Chicago Grammar School

Middle School: Language Arts

Language Arts 5-8

Formalized reading comprehension instruction continues in grades 5-6 at CGS with the Making Connections program. The comprehension skills are applied to literature from the history topics studied in Middle School. During  Lower Elementary, students read children’s versions of classical literature; in Middle School they read original or unabridged works. In Lower Elementary, they retell a story’s plot and characters – the “who,” “how” and “what.” During Middle School, the salient question for them to answer becomes “why?” For example, when reading The Iliad in fifth grade, the students must formulate a response to “Why was the Trojan War unworthy of Hector?” – a very different query than “Who was Hector and what happened to him?” which they answered in first grade. Similarly, sixth grade critically reads Beowulf, seventh grade revisits Shakespeare, and eighth grade tackles 19th and 20th Century classics. Formal grammar and composition instruction continues with the Magic Lens program.

Speaking Applications

Children are encouraged from the very beginning to express their ideas. They are asked open-ended questions about stories that are read to them. When a new topic is introduced, they are asked to formulate questions about what more they want to know. Classrooms work collaboratively in creating plays and vignettes to present knowledge they have learned. Children at CGS explain their art at gallery openings showcasing their work; declaim their lines during plays they wrote; and exhibit and describe their projects during science fairs. Through practice, videotaping, critique and feedback, we provide the children with a variety of opportunities to develop and improve their public speaking and presentation skills.

photo credit: Volunteer Photographer @sarahmathesonphotography