Success in the modern world depends more than ever on communication skills. The St. John’s Prep English Department helps students acquire the skills necessary for successful communication: reading, thinking, analyzing, and writing (course descriptions follow). Through literature, writing assignments, and class discussions, we introduce students to the important issues and ideas that will help them to explore their own identity and the nature of the world around them.
Relevant grade-level themes come to life in our courses, helping students find meaning and a connection to what they learn. Through the exploration of grade-appropriate novels, short stories, poetry, memoir, drama, and nonfiction prose, Middle School students increase their reading fluency and strengthen their critical reading ability. They learn to express themselves clearly and cultivate their own unique writing voice. Students also practice effective dialogue and discussion, deliver polished oral presentations, and learn research methods in preparation for the depth of high school inquiry. The ongoing studies of grammar and vocabulary provide additional support for the development of foundational English skills.
In grade 6, students gain from a unified humanities approach to language arts and social studies. By helping students make connections to their own lives, this course explores the spirit and experience of the individual through themes of origin, culture, and environment in literature, geography, and history. Students will learn about the factors that contribute to the formation of their identity as they develop the means of self-expression.
The course will begin by focusing on geography in order to understand the relationship between the physical environment, the individual, and the community. Students will examine historical case studies, as well as literary characters that reveal the importance of geography in individual development and survival.
Teachers will then introduce students to the study of history as a narrative through an examination of early American and local history. Students will compare primary and secondary historical sources to stories told through fiction, memoir, drama and poetry. By developing familiarity with narrative structure, students will develop composition skills for personal narrative writing.
The course will also explore the ways in which individuals are shaped by events and experiences inside and outside their control. Students will analyze defining moments in the lives of historical and literary characters before shifting their focus to examine their own personal history. They will conduct research on census data, legal records, primary documents, and family traditions, etc. As part of a final project, students will express their identities through poetry, art, music, and creative writing, as well as through visual and oral presentations.
Finally, students will consider and assess the options and choices they face as individuals. Through this study, they will develop life skills in personal economics, communication, and collaboration. Students will also participate in Literature Circles to discuss the themes presented throughout the year and articulate their understanding of personal identity and their individual goals.
The curriculum of grade 7 English focuses on themes related to leadership, conflict and social structures. Course readings will primarily represent the genres of mythology, folklore, historical fiction and dystopian literature. Through careful analysis of literary characters, students will evaluate the nature of human relationships as a means of better understanding their own community.This course will further develop students’ reading fluency and critical reading skills through oral reading, small and large group discussions, reading comprehension activities, in-depth literary analysis, and vocabulary lessons. Students will also increase their proficiency in writing, including: exposition, narrative, summary, comparison, argument, and research review. The ongoing study of English grammar will highlight sentence craftsmanship to improve written expression. Finally, students will learn and practice speaking skills through discussion, group presentations and individual presentations.
Students in grade 8 English will broaden their perspectives as they explore themes of difference, freedom, reconciliation and wellness. Course readings, both classic and modern, will highlight multicultural characters in varied settings. By exploring the causes and effects of diversity through literature, students will better appreciate the varying experiences and values of global communities, and they will better understand their responsibilities in their community and in the world. In this final year before high school begins, students focus on the skills they need for high school reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary and research. The grade 8 reading curriculum will prepare students to successfully navigate a complex text through effective close-reading methods. The writing curriculum will emphasize thesis-driven essay organization, supplemented by open-ended writing assignments to improve natural written expression. Students gain opportunities throughout the year to compose and deliver oral presentations for different purposes. Students also continue to expand their vocabulary skills to aid reading, writing and speaking ability. Lastly, the course will feature a variety of research-based activities, allowing students to further understand standard research methods.