8th Grade GT English Language Arts

Ms. Marshall-Krauss

Dear 8th Grade ELA Student,

I am excited to meet you all and share my love of literature, writing, and language with you. Below you will find information about the units we will study, how your learning will be assessed, some helpful tips to be successful in this class, and a little information about me.

Units of Study

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

We will begin the year by studying Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Throughout this unit, we will focus on the genres of Science Fiction and Gothic Horror; the structure of sentences focusing on functions of nouns and verbs in a variety of ways; and creative and analytical writing. You will read non-fiction text to deepen your understanding, write a collaborative gothic story, participate in a "flipped class", in addition to showing your understanding through a variety of means.


Your language and grammar study will continue throughout each unit. During the beginning of the year, we will be looking at the structure of sentences and the functions of nouns and verbs.

Short Stories and Poetry

Next, we will be reading a unit of short stories and poems. We will discuss the structure of both short stories and poetry and writing our own as well. The study of figurative language will be a major focus of this unit.


In a continuation of your language study, we will spend time understanding pronouns and the agreement of these in a variety of circumstances.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Our third unit's focus is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. You will be asked to break down Shakespeare’s poetry and drama and look for many of the techniques that make his work great. You will also be working with the Goucher College Shakespeare Alive Residency program. This program brings actors into our class for two weeks of workshops to learn and perform a scene from Romeo and Juliet. We will cover a multitude of literary concepts such as theme, the five-act structure, and more characterization, among other topics.


As your language study continues we will address modifiers, a variety of phrases, and understand the function of conjunctions.

Speeches about Freedom

The final unit is focused on literary non-fiction. You will be studying historic speeches analyzing the tone and style as well as understanding the context and power of this form of literature. You will finish the unit by writing and performing your own speech.


Your language study in 8th grade will conclude with instruction in subject-verb agreement in complex structures and using your knowledge of language to construct sentences with style that enhances meaning.

Assessing Your Learning

Student Notebook

Your learning will be assessed and graded through several formative (on-going and during instruction) methods. One is the student notebook. The spiral notebook serves as a portfolio of the your thinking and learning throughout the reading. It also serves as a great tool for studying, and later for writing essays. You will be graded on your notebooks with an emphasis on showing thought and engagement with the daily activities. You may maintain their notebooks in a binder, spiral notebook, or other means. You will be given open note assignments to check for regular participation and understanding. Organization of the student notebook is the your responsibility.

Summative Assessments

Summative assessments are used at the end of a particular unit of study. The unit of study varies by unit and will be addressed with reading schedules and unit calendars.


You will be tested on your knowledge of the material from class and your understanding of the text. A variety of assessments are used--creative, standardized, computerized, individual and group, short answer, multiple choice—however they are all challenging and aimed to assess how much you know and can do after a period of instruction.


Written assessments are a critical part of the English Language Arts curriculum. You will be required to write responses throughout the units, both creatively and analytically, short and long. You will be required to write three analytical essays and one formal speech in addition to shorter in class writing assignments throughout the year.

About the Teacher

This is my 9th year at Harper's Choice, and I love it! I have taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English. I love the literature in the 8th grade the best, but appreciate having worked with every grade level here.

I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2005 with a BA in English-Teaching. I moved to Howard County to complete my internship as a guest of Towson University in partnership with UNI. After my successful internship at Folly Quarter Middle and Wilde Lake High, I didn't want to leave Howard County! I recently completed my MS in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Teacher Pedagogy through McDaniel College. I am currently the the Teacher Development Liaison for Harper's Choice and working on my National Board Certification.

I write curriculum during the summer curriculum workshops and teach a Continuing Professional Development Course on the Classroom Environment. I have also taught SAT Prep for Howard County and Summer Academic Intervention. I previously co-sponsored the drama club intramural program and the aspiring writers club intramural program. I enjoy working to design and implement student service learning projects, character education, and technology integration.


On a more personal note, I especially love reading. I participate in a monthly book club in my community and online through Goodreads.com. I've recently enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Some of my favorite books are The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Wurthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Although I enjoy all of the books in the 8th grade course, I love teaching Romeo and Juliet the most.


I'm also a sports fan of the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens. I have two adorable young children, Henry and Norah with my husband, Mr. Krauss, and a funny-looking dog named Jack and a mean cat named Pookie.