Honors English 8

Unit I: Characters Inside Out, 1st Nine Weeks

Self-Selected Reading

Time spent reading and discussing self-selected books is one of the most important experiences students can have in the school setting. Extensive research shows that this type of reading is engaging and motivating, increases comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary, and – perhaps even more importantly – grows students who find joy in reading.

Each HELA 8 teacher provides opportunities for students to regularly visit the library and has a library within her classroom of young adult fiction. Everyday our HELA classes start with ten minutes of silent reading, and every week a day is set aside for SSR, or self-selected reading.

The video below of Stephen Krashen speaking gives you more insight into the importance of reading.

*Stephen Krashen is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, who moved from the linguistics department to the faculty of the School of Education in 1994.


Students should be reading at least 20 minutes every night away from distractions & music.

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Introduction to Writing Literary Analysis

In this first unit, students are introduced to writing essays of literary analysis, which is an entirely new type of writing for them. Although the students have done mini-versions of this type of writing in 6th and 7th graders, this will be the first real experience.

We will begin by teaching the students how to craft an insightful thesis supported by well-written examples, using the process of literary analysis. We teach the students that for each example, a writer needs to included all three parts of the process of literary analysis.

For each example, a writer should...

  • establish a background for the evidence, meaning briefly explain where the quote come from in the book, who says/thinks those words, aand what was happening at the point in the story;
  • cite evidence, meaning an actual direct quote from the text supporting his or her thesis;
  • include commentary/analysis, using 2 to 4 sentences to specifically explain the logic behind how his evidence supports his thesis.

The students will work toward mastering this new genre of writing before the year end.

Major Works Read in Unit I

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Language Study

Learning Targets

  • Analyze and model a sentence for structure, conventions, and grammar
  • Identify and write using subject verb agreement.
  • Identify and write with a variety of phrases and clauses.
  • Memorize and identify helping verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and subject/object pronouns
  • Use a variety of correctly structured sentences.

In Preparation for the Language Assessment

Students should review their notes in their journals. Write summaries of all Cornell Notes on each topic: prepositional phrases, pronouns, verbs, and sentence types. They should review the mentor sentences that accompany ATTWN. Lastly, they should look over the study guide, which will be handed out a week in advance of the quiz.

Note: Grammar Practice resources are listed under "Resources" on our class website (www.tinyurl.com/rmshela8).

Grammar List to Memorize

Attached below is a link to a list of grammar terms which 8th graders need to be actively working on memorizing, beginning with prepositions and helping verbs. Students should have this entire list memorized by the end of the first semester.

Sing Along and Help Your Child Memorize His or Her Helping Verbs & Prepositions!

The Preposition Song


PISD establishes that a student's nine weeks grade should be comprised of 25% Daily grades and 75% major grades. Please be aware that grades are weighted in the gradebook. Some grades count one time, and others count twice.

Daily Grades (25%)

Each nine weeks students can expect to have approximately 8 to 10 daily grades. Please see the planning calendar for approximate dates. These grades vary by teacher.

Major Grades (75%)

These grades are the same in all HELA 8 teachers' classes:

  • Language Study Assessment (1MG)
  • And Then There Were None Mini-Essay (2MG)
  • "Ranson of Red Chief" Mini-Essay (1MG)

*Please be aware that dates are subject to change. Parent Portal is the most up-to-date reference for what is happening in the classroom and our primary way of communicating with parents.

What Does This Symbol Mean in the Gradebook???

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Late Work

Students are expected to meet deadines. Latework is accepted within one week of the deadline for full credit; however, students are expected to serve a detention as a consequence for not meeting the deadline. This detention may be served during the teacher's regular tutorial times or in the Learning Lab during lunch.

Completion of work is a considered a disciplinary issue. We understand that life happens, and no one is perfect. However, if a student develops a habitual pattern of incomplete/late assignments other consequences may result. We hope all students will do their best to get work in on time.