8th Grade English

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Course Summary

In this eighth grade English course, students explore how authors are social-political commentators of the time periods in which they write. Students spend much of the year examining the historical context of the literature they read in class. Eighth graders start off reading To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel renowned for its exposition of racial and class inequalities in the Deep South during the 1930s. The subsequent unit, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, is a social commentary of the 1950s focusing on questions of racial bias in the courtroom. Students then read Night, by Elie Wiesel, a memoir written to take readers into the horror of the concentration camps during the Holocaust while the rest of the world remained silent. The next book unit, Animal Farm by George Orwell, is a satire on the Soviet Union in which the author criticizes Stalin’s brutal dictatorship and reign of terror. In the second half of the year, students explore two different works about the Great Migration. They read August Wilson’s famous play Fences in combination with excerpts from a literary nonfiction text, The Warmth of Other Suns. Authors of both texts depict African-American individuals who risked everything to migrate to the North, exploring a time period and story often omitted from history textbooks. Ultimately, students will leave eighth grade with an understanding of authors as powerful social commentators within the controversial social and political webs of their times.

There is an emphasis on media literacy throughout this eighth grade course. Students will examine film depictions of many of the novels they read in order to compare and contrast the literary versus cinematic devices employed to convey central ideas of stories. Students will analyze devices such as camera angles, sound tracks, and lighting in an effort to deconstruct the ways the filmmaker manipulates the plot.

There are two key interdependent courses within the English Language Arts 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 three 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.

How to Use This Course


English Language Arts at Match

At Match Education we have ambitious goals for our ELA program. Through our teaching, we strive to transform our scholars into critical readers, writers, and thinkers, and we seek to widen our students’ perspectives and deepen their character so that they can better understand themselves and the world around them.

Our ELA curriculum is designed around several core beliefs about how students learn best. These beliefs drive the decisions we make about what to teach and how to teach it.

  1. Text First vs. Skills First: We believe in the power of rich and nuanced texts to spark students’ thinking.

  2. Content Selection: We believe selected texts must both affirm our scholars’ cultures and expose them to great literature.

  3. Writing Instruction: We believe writing instruction should teach scholars to construct and convey persuasive arguments, and express their own voices.

  4. Discussion: We believe discussion is a powerful tool for testing ideas out and strengthening thinking.

  5. Word Knowledge: We believe in the importance of building word knowledge through both explicit instruction and exposure to content knowledge.

  6. Lifelong Learning: We believe that teachers should cultivate voracious, inquisitive readers, writers, and thinkers.

For more information, view our full English Language Arts Program Overview.