Seventh grade English stresses the development of writing skills with particular emphasis on well-structured paragraphs and more abstract thinking and writing. Writing with precision is emphasized and practiced through frequent composition assignments. Students focus on identifying and understanding the elements of grammar in their own writing. In the study of literature, students begin to identify themes and their relationship to life experiences as well as examples of figurative language. Students study vocabulary in order to develop a more sophisticated written and spoken command of English.
Students build reading comprehension and analytical skills through their reading. The year begins with an in-depth study of poetry, including poems from Czeslaw Milosz’s international anthology A Book of Luminous Things. Students also read a wide selection of novels, some of which are connected to the Ancient World Cultures curriculum. Examples from recent years include Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz, They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Students may also read a range of short stories. By focusing on plot, setting, irony, theme, and character, all students are able to take notes and produce discussion questions in unique ways. After mastering the fundamental elements of story and structure, students move on to more contemporary and diverse forms of literary expression.
Throughout the year, seventh graders review and expand their grammar skills, with a focus on using parts of speech correctly, varying sentence beginnings, formalizing language, and using proper punctuation and capitalization. Students also explore sentence structure and learn to identify sentence elements such as subjects, predicates, and direct and indirect objects. As with all grades in the Upper School, seventh graders participate in the Upper School Speech Contest and the Scull Essay contest.