7th grade English Language Arts skills: Find out what you need to know for your student

In seventh grade, students learn to read and understand increasingly challenging texts.
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By Parent Toolkit Staff

Want to help your seventh-grader master reading and writing? Here are some of the skills your child will be learning in the classroom.

Reading & writing

Rich and challenging texts

Read closely from rich and challenging seventh-grade-level texts, with guidance when text is particularly demanding.

Some sample texts for seventh-graders:

  • "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L’Engle
  • "Dragonwings" by Laurence Yep
  • "Paul Revere’s Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave" Written by Himself
  • "Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution" by Linda Monk

Evidence and making inferences

Explain what a story, play, poem, or informational text says, and make inferences (“read between the lines”), citing several pieces of evidence (such as facts, figures, quotes, or other information) from the text.

Foster conversation at home

Encourage discussion as much as possible. Ask your child for her opinion about political and social issues, or about books, movies, and TV shows. Listen carefully and prompt her to express her ideas thoughtfully, backing up her claims with evidence. Having dinner together as a family may be harder to do as your child gets older and there are more demands on her time, but this is one of the best ways to stimulate these kinds of conversations.

Identifying the theme

Identify the theme or main idea in both literary and informational text, and analyze how the theme unfolds. Summarize the text objectively.

Use texting

Several times each week, have your child text you a full sentence summarizing a theme of something she is currently reading. Ask that she do this in a full sentence and not with texting shorthand.

Tracing an argument

Trace an argument and specific claims in a text, and evaluate whether the reasoning is sound and whether there is enough relevant or meaningful evidence to support the claims.

Understanding vocabulary

Read and understand seventh grade vocabulary, and determine how an author’s word choices affect the meaning and tone of a text; analyze the effect of rhymes and other repeated sounds (such as alliteration) in a poem, story or play.

Alliteration is when several words in a sentence have the same first consonant sound: Simon says; jump for joy; man in the moon.

Learning new words and phrases

Use different strategies to understand new words and phrases; for example, use context as a clue; use common Greek and Latin roots as a clue; consult a dictionary online or in print.

  • Examples of common Greek roots: biblio (book) as in bibliography; therm (heat) as in thermometer.
  • Examples of common Latin roots: aqua (water), as in aquarium; cent (hundred), as in century

Making supported arguments

Write arguments that state a claim, acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and support the claim with reasons and evidence from accurate and credible sources.

Informative papers

Write informative or explanatory papers that examine a topic and express ideas by carefully selecting and analyzing information. Use facts, details, and other information to develop the topic.

Creating narratives

Write stories or narratives about real or imaginary experiences. Establish a context and point of view, and develop story elements such as characters, a well-sequenced plot, and descriptive details.

Citing research

Include evidence from text to support thinking and research.

Producing and publishing

Use technology to produce and publish written work, to work on writing with others, and to link to and cite sources.

Using basic grammar rules

Use basic rules of English grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in written work. (Incorrect: Walking to school, the bus went by a group of kids. Correct: Walking to school, a group of kids saw the bus go by.)

Locating information

Locate information efficiently; use effective search terms online.

Listening & speaking

Class discussions

Participate in class discussions about complex seventh grade topics, texts, and issues. Be prepared to refer to evidence in a text when discussing ideas, and be open to revising a viewpoint in response to new ideas.

Evaluating others' arguments

Listen to another speaker’s arguments and evaluate whether the claims are based on sound reasoning, and whether there is enough relevant or meaningful evidence to support the claims.

Giving a presentation

Give a clear, well-organized presentation to construct an argument or explain a research finding. Support ideas with facts, details, and descriptions.

Encourage accurate descriptions

Word precision becomes more important as teens move through middle and high school. Encourage your child to regularly describe items, locations, and events to you. Identify words that you find vague in these descriptions and ask her to think of better, more descriptive, or more accurate words to express what she is thinking.

Research & inquiry

Research projects

Conduct short research projects to answer a research question, gathering relevant information from print and online sources and generating additional questions for further research.

Evaluating sources

Evaluate whether sources are accurate and can be trusted. Quote or paraphrase material correctly, without plagiarizing or copying it and cite sources properly.

For tips to help your seventh-grader in English Language Arts class, check out our seventh grade English Language Arts tips page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts and align with the Common Core State Standards.