Middle School English Language Arts: The Essentials B


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


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Timezone: America/New_York

Section A

  • STARTS: Jan 08, 2024
  • COURSE LENGTH: Jan 08, 2024 - Apr 06, 2024 13 Weeks
  • LIVE CLASSES: Mondays & Wednesdays 01:00 PM - 01:55 PM
  • TEACHER: Karen Lemons
  • CALENDAR: View Entire Calendar


Did you know that it’s possible to create a familial, positive, and rigorous academic environment online? It’s possible, and in this class, we build relationships while working hard to develop and master English language arts skills. Students 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.


Check Language Arts off your list of subjects to teach. Semester B takes off fast and furious! Students learn brand new skills this semester, so the semesters can be taken out of order. The Essentials of middle school ELA includes learning to write well; read closely, critically, and for fun; and communicate with others in a large group, small group, and one-on-one. This semester builds those essential skills!

Snapshot of Student Output:

Students will write a full-length short story, complete with theme, motif, symbolism, figurative language, and fully-developed characters.  Also, they will explore poetry, reading multiple poems from different eras, learning how to approach poetry, reading it analytically, discussing it, and writing about it.  A number of summaries will be written by them. Writing sophisticated, grammatically sound sentences with some style and variety over the course of 26 sessions and 26 pages of grammar will be completed by the students. After receiving feedback for everything—both during class and as homework—they will go back and modify and edit their writing. 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!


Semester A of this course builds a foundation for learning as students master the essentials. 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.

General Learning Goals:

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 Focus:

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.

Reading Focus:

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 Focus:

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.

Expectations for Learners:

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. If you require formal grades, please ask at the beginning of the semester, and I will provide them.

  • MODULE 1 (1 week)–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 (5 weeks)

    Students will:
    — read short stories and watch short narratives with an analysis of literary elements
    — 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
    — 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 (4 weeks)

    Students will:
    — read multiple poems from different eras, learn how to approach poetry, read it analytically, and discuss it
    — respond to poetry with an argument piece
    — write their own book of poems
    — 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 (3 weeks)

    Students will:
    — read short stories and learn to analyze literature
    — have three Socratic Seminars
    — read a choice novel regularly and consistently
    — participate in class discussions about books and literature
    — individually give a classroom presentation, a “Book Talk”

This is a semester class, which means your teacher is committed to teaching your learner for the entire semester. Be careful of the semester class that offers weekly payments because if enrollment drops, teachers can cancel the class. In a semester class like this, we promise to continue if we meet the minimum at the start, and we won’t leave your learner high and dry. We offer other ongoing semester classes if that is your preference. In this class, we enjoy the benefits of a special, true-to-form semester class. We are able to build on content, and students can write comprehensive pieces of writing over multiple weeks, revising after getting feedback from the teacher. On the Outschool platform, true payment plans are not offered, unfortunately.

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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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