprehension and critical deconstruction
   D. To synthesize a variety of sources to enhance understanding
   E. To view literature as a source for new ideas, inspirations, and connections

II. Writing for Purpose
   A. To advance sentence and paragraph structure
   B. To develop the paragraph as an effective response to short-answer examination
   C. To write articulate, comprehensive, yet focused thesis statement
   D. Torefine the development of and transitions within the thesis-driven five-paragraph essay 
   E. To outline and compose persuasive / argumentative essays employing various forms of research 
   F. To reinforce the use of direct and indirect quotations with accurate documentation of the source
   G. To generate creative writing in a variety of genre: short story, poetry, character sketch, personal narrative 
   H. To experiment with varying tones, styles, narrative voice, and narrative arcs to deliberately represent the student -author's intention

III. Speech and Vocabulary
   A.  To increase both breadth and depth of vocabulary
   B.  To integrate acquired vocabulary in writings, presentations and conversation
   C.  To discern the meanings of new words through context
   D.  To develop public speaking skills for presentation and performance
   E.  To promote  effective expression and support of opinions in class discussions

IV. Grammar Fundamentals
   A.  To identify and properly punctuate phrases: participial, gerund, infinitive, prepositional, and appositive
   B.  To identify and correctly punctuate relative, independent and subordinate clauses 
   C.  To use verbs in the appropriate tense and voice
   D.  To use correct agreement: subject and verb, pronoun and antecedent
   E.  To use pronouns correctly: subjective, objective, possessive, and indefinite
   F.  To implement the correct use of semicolon, dash, hyphen, and apostrophe
   G.  To recognize and correct comma splices, run-ons, and sentence fragments
   H.  To avoid the misuse of homonyms and contractions


Course Content

Eighth grade English offers an in-depth study of various literary forms, as well as a challenging writing program that completes the middle school student’s preparation for literary analysis and writing at the upper school level. The course is divided into several comprehensive units, each of which centers on a particular theme or genre. Within these thematic units, we will read at least two novels (one or more chosen for the class and one or more outside novel selected by the student from a list of books that I will make available). These thematic units also include a variety of short selections consisting of poems, essays, and articles.

Of Mice and Men

Unit Goals: 

  • Advance the knowledge of the tools necessary to discuss and understand the writing process: common terminology and editing symbols
  • Discuss the relationship between independent reading and in-class thematic content
  • Define and identify literary terms and employ these “tools” in student writing
  • Consider the history of the American Dream in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • Discuss the plight of the disenfranchised in America: the poor, the mentally
    challenged, the ethnically diverse, the handicapped
  • Critically consider the “American Dream” as it is translated in the real and fictional lives portrayed in short stories, essays, and poetry
  • Read, analyze and discuss the novel Of Mice and Men
  • Discern John Steinbeck’s artistic intention and moral framework
  • Continue the development of active reading and writing skills
  • Develop outlines to serve as organizational tools to assist the writer in essay development
  • Compose a strong, thesis-driven five-paragraph essay
  • Instruct internal citations and bibliographic entries
  • Correct the misuse of homonyms; recognize and correct comma splice; recognize and correct run-on sentences and sentence fragments
  • Use strong verbs; add new verb vocabulary


  • Preamble of the Declaration of Independence
  •  “america” e. e. cummings
  • “I, Too” Langston Hughes
  • “The Gift Outright” Robert Frost
  •  “all ignorance toboggans into know” e. e. cummings
  • “To a Mouse” Robert Burns”
  • “I Have a Dream” Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • “Harrison Bergeron” Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Jamie Ford
  • Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
  • The House on Mango Street (excerpts) Sandra Cisneros

To Kill a Mockingbird

Unit Goals:
  • Define and represent the concepts tolerance, justice, and freedom
  • Research tolerance, justice, and freedom as national values
  • Explore the Harper Lee’s attempt to challenge the assumptions of American society around issues of race, class, and gender
  • Understand the relationship between point of view and narrative voice
  • Explore the author’s use of symbols
  • Consider the themes of courage and moral imperative in the novel
  • Consider the intersection of plot and subplots in the novel, and its consequence
  • Examine the use of dialect and regional colloquialism in literature
  • Compose an analytical essay to consider the use of symbol in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Continue mastery of grammar and punctuation
  • Vocabulary acquisition


“Courage” Anne Sexton
“If” Rudyard Kipling
“Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song” Countee Cullen
“We Wear the Mask” Paul Laurence Dunbar
“The Haunted Oak” Paul Laurence Dunbar
“Black Misery” Langston Hughes
“Tusk Tusk” David McKee
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (film)


Poetry and the Writers’ Café

Unit Goals:

  • Determine the elements of personal narrative as a distinctive genre in literature
  • Compose and polish personal narratives for publication
  • Explore the similarities and differences between prose and poetry
  • Examine poetic language and determine how it differs from prose
  • Define, identify, and apply the terms of poetic diction
  • Recognize and manipulate a variety of poetic styles and structures: sonnet, free verse, blank verse
  • Recognize and scan for meter and rhyme
  • Recognize and manipulate sound devices and figurative language
  • Analyze the content of the poems under examination and recognize the relationship between form, tone, and content
  • Create a portfolio of original pieces of prose and poetry
  • Edit student-created prose and poetry for consistency in style and form
  • Deliver an effective public performance of original selections at the Writers’ Café


Personal Narratives:

“Reminiscences of Childhood” DylanThomas
“My Name is Margaret” Maya Angelou
The Kite Runner (excerpt) Khaled Hosseini
“Michelle on Tape” Michelle Fitzpatrick


“Introduction to Poetry” Billy Collins
“Peeling Onions” Adrienne Rich
“The Disquieting Muses” Sylvia Plath
“There’s a Certain Slant of Light” Emily Dickenson
“Lament” Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Fire and Ice” Robert Frost
“Poetry” Pablo Neruda
“Eating Poetry” Mark Strand
“Tract” William Carlos Williams
“The End of the World” Archibald MacLeish
Selections from Mary Oliver
Selections from Jimmy Santiago Bacca
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” Dylan Thomas
“My Father’s Song” Simon Ortiz
“Last Night” Ted Hughes
“Ironing Grandmother’s Tablecloth” Jane Kenyon
“Young” Anne Sexton
“The Hunted Moon Was Caught” D. I. Antoniou
“Ithaca” Constantine Cavafis
“Necessary Explanation” Yannis Ritsos
“A Love Poem” Pablo Neruda

Bless Me, Ultima /
Magical Realism (an intra-curricular unit in preparation for a class trip to
Santa Fe)

Unit Goals:

  • Explore the Magical Realism as it is represented in various genre: novel, short
    story, poetry and film


  • Blesss Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
  • “Magical Realism” Alberto Rios
  •  “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Bless Me, Ultima film

Romeo and Juliet

Unit Goals:
  • Research Shakespeare’s England and the Globe Theater
  • Examine the essential characteristics of sonnets: Italian and Elizabethan and compose an original sonnet modeling one of these
  • Study and imitate the language and meter of Shakespearean verse
  • Discuss the difference between comedy and tragedy in Shakespearean drama
  • Identify figurative language, double entendre, allusion, aside, soliloquy, and choral effects in Romeo and Juliet
  • Ferret out and discuss the various themes in Romeo and Juliet
  • Analyze character, motivation, and conflict
  • Practice internal citation for poetry and drama as well as bibliographic reference
  • Explore themes of fate, love, and revenge in a five paragraph essay
  • Continue mastery of grammar and punctuation


  • “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” John Keats
  • “Sonnet—Silence” Edgar Allen Poe
  • “Ruben Bright” Edward Arlington Robinson
  • “Credo” Edward Arlington Robinson
  • “Meeting and Passing” Robert Frost
  • “God’s Grandeur” Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  • Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare
  • Romeo and Juliet (film)

Independent Reading

Students are asked to read three books on their own during the course of the year. Due dates, a suggested reading list, and an explanation of student accountability are included in information given during the first unit. No class time will be given for this required part of the course.

Grading and Assessment

Students will be graded on all daily assignments, quizzes, tests, essays, and major projects. In addition, student effort and participation will be assessed. Effort is measured by my observation of a student’s willingness to do his / her
very best work
. Participation is measured by my observation of a student’s enthusiasm toward and engagement in
classroom discussion and activities.

· All final writings and projects will be assessed as follows:
   o Content and Style
   o Organization and Clarity
   o Grammar and Writing Mechanics

Homework and Late Work Policy

 In compliance with the eighth-grade homework policy:

· Assignments must be turned in at the beginning of class

· Late assignments
   o Will not receive full credit
       o 10% will be deducted from the grade
   o After one week, no credit will be given for the assignment

·Assignments due or assigned during an absence must be turned in at the next class after the student returns to school
   o An absent student should call a friend or e-mail me to get his / her assignments
   o If the student does not understand how to complete an assignment or is absent for more than one day it is his / her responsibility to contact the teacher and together make a plan for completing the work

· Students will receive a zero if a long-term project or research paper is not turned in on time. The project/paper must be emailed (if possible) or dropped off at the school by a parent or other emissary in the event that the student is absent

· If a student is absent on the day of a scheduled presentation, the teacher will give an alternate written assignment.

· It is the student’s responsibility to arrange a time to make up a missed quiz or exam. Failure to do this will result in a zero on the quiz or exam.

· I do not give extra credit assignments

· I expect that final drafts of essays and fiction are typed. If this presents a difficulty for a student, that student should see me and alternative arrangements will be made.


In order to be a full and active participant in class, it is important that each student brings the following supplies to class on a daily basis:

· A three-ring binder with five dividers
· Loose-leaf paper
· Pens and pencils for daily work
· An assignment notebook / daily planner
· The class “textbook”
· A thumb drive

*Readings: additions, deletions, and substitutions may be made to the readings listed in this syllabus

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Last Modified: Thursday, July 25, 2013
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