Middle School English: Literary Scholar B – Shakespeare


It’s the pinnacle semester of middle school English! Students will fall in love with Shakespeare through a study of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as they master skills to be successful in high school English. This is a middle school highlight!

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In this course, we will delve into the world of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream! Through this classic play, we will explore themes such as love, magic, and the power of the imagination, all while improving your English Language Arts skills. With engaging readings and lively discussions, this course will not only introduce you to one of the greatest writers in history but also help you develop the skills necessary for success in high school English and beyond. Get ready to be inspired and enchanted by the power of words and literature!


Can students read Shakespeare’s plays as they were written, in the Elizabethan language? YES! Can they understand it? YES! Can they thoroughly enjoy reading and acting on an online platform? YES! And last, can we understand ourselves and the world in which we live by reading a play written over 400 years ago? YES! YES! YES! Now that students have a solid foundation for reading and writing, they are ready for Shakespeare! This is often a middle school highlight for my students as we dive into ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Indeed, all the world’s a stage, and oh, my! What fools these mortals be!

This is a semester class, which means your teacher is committed to teaching your learner for the entire semester. This is why we don’t offer the weekly-payment-semester format, which allows learners to drop and teachers to cancel if we drop below a minimum enrollment. In a semester class like this, we promise to continue if we meet the minimum, and we won’t leave your learner high and dry. We offer other ongoing semester and year-long 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. We are also able to do a group study of our play, building on reading skills with one text over a period of time.


The other semesters of the Middle School Language Arts series of classes are not prerequisites, 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 essay, centered around a logical thesis statement. They should also have a Lexile score above 1000 and should be able to sustain longer periods of independent reading, not losing comprehension of an eighth-grade text. Semesters 5 and 6 require students to be reading at a Lexile measure of 1000 (8th-grade level) and to be able to write a five-paragraph essay. If you would like to skip semester 1 but still need the learn the essentials of essay writing, you can take one of the following:

  1. Foundations of Essay Writing, a five-week class; or
  2. Essay Essentials: Buil Skills for High School Writing
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.

Writing Focus:

Writing content this semester will focus on literary criticism and drama writing. Students will have a lot of modeling, example papers, and explicit directions on how to write well. The live class will include intentional teaching and students will get practice time while being guided by Mrs. Lemons. 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 homework so students may ask questions. Time is also spent combining sentences so that they are functional, correct, and artful.

Reading Focus:

This semester, we will read Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ together in class. Dramas are meant to be acted out, so we will turn our online classroom into a virtual stage with students reading parts, everyone laughing, and costumes appearing! This is a difficult read, but it is FUN! I help students with the language with many different lessons and activities, which is why we do all of the reading in class. Additionally, students will be expected to choose a book to read outside of class, 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 20 minutes, five days 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 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, partner work, group work, 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 I read your writing. We feel closer to each other when we see each other.

Expectations for Learners:

Students will have two classes per week and 20-30 minutes of homework twice a week which helps us meet a semester’s worth of learning standards. 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.


I give specific and authentic feedback on student writing through the teacher tab of the classroom and on Google Docs. If you require formal grades, please ask, and I will provide them. I see letter grades and formal assessments as a way to provide authentic feedback to students and parents that measures progress toward mastery of a standard (a skill or understanding). If requested, I will provide grades in this class in each of the strands: writing, communication, and reading. I work to make sure the assessment is informative for families so that decisions can be made about what the student needs (more challenge, more support, etc.).

Overview of Units:
  • Week 1-10: Students will:
    — read Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in-class, which will include dramatic reading and acting!
    — read a choice novel regularly and consistently
    — write a literary analysis essay
    — write artistic pieces as a response to literature
    — participate in group discussions, student presentations, and “book talks”
  • Week 11-13–Students will:
    — read Shakespearean sonnets, learning to analyze poetry
    — read their choice novels regularly and consistently
    — write a drama, using various elements they learned from our study of Shakespeare.
    –participate in group discussions, student presentations, and “book talks”

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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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