• 8th Grade English Language Arts syllabus

    Mr. Ray Randall                                                                                 The Downtown School

    8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies                            Ph: (336) 703-4725

    Email:  RJRandall@wsfcs.k12.nc.us                                           Room 310


    The standards taught in English Language Arts are more rigorous than before to help better prepare students for tomorrow.  This is an exciting time and I am ready for this new journey!

    Here is some of what you can expect this year:



    One of the main focuses of reading in 8th grade is reading with a purpose. This includes reading materials to support arguments, drawing themes and purposes from an author's work, and how the author supports that theme.  Finding details for evidence will be in all reading assignments.

    Book Assignments

    Every student will read one book for an assignment each quarter (in other words- book reports).  The book in the third quarter will be a class book.  All other books chosen by students must be cleared by Mr. Randall.  I will approve the books based on reading level.  I will NOT approve or disapprove a book based on language, violence, or other questionable content.  Therefore, parents must provide written “permission” when students submit their book for approval.  One of the student-chosen books must be non-fiction.  Book reports are assigned early in the quarter and are due near the end with the exception of the class book.  Written instructions and rubrics are given out for each book report when assigned.  Do not let book reports sneak up on you at the end of the quarter when you generally have multiple projects due in other classes. 

    I have put together a modest reading library in the classroom based on what books I have seen in other classrooms over years of substitute teaching and observing other teachers.  I have, to the best of my ability and knowledge, removed books with strong profanity.  Just because the books are in my library doesn’t mean they are automatically approved for the book reports.  Some are just for fun.  Students may check out a book by writing their name, the book title, and the date on a note card and turning it into Mr. Randall.  When they are done with the book, the student should bring the book to Mr. Randall and collect the notecard from him.  Do not just put it back on the shelf.  As long as Mr. Randall has the notecard, the student is financially responsible for the book.

    There is one book in that library, “Hemingway’s Hurricane” about the great Labor Day Florida Keys hurricane of 1935, that includes graphic pictures and language, that will not be allowed to be checked out or even looked at in class without permission of the parent. 

    Students are expected to ALWAYS have something to read.  There will be occasional spot checks to make sure the students have their books.  Students don’t have to take their books to lunch or PlayPark or PE, but unless told otherwise by a teacher, the student should bring their book to other classes.



    Students will learn to write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and evidence. "Because" is not evidence. Students will learn to back up what they say and believe. Citing work will be very important this year.   We will work in the ELA format and use in-text citation when appropriate.

    Plagiarism will NOT be tolerated on any level.  Plagiarizing a paper, even a small section of it, will generally result in a failing grade and parents being contacted.  How the student handles the situation will determine any further discipline issues (for example, saying you didn’t do it and I can prove you did is going to get an administrator involved quickly.  Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.).  Plagiarism can include copying another student’s work, such as a homework answers.

    Part of the writing his year will be completing a research paper that requires students to persuade the reader on a debatable topic.  There will also be a number of smaller daily writing prompts.  Students will write a couple of these a week.  After a few weeks, students pick their best three and rewrite them.  Those three will be graded.



    This is a different way of saying grammar. Of course this means punctuation and spelling. But we will go into more depth in certain parts of speech, especially verbs.  Grammar errors are not overlooked most times..  Therefore, students should make a habit of double checking work.

    Students will also gain a deeper grasp of language by interpreting figures of speech, such as irony, puns, etc.



    How a student listens, how they process information, and how well they communicate is a large part of this class.  Students need to learn how to separate opinion from fact, and why information is being presented. They should also be able to put forth their own opinions in fact-based expressions. Students should be able to express themselves in speech, in writing, and in other ways, such as in a multimedia presentation.  There will be PLENTY of opportunities to work on public speaking in class.  Public speaking also means public listening.  Often, students grade each other on oral presentations.  Students need to be able to justify scores and be able to critique their peers.



                Students should enter the classroom quietly each day and move directly to their seats.  If pencils need to be sharpened, this should be done before class.  Do not wait until class starts.  Students should then immediately look on the board and/or screen for instructions.  If there are any instructions, they should be started at that time.  Papers that need to be printed should be done before school, not the beginning of class.

                    At the end of each class, students are expected to have their desks AND the area around their desks cleaned.  Work should be turned into the appropriate class drawer by the door.



    Each day you come to class you will need the following:

    1.       A notebook for notes and other writing assignments. (I would suggest a notebook with perforated edges so material can be turned in if needed.)

    2.       Loose leaf paper

    3.       Multiple folders to hold writing assignments.  Students will be expected to keep up with more of their writing assignments for longer periods of time than in the past.  A binder of some sort will also help the student remain organized.

    4.       Flash drive- while this is not a MUST have, your life will be easier

    5.       Pencils and/or pens (only blue or black ink please)

    6.       Reading material (particularly which ever book you are reading that quarter)

    7.       Text book.  Bring it every day even if it doesn’t look like it will be used in class.  You never know when you can use it for reference.  The only time not to bring it is if the teacher specifically tells you not to do so.


    While there is not a large need for art supplies, there may be a couple of times when some art supplies would be nice.  I do have a limited supply that students can use when needed.



    Let me begin by saying that this is how we will start out the grading system.  If I see a need to change it, I will.  Students will be given advanced notice of any changes. 

    All grades will be made available in Parent Portal.  I also try to put the student’s current average on each assignment returned so they know where they stand academically.


    1-      Assigned/ preannounced tests:  15% - There will not be many of these each quarter.  Therefore, each one is a big deal.  Please take these announced assessments very seriously.

    2-      Book reports:  15%- Each quarter students will be responsible for one book report.  This report will have a written, oral, and visual aspect to it.  More detailed instructions and a rubric will be given about these reports.  This one assignment carries the most weight of any you do in this class.

    3-      Long writing assignments:  15%- These are longer writing assignments where students have more than one class period to finish the assignment.  Grammar and content will be included in the grade.  There are usually just 1-2 of these assignments each quarter.

    4-      Short writing assignments:  15% - These are assignments in which the student has just the class period to complete the assignment.  Often these will include warm up writing assignments.  While grammar will be assessed, content is the most important aspect of these assignments.

    5-      Pop/daily quizzes:  10% - Students will occasionally be given short quizzes to make sure they are keeping up with the material.  Therefore, it is important for students to pay close attention in class and review materials outside of class. 

    6-      Oral presentations:  10% - It is important for students to find their voice.  It is equally as important for students to know how to use that voice.  Each quarter students will be expected to present in front of the class.  This may include a reading or presenting an oral argument where reading from a prepared statement will not be allowed.  How well a student listens will also have an effect on his/her grade.

    7-      Classwork/Homework:  20% - I would love to say I will not assign homework this year because I want students to have a life outside of school.  Unfortunately, that is not realistic.  I do not assign homework every night (other than reviewing and studying material already presented in class).  However, when I assign it, I expect it to be done and I expect to see effort in the work.  Effort should be rewarded.  That is why classwork/homework is worth 20%.  Please note that not all work done at home will be graded as homework.  Some assignments may fall under different categories.



            100 - 90 = A

             89 – 80 = B

             79 – 70 = C

             69 – 60 = D

            59 or less = F


    Students will lose 10% of the potential grade for each day an assignment is turned in late.



    Students are 100% responsible for making up missed assignments.  Mr. Randall does not have to inform the student if they miss an assignment unless they ask.  If a student is absent the day an assignment is due, that assignment is due when they return.  If it is a missed test, quiz, or in-class assignment, students have one day to arrange to complete the assignment if it is an unexcused absence and three days if it is excused.  Assignments may be made up before or after school (after school can mean after dismissal is complete at 3:30) or during Study Hall.  Mr. Randall must be informed at least a day in advance.



    Everybody has an off day.  No one is perfect.  With that in mind, everyone gets three passes each quarter.  The pass may be used to go to a locker to get a forgotten book or assignment.  It may also be used as a sort of “do-over” for an assignment the student wishes he/she did better on.  (Please note that a make-up assignment may be more difficult than the original.)

    Passes may not be used on assignments not turned in.  The student must turn in the original assignment and receive a grade before being allowed to use a pass on that assignment.  Effort must be shown on the original assignment.  If a student wishes to use a pass on an assignment they turned in late, they may only receive the credit that was originally available to them the day they finally turned it in (keeping in mind 10% off each day it is late).

    Passes may not be shared.  Unused passes do not carry over from one quarter to the next.



    I will do my best to be available to students and/or their parents outside of class.  I try to arrive at school no later than 7:15 each morning and I usually do not leave before 4:00.  Please note that I may have other meetings on certain days and may not be immediately available.  Scheduling a time to meet is the best way to make sure I am available.



    Students will not call home from class for any reason other than immediate medical need or emergency.  Emergencies do not include calling home to have a parent bring a forgotten assignment.  Nor does calling home to confirm or change pick up arrangements. 



    Cell phones, I-pads, MP3 players, games, and other electronic devices are NOT permitted in class.  These should be kept LOCKED in a locker.  Please remember to turn off electronics.  If it makes noise in your locker, you have disrupted the class for which there are consequences.  If for some reason you bring it to class, the teacher will take if it is seen (this includes hanging out of a pocket).  On the first offense, the teacher will take the object and turn it into the office where it will remain until the parent comes AFTER SCHOOL to pick it up.  

    If a student is caught placing a call or sending a text during class, further discipline issues will be taken which could also lead to severe academic consequences.  (If you text during a test, even if you are finished, you will receive a 0 for the test.)

    Headphones, even if not plugged in, will be subject to the same rules as other electronic devices.



    Students are not allowed to leave class to go to another teacher’s class unless cleared with BOTH teachers before class.  The only time working on another class’s assignment is permitted is between 8:00-8:15 or if the student asks permission after all possible work in the current class is complete or permission is otherwise granted.  Otherwise, that assignment will be taken by Mr. Randall and not returned.