English/Language Arts

Our increasingly complex and collaborative world requires that young people become effective communicators. The ability to think about ideas -- and to express these ideas through speaking and writing with greater complexity and clarity -- is essential for success in the academic and professional world.  English Language Arts (ELA) instruction provides the skills and knowledge that students will need to succeed and thrive in any environment or discipline.  The overarching goal of The Beech Hill School’s ELA curriculum is to develop effective, fluent, and confident communicators.  To achieve this goal, the curriculum focuses on reading (to develop critical analysis, insight, and ideas), grammar and vocabulary (to develop fluency and variety of language), and writing and speaking (to produce well-constructed, well-supported arguments).


  • Students will read, analyze, interpret, and discuss works from a variety of acknowledged classics and contemporary authors.  
  • Students will develop content comprehension skills.
  • The books and selections will include many different genres and styles: fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry.  
  • Reading lists are organized around essential, central themes of literature:  Plot & Setting in 6th grade, Character in 7th grade, and Conflict in 8th grade.   The focus for each grade is integrated with the social studies focus for that grade level.

Below are sample reading lists of representative books for each central theme.

6th Grade: Plot and Setting

7th Grade: Character

8th Grade: Conflict

Grammar and Vocabulary

  • Through direct instruction and exposure to a variety of genres, students will learn and use the mechanics of written English, including parts of speech, syntax, punctuation, sentence structure, figurative language, and voice.
  • Students will develop and enhance their vocabulary, including words with Greek and Latin roots and word with origin in other languages.
  • The rules of spelling and their application in writing.

Written and Spoken Communication

  • Extensive, daily practice in the process of creating, revising, and editing drafts.
  • Developing and expressing ideas* through participation in whole class discussion and literature circles.
  • Various types of writing* including persuasive, expository, expressive, and thesis-driven.  Students will also be exposed to research writing.  Thesis-driven writing will be the major focus of the 8th grade ELA curriculum.     
  • Learning and using proper citation of bibliographic information and other sources.
  • Formal presentations*, including the use of multi-media.

* While the skills involved in expressing ideas, writing, and presenting are explicitly outlined in the ELA curriculum, they are critical components of all disciplines taught at The Beech Hill School.  Across disciplines, teachers will incorporate these activities, and students will be expected to engage in them.