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MIDDLE SCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS

Now in middle school, writing is the foundation of virtually every subject that the students study. Work with language arts is woven into all aspects of the main lesson content and book work. Students are truly involved in inter-disciplinary work through language arts main lesson work.

Language is our most important means of mutual understanding and is therefore the primary medium of education. It is also a highly significant formative influence in the child’s development. The cultivation of language arts for the students is central to the educational tasks of Waldorf Education. It is the aim of the curriculum to cultivate language skills and awareness in all subjects. Clearly the “mother tongue” has a pivotal role for middle schoolers.

Middle School Youth Needs

Upon reaching the age of 12, the child’s changing consciousness is met with an increased degree of rigor and an introduction to subjects and concepts that will slowly awaken their thinking. The task of the class teacher is to transition students from a dependence on the class teacher as a guide to an active interest in the subject itself. To support this change student work often includes a higher degree of project-based learning and independent research leading towards the Eighth Grade projects.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
Margaret Atwood

Integrations with Language Arts

“Those who tell stories, rule the world.” —Plato

Sixth Grade  LANGUAGE ARTS

In 6th grade students are on the threshold of a new developmental phase. The children say goodbye to a younger stage of childhood and greet a new paradigm, a decisive moment in their development. They now take initial steps toward regulating the swings of emotion that accompany the approach of adolescence. Structure and form in the LA curriculum provide much-needed balance for the students to communicate their emotions and perspectives. Literacy skills are essential for students to fully participate in and expand their understanding of today’s global society.

Speaking and Listening

From birth through adolescence relationships are founded within the context of rapidly increasing words and meanings. Everyday interactions with parents, teachers, peers, friends, and community members shape speech habits and communication styles. Language, unique to humans, shapes ones own higher mental functioning.
Oral language foundation and written symbol systems makes concrete the way a student communicates. Thus, students continue to develop oral language skills in listening and speaking, and then master the written language skills of reading and writing.

Enhance auditory skills through writing dictations • Read aloud fluently and with expression • Speak and recite with proper articulation and expressiveness

Reading for All Purposes

Students need reading skills to fully manage, evaluate, and use the diverse information available in their day-to-day lives: reading functional texts such as voting ballots, maps, food labels; reference materials including non-fiction and technical manuals; or literary texts.

Comprehend what is read • Understand the nine parts of speech along with the review of various grammar concepts such as active and passive voice, indirect and direct object, and direct and indirect speech.

Writing and Composition

Writing is a fundamental component of literacy. Writers can work through various ideas while producing informational, persuasive, and narrative or literary texts. As students arrange ideas to describe and inform, they engage in logical critique and are likely to gain new insights and a deeper understanding of concepts and content.

Create a story by expressing main themes and sequencing the story ideas with the appropriate transitions • Vary the sentence structure (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative) • Understand punctuation and capitalization • Edit work independently • Continue to work with the narrative style of writing and receive an introduction to the expository style • Self-generate written work • Spell words correctly based on hearing the word sounds or observing the letter sequence and noting its proper placement • Retain word meaning and spelling in subsequent compositions • Other concepts introduced include perfect tenses and the subjunctive mood. • Root words, prefixes, suffixes and word origins (especially Latin roots)

Research and Reasoning

Research and Reasoning skills are pertinent for success beyond middle school. Students need learn to be able to distinguish their own ideas from information created or discovered by others, understand the importance of creating authentic works, and correctly cite sources to give credit to the author of the original work.

Use a dictionary to aid in the spelling process • Enhance the details of the story while maintaining the essence

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN LANGUAGE ARTS

Collaboration

Communicating inherently includes collaboration skills. Students, in the Waldorf classroom, collaborate with each other in multiple settings: peer groups, one-on-one, in front of an audience, in large and small group settings. Students should be able to participate in a peer review, foster a safe environment for discourse, mediate opposing perspectives, contribute ideas, speak with a purpose, understand and apply knowledge of culture, and seek others’ ideas.

Invention

Invention is a main parts of creating an original writing piece or synthesizing information from multiple sources. Invention takes students to a higher-order thinking while exploring literature and writing about personal experiences.

Seventh Grade  LANGUAGE ARTS

7th graders take their writing skill to the next logical level expanding on past years’ lessons. Students explore editing and revision as well as using elements of idea, style, structure and clarity. Students develop a new appreciation for “good writing” and an interest in the editing process as their capacity to discern stylistic features and adjustments.

Seventh grade is a year of exploration, awakening and discovery. Students of this age are experiencing a profound developmental stage that finds them stepping on the bridge from late childhood to young adulthood. The 7th grade brings a rich panoramic curriculum that feeds that desire to learn. The student’s doubt and resistance towards authority is reflected in the history/language arts lessons that encompass the Renaissance to the Reformation.

Speaking and Listening

Seventh grade lessons in language arts include analyzing compositions. Literature studies includes books assigned by the teacher. During class discussion time on literature, students are often asked to reflect on what has been discovered and learned. The focus of these studies is to help the student learn to summarize important sections, explain relevance of certain passages, identify specific literary devices an author uses to involve readers, identify author’s purpose and point of view, formulate and defend opinions about what they have read, as well as to make connections between their own lives and the characters, events, and circumstances represented in various works. The continuation of these conversations also enhances their speech work.

Reading for All Purposes

Poetry study: analysis of poetic forms, devices, meaning • Identify figures of speech (metaphors, similes, hyperbole, personification) • Identify literary themes • Be able to discuss character and plot development, author’s style and purpose, literary techniques; Be able to read for detail • Be able to read from major newspapers & magazines (opinion vs. fact)

Writing and Composition

Learn to identify common structural errors in sentence writing • Be able to differentiate mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive) voice passive, active • Identify figures of speech • Routinely take effective notes in class • Be able to write different styles in short stories, three-paragraph essays, journals, etc. • Accurately diagram sentences • Identify all major verb tenses: Present, Present Continuous, Simple Past, Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Past Continuous, Future • Differentiate Mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive); Voice (Active, Passive) • Become familiar with various forms of writing: Introduction to business letter writing; continued practice with main lesson retellings; descriptive pieces; reading responses; journaling; poetry; short stories; autobiographical narratives; persuasive arguments; editorials

Research and Reasoning

With the focus of more independent work, students need now to carefully maintain homework notebook based on individual student’s need • Submit assignments in the form requested • Able to pace and plan steps for long-term assignments • Be accountable with regard to assignment deadlines •

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN LANGUAGE ARTS

Information Literacy

The student who is information-literate accesses information by reading and understanding essential content of a range of informational texts in academic areas. This involves evaluating information and distinguishing among fact, point of view and opinion.

Eighth Grade  LANGUAGE ARTS

The Eighth grader might find themselves at the precipice of the unknown. The future is hurtling towards them and they are grasping with being ready to meet it and find their own path ahead. As such, students of this age are often drawn together with the strength similar to powerful magnets and yet are also trying hard to be recognized as individuals, which include specific talent and challenges. This is often the year of reckoning as skills and understanding of all elementary concepts are solidified through the extensive curriculum and lessons of the Eighth grade. Virtually everything studied is approached from at least two perspectives, which leads the students to see for themselves that there may be two answers for any one problem, two sides to any one issue and that shades of gray exist throughout history.

Speaking and Listening / Reading for All Purposes

In literature, students read Shakespeare and often perform a Shakespeare play. Focus is placed on deepening of reading comprehension; increasing vocabulary through reading; extensive work with a thesaurus and dictionary. Poetry and literature that are language- and history-rich are read.  Students usually study the historical documents that changed the course of humankind such as the Rights of Man or the Declaration of Independence.

Writing and Composition

In writing, the focus is towards the composition of a five-paragraph expository essay, which develops a thesis statement clearly formulated in introductory paragraph. Students learn to choose a focus, write a thesis statement, transition into succeeding paragraphs, and formulate a strong conclusion. Different types of essay forms are also explored. Also addressed are increased polishing of narrative writing; writing with detail and precision; control and grace of expression; summarizing; persuasive writing; figures of speech, and introduction to basic poetic forms and style.

In grammar, students undergo a general and continuous review of all previous work, including parts of speech; elements of punctuation; phrases and clauses, verb and pronoun agreement; passive and active voice; and figures of speech (metaphor, simile, image, symbol, personification.)

Research and Reasoning

Students this year have experience with more in-depth research work with “personal entries” or “independent studies” within each Main Lesson block which helps them relate to the block lesson but which has not been covered by the teacher. During the block on meteorology, for example, students may choose to research and compose a personal entry on El Nino or hurricanes. While these independent entries are not usually long, the student uses two or more reference sources and provides a bibliography.

Learn assigned vocabulary • Demonstrate reading comprehension at grade level • Master the use of the thesaurus and dictionary • Understand roots and prefixes • Effectively organize sentences and paragraphs • Demonstrate ability to write with detail and precision • Demonstrate increasing control and grace of expression in writing • Demonstrate increased ability to summarize • Understand basic poetic forms and poetics • Understand and distinguish among figures of speech: image, simile, metaphor, personification • Know parts of speech • Know elements of punctuation • Recognize and properly utilize phrases and clauses • Properly express verb and pronoun agreement • Understand and correctly use the passive and active voices • Recite poems with accuracy and expression • Prepare and deliver oral presentations • Participate in a Class Play according to expectations

21ST CENTURY SKILLS & READINESS IN LANGUAGE ARTS

Critical Thinking & Reasoning

As powerful readers, writers, and communicators, students must be able to successfully argue a point, justify reasoning, evaluate for a purpose, infer to predict and draw conclusions, and understand and use logic. Critical thinking and reasoning are vital to advancing in the technologically sophisticated world in which we live.

Self Direction

Students who read, write, and communicate independently are demonstrating self-direction. These important skills are a learner’s awareness of knowledge and ability to understand and modify their own thinking. These are important not only in middle school but throughout life, enabling the student to learn and set goals independently.