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English Department

The English Department



The English program at Montgomery Bell Academy is designed to provide students with a series of college preparatory courses. Emphasis in these courses is placed on a knowledge of and good use of the disciplines of English language through study of grammar, vocabulary, composition, and literature.

At every grade level from seven through twelve, the student is challenged to develop skills and abilities that will prepare him to meet college requirements, to understand himself and the society in which he lives, and to guide him to be a responsive and responsible citizen.

Within the scope of the courses offered, the faculty emphasizes mastering fundamental skills, gaining important insights into life through the study of literature, and forming good study skills and self-discipline.
 
 
Guide to MBA’s Junior School Writing and Grammar Curriculum
 
7th Grade
 
Expectations for students starting the 7th grade:
Understand the concept of a complete sentence
Know basic parts of speech
Understand the basic structures of a simple sentence
See the importance of legible handwriting
Understand the importance of correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization
 
Goals for the year:
  • Teach basic grammar principles (parts of speech, parts of the sentence, adjective clauses with relative pronouns, and adverb clauses with subordinating conjunctions)
  • Teach rules for capitalization, punctuation, possession
  • Teach the value of correcting errors
  • Write in complete sentences
  • Teach paragraph structure, emphasizing importance of topic sentences
  • Introduce how to use supporting evidence that develops an idea
  • Teach students the difference between summary and analysis; go beyond elementary school “book reports.”
  • Teach the difference among various types of writing: narration, descriptive, expository, and argumentative
  • Strive for consistency between 7th & 8th grade error-marking on paper (teachers to use 3 scores: format (correct margins, title form, heading, font, spacing, pagination); mechanics (identifies grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors); content (rewards insight and creativity along with identifying errors in word choice, diction, sentence clarity, paragraph unity, and organization of ideas)
  • Introduce Writing as a Process
    a. Brainstorming: bullet and numbered lists
    b. Organization: outlines, diagrams
    c. Drafting: rough and final
    d. Revision: recognize, correct, avoid common errors
  • Introduce these types of composition:
    a. Thorough identification of person, place, symbol
    b. Thorough answer to study question
    c. Thorough answer to discussion question
    d. Thorough answer discussing a quotation
    e. Descriptive paragraph and essay
    f.  Narrative paragraph and essay
    g. Expository paragraph and essay
    h. Argumentative paragraph and essay
  • Vocabulary
    a. Recognize 180 vocabulary words
    b. Use 3 context clues to understand word meaning
    c. Use 180 words in meaningful context with correct grammar, and sentence structure and purpose
8th Grade
 
Expectations for rising 8th graders:
  • Recognize complete sentences versus fragments
  • Write coherent, relatively simple paragraphs with topic sentences and some incorporated evidence that develops an idea
  • Know basic punctuation rules and understand sentence structure (subject, verb, direct object, etcetera)
  • Know basic rules for capitalization and possession
  • Have solid understanding of 8 parts of speech
  • Diagram simple, compound, and complex structures. 
  • Have some exposure to the composition types (see above)
  • Vocabulary study skills
Goals for the year:
  • Review and teach basic grammar principles (parts of speech, parts of the sentence, clauses, verbals)
  • Review and teach rules for capitalization, punctuation (including semicolon and colon use), possession
  • Review and teach diagramming of sentence structures, especially verbals and clauses
  • Make connection between the teaching of grammar and the teaching of good writing
  • Teach the value of correction exercises
  • Write in complete sentences and give thorough answers to study questions, using all homework assignment to practice correct writing
  • Write many paragraph-oriented assignments, emphasizing importance of topic sentences and incorporating evidence
  • Emphasize properly using quotations as evidence
  • Continue to teach the writing process and the concepts of the multi-paragraph theme (pre-writing techniques; the MBA outline form; the theory of the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion)
  • Continue to introduce boys to descriptive, argumentative, expository, and narrative writing
Guide to MBA’s High School Writing and Grammar Curriculum
 
9th and 10th Grades
 
Expectations:
 
1.  Students should be able to recognize, diagram, and use the following:
  • Parts of speech and parts of the sentence
  • Various sentence types (s, cpd, cs, cpd-cx)
  • Clauses (noun, adverb, adjective)
  • Verbals (gerunds, infinitives, participles)
  • Pronouns (reference and case)
2.  Students should know basic punctuation rules for different sentence types and for possession
3.  Students should understand rules for agreement issues including subject-verb and pronouns
4.  Students should have basic knowledge of the theory of the 5-paragraph analytical essay
5.  Students should understand MBA outline form.
6.  Students should have rudimentary knowledge of the mechanics of writing essays, including how to punctuate titles and how to format an MBA theme.
 
Goals:
  • Review major components of grammar: sentence structure, clauses, verbals.
  • Review and teach correct punctuation of all sentence types and of other structures such as clauses, participles, and other interrupting elements.
  • Recognize fragments, comma-splices, run-ons.
  • Review and teach rules for using clear pronouns (agreement, reference, manners).
  • Review and teach rules for subject/verb agreement.
  • Teach students to recognize errors by revising practice sentences and paragraphs.
  • Use vocabulary quizzes to assist with grammar review throughout the year.
  • Teach expository and analytical writing in the 5-paragraph essay and develop the students’ writing process. (9th and 10th)
  • Concentrate on pre-writing techniques (lists of ideas, idea clustering, brainstorming in other ways). (9th and 10th)
  • Teach correct form for MBA outlines, including these components: purpose, thesis statement, plan, and formal outline (see Writing Center). (9th and 10th)
  • Teach the importance of the rough draft and basic revision principles. (9th and 10th)
  • Teach how to introduce a paper with a generalization that leads to the thesis statement. (9th mostly)
  • Teach how to introduce a paper with either an epigraph, a scene, or an incorporated quotation that leads to an argumentative thesis. (10th mostly)
  • Teach the assertion-proof method of analysis in body paragraphs. (9th and 10th)
  • Stress the importance of a train of thought throughout an essay so that the argument in the thesis statement is fulfilled near the essay’s end. (10th mostly)
  • Introduce ways to conclude a 5-paragraph paper. (10th mostly)
  • Instruct the proper form for turning in formal essays. (see Writing Center)
  • Teach other forms of writing beyond the 5-paragraph essay: film review, memoir, personal essay, narrative. (9th and 10th)
  • Teach the research paper (10th grade only): how to research online; how to use Noodletools; how to outline a research project; how to write a lengthy essay beyond 5 paragraphs; how to incorporate critics into an essay; how to cite correctly.
 
11th and 12th Grades
 
Expectations:
 
1.  Students should have working knowledge of the following:
  • Parts of speech and parts of the sentence
  • Various sentence types (s, cpd, cs, cpd-cx)
  • Clauses (noun, adverb, adjective)
  • Verbals (gerunds, infinitives, participles)
  • Pronouns (reference and case)
2.  Students should know basic punctuation rules for different sentence types and for possession.
3.  Students should understand rules for agreement issues including subject-verb and pronouns.
4.  Students should have a solid understanding of the theory of the 5-paragraph analytical essay, with experience writing various introductions (and maybe conclusions, depending on class level).
5.  Students should have various strategies for pre-writing.
6.  Students should have a full understanding of the MBA outline form.
7.  Students should know how to turn in a formal paper showcasing the following skills: proper grammar,       mechanics, punctuation, and formatting. (see Writing Center)
 
Goals:
  • Review most elements of grammar taught at MBA: sentence structure, sentence types, punctuation, agreement (pronoun, subj-verb), clauses, verbals.
  • Review components of grammar that lead to the teaching of stylistics.  In particular, demonstrate and practice the way that verbals, dependent clauses, appositives, and effective use of prepositions and modifiers lead to sentence variety and rhythm.
  • Teach the value of parallel structure and subordination to sophisticated writing.
  • Teach grammatical and stylistic errors by correcting errors in trial sentences.
  • Master the 5-paragraph essay by solidifying the writing process: pre-writing strategies, outlining, drafting, revising.
  • Teach multiple methods of introducing and concluding essays.
  • Demand that students turn in formal papers showcasing the following skills: proper grammar, special rhetorical devices, mechanics, punctuation, and formatting. (see Writing Center)
  • Teach other forms beyond the 5-paragraph essay: film review, memoir, personal essay, narrative.
  • Teach research methods and how to write critical essays that incorporate other critics’ ideas.
  • In AP English, teach strategies for writing essays under time restraints.
  • In AP English, offer topics and writing opportunities that go beyond the 5-paragraph theme process.

Montgomery Bell Academy

4001 Harding Road
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 298-5514