Course Introduction

Mr. Norton's 7th-grade Language Arts class not only supports a student's development of the content standards, but this class also offers a unique opportunity for students to develop their identity through continuous, thematically focused introspective literary analysis. To do this, students will actively engage in thinking, writing, and communicating their thoughts about the themes related to the literary selections. The quarterly themes include an examination of the following, sequential, essential questions: What strengths help us grow and succeed in life? What is the difference between right and wrong? What is the relation between the individual and society? Who am I and what do I believe?

Knowing who we are is hard. Give yourself a break. Eliminate who you are not first, and you'll find yourself where you need to be.

-Matthew McConaughey

Habits of Scholarship

In Mr. Norton's 7th-grade Language Arts class, students’ character development is equally important as developing vocabulary knowledge and mastering reading and writing skills. Throughout their educational journey, students are working to become effective learners, ethical people, and contributors to a better world. Perseverance, responsibility, and collaboration are essential for success in school and in life. To support the development of these skills, Mr. Norton evaluates the following habits of scholarship on a regular basis:


All students can choose to put forth effort towards learning despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.


All students can choose to be prepared for learning and bring the required materials to class.*


All students can choose to participate by asking questions or making comments during class.

*Students are expected to bring a planner and a charged, working device to class on a daily basis.

†Students are expected to actively engage in their learning by asking questions and participating in classroom discussions on a weekly basis.

Academic Skills & Knowledge


In Mr. Norton's 7th-grade Language Arts class, students will experience a variety of genres in literature including fiction and nonfiction prose. Fiction selections include novels, novella, and short story selections. All literary selections are accompanied by an in-depth oral literary response and analysis and include associated assessments for reading comprehension. The reading assessments help the student identify his or her strengths, as well as weaknesses. These effective reading assessments help students assess what they do understand about a text, as well as what they do not understand. This is all done with the aim of a student becoming a fluent reader.


All literary selections are accompanied by associated assessments for vocabulary The vocabulary assessments measure the receptive knowledge of words from the 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 frequency levels in English. These assessments employ a matching format of words and short definitions, and the results are often used to set learning goals. A comprehensive list of the vocabulary words for the entire school year can be found by selecting "Vocabulary Lists" at the top of this page. Information about the related studying expectations can be found by selecting "Homework" at the top of this page.


In addition to the oral literary response and analysis, all literary selections are accompanied by written, introspective literary response and analysis. In Mr. Norton's class, students analyze the associated literary themes with paragraph and essay writing. Because Mr. Norton focuses on mastery, his paragraph writing expectations do not change as the year progresses, however; his essay writing expectations increase in complexity as the year progresses. During essay writing, each student will receive intensive, individualized, differentiated writing instruction via one-on-one Writer's Workshops, based on the 6 + 1 Traits® of Writing. The writing traits that students will develop in 7th grade include organization, ideas, word choice, and conventions. The aim of these writing activities is to help students master both paragraph and essay writing.

Please see the online calendar to view a tentative schedule of the planned curriculum for the school year. Students in Mr. Norton's language arts class receive regular Content Knowledge scores that provide valuable information about the students' reading, vocabulary, and writing skills development. Refer to the Grading Practices page for information about reading and writing skills assessment scores.

Advanced Language Arts Class

Students in Mr. Norton's 7th-grade Advanced Language Arts class will experience a different pace, depth, and complexity of instruction. Specifically, students in the advanced class will independently read two additional above-grade-level novels and complete the associated accelerated written literary response and analysis. This is a rigorous class requiring students to think analytically while expressing ideas clearly and the material presented will challenge students to a higher level of thinking. The critical thinking tools employed in this class help students dig deeper into a concept (depth) and understand that concept with greater complexity.

Curriculum Program

Reading & Vocabulary

Prestwick House Novel Unit Lit Plan foundational units for reading instruction. The Prestwick House curriculum provides useful instruction and intervention strategies to support student growth in literary reading comprehension and vocabulary development. The reading comprehension strategies include: targeting overall comprehension of language, teaching vocabulary, teaching thinking strategies, having students practice reciprocal teaching, and directly teaching comprehension skills (such as sequencing, story structure using the plot mountain, how to make an inference and draw a conclusion, and the different types of figurative language). The quarterly units include formative reading and vocabulary assessments to regularly monitor student achievement and growth.


The 6+1 Trait® Writing Model of Instruction & Assessment. The 6+1 Trait® curriculum comprises 6+1 key qualities that define quality writing. These are: Ideas—the main message, Organization—the internal structure of the piece, Voice—the personal tone and flavor of the author's message, Word Choice—the vocabulary a writer chooses to convey meaning, Sentence Fluency—the rhythm and flow of the language, Conventions—the mechanical correctness, Presentation—how the writing actually looks on the page. The quarterly units include formative paragraph and summative essay assessments to regularly monitor student achievement and growth.

The i-Ready Reading Diagnostic

The i-Ready Reading Diagnostic is an adaptive assessment that measures a student’s vocabulary knowledge as well as their comprehension of literature and informational text. The purpose of this is not to give students a score or grade, but instead to determine how best to support their learning. The Diagnostic offers a complete picture of student performance and growth. By adapting to student responses and assessing a broad range of skills (including skills above and below a student’s chronological grade) the i‑Ready Diagnostic pinpoints a student's grade-level placement.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a web-based platform that is integrated with a student's school Gmail account. Google Classroom saves time and paper and makes it easy to distribute and collect assignments, communicate, and stay organized. Students in Mr. Norton's class will receive a special code to join his Google classroom. Once they join, they may invite parents and guardians. Mr. Norton regularly uses Google classroom to share important announcements with students via the "Stream" page. Course resources and materials, such as electronic copies of reading material and writing scoring rubrics are shared with students via the "Classwork" page. This page is also where students access the reading, vocabulary, and writing assessments. On the "Classwork" page, students will also find a link to a Google calendar for assignments.

Contact Information

Please email me if you have any questions or concerns.

Robert Norton, MA Ed.