Honors Language Arts - 8th Grade

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Honors Language Arts - 8th Grade

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Syllabus and Grading Scale


Goals of the Course

The relationship between ourselves and the outside world has been an important theme in literature from ancient times until the present. Writers have examined the relationships between the young and old, male and female, and rich and poor. By using symbolism and allusion, writers have been able to craft stories representing different scenarios analyzing our love and hate for one another. 


All assignments in Honors Language Arts are connected to these major course goals:

  1. To encourage you to develop your own understanding of the world around you and human being’s changing relationships through literary analysis, discussion of current events, and firsthand experience.
  2. To broaden your understanding of major themes in literature, history, and culture.
  3. To acquaint you with authors representing different life experiences and relationships.
  4. To improve your ability to read critically, make interpretive connections, and share ideas in discussions.
  5. To develop your writing skills through formal and informal responses, analytical essays and creative pieces.
  6. To increase your awareness of language and expand your vocabulary.

 Course Readings

S.E. Hinton,The OutsidersOur first novel focuses on Hinton’s account of the conflict between the greasers and the socs (socials) in a small, southwest town near Tulsa, Oklahoma. It portrays what it’s like to be an “outsider”. The novel asks the reader why there are “haves” and “have-nots”.

Anne Frank,The Diary of a Young GirlPerhaps the most famous account of the Holocaust, this autobiography (nonfiction) was written between 1942 and 1944 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  Anne was just thirteen years old when she received a diary and subsequently wrote of her account as a Jew hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Through close exploration, we will analyze if people really are who they appear to be and the difference between “private self” vs. “public self”.

Mark Twain,The Adventures of Tom SawyerBased on Twain’s memories of growing up in Hannibal, Missouri in the 1840s, this novel attempts to paint an idyllic picture of boyhood life along the Mississippi River. The novel avoids the explicit criticism of racism, slavery, and xenophobia like Twain’s later workThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We will explore the essential questions: “Does fiction reflect the writer’s life?” and “Can a person ‘belong’ in two places?”

William Shakespeare,A Midsummer Night’s DreamIf time permits, this course will introduce the eighth-grade honors student to this Shakespearean comedy. We will study the life and times of William Shakespeare in Elizabethan England and the Globe Theatre. While reading the play, we will analyze how our perception of others can often be skewed based on our feelings of love or hate for that person.  

Poetry and Short Stories: Throughout the year we will read sample works of poets and short-story writers from our textbookPrentice Hall – Literature.


 Course Requirements

Class participationAll students are expected to contribute to the best of their abilities, both in large-group and small-group activities. Participation also includes listening to and showing respect for others’ ideas. Attendance, punctuality, daily preparation, effort, conduct, productivity, and notebook writing also count.

Notebook writing:Here you will start each class with the bell work presented on the board. Your notebook will also be a place for you to begin or end class, commenting on readings, ideas we are discussing, and relevant current issues and events, as well as for class notes.

Writing Assignments: Every three to four weeks you will be required to write a paper based on current readings using different types of writing genres. Sometimes you will be able to choose your own topic. Some pieces will be reader response, some analytical, and some creative.

REading Assignments:Students will be required to read outside of class in addition to what we are working on in class. Please set aside adequate “quality” time for reading assignments – don’t put them off until the last minute. Jot down important information, questions, and ideas in your notebook as you read. Try to make connections among the readings, and between them and your own experiences. In addition, honors students are required to earn 20 Accelerated Reader points per nine weeks. This class will use Book Report Bingo to complete the AR assignment.

major projects: Throughout each semester you will be working on an inquiry-based project that culminates in an individual or small group presentation based on library research and independent reading.

quizzes and tests:Major exams will occur at the end of each unit and at the end of each novel study.  You can expect unannounced quizzes on the readings and a few medium-sized tests on background material and vocabulary.

evaluation and grades:

                       Class Participation/Notebook Evaluations       10%

                       Writing Evaluations                                        30%

                       Reading Evaluations/Accelerated Reader        20%

                       Homework/Research Presentation                  20%

                       Quizzes and Tests                                           20%


Class Expectations


absences/tardiness/passes:You need to be in class to learn. Period. The only exceptions should be for serious illness. Be in your seat before the bell rings with all of your materials ready and your mind engaged. Bathroom or locker visits during class should be extremely rare. Act like a young adult, and I’ll treat you like one.

makeup or late work: You will receive credit for homework that is turned in on time. No credit will be awarded to homework that is turned in late. Late work policy for projects and extended assignments: 1 day late=90%, 2 days late=80%, 3 days late=70%, 4 days late=60%.

Students have five days to make up missed work or else receive a grade of zero. Students are responsible for getting missed assignments from the teacher either by phoning the guidance office or seeing the teacher on the students’ return to school.

contraband: No iPods, cell phones, etc. No food or drink other than water. No gum.

academic integrity: You will collaborate on some projects, but you must do your own work. If you use other sources for your research, you must cite them properly. Plagiarism is serious.

care of materials: You share responsibility for keeping books, desks, and the room in good condition.

conferences: I can stay after school for extra help or meet with you during homeroom and/or lunch. Please ask for extra help if you need it. Don’t suffer in silence!
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