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

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

Movie Posters