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A Writing Discovery (2x a Week)


Individualized, Interactive 8th Grade English Language Arts (Semester 2)

In this semester-long class, students will think critically, analyze different types of texts, write technically and creatively, research a historic event, and improve their grammar.
Miss Mara
184 total reviews for this teacher
3 reviews for this class
Completed by 11 learners
  There are no upcoming classes.
50 minutes
per class
3x per week
over 16 weeks
year olds
learners per class
per learner - per class

How does a "Multi-Day" course work?

Meets multiple times at scheduled times
Live video chats, recorded and monitored for safety and quality
Discussions via classroom forum and private messages with the teacher
Great for engaging projects and interacting with diverse classmates from other states and countries

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Class Experience

By the end of the class, students will:
--Be able to discuss the texts they have read
--Have increased understanding of critical thinking and text connections
--Develop a greater understanding of how to analyze different types of texts
--Understand grade-appropriate application of English writing style, grammar, and usage
--Gain a grade-level understanding of poetry, figurative language, literary devices, themes, and symbolism 
I was a Title I tutor in a classroom setting for several years. I primarily worked with students with learning differences and those who were academically behind. One of my proudest achievements was working one-on-one with a student for three years, beginning in 6th grade. They were several grade levels below the norm for their age. Usually, I worked with them four days each week, primarily through reading and ELA assignments. By high school, they were nearly at grade level in both reading and writing. 

One of my college minors was early childhood education. Relevant college courses include: child development, childhood socialization, children's programming/curriculum development, programming for children and families, and child exceptionality and psychopathology. I also completed multiple classes on technical writing.

I have a graduate diploma in Applied Neuroscience. Through independent research, I have also studied Indigenous history, Nelson Mandela, and specific aspects of apartheid. 

Additionally, I have a history of helping teach and communicate sensitive subjects, especially when I was a Title I tutor. (The classroom curriculum included "Teaching Tolerance" materials by the Southern Poverty Law Center.) All books and discussions will be age-appropriate, and students are taught to respect others' opinions. When sensitive subjects arise, they will be handled delicately through guided discussions.

I was a freelance grant writer from 2012 to 2021. Please see my profile for more information about my experience and education.
Main Reading: The amount of time needed for reading will vary significantly between units.
-Unit 1: Students should expect to read 65-75 pages per week.
-Units 2 & 3: Students will spend a negligible amount of time reading, but should read closely.
-Unit 4: Students should expect to read 33 pages per week, but the pages can be dense, and students are expected to read the chapters closely to understand them for discussions.

Exams: Through handouts, students will be provided with select pages from "Holt Handbook: Student Edition" published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Students should allow an hour each week to read these pages and complete exams (via Quizizz).

Writing: Students will have 6 writing assignments over the semester. I recommend students dedicate 1 to 2 hours each week to work on the writing assignments.

Unit 1: Literary Analysis Essay
--Students will complete a literary analysis essay on "The Seventh Most Important Thing". I will discussing the steps, goals, and methods of writing this essay throughout the first unit. The essay should be at least 5 paragraphs, but students should base the length on what is appropriate to be thorough and explain their points adequately.

Unit 2: Rhetorical Analysis Assignment
--Students will complete a rhetorical analysis of a speech of their choosing. (It cannot be Mandela's "Inaugural Address".) Students will be given suggestions such as speeches by world leaders, by politicians, or at commencement ceremonies. The assignment will not be an essay, as this would likely be too challenging for most students. Instead, students will complete information on each part of rhetorical analysis (i.e. author, audience, setting, text, and purpose). Rhetorical analysis will be discussed throughout the unit, and students will complete a rhetorical analysis of Mandela's speech as a group.

Unit 3: Free Verse, Sonnet, and Narrative Poems
--Students will complete a free verse poem at the beginning of the unit. There are no strict requirements on the poem; it is simply to help students become accustomed to writing poetry.
--During the second week, students will create a sonnet using the proper length and rhyme scheme. The topic will be chosen by the student.
--During the third through fifth weeks, students will write a narrative poem. This will likely be the most difficult assignment, as it requires students to plan a creative story.

Unit 4: Research Paper
--During the final unit, students will complete a research paper in which they look at a historical event through at least two perspectives. The paper should be well-researched with at least six credible sources. Papers should be 1 to 3 pages in length, not including the reference page. Students will present the paper during the final week of class. During the presentation, students may share their screen and read the paper verbatim or give an summary of the topic, their research, and their conclusions. Presentations should be between 5 to 10 minutes. Students are encouraged to begin this paper during Unit 3 to give themselves enough time to be thorough.
Handouts of Mandela's speech and all of the poems will be provided. Students should have access to a copy of "The Seventh Most Important Thing" and "What the Eagle Sees". "The Seventh Most Important Thing" is very popular and will likely be found in school and public libraries. It can be purchased new for $8. "What the Eagle Sees" can be purchased for $17 new. It may be in middle school libraries, but is less likely to be in public libraries. Students should always bring paper and pencil to class to take notes. They should have the technology to access exams on Quizizz, complete written assignments, and actively engage in class. I will upload notes to the classroom. I recommend that students store these notes either in Google Drive/Dropbox or print them and keep them in a folder or binder. Students are welcome to use Padlet to organize assignments and/or research for their final paper. However, unlike in Semester 1, this is not required.
Students will complete short multiple-choice exams via Quizizz. These quizzes test the concepts taught in the "Holt Handbook". The exams should be straightforward and easy for students who read and study the materials. If several students have difficulty with a specific exam, I will teach those concepts to the entire class.

For families requesting a grade, the grade is divided as follows:
-Exams via Quizizz: 30%
-Presentation of Research Paper: 10%
-Writing Assignments: 60%

Bonus Points:
-Students may earn bonus points by completing a "binder check" at the end of each unit in which they show that they took detailed notes during lectures. Students will receive up to 10 extra points on their "progress reports" grade for each unit.
-I will have other bonus opportunities suggested for each unit. This often includes comparing the text to another work or researching specific concepts discussed in the book. Families interested in a more rigorous curriculum (similar to an "honors" track) may want to encourage students to complete some of these assignments.
2 hours 30 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 2 - 4 hours per week outside of class.
The books taught in this class appear on numerous lists of recommended books for middle grades.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley: Grades 6+
--In my experience, this book is most appreciated by 7th and 8th graders. It is based on a true story and has some heavy topics including coping with loss. There is mild violence in the beginning.
--A detailed review is available by School Library Journal.

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger: Grades 6+
--This nonfiction book is honest about the struggles of Indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada. Although written for middle school students, it openly discusses battles and other historical events that may make some students emotional or uneasy. Guided discussions will be used in class to help students process their thoughts and feelings on these topics.
--A detailed review is available by School Library Journal.

Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Address is appropriate for 8th graders, but it will likely lead to discussions and questions about apartheid. These discussions will likely become more prevalent when we discuss rhetorical elements of speaker, audience, and setting. All in-class discussions will age-appropriate and factual, but families should be prepared for difficult questions or discussions.

The poems were carefully selected and are appropriate for 8th grader students. However, I do recommend that parents read them (as well as the books and speech) prior to enrolling their learner. We will watch the TV commercial that was written for Gorman's "United We Win" poem. You may preview it here:
I develop most of the curriculum independently. I occasionally use resources developed by other educators (with their permission).

Some of my lectures are based on articles and information published on Masterclass and LitCharts.


Miss Mara
Lives in the United States
A Writer. A Learner. A Teacher.
184 total reviews
208 completed classes

About Me

I am a strong believer in project-based learning, especially with books. Therefore, most of my classes mix reading, discussions, and hands-on activities. I tend to avoid worksheets, vocabulary quizzes, and traditional lesson plans.

I have a B.S.... 
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