Strong independent schools, have challenging and engaging English curriculums. This holds true at MPH. In the middle school, the basics of English grammar, composition and literature are stressed, yet students deepen and polish their approach to the written word with great intention and care. Annotation, critical thinking, discussion, and editing skills are highlighted in middle school as students participate in shared, purposeful inquiry using academic language, some for the very first time. When writing, which students do often, middle schoolers work through the mechanics – sentence structure, mode, word choice, and paragraphing – developing a position or argument, identifying an audience, and organizing their ideas along the way. Essential questions drive this academic push by putting emphasis upon communication and vocabulary development at all levels. Middle school also prepares students well for the Upper School. Students in grades 6 – 8 are exposed not only to plays and young adult literature, but also graphic novels, epics, short stories, and poetry. Students also actively take part in an independent reading initiative called Middle School Reads, picking works from a suggested list with the help of their faculty advisor.
In Sixth Grade English, students work toward becoming critical readers and proficient writers. Texts of varied genres including novels, plays, short stories and poetry are used to engage students in reading. An introduction to literary elements and opportunities to write in a variety of ways allow students to connect more deeply with literature. Grammar instruction focuses on building creative and complex sentences in addition to reviewing the mechanics of writing.
Readings may include: “Love that Dog,” “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry,” “The Shakespeare Stealer,” and “Baseball in April and Other Stories.” Additionally, students will self-select books for independent reading projects throughout the year.
In English 7, students are exposed to a wide array of books, stories, poems, and media so that they can find connections within and between these works. They are asked to look critically at how these works are constructed and at how these writers use language to make meaning. Literary analysis is a primary focus of the course. Their reading serves to inform the students’ own emerging writing skills. From reinforcing their understanding of the fundamentals, such as elements of fiction, students develop a good working knowledge of different modes of writing such as exposition, persuasion, and argumentation. Varied creative assignments, frequent in-class writing, and exposure to a variety of genres and modes of literacy-including media and computer-provide students with a wealth of opportunities to grow.
Readings may include “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Lord of the Flies,” “Classic Fairy Tales,” “Watership Down,” “The Weight of All Things,” “The Hunger Games,” “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy,” “Chains,” and more.
In Eighth Grade English, a variety of both contemporary and classic texts are used to engage students who are developing into more sophisticated thinkers and writers. These texts address a number of serious issues and themes which generate strong reactions from adolescents and allow them a variety of ways to interact with literature. In addition to discussing and writing about what they read, students will have opportunities for recitation, dramatic interpretation, and multi-media presentations. Continued review of mechanics and grammar, and regular attention to vocabulary development are used to strengthen and streamline student writing.
Readings may include: “Tangerine,” “Animal Farm,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Speak,” “Macbeth,” “Monster,” and numerous short stories and poems.