Middle School Overview
Throughout sixth through eighth grade Language Arts courses at Falk School, students further hone their skills at reading, writing, thinking, and speaking. With a strong focus on inquiry and critical analysis of “the world as text” the curriculum is designed for students to complicate their own assumptions of the self and world. Texts are chosen that focus on identity, race, gender, and real world issues, and in this way deeply resonate with social studies. Media literacy through the understanding of semiotics, especially sign, meme, and narrative, is a signature focus of the program.
Writing drives our Language Arts program. Writing is seen as an act of naming: naming our world as we live it, naming our understanding of new ideas, and naming who we are. It is this movement toward clarity of thought, combined with a real wish to say something that matters, that provides the fuel for quality writing. Falk writers express their knowing in a variety of modes to include critical essay, personal essay, memoir, fiction, poetry, research writing, and various forms of creative non-fiction.
Sixth grade language arts introduces students to critical reading and writing. Students continue to practice comprehension, prediction, and personal connections with the text but begin to go beyond what is being said directly. A focus is put on interpretation and using evidence as support. Students practice this through responding to interpretive questions in class discussion, writing, and performance. The texts used in class are chosen to mirror real life experiences and to engage students in issues pertinent to them.
In written expression, sixth grade reinforces the idea of having something to say and process across genres. Language mechanics are considered as a way to get meaning across.
Seventh grade language arts builds off of the sixth grade curriculum and moves students into more complex themes and concepts. Students are introduced to the model of text, self, world as a way of interrogating the text to make connections and form deeper understandings.
They themselves learn to ask pertinent questions to provoke meaningful, thoughtful responses. Poetry is also a key feature of seventh grade language arts and ties into our work with writing as a process. Students come to writing poetry not just as a creative act but as a habit of mind as observers and thinkers.
Language Arts continues an intense focus on critical reading and writing. Students move more explicitly from book as text to world as text. Literature is chosen to reflect real world issues that have deep historical roots, especially as it relates to race, gender, and class. Media texts, e-journals, and cultural events are regularly used for cross-textual examination. Students practice “deep reading” by learning how to interrogate texts through multiple lenses such as New Historicism, Reader Response, Deconstruction, and Cultural Studies. Particular attention is given to using heuristics such as The Allegory of the Cave, the Joe-Harry Window, and the Heroes Journey as a means to come to know. Texts are sequenced to build complicated and nuanced understandings that students use to name their knowing. They tackle this through creative and expository writing, discussion and debate, and performance. Selected texts may include: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Parrot in the Oven, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Monster, The World Between Us, and The Book Thief.