Middle School


The Ellis English Department prepares students to be confident and independent readers and writers while encouraging them to value and enjoy literature and writing. Some highlights include:
  • Young adult literature chosen for literary merit and themes that challenge girls to reflect on their lives and the world
  • Grammar taught in discrete units and in context
  • Student-centered classroom discussions and projects that encourage students to gain confidence in their own ideas, express themselves, and learn from others
  • Writing assignments in response to reading, guided by feedback from teachers through the drafting and revising process
  • Creative writing assignments and opportunities for publication
  • Alternative forms of assessment, such as learning centers, projects, online scrapbooks, vocabulary journals, games, and stories inspired by historical photos

English Curriculum

List of 6 items.

  • Grade 5 English

    Required Course

    In this course, students develop a strong foundation in reading, writing, listening, and speaking through the use of engaging and thought-provoking literature. Analyzing texts allows students to access a variety of perspectives, formed through different cultural and historical backgrounds. Through class discussion, writing assignments, and group projects, students explore key textual elements. These elements include plot, vocabulary, character development, and theme. Writing is taught in response to the literature, actively engaging students in thinking and communicating about the texts. Assignments emphasize the process of drafting, revising, and editing.

    Typical books include:
    • Bridge to Terabithia
    • The Watsons Go to Birmingham
    • The Giver
    • Tuck Everlasting
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Greek Myths
  • Grade 6 English

    Required Course 

    In this course, students develop literary analysis techniques by engaging with a variety of texts.  For each of these texts, students engage in class discussion, group projects, and writing assignments, which allows students to develop their communication and critical thinking skills. Throughout the school year, students express ideas through a variety of writing assignments, including fantasy and fiction, personal narrative, and expository responses to literature. In addition to learning grammar through discrete units and in the contexts of selected readings, students focus on building their writing by developing critical paragraphs.

    Typical books include:
    • Hoot
    • The Westing Game
    • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
    • Catherine, Called Birdy
    • Selected fairy tales
  • Grade 7 English

    Required Course

    In this course, students continue to develop critical language and thinking skills in the context of American literature. Readings are selected both for their literary merit and to complement the study of American history. Language skills, including vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, are taught contextually throughout the course. Focusing on skills of interpretation and persuasion, students build on their work with critical paragraphs and short essays. Students are guided through the writing process; drafting, revision, and editing are emphasized in formal writing assignments. Response journals and discussions encourage individual voice and reflection.  

    Typical books include:
    • The Wednesday Wars
    • Chains
    • A Soldier’s Secret
    • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Grade 8 English

    Required Course

    In this course, students are introduced to literature from a variety of cultures and genres. Often focusing on gender, social, and cultural issues, students practice close reading strategies and write extended essays in response to the readings. Effective strategies of interpretation and persuasion are developed, including the use of the text to support and extend arguments.  Through class discussion, written reflections, and cooperative learning, students are encouraged to examine their individual responses as readers and to explore the influences of social norms on their reading. Grammar and vocabulary are studied in the context of literature and student writing.  
    Typical books include:
    • All the Light We Cannot See
    • Anne Frank’s diary
    • As You Like It
    • A Raisin in the Sun
    • The House on Mango Street
    • excerpts from Farewell to Manzanar
    • The Joy Luck Club
  • Creative Writing

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    This course is taught in a workshop format with students examining successful writing pieces, then writing original works, some from writing prompts in class, and sharing them for peer critique. Students focus on specific techniques and elements of the writing process in an effort to improve their writing skills. Evaluation is based on a portfolio of writing and revised drafts indicating effort and progress.
  • Short Story Seminar

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    This course introduces a variety of well-known writers in the accessible short story format.  Students examine aspects of literature and theme in this compact genre, both consolidating and informing their skills in dealing with longer, more complex works for English studies and writing. Students then craft a short story from their own perspective in the style of their choice.