Class of 2018

(That’s the year you will graduate from college.)

Course Syllabus

Teacher: Ms. Vitale



"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."               

-Fredrick Douglass

“When I started writing, I discovered that I was doing more than just telling a story.  See, writing is a weapon, and it's more powerful than a fist can ever be.”

-Ruben “Hurricane” Carter

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them."

-Ralph Nichols

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking.  Number two is death.  Death is number two.  Does that sound right?  This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

-Jerry Seinfeld


Course Description:

Scholars will use independent reading, reading and writing workshops, public speaking, and listening to master the four pillars of English language arts and explore new and challenging texts and skills.  Forever stepping it up, scholars will spend this year further developing their reading, writing, and above all critical thinking and analysis skills.  In developing a mastery of skills and a base for critical thinking, scholars will use literature as a lens to evaluate themselves and their world.  As they improve their command of language, they will come to use it as a tool to effect change in their own lives and in the world around them.

Scholar Goals:

ALL 2018 scholars will master ALL 8th grade state standards at a level of understanding of 80% or higher.

ALL 2018 scholars will achieve 2 years of reading growth.

ALL 2018 scholars will achieve 1.5 points of writing growth.

ALL 2018 scholars will meet or exceed their individual mastery goals.

All scholars will have regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting with Ms. Vitale to discuss their progress.  Together we will identify your strengths and spot opportunities for improvement.  Together we will set individual goals that will help you become even more brilliant.

STEPS to Reaching our Goals


In order to reach our big goals, we will center ourselves in the STEPS to success.

                                          Definition                                                        What it means for us


Try your very best.  Then, try harder.

We will always try to improve ourselves and our understanding of ELA.  If we don’t meet a goal on the first try, we will get extra help and try again until we do.


Change from one thing to another.

Being scholars, we will begin our transformation into collegiate learners.  We will display collegiate behavior inside and outside of our learning community.


Give authority and a voice to someone.

Through classroom leadership opportunities and community meetings, you will have a say and play an active role in how our community functions.


Your reason for doing something.

We will constantly revisit and re-evaluate our big goals, and our ultimate big goal of going to and graduating from college.


Together everyone achieves more.

We will work together.  We will help each other.  We are a team and a family, and we will all succeed.  We will build this through community meetings and activities, and will live this through our words and actions.

Genre of the Month


Narrative Account/Memoirs


Response to Literary Fiction


Fictional Account/Narrative


Response to Nonfiction Literature




Narrative Procedure


Narrative Nonfiction Report


Expository Nonfiction/Research


Writing in a Genre



Supplies needed

Scholars are expected to bring the following supplies to class on or before Wednesday, September 16th:

  • 3 standard composition notebooks (100 sheets, 200 pages).
  • 3 ring view binder-2” size. 
  • 16 tab dividers (tab dividers usually come in packs of 5 or 8; I recommend getting 2 packs of 8).

Please label all supplies clearly with your first and last name.  Most supplies will be stored in the classroom for the convenience of the scholars. 

The total purchase price for all supplies should total around $15.  If you have an extenuating circumstance that prevents you from purchasing these supplies and getting them to school on or before Wednesday, September 16th, please contact Ms. Vitale immediately so that we can work something out.

All other supplies will be provided.

Reading at home

The best way to become better at something is to practice it!  Scholars are expected to read at least 50 pages of their independent reading books every night, including weekends.  This totals 350 pages a week.  Scholars will be given “Thinkmarks” to complete that go along with their independent reading.  This will begin on Wednesday, September 16th, and will continue for the remainder of the year.



Quality of work

Scholars always complete work of the highest quality.  All work completed inside and outside of class must meet the CANS criteria:

Complete-All work is completed.

Accurate-The work is completed correctly and follows all directions.

Neat-The work is written legibly on clean paper or is typed.

Sentences-The work is written in complete sentences.

Grading Policy

The grading policy for this class will follow the FDA VIII grading policy. 

Homework  5%

Daily work/Participation 10%

Monthly Writing Projects 25%

Weekly Quizzes 20%

Class Exams 25%

Monthly Tests 15%        


Late work will not be accepted.  

Teamwork and Help:

              Being a member of FDA VIII is a privilege that you have earned through hard work and dedication.  This year, we will step it up; this class will be more challenging than anything you have faced in your career as scholars.  You will have much independent work that will supplement our class work and will not always be repeated in class.  Because things are more difficult, we must remember: if a teammate needs help, we give.  We will be doing a number of activities and projects that involve working as a team and family in order to grow and learn.  Also, if you ever have a question, don’t hesitate to e-mail me or come see me after school.  No excuses!

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”-George Washington Carver