Top Bar

Bala Cynwyd Middle School


Language Arts and English

Grade 6 – Language Arts: Reading and Writing

Effective reading requires tools such as strategies, skills, and knowledge. Through experience and practice, students can develop the habits and abilities needed to become successful readers. In order to help students develop as readers and writers, the language arts program includes the following goals:

  • Providing a skilled based program that emphasizes reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Exposing students to a variety of genres in reading as well as writing
  • Creating an environment that motivates and involves students in their reading and writing
  • Presenting lessons that deepen students’ knowledge of how specific reading strategies work and can support their reading
  • Supporting developing readers with frameworks that improve reading
  • Teaching students how to utilize the writing process with a focus on specific domains: focus, organization, content, style and conventions
  • Providing students with standardized test-taking strategies
  • Differentiating instruction to support specific student needs

Grade 7 - English

The seventh grade English program is designed to increase students' confidence and skills in reading and writing. Mechanics and grammar are taught within the context of writing and reading programs. Students read and react to different genres of literature (short story, novel, non-fiction, poetry) and write on a variety of self‑selected and assigned topics. Interdisciplinary projects also take place during the year. As an example, students read from a variety of historical novels related to the periods studied in Social Studies class.

Grade 8 - English

The eighth grade English course encourages development of students' skills in all areas of language use: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Specifically, students study grammatical patterns in text, speculate about author purpose, and practice the writing process in several formats: persuasive, informative, expository, and creative writing assignments.


The Middle School Reading Program provides students with intervention and support in small group settings. The needs of each student inform the delivery of instruction in the class.   Criteria for placement include, but are not limited to, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), Degrees of Reading Power (DRP), and the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE). Additionally, input from students’ classroom teachers is considered when placing students in the reading program. Reading classes are grouped as homogenously as possible in order to intensively target students’ specific needs. A reading specialist teaches each section.

The core components of the program are comprehension, vocabulary and word analysis. While working on reading skills, the reading specialists strive to help students make connections between reading, responding to texts, speaking, and listening. Reading specialists expose students to a variety of texts and guide them in the use of strategies necessary for understanding each type of text. In addition, Newsela, a web-based program, is used to further enrich the reading program. This instruction helps students to see different purposes and contexts for reading. The goal of the program is to provide students with reading skills, aligned with the Common Core and for learning in a variety of content areas.

Students are graded on their individual improvement in the following areas: comprehension, vocabulary development, word analysis, test-taking skills, classwork, and homework.

  • Grade six students will meet every day as a major subject in a small group setting. The class takes place during one of the two scheduled language arts reading and writing blocks and is taught by a reading specialist instead of the student’s regular classroom teacher.
  • Grade seven students will meet every day as a major subject in a small group setting. The class takes place in lieu of a student’s foreign language class.
  • Grade eight students will meet every day as a major subject in a small group setting. The class takes place in lieu of a student’s foreign language class.