8th grade LA Course Outline

MYP Course Outline: 8th Grade Language A

Instructor:    Christopher A. Garner

Email:            christopher_garner@charleston.k12.sc.us

Course Description: In eighth-grade Language A, students learn literary criticism and analysis, writing processes and modes, the grammar and conventions of Standard American English, research techniques and strategies, and etymological word analysis.  The three fundamental concepts of the MYP are inherent in this curriculum.

  1. Holistic learning is accomplished through:
  • developing intellectual tools for understanding texts through the study of critical modes such as symbolic, psychological, historical, social, formal, genre, and ethical criticism
  • learning the basic thinking skills of reasoning and logic (deduction, induction, syllogisms, enthymemes, fallacies).
  1. Intercultural awareness through
  • the analysis of paradigms and paradigm shifts to trace intellectual changes between and among cultures and eras.
  • research into and response to real-world issues and problems of global consequence.
  1. Communication through:
  • Formal writing in a variety of modes, including research
  • Informal writing (freewriting, essay responses)
  • Speaking (formal presentations, speeches, class discussions)

The IB Learner profile:  Students will develop their understanding of the IB Learning Profile through their analysis of literary characters as well as participating in introspective writing assignments designed to increase their self-awareness and recognition of their own profile characteristics.  Learner profiles are accentuated in each unit as described in the core units.


AIMS:  Aims for eighth-grade Language A are for the student to:

  • use language as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, and self-expression.
  • comprehend more clearly aspects of his or her own culture and those of other cultures by exploring the interdependence of human beings through a variety of works.
  • explore the many facets of language through the use of media and information technology.
  • develop skills involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and viewing in a variety of contexts.
  • respond appropriately to a variety of texts.
  • develop a critical and creative approach to study and analysis of literature.
  • consider the role of literature both culturally and historically.
  • reflect on the learning process in various ways and at various stages.
  • empathize with real people and fictional characters.

OBJECTIVES:  Objectives for eighth-grade Language A are for the student to:

  • understand and comment on the language, content, structure, meaning, and significance of both familiar and previously unseen pieces of writing.
  • demonstrate a critical awareness of a range of written and visual texts.
  • use language to narrate, describe, analyze, explain, argue, persuade, inform, entertain, and express feelings.
  • compare texts and contrast themes to show similarities of difference across genres.
  • express an informed personal response to literary and non-literary texts and demonstrate the ability to approach works independently.
  • understand connotations within language in order to interpret the author’s or speaker’s intentions.
  • express ideas with clarity and coherence in both oral and written communication.
  • structure ideas and arguments, both orally and in writing, in a sustained and logical way and support them with relevant examples.
  • use and understand an appropriate and varied range of vocabulary and idiom.
  • use correct grammar with appropriate and varied sentence structure.
  • show awareness of the need for an effective choice of register suited to the audience in both oral and written communication.         


Role of the areas of interaction in eighth-grade Language A:

Approaches to learning: Students will employ a variety of paradigms for understanding and analyzing texts, with an emphasis on critical thinking and the application of logical argument.  Language A provides students with opportunities to become active learners, efficient test takers, effective time managers, excellent organizers, competent researchers, and skillful communicators. 

Students will be able to:

  • develop good study habits,
  • present work neatly and effectively,
  • become active listeners,
  • be aware of different types of language,
  • read and interpret a variety of texts critically,
  • take notes in class and from written texts,
  • analyze and talk and/or write about texts that have been viewed,
  • ask and answer pertinent questions,
  • write in a variety of forms,
  • improve vocabulary
  • conduct simple and advanced research, presenting research findings orally and in writing,
  • use a library and information technology effectively,
  • reflect critically on their own work and that of their peers,
  • set goals and solve problems,
  • develop interpersonal skills.


Health and social education: Unit One – Myth and Mythic Thinking – will focus on the development of the psychologically mature human as it is reflected in the symbolic interpretation of myth.

Human ingenuity: Unit Two – David Copperfield and the Bildungsroman – will examine the role of the individual genius in creating and reflecting human personality.

Environments:  In Unit Three – Drama and Poetry as Genres – students will examine the role of the social and cultural environment in shaping the forms of literature.

Community & Service: Our Unit Four – Utopia, Dystopia, and the Moral Implications of Literature – will explore how literature forces us to face the moral problems both of the individual and society.

Texts and resources: Excerpts from The Odyssey; David Copperfield; Romeo and Juliet; Fahrenheit 451; selected short stories; selected poetry; selected myths; selected non-fiction; selected film.                                               

Methodology: The Language A curriculum methodology is designed to develop essential literacy skills—reading carefully, thinking critically, listening intently, and speaking and writing persuasively,  Reading/Literature, Listening/Speaking, Writing, and Research/Critical Thinking areas of study are integrated, applied, and supported by the South Carolina ELA Standards.


Students will be exposed to a variety of teaching methods in the class, including:

  • formal lecture with note-taking
  • Socratic discussion, both formal through Socratic Seminars and discussion groups, and informal through class discussion and questioning.
  • in-class exercises and activities, both guided and independent
  • modeling and protocols


Reading Comprehension

  • Use pre-reading strategies,
  • Generate questions about the story,
  • Make generalizations and draw conclusions,
  • Answer questions about the story’s meaning,
  • Summarize stories and passages,
  • Discuss interpretations of the story,
  • Cite passages to support questions and ideas,
  • Gain exposure to a wide range of words,
  • Use context to figure out word meaning,
  • Read with a purpose and take notes to monitor comprehension,


Critical Thinking

  • Ask interpretive questions,
  • Generate ideas with a clear focus in response to questions,
  • Support ideas with relevant evidence,
  • Respond to other students’ ideas, questions, and arguments,
  • Modify an argument to incorporate other students’ ideas,
  • Question other students’ perspectives,
  • Compare and weigh evidence,
  • Evaluate ideas for sense and evidence,
  • Present ideas logically and persuasively,


Listening and Speaking

  • Comprehend as stories are read aloud,
  • Listen actively and carefully to others; listen for differing ideas,
  • Ask for clarification,
  • Respond to other students’ questions,
  • Participate in discussion,
  • State ideas clearly,
  • Agree and disagree constructively,
  • Explain and defend arguments.



  • Take notes about a story,
  • Record personal responses before and after discussion,
  • Use discussion to generate and develop ideas,
  • Use graphic organizers to plan writing,
  • Write a first draft, Write descriptions, narratives, expository essays, and persuasive essays,
  • Practice creative writing,
  • Revise writing in response to feedback.



Methods of assessment:

  • Writing, including personal responses and reflections, research papers, and formal critical evaluations of literature
  • Projects, such as Victorian for a Day and The Justice Project, that include research, presentations skills, and application of knowledge and concepts to literature.
  • Tests, including application assessments that evaluate students’ abilities to apply concepts to unfamiliar reading, formal assessments of literature, and tests of grammar and stem study.
  • Understanding checks and reading quizzes for ongoing formative assessment.

Grading policy including the use of MYP criteria:

Students are assessed using both formative and summative assessments divided into three categories.  Tests will count 35%, papers and projects will count 35%, and homework and daily grades will count 30%.  Essays and projects will be assessed using the IB assessment criteria of Content Mastery, Organization, and Style and Language, adapted specifically into rubrics for each assignment.

Core Course units for Grade Eight Language A

First quarter: Mythic Thinking: Archetypes, The Hero’s Journey, and The Odyssey (How do myths reflect the way we think, grow, mature, and deal with experience?)

Area of Interaction: Health and Social Education

Learner Profile emphases: risk-taker, reflective, principled



Study of myth, mythic thinking (three-part mythic paradigm, Jungian archetypes, Campbell’s Hero’s Journey monomyth)

“Song of Wandering Aengus”

Star Wars

Excerpts from The Odyssey

"The White Snake"

“The Zebra Storyteller”


Review of vertical analysis; clauses and phrases; clause punctuation


Word Within the Word lists 21-23

Writing and Research

Writing process and Rhetorical triangle review

Apologia essay and presentation.

Second Quarter: David Copperfield: Social and Personal Formation in the Bildungsroman (How is a human personality formed?)

Area of Interaction: Human Ingenuity

Learner Profile emphases: open-minded, tolerant, balanced, reflective



Novel study: David Copperfield and the bildungsroman

Historical and social criticism


simple, complex, compound, and compound-complex sentences; phrases as parts of speech


Word Within the Word lists 24-25

Writing and Research

Victorian for a Day (historical research and presentation on Victorian Era)

Five-part essay form

Characterization analysis essay


Third quarter:  Genre Studies: Drama as a Reflection of Society (How does drama reflect society?)

Area of Interaction: Environments

Learner Profile emphases: caring, communicators




Drama genre study

The Boor

Romeo and Juliet

Excerpts from Castiliogne’s The Courtier

“Shakespeare’s English”

Excerpts from Aristotle’s Poetics and A.C. Bradley’s Shakespearean Tragedy


Sentence moods (imperative, interrogative, exclamatory); verbal phrases and their uses; the colon


Word Within the Word lists 26-28

Writing and Research

Process paper: “You’re the Director”

Genre paper “Romeo and Juliet as Tragedy”

Rhetorical devices and poetics

Fourth Quarter: Moral Implications of Literature: Utopia, Dystopia, and the Why of Poetry? (What are the moral implications of literature?)

Area of Interaction: Community and Service

Learner Profile emphases: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, principled



Fahrenheit 451 and moral and ethical criticism

Utopian/dystopian literature

“The Portable Phonograph”

“Politics and the English Language”

“A Nation Made of Poetry”


Self-selected film study


Absolute phrases; variant punctuation


Word Within the Word lists 29-30

Writing and Research

Inductive and deductive argument and logical fallacies

Dystopian film project

Justice Project (forensic investigation and presentation on historical cases)