Course Description

Recognizing the social and academic needs of students, Mission Hill has established a two-period year-long Humanities core class which balances group learning with individual learning. Student performance in writing and reading is assessed upon a set of state and district standards. Writing samples are compiled in a student portfolio in order to show evidence of student achievement and progress.

6th Grade Humanities Core: Language Arts and Social Studies
Students will use the McDougal Littell Language of Literature program and Core Literature to meet state standards in literacy. Our program incorporates important grammar and vocabulary skills to enhance writing. Students will learn literary concepts and active reading strategies that support academic, functional and recreational reading experiences. Throughout their reading, students will be encouraged to think critically.

The writing traits of organization, content, style, and conventions will be emphasized as the students are asked to write narrative, expository, and persuasive compositions.

Utilizing the text, A Message of Ancient Days, students in grade six will expand their understanding of history by studying the people and events that ushered in the dawn of major western and non-western ancient civilizations. Students will develop higher levels of critical thinking by considering why civilizations developed where and when they did. Students will be encouraged to explore the link, despite time, between the contemporary and ancient worlds of the Paleolithic Era, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, India, China, and Rome.

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7th Grade Humanities Core: Language Arts and Social Studies
Social Studies focuses on world cultures from AD 500-1789, using the model of "cultural universals" to master ten qualities that characterize all societies. The text, Across the Centuries, provides a content base for the study of global tribal cultures, the rise and fall of empires in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, Medieval times in Europe and Japan, world religions, the Renaissance, Reformation and Exploration. Language Arts encompasses creative writing, the development of ideas into essays, vocabulary building, and mastery of writing conventions (grammar, punctuation, form and spelling), supported by the text, The Write Source 2000. Literature includes contemporary novels as well as historical and cultural studies. Our new literature series includes the Interactive Reader which gives students many different opportunities to explore, analyze, and synthesize concepts presented in a wide range of genres. The power of improving reading skills is the emphasis throughout the year.

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8th Grade Humanities Core: Language Arts and Social Studies

Students in Eighth Grade Humanities Core study the span of United States History from the American Revolution to the early 1900's era of industrialization and immigration. This year long course includes the geography of North America, causes of the American Revolution, the framing of the Constitution, perspectives on Manifest Destiny and Westward Movement, the Civil War and Reconstruction and Industrialization. Students also study important people who have contributed to events which shape the course of history and the development of our shared values.

Our textbooks provide students with key events and stories of U.S. History and help them to identify major themes. Several primary sources and classic novels add richness and depth to our studies some of which include the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass and materials from Stanford's Teaching Curriculum Institute. Literature which presents different points of view, writing styles, and genres is integral to our successful reading and writing program. Students read several historical novels and biographies throughout the year along with such classics as Johnny Tremain, Call of the Wild, and Animal Farm. We incorporate stories from McDougall Littell's Language of Literature textbook. It is expected that each student read twenty-four books a year by taking up our school wide reading challenge!

Writing skills are taught throughout the course. Types of writing instruction include expository, narrative, and poetry. Grammar and spelling are vital to the skills involved in a writer's repertoire and are therefore integrated into the instruction on a regular basis. All projects completed, whether group or individual, contain a writing and research component unifying all aspects of the subject taught.

7th and 8th grade students are assessed based on rubrics, tests, and participation. All students place exemplary work in their individual Standards-Based Language Arts Portfolios. Our Portfolios evaluate student work in the following areas:

Reading Quality, Range and Depth
Comprehension and Analysis
Writing Narrative, Expository, and Persuasive Communication
Writing as a Process
Control of Writing Conventions





These Portfolios are passed on to the students' Humanities Teachers and will help monitor progress toward District Standards in Language Arts.

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