8th Grade‎ > ‎

Ms. Sommer (Language Arts)

This is Ms. Sommer's fifth year teaching in the Denver Public Schools and her fourth year at Merrill. She moved here from California, where she earned her Masters In Teaching from the University of Southern California, and her Bachelors in Media Studies & Communications at the University of California at Berkeley, after transferring from Northwestern University (It was COLD in Chicago!). Ms. Sommer holds dual credentials in Language Arts and History/Social Sciences, but her greatest joy is sharing her passion for writing and literature with students. She loves reading both old classics and modern fiction; her favorite book (since long before the Leonardo DiCaprio movie!) is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Lucky Ms. Sommer has traveled to France, England, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Israel in the past, but really wishes she could visit Africa and Asia, too. The oldest of three girls, she talks to her sisters every day. She adores animals and recently adopted a sweet yellow lab named Teddy!
Name:  Rachel Sommer
Email:  Rachel_Sommer@dpsk12.net
Phone: (720) 424-0666


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