Middle School English Language Arts: The Essentials A


In this semester-long English Language Arts course taught from a Christian perspective, students learn to write well, love books, speak and communicate effectively, and grow up a little, all while having fun!


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Timezone: America/New_York

Section A

  • STARTS: Sep 11, 2023
  • COURSE LENGTH: Sep 11, 2023 - Dec 16, 2023 13 Weeks
  • LIVE CLASSES: Mondays & Wednesdays 01:00 PM - 01:55 PM
  • TEACHER: Karen Lemons
  • CALENDAR: View Entire Calendar


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.

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 grade their grammar and sentence work, and students get feedback on their writing in real-time. 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.

The instructor explicitly teaches a concept or skill, which includes modeling. Students are guided to mastery through practice and teacher feedback.

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



Check Language Arts off your list of subjects to teach. Semester 1 of this course builds a foundation for learning as students master the essentials. While students become proficient with reading, writing, and communication skills, their confidence soars and they are prepared for future success in all areas of study. I love this semester because skill development is rapid! We start fast, cruise through the middle, and finish strong.


Students will write two full-length essays, a paraphrase, a full-length short story, and multiple summaries. They will complete 26 pages of grammar and 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 poetry, seven nonfiction pieces, two fables, and five short stories. Last, they will give two class presentations and participate in class discussions and two Socratic Seminars. Wowza!


These middle school semesters can be taken “out of order,” but this is a critical course for building a solid foundation of reading that will help learners have success in the other semesters. This class is also appropriate for older middle school students who have gaps in their writing proficiency.


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 Mrs. Lemons. Break-out rooms *may* be utilized, usually one student per room, so Mrs. Lemons can have a one-on-one conference with students. Feedback will be given in class and on work students submit. Grammar is presented as a set of tools to be manipulated and crafted for function and to write something beautiful. Students complete two grammar pages each week that review the essentials. Time is spent in class going over that grammar homework so students may ask questions. Time is also spent combining sentences so that they are functional, correct, and artful.


This semester’s reading focus is on classic short stories and informational texts. Students will also be expected to choose a book of their own 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. Additionally, using social studies texts, students learn reading strategies to better understand difficult texts and how to paraphrase them. 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 encouraged–but not forced–to keep their cameras open. This helps all students feel connected to each other as a community of learners. It also helps Mrs. Lemons picture your face when she reads your writing. We feel closer to each other when we see each other.


Students will have two classes per week and 10-30 minutes of homework twice a week. Additionally, students will read for 100 minutes 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.


I give specific and authentic feedback on student writing through the teacher tab of the classroom and on Google Docs. I also give feedback orally and with the chatbox immediately in class. Formal grades are provided and students earn a full semester of ELA credit.

  • MODULE 1–Introductions and creating a positive learning environment. Students will:
    prepare to use technology (Google Docs, KamiApp–this one is optional)
    learn class procedures
    Learn how to give a Book Hook
    Learn how to summarize a book (a narrative of any kind, really)
  • MODULE 2–Students will:
    write an organized five-paragraph paper, an expository essay with fully elaborated main ideas that follow a thesis, an effective introduction, a creative conclusion, and Works Cited page
    read informational essays
    read a choice novel regularly and consistently
    participate in class discussions about books and literature
    individually give a classroom presentation, a “Book Talk”
  • MODULE 3–Students will:
    read short stories and participate in Socratic Seminars
    write another 5-paragraph essay
    read a choice novel regularly and consistently
    participate in class discussions about books and literature
    individually give a classroom presentation, a “Book Talk”
  • MODULE 4–Students will:
    read short stories and watch short narratives with an analysis of literary elements
    read a choice novel regularly and consistently
    write concise summaries of narratives, identifying important literary elements
    write a short story, creating a unique world, characters, conflict, suspense, tension, climax, resolution, theme, and even a motif
    participate in class discussions about books and literature
    individually give a classroom presentation, a “Book Talk”

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

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

Explicit teaching is a method of instruction students desperately need! It is the opposite of a constructivist philosophy whereby students try to construct meaning themselves.


Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay or read or do a geometry proof, 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.

To read more about your teaching and learning methods, read Mrs. Lemons’ blog.

We have adopted The Master’s Seminary Doctrinal Statement.

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