English Language Arts: 8th Grade Honors

This is the first year that Sycamore Middle School has added an honors class.  This class provides a structured and supportive environment for highly motivated students pursue accelerated academic work within a fostering intellectual community.  Students will be trained to be critical thinkers, readers, textual analysts, writers, and creative cogent producers of argument.

The course will demand both high quantity and quality of effective reading and writing for a range of audiences and purposes.  Honors English serves as both an introduction to the high school English curriculum as well as an opportunity for students to critically explore their own maturation process through the lens of literature. The rigors of the course are intended to be commensurate with the preparation students need for success later in high school, in college, and in the working world.

This year we will be using Introduction to Literature for our curriculum.  HMH Into Literature is a comprehensive English language arts solution at Grades 6–12 that focuses on students’ thinking—and thinking about thinking—as part of developing analytical and effective readers, writers, speakers, and listeners.  In addition, the honor students will be reading supplementary texts and a couple additional novel studies.

According to the programs website, they claim the curriculum “with diverse, culturally relevant texts that connect with students’ lives, our HMH Into Literature curriculum builds confidence, standards mastery, and college and career readiness for every learner in the classroom.  Each lesson comes with a downloadable lesson plan for easy customization. Plus, unit planning guides provide dozens of differentiated activities, small-group assignments, and project ideas that allow teachers to tailor the unit to their students’ unique needs.”

During the year will endeavor to answer some essential questions in order to improve reading comprehension and writing.  In addition, each quarter will focus on a different English standard cluster.


Essential Reading Questions
  • What impact does prior knowledge have on reading comprehension?
  • How can I connect with what I just read?
  • How can questioning (inquiry) lead to better understanding of the text?
  • What do good readers think about as they read?
  • How do good readers reflect and respond to what they read?

Essential Writing Questions

  • Why do writers write? What is the purpose?
  • What makes clear and effective writing?
  • Who is the audience? What will work best for the audience?
  • How do grammar and the conventions of language influence spoken and written communication?


Quarter 1:  Narrative Unit

During this unit students will be answering the essential questions while focusing on the five key elements to every story: plot, setting, characters, point of view, and conflict.

Quarter 2: Expository/Informative Unit

During this unit students will be focusing on Expository/Informative reading and writing while focusing on organization, voice, research, evidence and determining reliable and valid sources.

Quarter 3: Argumentative/Persuasive Unit

During this unit, students will be focusing on Argumentative/Persuasive reading and writing while focusing on point of view,  various types of arguments, organization,  voice, evidence,  and counterarguments.

Quarter 4: Boot Camp (Review)

We will be reviewing all three types of literature and focusing on test prep for the upcoming state test.  While there will be many mini writing assignments throughout this unit, we will review all the three previous major essays.


Additional Information

At the beginning of every week, the students will be given information for this weeks works that they need to write in their school planner/agenda.  Also, at the beginning of each day, there will be “Bell Beginners” that the students will complete in the first five minutes of class.  A class routine will be established early in the year and it is expected to be followed with no reminders.


Additional Resources

Class Contract