English 9: Weird Science! Literature’s Most Iconic Mad Scientists


A Full Semester Credit of Reading, Writing, & Speech
In this comprehensive 8th-grade English course, students explore the limits of knowledge, the consequences of “playing God,” and a lot of weird science! Learners discover Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll, two of literature’s most iconic mad scientists!

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A Snapshot of Each Class

To create and maintain a friendly environment, we start class by briefly getting to each other or by catching up with life. We also pray and/or read a passage from the Bible.

We move on to explicit instruction in sentence writing and how to put grammar knowledge to work. Students get feedback on their sentence writing. The instructor gives mini-lessons based on trends in student performance. Students report on their reading.

One student gives a Book Talk. Other student presentations may take place.

This is the main lesson for the day. The instructor explicitly teaches a concept or skill, which includes modeling. Students are guided to mastery through practice and teacher feedback. Sometimes students have workshop time where they write and get feedback in real time.

Students get homework, so they can independently practice new skills.

Class Description

This is a very special class! Students develop skills, make friends, and enjoy coming to class. They have a teacher that will invest in them and care about them. Our class becomes a community that is the best of the best possible online learning environments.


What are the limits of science? Can man create man? Can man divide his conscience and body? It is time to read, write about and discuss some weird science! First, we jump into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a creepy exploration of whether or not a man can discover the secrets of the universe. Then students will be delighted and shocked while reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both of these books are difficult reads, so we will do a large part of the reading in class as guided reading so that students actually read these novels. No Cliff’s Notes versions for us. We are serious scholars! The literature in this course is difficult, and the content and standards met in this course can also be used to fulfill a high school English semester.


Students will write a full-length argumentative essay, a full-length literary analysis essay, paraphrases, responses to literature, and multiple summaries. They will will work for 26 sessions, writing sophisticated sentences that are grammatically correct but also have some style and variety. They will revise and edit their writing after getting feedback on everything, both in-class writing and what they complete for homework. Reading novels of their choice for 100 minutes each week, students read for pleasure and learn who they are as readers. They will also read classic novels, Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Last, they will give at least two class presentations on literature, participate in class discussions, and contribute to two Socratic Seminars. Wowza!


The other semesters of the Middle School Language Arts series of classes are not pre-requisites, and these middle school semesters can be taken “out of order,” but students should have a solid foundation of reading and writing before taking this class. They should be able to write a five-paragraph argument essay, centered around a logical thesis statement. Semesters 5 and 6 require students to be reading at a Lexile measure of 1000 (eighth-grade level) and should be able to sustain longer periods of independent reading, not losing comprehension of a tenth grade text.


This class includes instruction and practice in all required learning standards for middle school Language Arts. This includes instruction across multiple genres of writing for various audiences. They will also learn to read for pleasure as well as how to tackle assigned reading with gusto and skill. Last, communication standards include speaking in a whole group and in front of the class. Mrs. Lemons helps students develop these skills as she builds their confidence. **A note on class size–this may seem big to you, but the size serves a few different purposes. Having a larger class brings energy to the class that is engaging and more fun. Our group conversations are diverse as many different people share their thoughts and opinions, especially as we broaden the conversation with the chatbox. We are able to do “fish-bowl” Socratic seminars with this size. Last, because this is a heavy writing class, the instructor has a lot of time devoted outside of class to communicate with students about their work. Having a larger class size helps compensate the teacher for this extra work while keeping the cost as low as possible.**


Writing content this semester will focus on narrative, expository, and opinion writing. Direct instruction in the writing process (pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) is emphasized. Students will have a lot of modeling, example papers, and explicit directions on how to write well. The live classes include intentional teaching, and students will get practice time while being guided by the instructor. Grammar is presented as a set of tools to be manipulated and crafted for function and to write something beautiful. Time is spent in class on putting grammar to work in sentence writing.  We do this work so their sentences are functional, correct, and artful.


This semester’s reading focus is on in-class novel studies of Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. These are some of the most fun novels to teach! While they are difficult reads, the instructor guides students towards mastery of reading comprehension and critical reading skills. Learners will walk away from this class better readers and better thinkers. They just have to trust the process and do the work! Students are also expected to choose a book to read and time is spent in class talking about our books and doing other activities to foster a love of reading. The goal is to turn them into lifelong readers! They will read for 100 minutes a week, and Mrs. Lemons records their page number and has discussions with them about their books. Using various genres, students learn reading strategies to understand texts that are difficult. Reading standards and objectives are integrated through various texts touching on multiple genres.


Communication skills and norms are intentionally taught. For example, the “dominator” will learn to give others a chance to speak and will even learn to involve others to help bring forth their ideas. The quieter students learn to take risks and put themselves out there because they have good ideas and important things to say. These skills are taught through various methods, including speeches, presentations, and Socratic seminars, which often become the favorite for students. Communication standards and objectives are integrated through one-on-one conversations, using the chatbox, and large-group discussions. We also talk about how an online community is established, and students are required to keep their cameras open. This helps all students feel connected to each other as a community of learners. It also helps the instructor hold students accountable for engagement. We feel closer to each other when we see each other.


Students will have two classes per week and 20-30 minutes of homework twice a week. Additionally, students will read for 20 minutes, five days a week a book of their choosing. I want them to fall in love with books! Being an active participant in our community will help learners have success! Students will give class presentations, participate in group discussions called Socratic Seminars, read aloud, and express opinions and thoughts orally, through writing assignments, and even the chatbox. Active engagement is the key to success in this class.


The instructor will give specific and authentic feedback on student writing through the classroom and on Google Docs. The instructor will also give feedback verbally in class and with the chatbox. The proper use of formal grades increases learning and supports communication of learning expectations and student performance to learners and parents. All students will receive formal grades.

Additional information

Assessment Method:

Homework Requirements:

Materials Required:

Check the offerings of this course on Outschool. Courses on Outschool are secular.

The Lemons-Aid Way: Our Approach to Teaching & Learning is Explicit!

Explicit teaching is a method of instruction students desperately need! It is the opposite of a constructivist philosophy whereby students ponder and explore to construct meaning themselves. Well…

Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay, we teach explicitly, which is backed by a large body of evidence, and it’s how Mrs. Lemons teaches her undergraduate and graduate teacher-candidates in college to teach! We do it this way because it’s how kids learn.

Explicit instruction is “a structured, systematic, and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures. Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.”
-Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching by Anita L. Archer and Charles A. Hughes.

Anita Archer trained Mrs. Lemons in workshops, and it changed her teaching. Read a little more about the research behind explicit teaching here and here.

Get to know Mrs. Lemons a little more.

We have adopted The Master’s Seminary Doctrinal Statement.

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