Curriculum & Instruction


Novels make up the bulk of what students read, discuss, analyze, and write about in Literature and Composition (LitComp) classes at IVA. Guided by the teacher, students engage in activities and thinking routines to explore each novel. These thinking routines serve as a launching point for discussion, when students share their ideas with partners as well as the whole class. The teacher creates frequent opportunities for students to ask meaningful questions and seek thorough and thoughtful answers to questions in the novel. Students, encouraged by the teacher and IVA's classroom culture, offer comments, observations, and wonderings – habits they come quickly to enjoy and take pride in. Through the novel, students in IVA LitComp classes have explored themes such as what it means to be human, how race and racism can affect a community, the meaning and value of friendship, how an adventure can change you, what makes beautiful language beautiful. 

Some novels students may take on include:

Grade 6

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein,
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, 
  • A Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
  • The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, 
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes. 
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle

Grade 7

  • The City of Ember by Jeanne Dupreau
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniele Defoe
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
  • A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare

Grade 8

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Enders Games by Orson Scott Card
  • Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  • To Kill A Mockingbird  by Harper Lee
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Much, but not all, of classroom language and grammar development is based on Sentence Composing for Middle Schoolers by Don Killgallon and Sentence Combining by William Strong. Students learn to be better writers by studying good writing. Students analyze excerpts of sentences taken from well-written classic and current novels, break the sentences down into meaningful parts, then write ones of their own imitating the styles they see in the book. Over time and with this practice students grow into their own voice and style.

Through deep and practiced analysis of novels and the elements of strong writing, IVA's students can expect to be able to demonstrate all the English Language Arts skills in the Common Core State Standards.

Home thinking is primarily reading from the current novels. Students will be encouraged to read a certain number of chapters each week and think about/write down one question and one concept or connection.  

Syllabus for Literature & Composition Classes: