Sixth Grade: Common Open Response Writing Questions for Literature Class:

  • Character development
  • Setting 
  • Theme 
  • Plot development
  • Symbolism
  • Foreshadowing

See a more detailed explanation of these areas in the PDF handout:

Reading Question overview.pdf Reading Question overview.pdf
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Getting Unstuck

We'll be doing a read-aloud play early in the year that is a fun twist on Alice in Wonderland but it is  also informative as the play reinforces some basic strategies for readers who get "stuck" in the text. The basic strategies are:

  • Making Connections: Draw connections between what you are reading in a book with something from your life and think about the similarities and differences.
  • Creating a Visual Picture: Try to imagine the scene as a little "movie" in your mind.
  • Making Predictions: Every now and then and ask yourself "what will happen next in the story" as a way to engage in the story.
  • Asking Questions: If something happens that you don't understand, ask a question about what happened. Think of yourself as a detective and sort through the information.

Elements of a Story

One of the first stories we will read together and examine closely is Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling. This is a story of a mongoose who is adopted by a family in India and what happens when he meets the great Cobra snakes of the garden.

Some of the concepts we will be discussing:

  • The importance of setting in establishing a story;
  • Basic plot development;
  • Character development:
    • Protagonist
    • Antagonist

Other Novels for the Year

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Main topics:

  • Greek Mythology
  • Heroic Journey
  • Character Development

Odysseus: Escaping Poseidon's Curse

Main topics:

  • Reading a graphic novel
  • The Odyssey as springboard for modern stories
  • Greek Mythology

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

Main topics:

  • Historical Fiction
  • Use of "voice" in narrator
  • Tolerance and racism in America

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Main Topics:

  • Character Development
  • Setting
  • Use of Language

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Main Topics:

  • Theme
  • Character Development
  • Poetic Techniques in Novels

The House of Dies Drear by Virgina Hamilton

Main Topics:

  • Use of Imagery for mystery genre
  • Slavery and the Underground Railroad

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor 

Main topics:

  • Racism and tolerance
  • "Voice" of narrator
  • Conflict

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Main Topics:

  • Narrator
  • Use of humor
  • Family connections

Flush by Carl Hiaason

Main topics:

  • Environment
  • Moral choices
  • Humor

Regarding the Fountain by Kate Klise 

Main Topics:

  • Inference
  • Primary sources
  • Humor

Other possible novels and collections:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Baseball in April by Gary Soto
  • And more
Plus, there will be times when students will be responsible for independent reading projects. During these units, students will keep a weekly reading journal, complete a book report form and create a project that demonstrates their understanding of the book they have chosen.

Some Sample Literature Projects

Independent Reading Projects
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Claymation Movies about Tolerance, as inspired by The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Letters from the Underground Railroad

The Heroic Journeys