Literature Arts 9-12
The study of language has the potential of taking the students on a journey through time, distances, imagination, and possibilities. In the 9-12 classroom, the focus of language is to help the students see its beauty, the tremendous depth for all ages, and its impact on people of all races, ethnic groups, religions, and social status. It is the ability to communicate that delineates primitive from modern man. We cherish that ability, but it is so much a part of our lives that we can sometimes take for granted the written word. It is the goal of language in the 9-12 class, to help the students become aware of the power of language. That with language, the author has the ability to completely change the image in a reader’s mind or provide no image at all. It is the author, the student, who has the power to make an image come alive on paper. That is where we must take each student—to that place where they are empowered enough to write a paper that comes alive for every reader.
Starting, as in the 6-9 class, with a strong foundation in grammar, the 9-12 students now take the various parts of speech and discovers that each part has layers which further help to delineate that part of speech. They also go in-depth into the parts that had not been discussed previously. Now, the students learn about verbs that are nouns or adjectives (verbals) and connecting words that function as adverbs. When each new part of speech is learned, the students take old passages from favorite books and find examples. They also write this new part in their journals and stories and reports—getting practice and a stronger foundation each time they recognize a definite article, an abstract noun, or a limiting adjective. This foundation also helps the students broaden their vocabulary as the thesaurus becomes a constant companion. Studying the way that words function in a sentence follows the study of grammar. This area of language empowers the students as they now have the ability to shift entire passages (clauses or phrases) to best suit their style. They learn how best to place a specific word or phrase to get maximum impact from their reader and they discover ways to use language so that they achieve their intended meaning. Sentence analysis and then, later, sentence diagramming, lets the students take control of sentences in a way previously unknown. Instead of simply responding to a sentence by symbolizing it, the students can now break the sentence into its component parts and analyze it from a new perspective.
With all of their technical knowledge, the students have continuously incorporated what they have learned about “showing” a person as opposed to “telling” a person. Their creative writing, written research reports, and journals can now be presented as evolving works of art. Each student has also become an editor and has the ability to constructively critique their classmate’s work. The many exercises included in the 9-12 language class, including analyzing by using the “six traits” has enabled the students to perceive language in broader terms than simply the conventions. Now, the students can see whether or not the author has created a picture in their minds. Has he/she started strong, followed in a logical sequence, provided a real voice for the story, and come up with an original idea? The ability to critique others helps the students look at their own work from a new and more objective perspective. They also may fear critique less if they know what others are looking for in their work.
If, in the classroom environment, language is perceived as soothing, enticing, relaxing, exhilarating, and something to be cherished—the students will welcome the opportunity to work more with language. By capturing the imagination through reading to the students or even taking them out to the meadow is to bring language alive. As language is an integral part of every area in the Montessori classroom—through research papers, word problems, biographies and history reports—the ability to have control over it and an understanding of language is to provide the students a steppingstone for anything they wish to accomplish in any area of the curriculum.