Mrs. Vande Hey

Mrs. Nancy Vande Hey 

English Grade 8

Email: [email protected]  

(Please scroll down to see the plan for 8th grade English should the students need to quarantine for a 14-day period.)  Want to know how I grade 8th grade English writing assignments?  Click here to see the rubric.


Writing in English is like throwing mud at a wall.  Joseph Conrad

Sadly, many students find this quote from author Joseph Conrad an apt description of the writing process.  Given a blank page students tend to fall into one of two camps.  Camp one: "What?  Only one page?  I'll just write small and fill both sides!"  More commonly students fall into camp two: "Ugh, are you kidding me?  I have to fill this whole page?  Can I just write down what I wrote last time and change a few words?"

In my class, we learn the methods used by the Institute for Excellence in Writing® (or IEW®).  I am a certified IEW® instructor which means I've demonstrated that I not only know and understand the nine units in IEW® but I'm also experienced in teaching those units.  I've taught using these methods for 13 years and know they work to help shape students into more confident and skilled communicators.

To learn more about the IEW® method of writing check out this article: What is IEW?

In a nutshell, my students will practice basic skills needed for effective communication.  To quote the article linked above:

(These skills) were identified long ago by the ancient teachers of rhetoric, and they haven’t changed since: Invention (what to say), Structure (how to organize it), and Style (how to say it). What we do at IEW is nothing new, and that’s good. We don’t claim to have some brilliant and original way of teaching writing. (And by the way, I would be wary of anyone who does make such a claim.) We use an organized and proven method for teaching these basic skills, and because it works, students with a few years of IEW training generally fare far above average in their university classes and professional pursuits.

The structural units of our syllabus are relatively simple patterns for organizing different forms of compositions. They are easy to teach and easy to practice. This is a form of imitation, a discipline which lies at the foundation of learning any art well, whether music, painting, dance, or writing.

"What is IEW? Method not Madness," Andrew Pudewa

I passionately believe that every person's voice needs to be heard in this world.  My goal is to help each student grow into a more competent and compelling writer in my classroom.


In the event that the 8th grade is sent home for a 14-day quarantine, here is how I plan to conduct English class.

Students will need to bring home all their English materials - both binders, their grammar flash cards, and their Fix-It spiral.

Working collaboratively with the other middle school teachers to avoid conflicts, I will schedule a “live” class via Google Meet twice a week with the 8th grade class.  During these 40 minute classes I will explain assignments, create key word outlines with the students, conduct brainstorming sessions, etc.

All writing assignments will be posted in Google Classroom.  Students will need access to Google Classroom on a daily basis as that will be my primary mode of communication with the students and where their assignments will be posted.  They will be expected to turn in completed assignments and mark them as complete in the Google Classroom.

If your student will not have access to a computer to type up writing assignments, please notify me as soon as possible and we’ll discuss alternatives.

If your student needs to quarantine due to a family member testing positive for COVID-19 but the rest of the class is still in school, I will work out a plan with that student and the parents for how work will be completed.  I will set up chat times with the student to explain assignments and may be able to record some of the brainstorming and work sessions from school to send to the quarantined student.  Flexibility will be key on both the part of the student and me.