6th Grade English
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What are the major themes in the course?
In sixth grade English, students examine the role of the hero across different cultures and times periods. Starting in Ancient Greece, students explore the brave warriors in myths who slayed monsters to prove themselves to the gods. As the year goes on, they read a variety of coming-of-age novels about heroes who learn to empower others by speaking out, writing and acting on their beliefs in communities devastated by poverty or stripped of their human rights. From a Chicano neighborhood in Chicago to the Jim Crow South, sixth graders will emerge from this course with a strong sense of the opportunities an individual has to stand up against society.
What is the major focus for reading instruction?
In sixth grade, students will focus more on author’s craft than in previous years by analyzing the literary moves the author makes to enhance the plot and convey a theme. They will look closely at devices (such as dialogue, inner thoughts and imagery) employed to create mood or reveal a perspective. Importantly, students will equip themselves with strategies to identify the meaning of unknown words by looking for contextual clues, Latin roots and word charge. In addition, students will continue to build their stamina for rigorous texts, their annotation skills and their acquisition of advanced vocabulary.
Why did we choose these texts?
- The Lightning Thief and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths: Students examine the literary devices used to depict character motivation while looking closely at the recurring role of hubris in Greek mythology. Students explore the stages of a hero’s journey as a common plot structure across literature.
- Poetry: Students look at the impact of figurative language on the speaker’s tone. This is also the first unit where theme is introduced in the course. Students will trace multiple themes throughout the poems they read about personal heroes.
- The House on Mango Street: Students focus on how the author uses imagery in her vignettes to reveal the narrator’s perspective. They examine how a young Chicana girl uses her writing to empower herself and others in a predominantly patriarchal community.
- The Watsons Go To Birmingham: Students study the moves the author makes to appeal to a young reader such as humor, colloquial dialogue and point of view. This unit also pushes students to understand point of view through a young unreliable narrator. Students explore the ways an African American boy can empower himself and his family despite prejudice and violence during the Civil Rights Era.
- The Giver: Students examine the straightforward writing style of this dystopic novel. They explore the ways Jonas fights for his belief in what is fair and right despite social pressure to conform.
- Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen: Students study the power of a memoir and the role of social media in modern day advocacy. They explore how Jazz, the protagonist, normalizes her experiences as a transgender girl through her nonchalant writing style and upbeat tone.