Middle School English

The Beaver English Department empowers students by teaching them active reading, writing, reflection, analysis and synthesis. Our teachers encourage students to access their imaginations and intellects. We help students develop the means of confidently and skillfully expressing, in writing and speech, their knowledge, observations and feelings. We foster students’ passion for literature as a means of enhancing cultural awareness, understanding multiple perspectives, exploring human nature, and appreciating the power and beauty of language.

English 7

Why are there stories? What makes a story? How are stories told? What is our story? These essential questions guide our reading, writing, and discussion in seventh grade English. Considering the essential elements of a story leads to an exploration of the many different ways stories are told: from spoken word through literature, poetry, drama, art and song, into more modern modes like newspapers, movies, and animation. In concert with the history curriculum, we investigate the struggle to insure rights for all citizens by largely focusing on fictional accounts highlighting the time period between 1850 and 1940. We study the tactics of great readers, learning to be aware of our thought processes while we read, developing strategies to better understand a given text. We focus on the iterative writing process and supporting our ideas with adequate details while extending the depth and quality of our work. Creative problem solving, empathy, effort and collaboration are our cornerstones and are always honored.

Possible texts: To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee, Witness by Karen Hesse, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

English 8

Eighth grade English picks up where seventh grade English left off, concentrating on many of the same strands of language arts: literature, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and discussion. The curriculum focuses on identity, with narratives involving adolescent characters in the process of maturing. Literary selections include West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, as well as various short stories, poems, and independent reading selections. Students respond to readings in a variety of manners: collaborative projects, personal reflections, expository essays, and creative compositions. During or after each reading, students undertake creative writing projects and a structured essay. The creative writing assignments are intended to allows individual freedom, stimulates imagination, and inspires risk-taking. The structured, expository pieces prompt students to reflect on and respond to their readings and will typically adhere to the five-paragraph format with the iterative process involving brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising. In general, emphasis is placed on development of creative problem-solving, collaboration, and study skills.

Possible texts: Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare; Persepolis by Satrapi; The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger; The Outsiders by Hinton; short stories, poems, and independent reading choices are also part of the course.

Humanities -- World Cultures

Sixth grade Humanities focuses on the elements of culture by studying societies within United States and across the globe.  We study the geographical, economical, and cultural influences within a society and look at the impact of change on a society.  As budding anthropologists, we first begin to study aspects that are common to all cultures and we think about what makes us different, what makes us the same. We look at ourselves and explore the concepts of multiple perspectives through R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder before we turn our attention to cultures outside of the United States. We study the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the tenets of Islam by reading The Breadwinner.  Themes of friendship and loyalty between two boys living on the same Kenyan land during the time of colonialism are examined through Burn My Heart. Our conversations on the theme of cultural heritage and the struggles faced when one’s history and culture is outside the dominant culture in a country is explored in American Born Chinese.  We end with The Hunger Games as we dissect the futuristic society in the country of Panem (formerly the United States) and examine the issues concerning American culture in a historical context.

All the while, we tend to the mechanics of reading and writing. We study the tactics of great readers, learning to be aware of our thought process while we read. We work hard on sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary, and supporting our ideas with adequate details when we write.  At the same time, a wide variety of innovative projects that encourage creativie problem solving and often use cutting edge applications allow us to demonstrate our understanding in unique and exciting ways. Humanities provides a collaborative, challenging and dynamic introduction to a Beaver education.