The Middle School English program nurtures children along their journey toward becoming responsible citizens who possess the critical traits of self-reflection and empathy. As they continue to learn to read carefully and critically, they unlock the value of language and literature as tools of self-expression. The variety of literary genre and the diversity of the writers, characters, and themes offer students windows into worlds that they might not otherwise experience. Discussion and analysis serve as the means to help students discover the craft behind the story and the ways they can connect to it. By encouraging them to engage with text and to think deeply about it, students learn to draw conclusions and support them as they become involved in the meaning-making process. As a result, literature becomes both the teaching medium and the model for students learning to appreciate their own stories.
The courses, spanning fifth through eighth grades, are designed to meet students where they are and to help them become confident and competent readers, writers, listeners, thinkers, and speakers. Where appropriate, skills instruction spirals throughout the grades giving students frequent review as they strive to master new material. Through intensive study of writing techniques, grammar, and vocabulary, students learn to communicate their ideas precisely and effectively. A comprehensive oratory program exposes students to the finer points of public speaking as they undertake memorizing and presenting excerpts from literature and writing and presenting their own persuasive speeches. At the center of the program is the goal of developing independent thinkers and creative problem solvers who are prepared to tackle the challenges awaiting them in the Upper School and in their lives outside of McDonogh.