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English/Language Arts

Grade 5

Language Arts

The major strands in this program include reading and literature, writing, vocabulary and language development, speaking and listening, and grammar, usage, and mechanics.  Direct instruction in strategies for reading fiction and nonfiction is provided using Stephanie Harvey’s Comprehension Toolkit.  The year begins with a Roald Dahl author study.  During the course of the year, all fifth graders read Holes, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Love that Dog, and Maniac Magee.  Students also read books of their own and their teacher’s choosing.  Writing activities develop students’ language skills, their understanding of the writing process, and their familiarity with various writing forms and organizational approaches.  Teachers provide instruction in grammar, mechanics, language, spelling, and vocabulary using the All Write text, 6 +1 Traits of Writing materials, and other classroom resources. 

Grade 6

Language Arts

The major strands in this program include reading, writing, speaking, listening, research, and study and organizational skills. The major literary elements of character, plot, setting, symbolism, and theme are explored through various novels and short stories. All students read The Breadwinner, Pictures of Hollis Woods, an abridged version of The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the screenplay version of The Phantom Tollbooth. They also read an additional young adult novel in a literature circle unit, in addition to poetry, short stories, and myths. Whole class, group, and independent reading are included in the course. Reading comprehension strategies are taught and reinforced by both English and reading teachers. Vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure, paragraph organization and development, and beginning essay writing are part of the curriculum. Titles for summer reading are recommended to students entering this grade; students are expected to read three books over the summer.

Reading and Study Skills

All sixth graders take this developmental reading course.  The course focuses on study and organizational skills such as listening, note taking, outlining, and using graphic organizers as well as on effectively using textbooks and reference materials.  Students build vocabulary by developing word attack skills through knowledge of word parts and understanding context clues.  Reading comprehension strategies are taught and practiced using a variety of text structures.  Using active reading strategies, students learn to identify main ideas and relevant details, to make inferences, and to analyze texts which use such organizational strategies as cause and effect, comparison and contrast, and fact and opinion.  Students read for information and pleasure through assigned and independent reading.

Grade 7


Students read and study all four literary genres (novel, short story, poetry, and drama) and learn the appropriate terminology for discussing and analyzing literature. All students read The Old Man and the Sea and The Outsiders as well as a young adult novel in a literature circle unit. Readings from poetry, short stories, non-fiction, and screenplays are also assigned. Each quarter students choose an outside reading book from a specific genre; students are assessed in different formats on this outside reading book. Writing skills focus on beginning literary analysis and the multi-paragraph composition in preparation for MCAS. Students also have a variety of creative writing assignments. Vocabulary development and writing conventions are included in the language skills curriculum. Summer reading—from a choice of four young adult novels—is assigned to students entering this grade.

Grade 8


The goal of this program is to equip students with the skills necessary for a successful transition to the high school English program.  The literature program uses a series of novels and plays as well as a literature anthology which includes a selection of short stories, poetry, and essays to refine literary analysis skills.  All students read “Flowers for Algernon,” Night, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  The writing program places special emphasis on literary analysis, a form used frequently in high school and on MCAS.  Students create a portfolio of their writing and compose short written responses for homework and on tests.  The grammar and mechanics curriculum reviews previous concepts and introduces more complex structures.  Vocabulary study is taken directly from the reading selections.  Summer reading—The Giver—is assigned to students entering this grade.

ELE  (English Language Education)

English Language Learners (ELL), students for whom English is not the native language, may receive ELE assistance. The frequency and length of services depend on each child’s individual needs. Some students are assigned to a Transitional English class and/or Newcomer English based on level of need. Students may transition out of those classes at any point in the year. Services are designed to enable students to gain proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English so that they may be successful with their regular classroom work. Students work with a tutor or teacher in class or in small groups. Pre and post testing is conducted to monitor student progress. Students receiving ELE services are exempt from some, but not all, MCAS testing during their first year in the American school system.