Language Arts

In language arts classes, Park students experience reading and writing as both art and craft. Each year, students receive direct instruction in reading strategies designed to enhance reading comprehension. Students read novels, short stories, essays, and poetry as a whole class. Required recreational reading and library time support students’ development as independent readers and help them appreciate a variety of genres and authors.

Students explore all stages of the writing process including brainstorming, drafting, revising, and editing for grammar and mechanics. They explore many genres each year, including poetry, memoir, fiction, essays, argument, and writing based on research. In addition to whole-class assignments, students have the chance to try their own independent writing projects.

Sixth Grade
The sixth grade theme is community. Throughout the year, study of the theme is integrated through the reading and writing in the class. Recent class texts have included The Kite Fighters, The Arrival, and How I Discovered Poetry. Students also read short stories, essays, newspaper articles, and poetry while working with reading strategies that help students improve reading comprehension skills.

Along with reading across genre, students write across genre (poetry, memoir, short story, essay) throughout the year. There is an emphasis on the writing process. Students experiment with many different pre-writing strategies before drafting in order to identify the strategies that work best for them. Grammar instruction is connected to their writing so there is a direct, practical application while drafting, revising, and editing.

Seventh Grade

Seventh grade language arts students explore the theme of identity through the following essential questions:

  • How do individuals choose the stories that define their identities?
  • How do individuals use stories to construct their personal and cultural identities?
  • How does a community balance the needs of an individual with the needs of a group?
  • How can public identity help or harm an individual?
  • What are the essential components of an individual's identity?
  • How do circumstances and life experiences shape an individual's identity?

Students explore this theme by working with a variety of texts, including novels, short stories, plays, poems, essays, and memoirs. Recent whole-class works included The Giver, A Raisin in the Sun, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Students also read and discuss books in smaller groups. As students develop their skills for writing literary analysis, they gain a mastery of developing and composing an opinion, supporting their opinion with evidence, and using writing mechanics to strengthen the effectiveness of their writing. Thus, they work to hone the stages and components of effective essay writing. Students continue to write across a variety of genres, including but not limited to narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive writing.

Eighth Grade

The work in language arts is tied to the eighth grade theme of advocacy, or the power of the individual or groups to effect change.

Each of the thematic units is centered on an essential question:

  • What is the story behind…?
  • Which/whose stories are told in different time periods? Which stand the test of time?
  • What is significant about how we use language to create meaning?
  • What creates authenticity in storytelling?
  • What discoveries can we make in a text that appears both familiar and unfamiliar?

Our class texts have included contemporary poetry, a young adult novel, Shakespearean drama, science-fiction short story, and a classic American novel. There is also the continued focus on independent reading to further develop reader identity and enjoyment of reading. All year long, we work with the writing process from a variety of approaches. Students write almost daily in language arts. They also work through different stages of the writing process to create pieces across many genres. In addition to literary analysis, poetry, and memoir, eighth grade students also write pieces in their choice of forms and genres. They also study specific topics of syntax and mechanics to clarify how language works and how authors make choices to use language to convey story or ideas.