Welcome to English Language Arts and Literature!
by Mrs. Rachel McGrane
My name is Rachel McGrane and I am so excited to be teaching at my alma mater (I graduated from St. Mary in 1998!). I graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Writing Studies. I then went on to earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree with an emphasis in Teacher Librarianship from San Jose State University. I worked at St. Therese Academy as their K-8 school librarian for six years before being hired at St. Mary as a classroom teacher.
I am currently enrolled in the Academy of Catholic Teaching at the University of San Diego. Upon completion of the program, I will have a single subject teaching credential in English Language Arts, an education specialist credential, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.
When I am not working, I love to read, spend time with my family, travel, go camping, attend concerts, and take walks. I have two toddlers and love learning about the world through their eyes.
In middle school language arts, our primary goal is developing and enhancing critical language arts skills. We accomplish this goal by focusing on grammar through creative and academic writing, and increasing vocabulary.
In sixth grade, our vocabulary lessons focus on roots and affixes along with specific vocabulary words from our novel units. Seventh and eighth graders study appropriately complex grade level words along with specific vocabulary words from our novel units.
My primary goal in literature class is to nurture a love of reading. Novel studies and weekly informational text studies serve as the foundation of our literature classes. We also study poetry, and focus on reading comprehension, literary analysis, and critical thinking skills.
Students purchase their own copies of our class novels so that they can annotate in their texts to better parse meaning and form deeper connections. Each of our novel units begins with contextualizing the novel’s time and place so that we can better understand the text.
Students also read books of their own choosing, have access to the extensive library in the eighth grade classroom, and journal every day.
Methods of Instruction
Methods of instruction in both language arts and literature include group reading, independent reading, literature circles, small and large group discussions, and various writing assignments and activities. Additionally, all of our learning intentions and success criteria are aligned with the California Common Core State Standards.
Novel Units from Previous Years
These lists are not necessarily what we will be reading each year, but are reflective of the types of novels that are selected for our middle school literature courses at St. Mary.
6th Grade: Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
7th Grade: Schooled by Gordan Korman, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
8th Grade: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Night by Elie Wiesel, Like a River by Kathy Cannon Wiechman, Refugee by Alan Gratz, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
Throughout this difficult and unprecedented time, I am focusing on maintaining normalcy, understanding, flexibility, and support for students. While continuing education is important, the mental health and well-being of my students and their families is of utmost importance.
We are continuing our novel, informational text, and short story studies as well as writing and vocabulary activities. I hold synchronous meetings once a week, and am available for drop-in office hours twice a week.
We are using Google Classroom as our primary source of communication and for assignment completion, Flipgrid for presentations, and Padlet for discussions. I also record lessons and lectures using Loom and post them on Google Classroom to support student learning asynchronously.