Middle School Curriculum Overview



Bernardsville Middle School Grades 5-8


BMS partners with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project as a project school to implement the workshop based literacy program in all of our grade 5-8 literacy classes. As a project school, we have the benefit of working directly with staff developers from Teachers College five times a year. We also send teachers and administrators to Teachers College to participate in day-long workshops throughout the school year and even week-long intensive institutes during the summer. This professional partnership ensures that our teachers are supported in the most current, effective, research-based practices in the literacy field. After all, the most important thing we can do to help our students become joyful, purposeful, and life-long readers and writers is to support a vibrant community of professional learning for their teachers.


BMS students receive 90 minutes of literacy instruction each day within a balanced framework of reading, writing, speaking, listening, word study and language conventions. This structure provides a seamless continuum of literacy development from the elementary level through eighth grade. Our curriculum consists of reading and writing units of study which immerse students in reading across genres. Students respond to reading text in a variety of ways, including writing about their reading, note taking and annotating. The writing units align with the reading units, providing students the opportunity to learn and apply strategies by writing narrative, informative and argumentative pieces. 


Inherent to the reading and writing workshop model is the expectation of rigor that also values students’ choice, expert and differentiated instruction, opportunities for students to set goals and receive frequent feedback tailored specifically to their learning strengths and needs and time to engage in authentic reading, writing, speaking and listening experiences each day.  Book clubs provide all of those opportunities. Each year, students in the middle grades have at least one book club experience within their literacy class.


Fifth Grade Units of Study

Reading: 

Maintaining a Reading Life, Tackling Complexity: Moving Up Levels of Nonfiction, Interpretation Book Clubs, Argument and Advocacy: Researching Debatable Issues, Fantasy Book Clubs

Writing:

Narrative Craft, Information Writing, Literary Essay: Opening Text and Seeing More, The Research Based Argument Essay, Shaping Texts: From Essay to Memoir


Sixth Grade Units of Study

Reading:

Getting Back to Independent Reading and Building a Vibrant Reading Life, A Deep Study of Character, Tapping the Power of Nonfiction, Social Issues Book Clubs: Reading for Empathy and Advocacy, Fantasy Book Clubs

Writing:

Restarting a Writing Life from Launching Writer’s Notebooks and Independent Writing, Personal Narrative: Crafting Powerful Stories, Research Based Information Writing, The Literary Essay: From Character to Compare/Contrast, Fantasy Writing


Seventh Grade Units of Study

Reading: 

Investigating Characterization: Author Study Book Clubs, Historical Fiction and Nonfiction Book Clubs, Essential Research for Teens, How to Eat a Poem: Analyzing Craft and Structure

Writing: 

Writing Realistic Fiction: Symbolism, Syntax and Truth, Writing about Reading, The Art of Argument: Research Based Essays, Poetry Writing: Immersion and Innovation


Eighth Grade Units of Study

Reading:

Dystopian Book Clubs, Essential Research for Teens, Literary Nonfiction, Critical Literacy: Unlocking Contemporary Fiction

Writing:

Writing Memoir, Position Papers: Research and Argument, The Literary Essay: Analyzing Craft and Theme, Investigative Journalism


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