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8th Grade Language Arts (Independent Study)

8th Grade Language Arts (Independent Study)

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Quick Overview

Throughout this 8th Grade Language Arts course, students will engage in literary analysis of short stories, poetry, drama, novels, and nonfiction. The course focuses on the interpretation of literary works and the development of oral and written communication skills in standard (formal) English. The program is organized in four strands: Literature, Composition; Grammar, Usage and Mechanics (GUM); and Vocabulary.

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Course Overview

Literary Analysis and Composition is a course designed for students at the end of the middle grades and the beginning of high school (grades 8-9). Throughout this course, students will engage in literary analysis of short stories, poetry, drama, novels, and nonfiction. The course focuses on the interpretation of literary works and the development of oral and written communication skills in standard (formal) English. The program is organized in four strands: Literature, Composition; Grammar, Usage and Mechanics (GUM); and Vocabulary.

Course Outline


Designed to encourage the appreciation of classic literature, this strand exposes students to both canonical works and less familiar texts and offers a variety of literature to suit diverse tastes. Whether they are reading poetry, drama, autobiography, short stories, or novels, students will be guided through close readings so that they can analyze the formal features of literary texts. Lessons also provide rich background and information to encourage contextual exploration. In this literature program, students read "what's between the lines" to interpret literature and they go beyond the book to discover how the culture in which a work of literature was created contributes to the themes and ideas it conveys. Students will consider how the struggles, subjects, and ideas they find within these works are relevant to everyday living.

Readings include:

  • "A Cub Pilot" from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • Selections from "Barrio Boy" by Ernest Galarza
  • "No Gumption" by Russell Baker
  • Selections from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Poetry: Stories in Verse

  • "Lochinvar" by Sir Walter Scott
  • "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats
  • "The Wreck of the Hesperus" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "The Creation" by James Weldon Johnson

Short Stories

  • "The Glass of Milk" by Manuel Rojas
  • "To Build a Fire" by Jack London
  • "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber
  • "The Piece of String" by Guy de Maupassant
  • "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
  • "The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton

Poetry: To Everything There Is a Season

  • "Spring and Fall" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • "In Just" by E.E. Cummings
  • "July" by Susan H. Sweet
  • "To Autumn" by John Keats
  • "The Snowstorm" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "The Snow" by Emily Dickinson

The Bible as Literature

  • Selections from Genesis: The Creation and the Fall; Cain and Abel
  • Selected Psalms
  • Parables: The Great Sheep, The Last Supper, The Prodigal Son
  • Faith, Hope, and Charity

Poetry: Voices and Viewpoints

  • "All" (Chinese poem) by Bei Dao
  • "Also All" (an answer to "All") by Shu Ting
  • "Rainy Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "Invictus" by W. E. Henley
  • "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks
  • "The Negro Speaks Rivers" by Langston Hughes
  • "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost
  • Sonnets 18 and 29 by William Shakespeare

Poetry of Ideas

  • "I Dwell in Possibility" by Emily Dickinson
  • "Will There Really Be a Morning" by Emily Dickinson
  • "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas
  • "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • "The Battle of Blenheim" by Robert Southey


  • Antigone by Sophocles
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Autobiography (choose 1)

  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Novels (choose 2 during the year)

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Partial List of Skills Taught:

  • Describe characters based on speech, actions, or interactions with others
  • Demonstrate knowledge of authors, characters, and events of historically or culturally significant works of literature.
  • Identify character traits and motivations.
  • Identify and interpret allusions.
  • Identify conflict and resolution.
  • Identify and explain the use of irony.
  • Identify and interpret figurative language.
  • Identify and interpret imagery.
  • Identify and interpret sensory language.
  • Identify cause and effect relationships.
  • Identify climax.
  • Identify elements of a drama.
  • Identify elements of a short story.
  • Identify theme.
  • Identify point of view
  • Make inferences and draw conclusions.
  • Recognize the effect of setting or culture on a literary work.
  • Recognize use of language to convey mood.
  • Recognize author's attitude or tone.
  • Recognize author's purpose and devices used to accomplish it, including author's language, organization,and structure.
  • Recognize how point of view affects literature.


This strand builds on the skills introduced in Intermediate Composition Courses. In this writing program, students continue to practice writing essays in various genres and increasingly focus on model essays from noteworthy authors. Many units use the literature lessons as a springboard and thereby reinforce the connection between reading for meaning and writing to communicate one's own ideas.Students learn the form and structure of a variety of essays they will encounter in their academic careers including:memoirs (narrative), literary essays, compare and contrast essays, research papers, descriptive writing, and arguments.In writing each essay, students go through a process of planning, organizing, and revising, and they learn to examine their own writing with a critical eye, paying attention to ideas,organization, structure, style, and correctness. Throughout the course, students write in response to prompts similar to those they will encounter on standardized tests.


  • Analysis of a Memoir: Examining Mark Twain's "A Cub Pilot"
  • Planning a Memoir
  • Writing a Memoir I
  • Writing an Memoir II
  • Revising a Memoir
  • Proofreading and Publishing a Memoir

Literary Essay: Character

  • What Is Literary Essay About Character?
  • Planning a Literary Essay About Character
  • Focusing and Organizing a Literary Essay About Character
  • Writing a Literary Essay About Character
  • Revising a Literary Essay About Character
  • Proofreading and Publishing a Literary Essay About Character


  • What Is an Argument?
  • Recognizing Logical Fallacies and Emotional Appeals
  • Choosing a Topic and Gathering Information
  • Planning and Organizing the Argument
  • Writing an Argument
  • Revising an Argument
  • Proofreading and Publishing an Argument

Making Us See: Description

  • Seeing with the Mind's Eye I: Analysis of Excerpt from Hamlin Garland's Boy Life on the Prairie
  • Seeing with the Mind's Eye II: Analysis of Excerpt from Henry David Thoreau's Walden
  • Seeing with the Mind's Eye III: Analysis of an Excerpt from Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Recognizing Descriptive Language
  • Planning a Descriptive Essay
  • Writing a Descriptive Essay
  • Polishing a Descriptive Essay

Research Paper

  • What Is a Research Paper?
  • Taking Notes I
  • Taking Notes II
  • Organizing the Information
  • Writing a Research Paper I
  • Writing a Research Paper II
  • Creating a Works Cited Page
  • Revising a Research Paper
  • Proofreading and Publishing a Research Paper
  • Revising
  • Bibliography
  • Proofreading
  • Publishing

Literary Essay: Theme

  • What Is a Literary Essay About Theme?
  • Planning a Literary Essay About Theme
  • Writing a Literary Essay About Theme
  • Revising a Literary Essay About Theme
  • Proofreading and Publishing a Literary Essay About Theme

Literary Essay: Compare and Contrast

  • What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay About Literature?
  • Planning a Compare and Contrast Essay About Literature
  • Organizing a Compare and Contrast Essay About Literature
  • Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay About Literature
  • Polishing a Compare and Contrast Essay About Literature

Great Speeches and Oratory

  • Reading, Listening to, and Analyzing a Speech I:The Gettysburg Address
  • Reading, Listening to, and Analyzing a Speech I:I Have a Dream
  • Planning a Speech
  • Writing a Speech
  • Revising a Speech
  • Practicing and Delivering a Speech


How can a modifier be misplaced or dangling? Is there a positive to appositives? What's a gerund? The Grammar,Usage, and Mechanics (GUM) course addresses these and many other topics, with reinforcement activities in sentence analysis, sentence structure, and proper punctuation.Students analyze syntax and diagram sentences in order to understand how words, phrases, and clauses function in relation to each other. Skills updates, frequent exercises,cumulative reviews, and regular practice help students absorb the rules so they can confidently apply them in their own writing. The Barrett Kendall Language Handbook provides exercises and a ready resource for grammar rules and conventions.

Sentences, Fragments, and Run-Ons

  • Sentences
  • Fragments
  • Run-Ons


  • Direct Objects and Indirect Objects
  • Predicate Nominatives and Predicate Adjectives


  • Prepositional Phrases
  • Misplaced Modifiers and Appositives

Verbals and Verbal Phrases

  • Participles and Participial Phrases
  • Gerund
  • Gerund Phrases
  • Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases
  • Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers


  • Independent and Subordinate Clauses
  • Adverb Clauses
  • Adjective Clauses
  • Functions of Relative Pronouns
  • Noun Clauses
  • Sentence Structure

Using Verbs

  • Principal Parts of Verbs
  • Verb Tense
  • Shift in Tense
  • Active and Passive Voice

Using Pronouns

  • Pronoun Case
  • Pronoun Problems
  • Pronouns in Comparison
  • Indefinite Pronoun Antecedents and Antecedent Problems

Subject and Verb Agreement

  • Agreement of Subjects and Verbs
  • Common Agreement Problems
  • Other Agreement Problems

Using Adjectives and Adverbs

  • Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs

Capital Letters

  • Capitalization
  • More Capitalization

End Marks and Commas

  • End Marks
  • Commas That Separate
  • Comma That Enclose
  • More Commas That Enclose

Italics and Quotation Marks

  • Uses of Italics and Quotation Marks
  • Direct Quotations
  • Other Uses of Quotation Marks

Other Punctuation

  • Apostrophes
  • Semicolons
  • Colons and Hyphens
  • Dashes and Parentheses


Are you implacable or placid? Are you apathetic or empathic? Though these pairs of words are nearly opposite in their meanings, they are closely related and easily defined by students who know the Latin root,"pacere"(to please) and the Greek root pathos (suffering). K12's Vocabulary program uses the Vocabulary from Classical Roots program (from Educator's Publishing Service) to build knowledge of Greek and Latin words that form the roots of many English words. The purpose of the program is to help students unlock the meanings of words from classical roots, not necessarily to memorize lists of difficult or obscure vocabulary words. These polysyllabic words are those that frequently cause students to stumble and often appear on standardized tests. Throughout this program, students will define and use words with Greek and Latin roots, and use word origins and derivations to determine the meaning of new words, as they increase their own vocabularies and develop valuable test-taking skills.

The Person

  • Latin roots humanas, homo, vir, ego, genos, genus, generis
  • Greek roots anthropos; gyne, femina, autos, gens, gentis

Personal Relationships

  • Latin roots matrix, pater, frater, avunculus, familia, uxor, puer, morior, nascor
  • Greek roots pais, sum, esse, fui, futurum, thanatos


  • Latin roots amo, amicus, odium, pax, cupio, placere, placare
  • Greek roots philos, phileo, phobos, pathos, miso, dys

Creature Comforts

  • Latin roots domus, dominus, dormio, somnus, lavare, vestis, coquere, vorare, melis, sal, bibere, potare, ludere

The Head

  • Latin roots caput, cerebrum, facies, frons, oris, oratum, dens, gurges
  • Greek roots odon

The Body

  • Latin roots caro, collum, corpus, cor, os, dorsum, nervus, sanguis, sedeo
  • Greek roots derm, gaster

The Hands

  • Latin roots manus, dextra, digitus, flecto, rapio, plico, prehendo, pes, gradior, ambulo, calcitro, sto, stio, sisto
  • Greek root podos

Additional Information

Course Length 12 Months
Prerequisites N/A
Course Materials

Many K12 courses utilize physical materials in addition to the online content.  These materials may include the following.

Standard Kits

STANDARD kits contain K12 course materials that are required for completion of the course.  These kits include K12 authored materials and/or difficult to procure materials that a student needs to complete a course. Printed reference guides are not included in Standard kits.


CONSUMABLE kits contain only those materials from the standard kit that are intended for one time use. Families who purchase a Standard kit for Child A could later purchase a Consumable kit for Child B to complete the same course.


Offered for added convenience, ADDITIONAL kits contain easily obtained materials needed for the course which a family may already have in their home. 

Coach and/or Student Reference Guides are available for purchase with some courses.  Electronic versions of these reference guides are also available within digital courses.

Course Start Date

Independent Study Courses

Courses can be started any day for independent study courses without a teacher. Full-year courses last 12 months and semester courses last 6 months.


Courses Taught by a K12 Teacher

Courses with a teacher have designated start dates throughout Fall and Spring. Full-year courses last 10 months and semester courses last 5 months. Courses are taught by teachers in K12 International Academy. For details on start dates, click here.

Teacher Assisted This course is available in two forms: taught by a teacher or designed for independent use. This teacher-supported course is taught through K12 International Academy. It is also available as independent study, where a parent will guide the course.
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To use this course, you'll need a computer with an Internet connection.  Some courses require additional free software programs, which you can download from the Internet.

Hardware and Browsers (Minimum Recommendations)

Windows OS

  • CPU: 1.8 GHz or faster processor (or equivalent)

  • RAM: 1GB of RAM

  • Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 10.0 versions or higher, Chrome 17.0 or higher

  • At this time our users are encouraged not to upgrade to Windows 10 or Edge (the new browser)


Mac OS

  • CPU: PowerPC G4 1 GHz or faster processor; Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz or faster processor

  • RAM: 1GB of RAM

  • Browser: Firefox 10.0 versions or higher, Chrome 17.0 or higher (Safari is not supported!)

Using  Mobile Devices with the Online School

Unfortunately, many portable devices do not support the software products required to run the Online School. These devices may include (but not limited to): Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, iPods, Kindles, eReaders, and Andriod phones.

Internet Connections

It is highly recommended that a broadband connection be used instead of dial up.