AMOS & CELIA HEILICHER MINNEAPOLIS JEWISH DAY SCHOOL

Middle School

Language Arts Curriculum by Grade Level


Sixth Grade

Sixth-grade language arts centers on conflict and resolution. Students look at how heroes in literature endure or overcome obstacles. They examine bias and controversy in journalism in preparation for a central unit on ethics in which they examine multiple points of view and then formulate their own opinions. The year ends with an examination of the build-up to the Holocaust, a reflection on loss and inheritance, and our own duty—and privilege—to remember people who came before us. As students learn to grapple with difficult issues and gray areas, they stretch themselves as writers, readers, and thinkers.

  • Journalism
  • Hero’s journey
  • Ethical issues

Seventh Grade

In seventh grade, Language Arts focuses on an intensive writing curriculum, where students begin to explore thematic relationships in text and how they can incorporate literary devices in their own writing.

The year pivots on three units from the Columbia University Teachers College Writing Project: Research-based Argumentative Essay, Realistic Narratives, and the Literary Essay. Each of these units asks students to express their ideas clearly and purposefully by planning, drafting, revising, and editing all of their work. Additionally, students increase their ability to critically analyze more complex pieces of literature in a variety of ways.

One of the primary goals of the seventh grade curriculum is to move from answering the question of “what was it about?” to “why?” and “how?” by looking at a work’s themes, structure, and style. As students read more diverse and complex pieces of literature, they continue to develop academic reading strategies to reach for deeper textual meanings and to notice how their own perspectives and experiences create and form those meanings as well.

Eighth Grade

In eighth grade, students hone their writing and reading skills by focusing on an author’s craft and how both syntax and diction can be used to express their own ideas. Students interact with texts in a variety of ways, including reading plays aloud, creative writing, and academic literary analysis.

Students further develop their research and organizational skills throughout the year, culminating in an extensive capstone research paper and presentation on a social justice issue. This paper marks one of the largest research and argumentative essays the students will have written to date.

Overall, eighth graders come away with a greater understanding of how words and images shape our lives and facility with using communication skills in positive and productive ways.