Degrees and Certifications:
6th Grade ELA (Writing)
In 6th grade we are fortunate to have ELA split into two separate blocks: reading and writing. This gives the students an opportunity to really focus on their writing. As a class we will be completing what I would call a survey of writing, focusing on personal narrative, poetry, descriptive, expository, persuasive, and creative writing styles. We start with our small paragraph writing in order to build confidence and show students that not all writing has to be "long" or "hard." Paragraph writing allows us to focus on what goes into writing a paragraph, structuring a paragraph with strong topic and clincher sentences and a well-developed body of sentences, and honing our editing skills. Once we have a handle on that we will move on to longer pieces of writing that work on tying multiple paragraphs together into one well-written and developed piece of writing.
Because we are fortunate enough to have technology and Google Drive accounts, all assignments will be done online and submitted through our school's Learning Management System, which is Schoology. Schoology will always have the tools and resources needed to complete assignments (assignment directions, graphic organizers, editing checklists, rubrics, etc.). Students will learn how to submit assignments in Schoology, as well as how to locate feedback once an assignment has been graded.
Students will receive rubrics for every polished writing assignment. They will usually get these rubrics a week or so into working on the assignment. I don’t pass them out the day we begin a new assignment because I have found in the past that students had a tendency to hyper-focus on what they were being graded on, which took away from the overall quality of their writing. I have found that giving them the rubric once they have a good base to work with allows them to edit for content and create a much stronger piece of writing.
Wordly Wise –
The students were thrilled to hear that they would not be using the spelling program in sixth grade. They were not so thrilled when they were told that spelling was being replaced with a vocabulary program. We will be using the Wordly Wise program in 6th grade.
We will also be using a variety of resources to learn gramamr, including the Scott Foresman program for grammar and learning opportunities in our writing assignments. Grammar is done throughout the year.
Helping Your Child –
Every year I am asked how much help with editing parents should be giving their children. Here is my request: When your child is working on a rough draft for an assignment, let them make mistakes. It is more important to me that they get their thoughts out onto the paper than they spell everything perfectly on a rough draft. As we go through the editing process and are working towards a final copy, I encourage you to help your student find their mistakes, be they spelling, grammar, punctuation, or otherwise. Please make sure you are doing your best to guide them to discovering errors on their own rather than simply pointing them out. The more they are able to discover these errors on their own, the better they will become at editing.
I will be giving the students different editing tips in class in the next few weeks to help them discover how to edit their work. The editing strategy I find to be most helpful is to edit from the end of a piece of writing to the beginning. For example, if the assignment is one paragraph long, start with the last sentence in the writing and edit one sentence at a time working your way to the top. As I explain to the kids, our brains know what we meant to say, so they tend to fill in the gaps that might be there instead of identifying them for us. But, when we read things out of order, we are forcing our brains to look at each sentence (or paragraph) on its own, and are more apt to find errors in our writing.