Eighth Grade English
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 students to grow as perceptive readers, critical thinkers, and competent writers.
I. Literary Fluency
A. To further 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 for research purposes
E. To view literature as a source for new ideas, inspirations, and connections
II. Writing for Purpose
A. To advance our consideration of sentence and paragraph structure
B. To utilize the paragraph as an effective response to short-answer examination questions
C. To write articulate, comprehensive, yet focused thesis statements
D. To refine 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
secondary sources as well as electronic / hard copy sources) in support of the paper's claim
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: the short story, the poem, the scene sketch,
the character sketch
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: prepositional, and appositive
B. To identify and correctly punctuate clauses: relative, independent and subordinate in simple, compound
and complex sentences
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 and possessive
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
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 novels selected by the student from a list of book 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
- 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
- Master apostrophe use in possession and contractions
- Review internal punctuation: comma, semi-colon, colon, hyphen, dash, etc.
- Use strong verbs; add new verb vocabulary
- "I, Too" Langston Hughes
- "america" e. e. cummings
- "The Gift Outright" Robert Frost
- "all ignorance toboggans into know" e. e. cummings
- Declaration of Independence (excerpts)
- "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
- Anthem Ayn Rand
- The House on Mango Street (excerpts) Sandra Cisneros
Bless Me, Ultima
- Explore magical realism as it is represented in various genre: novel, short story, poetry and film
- Read literature and engage in solid, analytic discussion of content and style
- Compose critical responses to short answer questions in strong, articulate paragraphs that include topic sentences, supporting sentences and in-text citations, and strong concluding sentences
- Develop a cogent thesis statement and construct a formal outline to effectivelyl organize and present information
- Review internal citations and long and short quotation usage
- Write a persuasive five-paragraph essay
- Compose a short story using the techniques of magical realism
- Instruct simple, compound, and complex sentences and their correct punctuation
- Reviw internal punctuation: comma, semi-colon, colon, hyphen, dash, etc.
- Master apostrophe use in expressing possession
- Introduce prepositional and appositional phrases and their corrrect punctuation
Prose, Poetry and Writers' Cafe
- "Magical Realism" Alberto Rios
- "On the Road" Langston Hughes
- "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- "Rain, Rain, Go Away" Isaac Asimov
- "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky" Joy Harjo
- "The Foreigner" Sarah Orne Jewett
- "Learning My Name" Gloria Vando
- "Paper House" Pamela Highes
- "Winter Memory" Mary Clair Ervin Gildea
- "Dripping From the Cloud Like Honey" Erica Raana Fischman
- "Of Moths and Oil" Kelli Russell Agodon
- "Girl in Green Patina" Kelli Russell Agodon
- "The Night I Wlaked Into Town" Kelli Russell Agodon
- Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
- The Fisher King (film)
- Explore the similarities and differences between prose and poetry
- Determine the elements of personal narrative as a distinctive genre in literature
- Compose and polish personal narratives for publication
- 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' Cafe
- "Reminiscences of Childhood" Dylan Thomas
- "My Name is Margaret" Maya Angelou
- The Kite Runner (excerpt) Khaled Hosseini
- "Michelle on Tape" Michelle Fitzpatrick
- "The Long Ride Home" Christine Hannaford
- "Death by Maroon" Christine Hannaford
Romeo and Juliet
- "Last Night" Ted Hughes
- "The End of the World" Archibald MacLeish
- "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died" Emily Dickenson
- "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
- "Cut" Sylvia Plath
- "Last Night" Ted Hughes
- "Ironing Grandmother's Tablecloth" Jane Kenyon
- "The Hunted Moon Was Caught" D. I. Antoniou
- "Ithaca" Constantine Cavafis
- "Necessary Explanation" Yannis Ritsos
- "A Love Poem" Pablo Neruda
- 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
- Rewrite a scene from Romeo and Juliet in modern English
- 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)
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. This information is also available on my website. 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 meaningful contribution to classroom discussion and activities.
All final writings and projects will be assessed as follows:
Homework and Late Work Policy
- Content and Style
- Organization and Clarity
- Grammar and Writing Mechanics
In compliance with the eighth grade homework policy:
- Assignments must be turned in at the beginning of class.
- Late assignments
- Will not receive full credit.
- 10% will be deducted from the grade.
- 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.
- A student should call a friend, e-mail me, or visit my website to get assignments when absent.
- If the student does not understand how to complete an assignment or is absent for more than a day, it is his / her responsibility to contact me and together we will 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 an emissary if 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 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 students bring the following supplies with them on a daily basis:
- A three ring binder with five dividers
- An ample supply of loose-leaf paper
- Pens and pencils for daily work
- An assignment notebook / daily planner
- Our class "textbook"
- A thumb drive
*Readings: additions, deletions, and substitutions may be made to the readings listed in this syllabus