Group 4 Reading

Grades 7-8

Watch the Book Trailers by Group 4 students.

Through Group 4’s lessons, exposures, projects, and assignments with fiction and nonfiction text, our ultimate goals for our middle school readers are that they develop a life-long appreciation for books and are critical readers and thinkers who are prepared for the challenges of high school and beyond.

A primary theme in the lives of our 7th and 8th graders is identity. Literature is a wonderful resource for young adults to try on other people’s lives and to think about who they are and who they want to become in a more adult world.

Our classroom library is a rich source of material to inspire students to think about larger societal issues and what their role will be in the world.

Although we read several books together as a class each year, independent choice in reading material is key for this age group. Allowing students to choose their own books motivates them to read more, makes them more excited about what they read, and gives them the freedom to find books that suit their individual social and emotional needs and interests. By the end of the year, each of our students is an expert on a genre, author, or type of book, and are able to act as leaders by guiding other students in reading areas.

Students are responsible for tracking and looking for patterns in their reading through the keeping of a reading log. By the end of the year, they are required to read books from all genres in our library and of a variety of challenge levels. The expectation is that in addition to in-class reading, the students are reading for 30 minutes each night and are finishing a minimum of one book every two weeks.

Student-led discussions and presentation of books are instrumental parts of our reading program. At least four times a year, each student must share a book with the class through a formal book talk. They must give an overview, share the genre and theme, discuss how they connected to the book, what they enjoyed about it, and who else might enjoy reading it.

Small group and partner reading experiences and discussions occur regularly. The students are independent in facilitating the discussions and push each other to think more deeply about their reading through prepared questions and contributions. Our classroom is a literature-rich environment where enthusiasm and motivation for reading are driven by the students as well as the teachers.

Our middle school students do a variety of projects and written assignments for reading class: reading response journal entries; book reviews, essays; book blog entries; literary articles on issues like censorship, genre studies, the right to independent book choice…; Banned Book Week projects; video book trailers; hosting a book festival for the school; and author study presentations which include letters to authors. See for some examples of student projects. This book blog was started, and is maintained, by our 7th and 8th-grade students.

Through teacher-led lessons and discussions, the kids are learning, discussing and writing about the following literary topics: story structure and development, narrative voice and point of view, character objectives and growth, types of conflict and conflict development, themes, symbolism, plot development, and writing style.

Non-fiction reading takes place in the form of books and articles related to our social studies and science units. The students read and respond to several current event articles a month. They must annotate and highlight the articles, drawing out important details and points while monitoring their understanding and reactions to the text. They answer different types of specific questions. Some answers are found directly in the text, some require interpretation of the text, and others ask the students to give their opinions and connect the text to their own lives. Citing sources and incorporating quotes from the articles is a regular part of the assignment.

The 8th graders do a multi-genre research project where they present research on a thesis question through three different genres. They must incorporate research from the reading of a minimum of five sources. They learn how to evaluate useful material, examine conflicting viewpoints or information and take careful and useful notes. Because the students must present their research in three different genres and formats, mastery of the material is key.