Welcome and Class Expectations

Welcome to 8th Grade Language Arts!


Mrs. DeSciora -- Room 210 --  desciora@nvnet.org

EXTRA HELP days are Tuesday and Thursday, from 3:00-3:15

What an exciting time to be a student at CDW!  Our 8th grade language arts class meets 10 periods each week giving you extra time to focus more on digital learning, research skills, and reading and writing skills.  Using your Chromebooks, you will be totally immersed in a 21st learning environment, both in the classroom, and the media center and broadcast studio. During this busy, important final year of middle school, we cover writing, vocabulary, informational text, literature, grammar, research and digital literacy skills, spelling and public speaking in greater detail. One of my responsibilities is to prepare you for the reality and rigor of high school. There is a greater emphasis on responsibility in my class –your responsibility to complete work on time and to do the best work you can.  If you need help with something, please ask! We’re all here to help you do your best!


  • As 8th graders, you will embark on an exploration of issues that affect all of us. You will have the opportunity to develop your personal beliefs on a variety of compelling topics. Literature, informational text, video clips, field trips and class discussions will be used to explore social issues and help you gain a sense of personal responsibility, especially in making decisions. The central theme of the year will be choices and responsibility, and you will have an opportunity to make a difference in the world. There will be an integration of grammar, spelling, vocabulary, writing, reading and research skills in each unit as well as an interdisciplinary connection to the social studies course.  The year will culminate with a Changemaker Fair, which will include a report on how you made a difference in our community.

  •  This year, we will be reading the following:

    • Unit One:  The Choices We Make -- a foundation unit that includes readings of short stories, articles, poems, folktales, and a shortened version of a famous play to help us answer the question:  What is the relationship between choices and consequences?

    • Unit Two:  The Drama of Persuasion -- Reginald Rose’s play, Twelve Angry Men, still stands as a model of characterization and the effective use of persuasion.  It’s fast-paced, interesting and thought-provoking! A writing activity will be part of the unit.

    • Unit Three:  Justice, Gender and Race -- Harper Lee’s beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, has been called “our national novel” for many reasons.  We’ll take a trip back to the 1930s American South with a little girl named Scout...and I promise you --  your life will be changed forever! This unit will culminate in a formal writing assignment.

    • Unit Four:  The Evolution of a Hero - Using Laura Hillenbrand’s young adult adaptation of the novel Unbroken, we will explore how one man struggled to maintain his dignity, identify, and self-worth against dehumanizing efforts.  Writing journals, research, and reflection will be featured in this unit.

    • Unit Five: - Just Following The Rules -- Written in a style best described as “verse fiction,” author Jason Reynolds’s award-winning novel, Long Way Down,  is a timely, thought-provoking story that will force us to explore who we are, what we believe, and how that sometimes conflicts with the lessons we’ve learned from our parents, siblings, and communities.  There will be many opportunities for self-expression in Socratic seminar, class discussion, writing and projects.

    • Unit Six:  “Why Didn’t Anyone Try to Stop Them?” --  A student in Mr. Ross’s history class, asks this question after viewing a film on the Nazis and the Holocaust.  Mr. Ross, the protagonist in The Wave,  attempts to answer her, but it gets him thinking; why didn’t the German people do something?   He then sets out to teach his students a lesson...with chilling results.  We will explore the human tendency to be obedient, the danger of blind compliance, and the effects of propaganda on choices and decision-making in Germany during World War II and in our own lives.

Independent Reading

  • Students who write well and possess an interesting vocabulary all do one thing -- they read -- a lot.  They read what’s assigned to them in school and they read for pleasure.  They read the back of the cereal box at breakfast and they read the newspaper.  They read multiple genres, series, classic literature, and graphic novels. They read every day.  You must make reading a part of your life.   There will be more information about independent reading on a separate handout.  In the meantime, take a look around this classroom...and find something to read!!


  • Your grade will be based on the following criteria:  Homework completed on time, grades on tests, quizzes, essays, projects, and class participation (group and individual).  I will be using a straight point scoring system for grades, which means grades are based on strict percentages of correct answers. This is a transparent system, which means you will be continually aware of how you are doing in class.  

  • Let’s Talk About Homework…. there’s homework in this class. That includes writing assignments, reading, studying, reviewing, etc. Some weeks, there will be homework each night. Some weeks you may receive only 1 or 2 assignments. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO READ INDEPENDENTLY EVERY SINGLE NIGHT FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES – SO EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO WRITTEN HOMEWORK, YOU ALWAYS HAVE HOMEWORK! You need to understand….homework matters and counts in this class. I will post homework, long term assignments, resources – virtually anything you need to be successful in this class on Google Classroom.  Homework is broken into two categories: graded and ungraded assignments. I will usually tell you ahead of time if a homework assignment is to be graded. Occasionally, I will POP a homework assignment…meaning, I will collect the assignment for grading, although I didn’t tell you I would. I will only do this if I find the quality (and quantity) of homework being completed by the class as a whole is weak. Unless an assignment is being graded, you get no extra points for completing your homework. It is your responsibility to get your assignments completed on time (including at home reading). However, if you miss an assignment, I deduct 10 points from your cumulative point total for the marking period. For example, if you’ve earned 500 out of a possible 600 points, and you’ve missed three homework assignments, I will subtract 30 points from 500, giving you 470 points. Your grade will drop from a B (83.3) to a C+ (78.3). As you can see, not doing homework will have a substantial impact on your quarterly grade. Since I’m not an ogre (although some would disagree... Smiley, Smilies, Happy ), I understand that everyone has an off day. Therefore, if only one ungraded assignment is missed during the marking period, I will overlook the “0” in my grade book. However, if I see two or more missed ungraded assignments…I will deduct 10 points, etc.

Miscellaneous Details…

  • Testing day for 2019-2020 will be Tuesday. I will try to schedule all major tests to take place on this day. Quizzes and assignments can be due on any day. 

  • Ungraded homework assignments will not be accepted as late…unless absent.  Work not completed due to an absence must be made up. Any homework, test, quiz, assignment, etc. that is due on a day you are absent MUST be completed within a reasonable time frame (1 day out=1 extra day for homework ONLY). Any long term assignment, test or quiz that was assigned one week or more prior to an absence must be handed in the day you return to school. 

  •  You MUST have your independent reading book (fiction or nonfiction BOOKS-- no magazines, manuals, pamphlets)on independent reading day. Failure to do so will result in a loss of points from your point total. 

  •  I hope you will find your final year in middle school exciting, fun, informative and rewarding. I look forward to being your teacher this year. Please do not hesitate to speak with me at any time. I am here to help you become the best student and person you can be!