Welcome to Green Team Language Arts!

  • Eight Green Language Arts Course Syllabus

    Ms McKenna

    Email: mmckenna@tenafly.k12.nj.us

    Course Site: Google Classroom

    Availability: Students can stop by for help in the morning or immediately after school (excluding Mondays).

    It’s helpful for students to see me before or after class to make an appointment to work together at a mutually convenient time.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.  I check my email every afternoon & I do my best to respond in a timely fashion.  I find a conversation can often be more efficient than email, so please include in your email the best phone number with which to reach you.


    Eighth grade proves to be a year of tremendous growth for students. Students are challenged to expand their reading stamina; their knowledge of literature and the English language and its conventions; their passion for the written and spoken word; their courage; and their view of themselves and their world.  Through the arts of language--reading, writing, speaking, and listening--students explore the theme of  identity.  They will grapple with questions such as:  What are the events in my past that have shaped who I am today? What are my goals and dreams? What do I love? What am I passionately curious about?  What are the issues and ideas I feel strongly about and what, exactly, do I think about them?  What do I know for certain and what is important for me to share with others?


    Individual Units of Study:

    • Storytelling: performing personal narratives
    • John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
    • Reviews
    • Editorials
    • I-Search Project (Research)
    • Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
    • Student speeches combining elements of personal and argumentative writing
    • Book clubs
    • *In development: Science-fiction reading and writing.

    Yearlong Studies:

    • Independent reading: Students choose and read books independently, but with the support of teachers--and parents. They confer with me and peers about the books they are reading.  They maintain a list of books on their Google Site. They write letters/essays and give book talks.  They are supported in selecting books that they will love and books that will challenge them.  Mini-lessons promote deeper comprehension and help students to develop literary analysis essays on theme and author’s craft and essays comparing and contrasting works.
    • Vocabulary development: Students learn vocabulary in the context of shared texts.  We will also utilize the interactive vocabulary site Membean to facilitate “multimodal” individualized vocabulary development.
    • Study of G.U.M. (Grammar, Usage, & Mechanics): Technical aspects of writing are explored in the context of each writing unit as they relate to the particular genre and students’ needs.  In addition, a sentence-composing approach allows students to analyze and emulate grammatical structures and proper punctuation from great literature.



    • Poetry and nonfiction reading: Almost every week of the school year includes close reading of poetry and nonfiction, informational text.  Students read, reread, annotate, compose written responses and answer text-dependent questions, and discuss an “Article of the Week” and a “Poem of the Week.”



    Homework:  I expect students to read 20 minutes per night (roughly 20 pages, depending on the book and the reader), five times per week.  Students will compose succinct responses to their reading during each week.  They must bring their IR book to class every day.

    In addition, it may be necessary, at times,  for students to complete assignments that pertain to the day's class work.  


    Students have access to the daily homework, agenda, and related documents on Google Classroom.  In addition, Mrs. Wendy Damiano, our incredible support teacher, updates homework for 8G core subjects on her Fusion site.


    Grading: I use a total points system where students earn different points for different assignments, ranging from five points for a basic homework assignment to up to 100 points for major writing pieces, projects, and presentations.


    If you have a question or concern about a grade you see on the portal, please ask your child for an explanation first.  Encourage your child to talk with me about it.  Then, if you still have questions or concerns, please email me and I will call you to clarify and discuss your concerns.


    How can parents help children with reading and writing this year?  Some suggestions…

    • Talk to your child about her/his reading and talk about what you are reading with your child.
    • Discuss how you choose books to read for pleasure.
    • Visit a library or bookstore together.  Help keep your child supplied with great books.
    • Read a book together and talk about it.
    • Take turns reading aloud; no one outgrows the desire to hear a great story.
    • If you write, share your writing process with your child.
    • Show an interest in your child’s writing without taking over the piece (a delicate balancing act, indeed).
    • Ask questions about a piece to help the writer focus, organize, and expand where necessary.  If your child asks for suggestions, offer only one or two at a time.  Students will be writing constantly—they don’t have to fix everything at once, and when they feel overwhelmed, they may shut down.
    • If you do help with editing, please explain why the change must be made, so your child learns the rule or principle behind an error.
 Mary McKenna



Degrees and Certifications:

Mary McKenna