August-September Newsletter

A Year Full of Learning

The 7th grade English Language Arts curriculum is loaded with learning opportunities that will provide a sound foundation for a student's life-long learning. Throughout the year, students will enrich their vocabulary by learning Latin and Greek root words and prefixes, multiple meaning words, and standard vocabulary. Students will broaden their awareness of various cultural and historical influences by reading a variety of classic and contemporary fiction, as well as non-fiction. Additionally, students will hone the skills necessary for survival in the twenty-first century as they incorporate multimedia with public speaking, use technology to extract information from challenging non-fiction text during research, access online tools to construct and publish their writing, or practice instructed skills.

Within each of the units, students will read a variety of texts including short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. Additionally, students will produce a variety of short and extended writing pieces during a unit. At times, a topic is provided for the students; however, there are numerous opportunities for students to select their own forms of writing to complete within a given unit. They will also learn and apply grammatical rules and standards in their writing.

Throughout the year, our target units are based around specific literary and grammatical concepts as well as reading and writing skills. For example, during Unit 1, students will study many different concepts and skills including plot, conflict, setting, fragment/run-on sentence correction, and descriptive writing. As your child begins a new unit, look for more information about the skills, concepts, and materials that will be used within that unit on our class wikispace under the heading, "What Are We Learning?". Our basic units for 7th grade are:
  • Unit 1: Plot, Conflict, and Setting
  • Unit 2: Character and Point of View
  • Unit 3: Understanding Theme
  • Unit 8: Information, Argument, and Persuasion
  • Unit 4/5: Mood, Tone, Voice, & Poetry
  • Unit 6: Myths, Legends, and Tales

To facilitate at-home access and practice of the curriculum, the student edition of the textbook is available online from Students will be setting up their student accounts at school an will be able to access all of the resources from the site, including an electronic version of the textbook. Directions for how to access the online textbook can be found on the wiki by clicking on "Learning Links & Games."

Our wikispace is new this year and will take the place of a routine paper copy of a parent newsletter. On our wiki, you will be able to access information about our curriculum, project due dates, homework, links to practice skills, brain teasers, and much more. The left sidebar on the wiki is clickable and will help you to navigate through the site.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by calling 410-996-5010 or via email at

Great Expectations - What to Look For At Home

When a child has only one teacher, it is easier for parents to communicate with the educator and to know what types of materials should be coming home. However, when students begin their middle school careers, parents are unsure of what to expect from the diverse group of teachers that their children have during each day. Often, a parent may only hear about or see one subject material coming home in a child's folder and wonder what is occurring in his other classes.

Unfortunately, in the English language arts classes, most of the student's work is maintained in his/her portfolio that is housed in the classroom. However, there are a few things that you should be routinely looking for from your child.
  • Independent Reading: You should see your child reading for at 50 minutes each week and recording that reading on his/her Reading Road Trip log. Your child should also create a brief response to his/her weekly reading on the reading log. Parents need to sign or initial the reading log to verify that the student completed the reading as indicated. Reading logs will be checked each week for completion and a reading log grade will be entered at the interim and at the end of the marking period.
  • 1-2 Extended Compositions: Each marking period, you may notice at at least one to two extended pieces of writing in their various stages (rough draft, revising, editing, final copies) being brought home for continued work. Most final products will be kept in the portfolios at school.
  • Grammar & Vocabulary: Grammar and vocabulary are weak areas for many of our students; therefore, you will see you child regularly practicing grammar skills or working on weekly vocabulary lists throughout each unit. A vocabulary quiz will be given every two weeks on the targeted words.
  • Assignment Notebooks: Each student will receive an EMS assignment notebook for free on the first day of school and should bring it to class each day. She should be bringing home the assignment book each evening, even if she does not have any homework. ("None" should be recorded if no homework has been assigned.) Parents and students can also check our class wiki for missed assignments and homework by clicking on the marking period link under the "What Did I Miss?" heading. I will work to update the classwork and homework information daily.

Look for these tell-tale items throughout the school year for success in 7th grade ELA.