Middle School Courses and Units

At middle school, each Inquiry By Design course of study is made up of seven units featuring detailed, but flexible, lesson plans aimed at building critical, standards-aligned, grade-level literacy skills. Each unit is built around challenging, grade-appropriate texts and spiraling cycles of work marked by reading, writing, and collaborative small-group and whole-class discussion. All grades of Inquiry By Design’s middle school course of study feature

  • Independent reading initiatives focused on selecting books, setting goals, and tracking progress.
  • A literacy notebook and independent writing routines that nestle alongside inquiries into the craft of writing.
  • Error journal work that supports and reinforces grade-appropriate language conventions by having students identify, track, and solve grammatical errors in their own writing.
  • Compelling short fiction as a basis for in-depth orientation to the process of developing and writing text-based arguments.
  • Engaging informational texts to help students learn to determine and analyze the development of central ideas and arguments.
  • Challenging literary nonfiction to build the strategies, skills, and tenacity to deal with difficulty head on.
  • Detective fiction, essays, and reportage that push students beyond superficial comprehension into the realm of inference, analysis, and inquiry.
  • Multi-text studies that invite students to participate in conversations about important ideas as they take on significant narrative or informative/explanatory writing projects.
  • Repeated, supported summary writing practice opportunities to ensure growth in this critical form of writing.

Assessment-Driven Writing Instruction (Grades 6-8)

Middle School Overview (Grades 6-8)

Grade 6 Units

  • Introduction to the Reading Life
  • Introduction to the Writing Life
  • Introduction to Interpretive Work (Bambara and Baxter)
  • Story and the Brain (Informational Texts)
  • Dealing With Difficulty (Doyle and Dickinson)
  • Reading Nonfiction Like a Detective
  • Reading and Writing Fairy Tales

*Optional add-on: How Poems Are Built

Grade 7 Units

  • Reading as Problem Solving
  • Writers on Writing: Advice and Publication in the Writing Life
  • Introduction to Interpretive Work (Hughes and Jackson)
  • Texting and Language Change (Informational Texts)
  • Dealing With Difficulty (cummings and Dillard)
  • Investigative Report Writing: Explanations and Arguments
  • Growing Up: Thinking With Literature

*Optional add-on: Creating Characters in Poetry: A Study of Two Poets

Grade 8 Units

  • Studying Craft: Apprenticeship and Independent Writing
  • Vantage Points: A Reading Life Study
  • Introduction to Interpretive Work (Updike and Rivera)
  • Superstitions, Patterns, and Control (Informational Texts)
  • Dealing With Difficulty (Reed and Thomas)
  • Metaphorically Speaking: Reading Nonfiction Like a Cognitive Linguist
  • Faces of the Essay: An Orientation to the Form

*Optional add-on: Poems as Puzzles: A Pair of Poets Study