7th Grade English

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Course Summary

What are the major themes in the course?

In seventh grade English, students grapple with themes of race and identity in attaining the American Dream. Over the course of the year, students read about a variety of perspectives from immigrant and minority groups in order to explore questions of whiteness, class and legality that challenge the idealized notion that anybody who works hard can prosper in the United States.

What is the major focus for reading instruction?

One marked difference between the sixth and seventh grade curricula is a shift in emphasis from literal to figurative and symbolic meanings. Students also examine how authors use tone and point of view to develop their messages about the American Dream. In addition, students continue to hone their independent reading habits; they work to increase their stamina on complex texts, their annotation skills and their breadth of advanced vocabulary. 

Why did we choose these texts?

Seventh graders begin the year studying the modern day Native American experience in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Next, scholars read the memoir When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir by Esmeralda Santiago, a story about the experience of a young girl who emigrates to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. In the fourth and fifth units of the year, students examine the disillusionment of the American Dream through two famous dramas, Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. In the sixth unit, students will zoom in on a two-week unit studying poetry about the American experience with a special focus on the Harlem Renaissance. Then, they jump into the graphic novel American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang about a teenager struggling to balance his Chinese American heritage. Finally, students end the year with a short stories unit including texts from Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies about the Indian-American perspective, J.D. Vance’s The Hillbilly Elegy about the Scots-Irish challenges with poverty, and the NY Times: American Dreamers about the undocumented immigrant experience.  Through in-depth analysis of these texts, seventh graders explore a variety of racial and cultural perspectives as they wrestle with the authenticity of the American Dream.

Other information about this course:

There are two key interdependent courses within the ELA program at Match Middle School: English and Composition. English classes are 50-minute daily blocks in which students develop college reading and thinking skills such as annotating the text, analyzing literary devices, discussing deep themes, and exploring the historical relevance of literature. Composition classes are 50-minute blocks that meet four times a week in which students write literary essays about the themes and topics they study in English class. Composition units are not yet available online.