7/8 English Language Arts Literature

Ms. Penny Bortner

Welcome: I am entering my 25th year of teaching and my 5th year at Excel. Almost all of my experience is at the middle school level teaching language arts. For me, middle school were the most challenging years of my life and I feel tremendous empathy and compassion for my students. I have a B.S. in journalism, a B.A in Secondary English and a masters degree in Educational Administration. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the Excel Academy Community.


Field Trip: We are going to the Tattered Cover Bookstore the morning of Wednesday, October 16th, 2019. On our trip, we will meet author Brenna Youvanoff and getting a behind the scenes tour. In addition, a portion of any purchases made from our students will be donated to Excel Academy for future 7th and 8th grade events. events


UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF 9/30/19

Please ask your child to show you the blue packet that explains how to create a reading ladder. This is a long term project that analyzes reading habits and growth from 10/1-12/1. I have included 3 examples, directions a checklist and rubric.

We are continuing to read the play Cyrano de Bergerac. The reading and viewing of the play is done in class as well as time to work on questions for each Act. Students are starting Act II and will turn in work from Act I on 10/7 or 10/8.

UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF 9/16/19

Please make sure your child is reading at least 2 hours of choice reading per week. I do not require reading logs. We will have Reading Ladders and various projects that require your child reads 2 hours per week. If you need any suggestions for a book to engage your child, please contact me.


  • We will be starting to read Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. If you want to provide additional support for you child who may find understanding the play challenging, there is an excellent version performed on Broadway with Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner. I will be showing parts of this video in class. If you are interested in viewing this production, here is a link:
  • https://www.broadwayhd.com/index.php/shows/watch/Cyrano#sthash.siGs45Su.dpbs
  • In order to view this version, you need to subscribe to Broadwayhd.com for 8.99 per month and you can cancel anytime.


Contact Information: The best way to contact me is via e-mail. I encourage students to contact me with any questions or concerns about their assignments, grades or other classroom content. Thank you for helping your child with making these contacts to aid them in becoming self advocates. Penny.Bortner@jeffco.k12.co.us e-mails will be answered within 24 business hours. Should you need to call, feel free to leave a message at 303-467-2295 ext. 318.

Classroom Specific Calendar: Aside from nightly review of our learning targets, students will occasionally have homework or upcoming tests to prepare for. These can be found on the 7/8 assignment calendar or on our Google Classroom page.

Helpful Links for Families:

  • Dawcl.com Data Base of Award Winning Children's Literature. It is an easy to maneuver website to create a customized list of books that match your child's interests.


Curriculum: This year students will be learning the Colorado Core Knowledge 7th grade loop reading/writing as well as the 2020 Colorado State Standards that correlate with this loop.