Middle-School American Literature
Term: Yearlong 2020–21, September 8–May 28
Target Grade Levels: Grades 6–9 (see placement details below)
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Course Sections (choose one)
Section 1: M/Th 12:30 p.m. ET with Kristie Stoddard
M/W 9:30 a.m. ET with Peter Bradshaw (Section Full)
History/Literature Discount: Save $195 when you enroll in this course and the corresponding history course! The discount will be applied automatically to your shopping cart when you add both courses.
Ongoing Enrollment and Placement
- if the student falls outside of the stated age/grade range for the class.
- if the student needs to demonstrate a certain level of skill and proficiency for the course.
- if the student has completed prerequisite requirements somewhere other than Scholé Academy (e.g., at home or with another school). In this case, our instructors will need to verify that the student has adequately fulfilled the prerequisite requirements.
- if a placement assessment has been recommended by a Scholé Academy instructor.
- If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit.
- If a placement evaluation has been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted part of their $75 refund: $35 will be paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation, and the remaining $40 of the original deposit will be refunded.
Words are powerful—they elicit emotions and connect the reader with the author’s worldview. As Madeleine L’Engle so eloquently stated, “The author and the reader know each other: they meet on the bridge of words.” Words have founded nations: The Declaration of Independence. They have ignited revolutions: Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. They have started wars: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. And they have negotiated peace: the U.S. Constitution.
In this literature class, students will explore historical fiction, probe human emotions in poetry, and enjoy folk songs and fables. They will interact with these words through writing, special projects, and discussion. Beginning with viewpoints exercises (from Socratic Circles by Matt Copeland), progressing to annotation of small sections of text, and moving on to asking one another questions from their annotations, students will learn the basics of Socratic discussions. These skills and conversations will guide class interactions as they begin to see the shades of gray and the nuances of people and events.
While the focus of this class is literature, there will be some integration of American history in order to provide a richer experience of the past. This middle-school course will invite students to take a closer look at American historical eras through literature, while providing students with general historical context that will enable a better understanding of the literature and the American era. This class will blend “surveying the landscape” (considering the whole) and deep dives into Great Books from American history.
Students are asked to consider and engage carefully crafted questions as their window into “the Great Conversation.” Occasionally, the teacher will present biographical, literary, and historical context through brief lectures, but all other classes are seminar-style discussions on the literature texts. Students are assessed on their curiosity, participation, and diligence during discussions, as well as by means of short response papers, essays, projects, and occasional quizzes.
This class is paired with our middle-school course on American history, taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back to back with that course in a block. Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as standalone literature study.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 6th–8th graders. Students are expected to have proficient reading and emerging writing skills as well as the interest and willingness to grow in discussion skills about literature and history. Students suited for this course will also be cultivating the following scholarship skills:
- Actively engage in annotating
- Practice outlining
- Apply teacher critiques
- Adhere to guidelines
- Be responsible for class and project preparedness
- Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension
How much time will students spend on homework?
This varies by student, according to his or her pace. However, students are generally assigned about 1.5–2.5 hours of reading each week. Additional time may be required to supplement the student’s own studying and paper or project development.
How does this course compare to the upper-school American literature course?
The chief differences between the middle-school and upper-school levels for this course are noted below. While there will be some overlap of content taught, the upper-school course will be much more challenging and assume a more mature student with more background knowledge and greater reading, writing, and scholarship facility.
How is faith integrated with these courses?
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.
At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our middle-school students (in grades 6–8) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues, and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications, nor to address error and falsehood. Read more about our Faith & Culture.
*Required Texts for Both Sections:
- Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
- Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
- Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen
- Across Five Aprils or Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling
- Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
- Blue Willow or Hero Over Here by Doris Gates
- The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
- A Treasury of Poetry for Young People (ISBN-10: 9780806919560)
- Various fables, tall tales, and other pdfs provided by teacher
*Required texts are not included in the purchase of the course
Kristie Stoddard holds an M.Ed. in History from American College of Education and a BS in Government from Evangel University. Born into a military family and spending her early childhood and teenage years living in Germany, Kristie has traveled extensively and served on mission projects all across Europe and Africa. Currently, she travels regularly to Northern Italy in partnership with her home church to assist church planting missionaries. Teaching has been one of Kristie’s passions for over 20 years, beginning with a love of learning for personal enrichment, she taught adult basic education in NM, then went on to home-school her six children – three of whom have gone on to higher education – and finally has taught in the formal classroom setting for 12 years. In addition to studying and teaching Latin, History, and the Liberal Arts, Classical Educational is one of Kristie’s central passions, believing that Classical Education, enlivened by a Christian worldview, can help “repair the ruin of our first parents” (Milton). When not teaching, traveling, and spending time with family, Kristie enjoys reading, trail running, and gardening. She looks forward to cultivating a vibrant learning environment in which the subject matter comes to life for students in fresh and meaningful ways that train their minds to think, to perceive wisdom, pursue virtue, and proclaim truth. email@example.com
Peter Bradshaw grew up on land in the warm chaparral of Southern California. He was introduced to the great works of the Western world through a Great Books program in high school. Peter studied English literature at Covenant College and hopes to complete his master’s through a distance program at New Saint Andrews College in the summer of 2020. Since graduating from Covenant, Peter has taught a range of subjects over the past six years. He particularly enjoys teaching Literature, History, Formal Logic, and Rhetoric. When not in the classroom, he enjoys painting, poetry, guitar, and watching the little unnoticed things of the world. He and his wife are expecting their first child at the end of March. He currently lives and teaches in Cairo, Egypt, and is planning on enrolling in a Fluency of Ancient Greek program offered by the Polis Institute in Jerusalem in September 2020. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.