Common Core State Standards provide a clear map of performance tasks for students at all grade levels, including seventh grade English Language Arts. These objectives can help parents and students understand what is expected in English class. The seventh grade English Language Arts curriculum includes areas of reading, writing, language, speaking and listening.
While reading literature, seventh grade students should cite textual evidence to identify a theme or write a summary. They should be able to discuss how plot and character develop a story. Students should also note patterns in the structures of drama and poetry. A writing task for this standard is to compare and contrast a written text with a film or other media version. Pairing a piece of fiction with a historical account occurring during the same time period allows students to understand connections between a text and the world.
Reading Informational Texts
As students progress through school, more importance is placed on informational texts. Seventh graders should be able to identify an author's point of view on a subject and successfully explain the arguments made in an informational text. Common Core standards require students to analyze two or more author's viewpoints on the same topic and understand the different ideas each discusses. Students should also be able to analyze a text, like Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and its delivery in another format, such as hearing and reading the speech.
Three types of writing are performed in seventh grade English classes. An argument essay focuses on organizing ideas and using credible sources for evidence to support ideas developed. Students write informational or expository essays, examining a topic using the writing process of planning, drafting and revising. Seventh-graders produce narrative texts that effectively use dialogue and clearly introduce the narrator and other important characters.
Speaking and Listening
The seventh grade speaking and listening Common Core standards focus on interpersonal communication skills. Participating in discussions with diverse classmates, students are challenged to come to class prepared, having read materials and able to pose questions relevant to the discussion. Students also prepare multimedia presentations using technology and visual displays to inform an audience on a topic, using graphs and charts in their presentations as evidence. Collaboratively, students may work together to create a newspaper or magazine.
Students in seventh grade should begin to show mastery over language, understanding the functions of phrases and clauses and identifying types of sentences from simple to compound. A performance task would find examples of various sentences in texts. Vocabulary is developed by studying word roots and using context clues to determine meaning. Students can keep a log of unknown words they come across and enter their definitions. Identifying figures of speech and learning how connotation and denotation alter the meanings of words also are important. Students should be able to find examples of figurative language in poetry.
Russell Paul teaches English and yearbook at Gaston Early College High School in Dallas, North Carolina. He is a National Board Certified teacher. Paul attended Michigan State University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in English, and Western Governor's University for a Master of Education in instructional design.