Middle School English: Reading Rhapsody

$19.00 / week

Students develop essential reading skills to prepare them for the academic reading they do in other classes and to develop a love of literature. Students get explicit teaching, guidance, and practice. We are building skills!


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Community, books, laughter, and learning! In this class, we are hitting reading hard! We are closing gaps, building skills, and enriching the reading skills of all kids who take this class, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. We are serious about helping kids develop the reading skills they need to be successful in every single academic endeavor they will face. As we build their skills, they will begin to start enjoying reading more.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings

Frederick Douglass was an astounding man. He was a slave who contended with much, but my favorite thing about him is that he taught himself to read. Then he taught others to read. He didn’t shy away from struggle, as shown in the quote above. Reading or writing may be a struggle for your learner. You may have experienced tears, frustration, and sorrow over school struggles. But like Frederick Douglass said, without struggle, there is no progress. Here, we EMBRACE the struggle and power through it for the joy on the other side.

This ongoing class gives families the ultimate flexibility without compromising on the quality of education. We pack an academic punch in these once-weekly classes and keep them fun so students master skills. Each class meets once per week, and students have reading homework. They will choose their own books and report back on their page number each week. They will read for 100 minutes per week. It’s easy for students to manage and easy for parents to be a little more hands-off. We want students to start mastering these skills on their own.

A Snapshot of Each Class:
  1. We begin with vocabulary work, building knowledge of words
  2. Next, the instructor teaches an explicit skill or understanding. This direct teaching is supported by a large body of research proving this method is effective in increasing learning
  3. Students practice the skill with guidance from the teacher
  4. Finally, students have the opportunity to show their learning in an independent way
  5. Students read a novel of their choice for homework
A Year of English Language Arts Content:

You can jump in and out of class as you’d like! These lessons stand alone, and this ongoing class is flexible! Students can stay in class for a comprehensive year of English Language Arts, or just pop in for a week during their break from a brick-and-mortar school. A course that you may find similar and equally enjoyable: Smart Cookie.

  • A focus on vocabulary and words
    The week starting Sept 3: decoding long words with prefixes and suffixes
    The week starting Sept 10: learning the meaning of prefixes and suffixes
    The week starting Sept 17: vocabulary / word families
    The week starting Sept 24: how to use context clues
  • A focus on understanding other ways narratives are structured as well as the ordering of ideas in sentences, paragraphs, and informational texts.
    The week starting Oct 1: dividing sentences into chunks of meaning
    The week starting Oct 8: dividing paragraphs into parts
    The week starting Oct 15: organizing an informational essay
    The week starting Oct 22: analyzing different structures in narratives (in medias res, flashback, etc.)
  • A focus on close reading, understanding, and paraphrasing informational texts.
    The week starting Oct 29: learn how to read for understanding
    The week starting Nov 5: learn to annotate a text for close reading
    The week starting Nov 12: learn to paraphrase a text in their own words without plagiarism
    The week starting Nov 26: learn how to study for a test by reading, annotating, outlining, and writing
    The week starting Dec 3: illustrate narrative passages
    The week starting Dec 10: diagram informational passages
  • A focus on learning to make inferences and build background knowledge, analyze text features, and analyze graphs and charts
    The week starting Dec 17: making inferences
    The week starting Jan 7: how to recognize a lack of background knowledge and what to do about it
    The week starting Jan 14: using text features
    The week starting Jan 21: how to read charts & graphs
    The week starting Jan 28: approaches to reading: skimming, scanning, reading aloud
    The week starting Feb 4: how to take tests
  • A focus on reading short stories
    The week starting Feb 11: “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
    The week starting Feb 18: “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
    The week starting Feb 25: “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry
  • A focus on reading poetry
    The week starting Mar 3: intro to poetry
    The week starting Mar 10: figurative language
    The week starting Mar 17: figurative language
    The week starting Mar 24: figurative language
  • A focus on reading a novel (The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
    The week starting Mar 31: Using inferences
    The week starting Apr 7: Allusions
    The week starting Apr 14: Keeping track of characters
    The week starting Apr 21: Analyzing a character
    The week starting Apr 28: Analyzing plot elements


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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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