Middle-School American Literature
Term: Yearlong 2021–22, September 7–May 27
Target Grade Levels: Grades 6–9 (see placement details below)
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Course Sections (choose one)
Section 1: M/W 12:30 p.m. ET with Kristie Stoddard
Section 2:T/Th 9:30 a.m. ET with Kristie Stoddard (Full: Join Waiting List)
Section 3: M/W 11:00 a.m. ET with Sarah Fothergill
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.
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.
Sections 1 and 2
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to manage Schoology assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Schoology notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Schoology discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Schoology messaging.
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
- Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
- Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
- Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
- Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- With Parent Support
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
- Be able to deductively apply content and previously learned mathematics skills and processes to the understanding of newly introduced content.
- Understand that arriving at the correct answer is not the goal of mathematics review and practice, but rather understand that consistent application of the correct processes are the goals of review and practice.
- After the instructor has provided instructions – the student should be able to use Wacom tablet (or other like iPad) to actively solve math problems during class, viewable to the instructor on Ziteboard.
*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
Sarah Fothergill has been teaching for 12 years. She holds a BA in 7-12 English and History Education and an MA in Secondary Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Throughout her career, Sarah has taught writing, literature, and speaking to both middle and high school students. Sarah is excited to offer Scholé Academy students her passion for studying literature and history, and looks forward to helping them learn, grow, and reflect on “the good, the true, and the beautiful” in everything.
In addition to teaching, Sarah also enjoys leading Sunday school and Vacation Church School classes, and serving as a youth group instructor and chanter at St. George Orthodox Church in Kearney, Nebraska. She also loves spoiling her two young nieces, reading, writing, gardening, and spending time with her husband and two adorable kittens. [email protected]
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 protected]
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.
Explore our courses!
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.
Read the Student-Parent Handbook.
Please take careful note of our teaching philosophy, our technology requirements, our school policies, the parent agreement, and the distinctions between our grade levels.
Double-check the course section dates and times.
Make sure they don't conflict with other activities in your schedule or other courses you are purchasing. Our system will not catch double-bookings!
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Our Assistant to the Principal will be in touch with you after your enrollment to help you with next steps, including any placement evaluations that may be required for your course selections.
This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.