Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Compare and Contrast: Book vs Movie

Today in Language Arts, students worked toward their compare and contrast analysis standard by reading a chapter of The Fault In Our Stars and watching the movie clip of the same scene. Students were completely engaged in this lesson and ideas about the differences between book and movie were hotly debated. I love seeing our kiddos get passionate about any topic, and even more so recognizing and sympathizing with the struggle and heartache that people with terminal illnesses go through.

I encourage you to discuss today's lesson in Language Arts with your child. Here is the video clip we showed and a PDF of the chapter that was analyzed. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rewriting Perspective

During these final two days of Unit 2 (Thursday Nov. 5 and Friday Nov. 6), we are re-writing a scene from our group novels to change the perspective of one or more characters. Students really enjoyed all of the discussion and group work we did in this unit with their novel groups! Please ask your student about their brainstorm today and how they are going to rewrite a scene in their novel. This is a unique and challenging task and I look forward to reading their creative work. You can see the rubric for this writing assignment here and a model of my rewrite here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Entry Ticket Questions for Monday's Assessment

Monday and Tuesday of this coming week, we will have our last speaking and listening grade for their book groups.  In preparation for the week, students need to have the following questions answered with supporting evidence in order to participate in our discussion:

  • What is the main conflict of your novel?
  • What is the climax of your novel?
  • What is your evidence to support your claim? (You may make note of page numbers here!)

2. Choose one option below to complete:  
How do you think your character will work towards a resolution of the main problem?
What is one question you have to move the conversation along in your group?

Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Redacted Poem in Group Novels

Students are working on a cool project.  Today, they chose a section of their reading group novel they would like me to copy for them. Tomorrow they will use these sections of text to create a redacted poem: where they select certain words, phrases, or sentences to create a poem that mirrors the mood of their novel. This is a graded assignment, and you can see the rubric here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's New?

For the last two weeks, we have been working steadily on practicing for upcoming assessments!

We are using our group novels to discuss how the author is introducing characters in our novels. This last Monday, 10/6, students practiced this discussion in their reading groups. Today, they used the feedback given from earlier this week to be assessed on these standards :

SL6.1a Students will come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

SL6.1b Students will be able to follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed. 

We are also using nonfiction text articles to explore what techniques authors use to introduce key ideas in nonfiction text. Students have learned 7 different techniques that authors commonly use and have been hard at work practicing how to identify them and analyze how it helps them understand the text. Working with nonfiction is very different than working with fiction and requires a different type of practice for what seems like a similar skill. Next Friday,  10/23, they will be assessed on these standards:

RI6.3 Students will be able to use key ideas to analyze in detail how an individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a nonfiction text.

RI6.3 Students will be able to cite textual evidence to support analysis of nonfiction text.

Students have had plenty of practice time in class for all of these skills.  

It is my expectation that if the receive a grade less than 3, that they are making the choice to retake their assessment, after seeking help.  I can only offer it.  It is up to them to make the choice to actually complete it.  Please help me in encouraging this at home, as well.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Groups

Yesterday, students got into their book groups and each created a calendar to keep them accountable throughout the novel.  Each individual group created their own and therefore it is expected that they are holding themselves accountable. Also, it is necessary that students are reading their novel at home and bringing it back to school each day.  We will be having book check-ins each week where students are expected to be at a certain spot in their books.  Assessments will be given that relate to our conceptual unit, perception.  These assessments will vary from oral expression and listening, reading and writing.

On Monday, we will create norms and reading marks to use while reading.  It is my hope that students will be able to begin reading in their groups and become more comfortable with their group mates.

I look forward to these next few weeks as students are exposed to new readings and communicate deeply about the ideas in their text and the relation they have to perception.

Below is a link to a video that we watched in class.  This is the expectation that I have with all book groups when it is time to discuss.

Friday, October 2, 2015

As we read our group novels, it's important that we use our strategies to better understand what the text is saying!

Also, since we can't write in our texts, it is important to capture our ideas about the text by using think marks.  Remember that there is more to a think mark than a cute drawing.  There needs to be an explanation about the drawing to remember the reason it was identified.

Monday, September 28, 2015

End Of Unit 1

Today students wrapped up Unit 1 with another assessment on finding theme, this time in non-fiction text. Through all of the practice we did in this unit for writing constructed responses and examining a text for specific, relevant evidence, I think students are off to a great start with 6th grade expectations for quality and effort! I appreciate all of their focus and hard work!
Our next unit is focused on the concept of perception; particularly how we see ourselves versus how others see us, and eventually moving into how and why we perceive others in the way that we do. Please help your student with the homework that will be coming home as we start off the unit; it is important for them to gather data about their perception of self and others so that we can use it as a jumping off point as we start thinking about our essential questions.

Visit the "What Are We Studying?" page for a complete outline of the unit, including all of the standards we will be assessing in the next 6 weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Close Reading and Theme

This week, we dove head first into finding the theme and central idea of both fiction and nonfiction texts using the skill of close reading.  Students have had multiple opportunities to read a text, analyze, discuss and write about the theme of the text to prepare for Friday's assessment.  

Below are the standards we are working very hard to address in class this week and next:

RI, RL 6.2 Use key ideas and details to determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details.

We ALWAYS, ALWAYS require textual evidence, and grade it on this standard:

RI, RL 6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. 

RI = "reading informational" non-fiction
RL = "reading literature" fiction

Anchor chart from class on close reading
Anchor chart from class on theme
Anchor chart from class on a model constructed response

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Assessment: One Pager

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students completed their first assessment.  They worked on the standard, (OEL.1.d) engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. (CCSS:SL6.1).  The task was to interview a peer, focusing on clarifying questions and getting more information.

On Wednesday, students took the information collected from the interview and created (or are in the process of creating) a One Pager about their peer.  The hope was that the responses from their partner were detailed enough to create an image of the answer given.

These were not completed in class due to our Wednesday schedule.  They are due this Friday.  Any One Pagers not turned in by then will result in a detention on Monday.  Students are invited to come to work on them in the pod during their lunch on Thursday.  It will not be a detention.

Examples are found below, along with expectations and rubric.

Expectations and Models

Getting comfy with our resources

Thursday and Friday of this week will be spent  orienting ourselves to the technology and resources that are available to help throughout the year.  Click on the helpful links tab (or the attached link) to find these resources, along with a few others that might be useful throughout the year!  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Letter To My 8th Grade Self

"Letter To My 8th Grade Self" will be assigned Friday, September 4th and is due Tuesday, September 8th. Students must include at least three paragraphs. The first paragraph must describe what life is like now that they've settled into middle school. The second paragraph must include goals for themselves in 8th grade, reasons behind the goals and how they're going to accomplish them. The third paragraph must include the impact of that the growth mindset has had on them so far and how they're using it in the future.  

Goal setting is one of our standards for 6th grade.  Be sure your goals are realistic, attainable and able to be measured (so you know if you're reaching your goal!)

Please see an example here. Be sure to use the example to format your letter correctly. You will get these back in 8th grade.  Put effort into this so it can be a time of enjoyment when you read what life was like as a 6th grader!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Growth Mindset

Have you ever thought what it means to fail?  Society paints failure in a negative light, but that's only true if we don't learn from our failures and try again.   

This week in Language Arts, we worked with the idea of a growth mindset, what a growth mindset is and how to go from a fixed to growth mindset.  We discussed the importance of accepting that failure is a part of life and what to do when things don't go the way we hope/expect.  

The purpose of learning about the growth mindset is to show that learning goes outside the 4 walls of school and if we don't accept that we fail on a daily basis, we will never be true lifelong learners.  Knowing what to do when we have failed is a large part of the developmental process, and being able to make changes to avoid continuous failures is a skill that we will practice throughout the year.  

It is my job as your child's teacher to be their coach, not critic.  It's my promise to help navigate failures and come out on the other end as a well rounded individual. 

I have included the videos we watched with this lesson.  They are moving and meaningful.  Please take a moment to enjoy these with your child.

Videos used in class:

Additional resources about a growth mindset:

Monday, August 17, 2015


Welcome to 6th Grade Language Arts!  I hope your summer was restful and relaxing and you've prepared yourself for the journey that lies ahead of you.  Middle school is a wonderful time of learning and discovery, but is a reflection of how much you put into it.  It's my hope that you each put as much effort into school as you would the thing you're most passionate about.

I am very excited for this school year! Bookmark this website so you can keep up to date on everything that is happening in our classroom. It will be a great resource for you to not only know what we are doing, but to find links to important documents, assignment information, and due dates. 

Middle school has a reputation for being tough on children socially and not important academically. This could not be further from the truth. These are important years for your children to grow socially and create academic habits that will set them up for success in high school. 

Through my Language Arts class, I make it my mission to combine learning and growing in literacy with expanding students' social awareness and thinking about things on a global scale. We will explore overarching concepts such as maturity, perception, self-awareness, personal accountability, and recognizing struggle in self and others. We use these concepts to expand ourselves as readers and writers while thinking beyond ourselves. 

I encourage you to work with me this year to make it a successful and enjoyable experience for your child. Let's get after it! GO STORM!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Final day for research!

           Project DUE April 22nd!!!!

Today, students are finishing up their research on their self-selected topic.  Students split their 5 days of research in class between library books and online research.  They have been notified several times  in classroom announcements and through email to complete research at home if this allotted time is not enough.

Tomorrow, students will organize their notes and begin writing their introduction paragraph for their essay.  This is an assessment that will be checked by the end of the hour.

Click here for a few helpful tips to begin the writing process.

Click here for our Research essay timeline
Click here for our research rubric

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Let the Research Begin!

April 6th: 
Our final research project for the year is under way!  This project is DUE APRIL 22, 2015 IN CLASS!!  Please make arrangements to accommodate any absences during this time.  There will be no exceptions made for assignments to be submitted AFTER the due date!  

Students worked yesterday to select topics that fit with our overarching concept:  "Looking beyond myself."  This concept requires that students select a research topic that is outside of their normal realm of likes, passions, and interests, that would have a greater impact on a community of people, their future or their world.  This research project is an opportunity for students to select something that ultimately piques their curiosity, but MAY or MAY not directly impact THEM, and/or fulfills a greater issue in others' lives.  Students were really excited today to browse the selection of books available in the school library to help them narrow down their topic choices.  Please ask your child what they are researching about!

April 7th: 
Students will continue to work on collecting their research out of books in the library.

April 8th to April 13th: 
Students will switch their research skills to online research about their topic.  Please see the attached timeline of events for this research paper.  This timeline has been reviewed in class and is hanging in the classroom as a resource for student use.
The final product for this assignment is a research paper in which they have clearly developed their topic with clear, relevant and organized factual information that is explained in detail throughout the essay.  They will be required to use content specific vocabulary about their topic while maintaining a formal style throughout.  The research essay requires a strong introduction that engages the reader and a conclusion that wraps up all of the findings from their research.  The rubric has been reviewed in class and is hanging as a resource for student use.  Please see the attached rubric
 for further information.

Please encourage your child to do the following at home FREQUENTLY throughout the research time: 
*conduct more research if necessary (students do not have school on Friday, so this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to visit the public library for additional books or online resources if necessary)
*organize their research to prepare for the final paper
*organize their sources/sites so it is clear where they are obtaining their information from

Monday, March 2, 2015


Tomorrow begins our mandatory state testing, this year known interchangeably as CMAS or PARCC. Please read here (PARCC.com)  or here (Colorado Department of Education) for more information on this test.

Students will be taking the test on the following days for the indicated amount of time. They will then have regular core and elective classes (although not every core class every day).

Tuesday 3/3 (75 minutes)
Thursday 3/5 (90 minutes)
Monday 3/9 (60 minutes)
Tuesday 3/10 (80 minutes)
Thursday 3/12 (70 minutes)

Please be sure your child gets to bed at a decent time, has a good breakfast, brings earbuds/headphones, and leaves their phone OFF and in their lockers during testing. Encourage them to do their best, and that their best IS good enough! Do not stress about the test! They are well prepared, as long as they try hard and focus.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Helpful Resources for RAK Argumentative Essay

We have been working on our second argumentative essay.  This essay is using parts from our first essay, What is Worth Fighting For.  Students have been learning about Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) and the impact that they have on the society we exist in.  We have watched many accounts of people showing kindness, discussed our own RAKs that we have bestowed onto others, and read the struggles that our own 8th grade students have gone through and what was done as acts of kindness to bring them from the spot they were in.

The essay that your child is working on is to pick one of the 2 options:

1: Identify the specific RAK they would like to do (ie: putting sticky notes with inspirational messages on lockers).  Their 3 reasons will come from the purposes that they feel are necessary to complete this task.  The reasons need to be supported with credible sources*.

2: Identify the idea that they feel is important to accomplish (ie: doing little RAKs to make a big impact).  Their 3 reasons will be the 3 RAKs that they will complete to accomplish this idea.  

*Credible sources = 
Anything from a website that is credible (.org) Randomactsofkindness.org, etc.
Citing what they found from the Who We Are is Awesome wall (8th grade struggles)
One source may be a personal experience, but may not be written as a personal narrative (no "I stories")

**If your child was in class this week (and paying attention), they have heard this information given to them more than once.  

Attached are documents your child may find helpful as they navigate through their essay graphic organizer this weekend.

Again, please contact me via email with any questions.