In eighth grade language arts, the focus is on all aspects of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Our curriculum addresses the literary concepts of plot and conflict, character and point of view, setting and mood, theme and symbol, and poetry, as well as argument and persuasion. We read a number of short stories, non-fiction pieces, poetry, and a novel throughout the year to focus on literary concepts, story or text structure, and reading strategies. A keystone of the eighth grade L.A. curriculum is The Diary of Anne Frank, the play version of Anne Frank’s story. We study the history surrounding the Holocaust alongside the play. We work on grammar and vocabulary skills appropriate to the 8th grade level, including work with clauses, phrases, sentence combining, and editing.
The students practice their writing and grammar skills by writing paragraph responses and several essays throughout the year. We focus heavily on expository writing through personal narrative and description and on persuasive writing. The language arts and social studies departments team up for a research project at the end of the year about topics pertinent to the first half of the 19th century in the United States. The students’ culminating projects involve teaching a lesson to their peers and writing a summative research paper about their topic. High school readiness and proficiency on the PSSA reading and writing tests are main goals of eighth grade language arts.