In the English department at RSS we create a safe and supportive environment for students to explore and practice reading and writing strategies within novel-based units of study. Novels are chosen for their text complexity and themes present, while allowing for a diversity of voices and stories. Varied opportunities are provided for students to grasp a strong comprehension of the class texts, followed by diverse written and spoken forums where students can express their theories and ideas about what they are reading. Both reading and writing are explored as a process. As students make their way through the steps of learning a specific reading or writing skill, teachers structure lessons around the gradual release of responsibility; first introducing a skill with teacher-led support, then moving students towards trying that same skill with the support of a peer, and finally encouraging students as they work to master the skill independently. Grammar is taught within the editing stage of the writing process and its instruction is based on the individualized needs of each group of students. Finally, a space is created within each unit for project based learning, offering differentiated opportunities for all types of learners to interact with the curriculum in creative and complex ways.
7th Grade textual offerings include appropriately challenging literature that pulls from contemporary and canonical sources. The theme of 7th Grade English is Social Perceptions and Stereotypes. This theme continues to help students to make deep connections between their 5th Grade theme of coming of age and their 6th Grade theme of power dynamics within society students.
As students navigate the B’nai Mitzvah process, they are encouraged to deepen their sense of what it means to grow up within and against the pressure of social perceptions. They become adept at recognizing how different patterns of experience based on gender, sexuality, class, and race intersect within society. Students read about the coming of age of an adolescent Chicano girl from Chicago, Esperanza Cordero, in The House on Mango Street
, and what her yearning for a “real house” symbolizes. They also read Shakespeare's Sonnets and A Midsummer Night's Dream,
exploring how the different rules of the fairy kingdom, Athenian court, and forest worlds can help us understand society outside the play, as well. In Raisin in the Sun
they share in the struggles of the Younger family, unpacking the different ways family members cope with a reality where their dreams cannot take shape. Finally, students finish the year by reading All American Boys
, a dual-narrated novel that explores two sides of contemporary racial issues in the United States.
Students learn to develop a thesis grounded in a specific topic and how to present a precise interpretation. They learn to build arguments based on several supporting features or stages in progression. Students quote textual evidence and learn parenthetical citation. They practice the fluid introduction and interpretation of quotations with particular attention to the isolating and explication of figurative details. Students learn how to respond to various types of analytical prompts, summaries and create personal responses as well. Creative writing includes dramatic scripts, short stories, and speeches.
Grammar study becomes increasingly complex. Students learn adjectival and adverbial prepositional phrases, independent and subordinate clauses, pronoun case and transitive and intransitive verbs. Students are expected to correctly apply previously learned grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage rules. Vocabulary and spelling drawn from the class reading emphasize words 7th graders should know.
The 7th Grade curriculum teaches advanced study strategies and expects a high level of content mastery. Lessons are designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles. Students work as a whole class, in small groups, and independently.Major topics:
- Writing: Essay writing, literature responses, personal responses, creative writing, writing a thesis, developing an argument, citing textual evidence, analyzing figurative language
- Literary terms: vignette, satire, allegory, meter, connotation,irony, anaphora, motif
- Grammar: adverbial and adjectival prepositional phrases, clauses, pronoun case
- Reading: Whole class texts and independent reading, reading for figurative language