English Language Arts
Vocabulary & Spelling
Middle School vocabulary instruction focuses on preparing students with strategies to unlock the meaning of words they will encounter in content area texts, literature, and high-stakes tests. Student vocabulary books contain activities that build vocabulary while strengthening reading, writing, and critical thinking skills – skills research concludes these are necessary for success in Middle School and beyond. Skills & Strategies include: Vocabulary development, reading comprehension, critical thinking, using a dictionary and pronunciation key, word usage, test taking/assessment, context clues, memorization, synonyms and antonyms, multiple-meaning words, using word parts to determine meaning (prefixes, suffixes, Greek and Latin roots), homophones, analogies, word origins, and repeated exposure in many contexts.
Students will study the structure of language that includes a thorough study of a grammar topic (the eight parts of speech) at an age-appropriate yet challenging level. Each section culminates with a review and a challenge exercise. Diagramming is employed to help students visualize grammatical structures.
Students are introduced to various genres including poetry, non-fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, vignettes, and short stories. A thematic approach is employed as a backdrop for the understanding of literature. Titles are chosen to complement and continue the Voices in Reading themes in grades 1-5:
- Identity Awareness
- Perspective Taking
- Conflict Resolution
- Social Awareness
- Love & Friendship
- Freedom & Democracy
Additionally, the Loyola Academy Literature program has “overarching” literary themes that relate to the psycho-social development of young adolescent children:
- Grade Six – Courage
- Grade Seven – Perseverance & Loyalty
- Grade Eight -Social Justice
Materials from Facing History and Ourselves serves to enhance the students’ understanding of and experience with text.
Middle School Writing:
Writing in Middle School focuses largely on the composition of essays. The intent is to insure that students are prepared to write clear and concise essays, as required for high school applications and secondary studies. Students follow the Six Steps of Writing: Pre-write, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish and Reflect. The Six Traits are also introduced to improve the quality of writing: Ideas, organization, voice, word choice, fluency and conventions. Writers Workshop is employed to assist students in editing and revising. Peer editing encourages cooperative learning, and fosters a sense of community in the classroom.
Declamation is the interpretation of a speech that has been previously delivered in public. Students preparing for high school are often ill-prepared for public speaking requirements. By offering Declamation, Loyola Academy is teaching students a skill that will serve them well as they move on to high school and beyond.
In a Socratic Seminar, participants seek to answer an essential question and gain deeper understanding of laws, ideas, issues, values, and/or principles presented in a text or texts through rigorous and thoughtful dialogue. A Socratic Seminar is a scholarly discussion of an essential question in which student opinions are shared, proven, refuted, and refined through dialogue with other students.