Language Arts

2014/2015 School Year! 
(Click on the link to my classroom Facebook page (posted below) for up-to-date information on what is going on in Mrs. E's classroom!) 

First Unit of the School Year...Superheros!

Our first unit of the year was a success! The driving question for this unit was, "What kind of superhero are you going to be?" 

Our first class team work activity was called Superhero Smoothie Dilemma. The 6th graders put themselves in the shoes of different superheros, had to problem solve, and come up with a solution to a specific dilemma they were faced with. I was super pleased with how they handled this collaborative activity. This was each teams' task for this activity: 

1. Choose one of the superheros on the board. 
2. Solve this dilemma with your superhero friends/team: “Your blender is broken, and you all need your superpower smoothie in order to function for the day. Together, as different superheros, you must come up with a creative way to make your smoothie without having your blender. You need to think of your superpower strength that you possess and then figure out how you can add to the making of the smoothie. As an example, if I was superwoman, I would have unbelievable strength. I would have the superpower strength to be able to squeeze anything in the palm of my hand. Make sure you stick with your chosen superheros real strength.”
3. Share out your steps for how you solved this dilemma.




When the activity was finished, we reflected on what went well and what each group could improve on next time when working in a group. This is what each class came up with for what they did well and what they need to improve on for next time. Student did a fantastic job asking clarifying questions when they were working in their groups. Some groups did a nice job taking notes and staying organized so that they would have a solid plan to present to the class. 

After Smoothie Activity, Next Came Linoit Brainstorming Session!

After assessing how our group work went, my students and I created a team work "rubric" for their next team work activity or assignment. We used a tool called Linoit to brainstorm a list of skills that are a must in order to have a good functioning team. I let all of my language arts classes create and build upon each others' ideas for what they thought should be included on the list. In the end, they were able to come up with what I will use to evaluate students when they are working in a team. The 6th graders did an amazing job! See the image below to see what they came up with.

Last Post For 2013/2014 School Year....

Below you will find a short summary of what the kids have been working on from month to month.

April  & May

Meet the Author Night = Happy, Engaged Students! 

Our Meet the Author Night was a success! I have provided an overview of what the kids were involved in up until the night of the event. 

Plans are already in the making for next year's event! I hope to make this a collaborative event among some of the other 6th grade classrooms! (I know Mr. Adams, our art teacher, is in!!) Thank you to all who attended. Our students appreciate all of your support! Also, a big Thank you to our local Fareway store for providing all of our cookies and lemonade! 

Here is the overview of what all of the 6th graders were involved in during the process of preparing for this special event. 


1. Were given the opportunity to go above and beyond by creating their very own published book on Lulu. The students who chose to do this, spent time editing a piece of writing that was already in the making. Other classroom teachers and our principal, Mr. Perrien, volunteered to help edit these pieces of writing. When the writing pieces were edited and complete, individual books were created on Lulu. 

2.  Created poetry books using Microsoft Publisher. All poetry books were saved as a PDF. 

3. Created FlipSnack poetry books that were displayed on Meet the Author Night. All students learned how to upload their Publisher documents on Flipsnack. 

4. Learned about marketing their creations/work. Students created business cards using Serif Page Plus. Business cards were handed out to visitors on Meet the Author Night. 

5. Learned about QR codes. QR codes were created for their blogs, FlipSnack poetry books, and Lulu books, then inserted on their business cards. 

6. Created an About the Author page for Meet the Author Night. Students learned about writing in 3rd person and in the present tense. All pages were displayed by their writing pieces on Meet the Author Night. 

7. Chose their favorite writing piece to be displayed on the display boards for all visitors to view. 

Here are some pictures from our special celebratory night:

FlipSnack and QR Code Information Given Out on Meet the Authors Night

Meet the Author Night!

FlipSnack is a tool that we used to create online flip poetry books in language arts. 

Figurative Language and Poetry
Students were exposed to the following types of figurative language: simile, metaphor, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, personification, and idioms. We spent time in class learning about these types of figurative language and creating examples for each type of figurative language. 

The types of poetry that we explored in class include: couplets, narratives, and haiku. All 6th graders created poetry books using Microsoft Publisher. Students practiced peer editing after all poetry books were created. 



More Research Skills
Students conducted research on a couple different topics this month and improved their skills in the following areas: 1. Locating relevant information 2. Locating good sources, paying special attention to the domain and credibility of the author. 

Culture Exposure! 
6th graders spent time improving their compare/contrast skills while learning about different cultures. We spent some time conducting research on the French culture. Students were assigned a specific topic in which they were to locate relevant information on. I set up a collaborative document for all students to record their findings on. Once all of the topics were researched, we completed a Venn Diagram for the French and American cultures. Next, I invited a current foreign exchange student, Margaux, into our classroom to discuss her culture and answer questions that the 6th graders had. This was so much fun! All of the 6th graders really seemed to enjoy this learning opportunity! Once Margaux left, all of my students wrote blog post about some of the differences or similarities they took notes about. 


Most of February was focused on learning about the research process. The Big 6 research process was used to conduct research on Black History Month. We worked with Mrs. Perkins' 6th grade classes, and together completed research projects in celebration of this historical month. 

My LA kids have been working on SpellingCity this month. We have began our work with spelling. Each week, students have a different spelling list that they will be studying and testing over. 

Blog Posts
Students have spent time producing and editing blog posts for their personal blogs. This has been a fun way for them to share some of their writing pieces with each other and an audience outside of our classroom walls. 

January 2014! 


Wow, I do have to say that this has been a fun month! The kids in my language arts classes have just finished a month long project/unit on drug and alcohol education. We had the opportunity to have Mrs. Zarkos, the best school guidance counselor/educator a middle school could ever ask for, come in to our classroom to lead this unit on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Mrs. Zarkos, Mrs. Kutzli, and I were all very impressed with the student motivation and success throughout this entire unit! 

Students were assigned to one of the following seven groups:
1. Alcohol 
2. Inhalants
3. Steroids
4. Tobacco
5. Prescription Drugs
6. Marijuana
7. Stimulants

All groups were instructed to collaborate on the following research categories concerning their topic: 

  • Explanation of their topic/drug
  • Common names for their drug
  • How their drug is used and abused
  • The health risks of their drug
During this project, students kept track of the sources they were using while they were gathering their information. When all of the information was located, each group created a PowerPoint presentation that was used to educate the rest of the class about their topic. Graphics were included, sources were cited, and presentations were presented. 

At the end of the project, students created "The Best Me is Drug Free" cards to go on their lockers. 

Lots of learning has taken place over the past month! 


Now that the kids have been educated on blogging and security that comes along with blogging, they have had the opportunity to create their own classroom blogs using KidBlog. The sixth graders have been doing a great job navigating the KidBlog tool and helping each other with any difficulties that arise. Today students were assigned a blogging assignment of adding "snip-its" of some of their writing pieces to a particular category I created for them on their blogs titled, "My 6th Grade Portfolio". You can visit their blogs by accessing our classroom KidBlog sites posted here: 

Here are a few examples: 


We are starting our new year off by learning about blogging.

November & December


Most of November was spent learning how to effectively write an essay. Students learned the hamburger strategy for essay writing during this unit. The topic for their essay writing was what the flag means to them. Our local Elks Lodge asked the sixth graders to participate in an essay writing contest where the essay topic was “What the Flag Means to Me”. The essays that were written during this unit were submitted in the contest.

The hardest part of essay writing has been the thesis. It took many examples and lots of modeling in order for students to be able to write a thesis for their essays. In the end, I was very pleased with their ability to write a five paragraph essay.

Here are the writing standards that were addressed with this unit:

  • W.6.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.6.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • W.6.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.


The next language arts project that was introduced in November was the Fun Theory Invention Project. This project was a lot of FUN! The idea for this project came from a blog that I follow, “Write Out Loud”. Students in this teacher’s (blogger’s) class were asked to write about a Fun Theory invention idea. I thought it would be FUN to take this a little bit further. I started thinking about the speaking and listening skills that still needed to be addressed this year and went through my list of ideas that I had brainstormed before school began. I came up with a Fun Theory contest where the sixth graders has to write a detailed speech about their invention idea, then present their “sales pitch” speech to the class. To make their presentations as professional as possible, students were expected to create a visual presentation that went along with their speech. Their goal was for me (the judge) to buy the patent for their invention idea. (kind of the like the Shark Tank) I chose 3-5 invention ideas to go on to the final round of the contest. During the final round, we had five FUN judges that were in charge of buying one patent from each set of presentations. In celebration of the “Fun Theory”, our judges were a lot of FUN!

More detail and resources I used for this project are posted below:

Visual Presentation- students used PowerPoint. They were only allowed to use copyright free images. They accessed our AEA iClipart and used Creative Commons resources. They were not allowed to add any words to their PowerPoints, only images. I added this requirement so that students would be forced to explain their inventions without reading it to their audience. (past PowerPoint experiences during my years as Teacher Librarian!)

Invention outline- Students filled out an outline for their invention idea before they started on anything else. This requirement was added so that their ideas would be concrete before they started on their writing piece.

Class Invention Brainstorm List - We brainstormed this list before students worked independently on their outlines.

Invention Outline - Students silled out this outline before they started working on their speech.

Speech-Students were required to write an introduction, a body, and a conclusion for their speech. In the body, they were to explain the behavior that their invention was bettering,a detailed explanation of how their invention works, and why I should buy the patent for their invention idea. I have the sixth graders some checkpoints to ensure that they had included everything in their sales pitch speech:

  • Do I have an introduction that introduces the name of my invention?
  • Do I give plenty of details about my invention so that my audience will have a clear picture of what my invention looks like and how it will operate? 10 pts.
  • Have I mentioned what behavior I am bettering? 5 pts.
  • Have I mentioned how my invention is fun? 5 pts.
  • Have I convinced my audience that they should buy the patent for my invention?

Grading Sheet - This is what I used to grade their projects when they were presenting to the class

This project focused on several standards. These standards are listed below:

Speaking and Listening:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.5 Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.4 Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation

IA.6. Participate in public performances.


W.6.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
·         Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

·         Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

21st Century Technology:

Demonstrate creative thinking in the design and development of innovative technology products and problem solving
·         Individually or collaboratively create media-rich products and display, publish, or perform them for a variety of audiences.

Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using interactive technology
·         Interact and collaborate with peers, experts, and others using technology.
·         Contribute to a content knowledge base by creating, producing, and sharing information, models, and other creative works.
·         Efficiently use technology tools and resources for communication and to access remote information and exchange it with a variety of audiences.

Understand the legal and ethical issues of technology as related to individuals, cultures, and societies
·         Use technology efficiently and in a manner that does not harm them or others.
·         Demonstrate awareness of legal and ethical responsibilities when using copyrighted material, and how a disregard of legal and ethical responsibilities affects others.



The bell-ringer focus areas for October were commonly misused words, contractions, verbs, adjectives, and proper nouns. Identifying misused words and proper nouns were hard skills for a lot of the sixth graders. I found a web tool called NoRedInk that allows you to create customized online assignments for your students. I created a few practice assignments for my students that focused on commonly misused words and proper nouns. This tool was a great addition to the in class mini lessons and short bell-ringer activities that were conducted.

In October, students completed their football write-ups then spent a few days writing in their Evernote writing notebooks on a few writing prompts that I had for them.  

The next unit that we covered was a narrative writing unit that I titled Haunted Stories to Tell in the Dark. During this unit, students learned how to write narrative pieces that included the basic story elements of setting, characters, and plot. Students learned about the basic elements of a plot: location, time (historical, daily, seasonal), and weather. The sixth graders were expected to include as much detail about their setting as possible. In order to help them with this, I asked them to cultivate all five senses by filling out a five senses form for their setting. 

In order to plan out their haunted stories, students filled out a graphic organizer that included all of the story elements. Once the graphic organizers were completed, students used what they had written down in order to write their haunted stories. The sixth graders were then paired up with a classmate to pair conference with each other. 

Once the stories were complete, we took a day where we shared our haunted stories “in the dark”.

The following writing standards were addressed with this unit: 

  • W.6.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

    • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
    • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
    • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

  • W.6.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • W.6.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.



During our bell-ringer activities and mini lesson time, students continued working on standard L.6.2 by recognizing and dividing run-on and very long sentences. Some of the other skills that were addressed this month included:
  • revising for sentence clarity
  • author's tone and then revising for appropriate tone
  • making meaning more precise in sentences.

During our writing time, one of the first concepts that students practiced was writing intriguing first lines. I shared some examples with students and then they explored ideas on their own.

Next, the 6th graders had the opportunity to hear a variety of fiction stories and non fiction read to them aloud. They responded to the read alouds in their writing ideas notebooks. The 6th graders took a good look at the differences between the fiction and nonfiction texts by focusing on what made the writing look and sound different.

The remainder of September was spent on our Football Interview project. The 6th graders did a fantastic job with this project! Students spent time looking and listening to interview examples, spent time writing interview questions, edited their interview questions, and then sent their interviews to one of the Red Oak High School football players or coaches via email. The coaches and players responded to their interview questions by replying to their email. Next, students used their knowledge of writing intriguing first lines and came up with an intriguing introduction for their interviewee. Lastly, each student wrote a football write up that included all of the details from their interview.

The write-ups were hung up on the walls both at the high school and at the middle school for all students, staff members, and any visitors to read. This project ended up being so much fun! I was very pleased with the creativeness and hard work that the sixth graders exhibited throughout this project. The football players absolutely loved their write-ups!

Here are a few examples: 

Here are the standards that were addressed with this project:

  • W.6.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.6.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • W.6.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.
Speaking and Listening
  • IA.5. Prepare and conduct interviews.



In August we focused on the following writing standard W 6.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. I provided students with different writing prompts that they were to respond to.

Students also worked very hard on developing writing ideas. Sixth graders listened to several read alouds and then responded by developing their own writing ideas based on the read alouds. While developing writing ideas, the 6th graders were working on the first part of writing standard W.6.6. “Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting”. Students did a great job developing their writing ideas using their Evernote accounts, and then sharing their ideas with their classmates.

In August, Students also began working on language standard L.6.2.: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. Commas in a series was the first skill that students tackled during our bell-ringer mini lesson and activity time at the beginning of class each day. The remainder of the August bell-ringer time was spent on practicing punctuation.

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