8th Grade‎ > ‎

Ms. Sommer (Language Arts)

Welcome to Ms. Sommer's class! 
A little bit about me...

This is my sixth year teaching at Merrill. I've taught 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade here, but I think 8th Grade is the BEST because that's when students really start thinking in sophisticated ways and looking toward the future. I moved to Denver in 2012 from California, where I earned my Masters In Teaching at the University of Southern California, and my Bachelors in Media Studies & Communications at the University of California at Berkeley (Go Bears!). I have dual teaching credentials in Language Arts and History/Social Sciences, but my greatest joy is sharing my passion for literature with my students. I love reading both classics and modern fiction; my favorite book of all time is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (probably because I read it with a fabulous teacher in high school). As for family, my husband and I have two yellow labs and a toddler, so there's never a dull moment at home. I'm pretty obsessed with them. Last but not least, I have two sisters who are my best friends in the world, and I don't go a day without talking to them.
Name:  Rachel Sommer
Email:  Rachel_Sommer@dpsk12.org
Phone: 720-424-0600


Current Unit
Finding Home: Refugees

In this module, students will develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider the challenges of fictional and real refugees. In the first unit, students will begin Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, analyzing how critical incidents reveal the dynamic nature of the main character, Ha, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl whose family is deciding whether to flee during the fall of Saigon. The novel, poignantly told in free verse, will challenge students to consider the impact of specific word choice on tone and meaning. Students will build their ability to infer and analyze text, both in discussion and through writing. They then will read informational text to learn more about the history of war in Vietnam, and the specific historical context of Ha’s family’s struggle during the fall of Saigon. In Unit 2, students will build knowledge about refugees’ search for a place to call home. They will read informational texts that convey universal themes of refugees’ experiences across various times and cultures as they flee and find home. As they continue to move through the novel, they will focus on how particular incidents move the story forward and reveal aspects of Ha’s character. Unit 2 culminates in which students examine how the universal refugee experience causes the refugee’s life to be turned inside out and eventually return back again. In Unit 3, having finished the novel, students will reread critical incidents, while also working in research groups to study the experiences of refugees from one of several cultures. Students will use this knowledge to write to write two, free verse narrative poems that capture the universal refugee experience. Students will reread poems from the novel as mentor texts.

Quizzes and Tests


Expeditionary Learning (EngageNY) Grade 8 ELA Curriculum  -  https://www.engageny.org/resource/grade-8-english-language-arts

All assignments and class information throughout the year will be posted on Schoology.