6th Grade English

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Course Summary

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 with myths from ancient Greece, students explore the brave warriors who slayed monsters to prove themselves to the gods. As the year goes on, they read about a variety of heroes who empower others by speaking out, writing, boycotting and acting on their beliefs in communities devastated by war, poverty, and segregation. From communist China 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 movement.

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.

Other information about this course:

There are two key interdependent courses within the ELA program at Match Middle School: English and Composition. English classes are 50-minute daily blocks in which students develop college reading and thinking skills such as annotating the text, analyzing literary devices, discussing deep themes, and exploring the historical relevance of literature. Composition classes are 50-minute blocks that meet four times a week in which students write literary essays about the themes and topics they study in English class. Composition units are not yet available online.