Every school day sixth graders experience two full periods of Reading/Language Arts, which include Reading, Writing, GUM (Grammar, Usage, Mechanics), Spelling using GAL lists (Greek and Latin roots), Vocabulary, and Current Events. All of these areas are supplemented with technology through a one-on-one laptop program within the classroom. See a copy of the Overview of this curriculum which appeared in the first ClassWorks.
The Reading program draws upon several sources of literature including:
- books from recommended reading lists,
- books from marking period reading themes (see Theme Units on left menu),
- content area literature (nonfiction selections),
- read-aloud books,
- poetry (see Poetry Glossary),
selected genre samples including myths, fairy tales, and fables,
independent reading choices, and
reading and research on the Internet, including current evenets through Tween Tribune.
Our Reading program is literature-based; students learn skills and concepts from actually reading and dissecting stories, rather than focusing time and energy on skills-based workbooks. Students begin with the whole (a story or book) and work to break it down into its components (themes, author's craft, literary devices, vocabulary, parts of speech, mechanics, etc.).
Reading skills and strategies are often divided into three stages: prereading, (process) reading, and postreading. The active reader, however, will often find him/herself using these skills at all stages of reading.
The actual materials which students read may also be divided into three text levels:
Independent Level Text: Relatively easy text for the reader, with no more than approximately 1 in 20 words difficult for the reader (95% success). Books at this level would be used for independent reading time at home or at school.
Instructional Level Text: Challenging but manageable text for the reader, with no more than approximately 1 in 10 words difficult for the reader (90% success). Books at this level would include our classroom novels, textbooks, and weekly news magazines.
Frustration Level Text: Difficult text for the reader, with more than 1 in 10 words difficult for the reader (less than 90% success). These books would be read aloud with the teacher, with ample time and opportunity for discussion of vocabulary and main ideas. This category would include Read-Alouds during snack time and trade books used as background information for Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Some reading skills practiced in fourth grade include:
For sample reading response questions and discussion starters, see the Peer Reading Response Questions and the Independent Reading Response Questions. Both of these resources are contained in every student’s binder at school, and are often used following reading time.
Responding to literature occurs through writing, but can also involve the use of graphic organizers such as Venn diagrams, semantic mapping, character attribute charts, etc. If you ever need to access a Graphic Organizer, several are available for printing in the Reading Printables section.
Writing is process oriented. At times several drafts are required to meet the needs of an assignment. Some writing may progress through early stages but never be written into final draft. Students will learn to discern the importance of any written piece, and the subsequent attention it should receive.
Ranging from the simple to complex, writing skills include:
- writing cohesive sentences (using correct punctuation, capitalization, and mechanics)
- writing complete sentence responses to text questions
- combining shorter sentences in order to eliminate redundancy and increase interest
- creating sentence variety through varied length and word order
- using quotation marks to create dialogue
- writing poetry according to frames (the skeletal frame of another poem is added to, or extended, by the student)
- writing paragraphs containing a topic sentence, supporting details, and a closing sentence
- using transition words and phrases
- writing for a purpose (lists, friendly letters, business letters, etc.)
- writing for an audience
- writing according to a given genre (original tall tales, fables, biographies, etc.)
- responding to literature (personal response; “how this relates to me”)
- creating original poetry
- generating other content area related writing (reports, descriptions of scientific/mathematical processes, article summaries, etc.)
- creating pieces of work which are focused, organized, and elaborated
- refining narrative writing skills
- developing expository writing skills
- revising and editing pieces of writing
- using the POWERS Writing Process (P=prewriting, O=organizing, W=writing, E=editing, R=rewriting, S=sharing)
Not all types of writing occur each year. The interests and needs of each particular class often “drive” the types of writing. Writing assignments are also designed to provide students practice for the written response sections of the NJ ASK.