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Grade 6 Happenings

Follow the latest happenings in Grade 6 below.

This Week: All Alone in the Universe

posted Apr 15, 2018, 6:52 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Apr 15, 2018, 6:52 PM ]

This week, the Grade 6 class will be reading a wonderful short story about friendship from our text called All Alone in the Universe. This story is for anyone who has ever felt left out or betrayed when our best fried makes a new friend. It's a common situation for kids and never easy to deal with. This story is an uplifting look at how one girl deals with this situation. I think the students will be interested to see how much like them our main character is.

Below are the weekly handout with our spelling and vocabulary words for the week and a vocabulary slideshow to practice. We will be starting our poetry unit this week as well. Students will practice with figurative language and prepare for writing their own poems next week.


Our Finished Website

posted Apr 15, 2018, 6:46 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Apr 15, 2018, 6:47 PM ]

https://sites.google.com/happykids.taipei/applewhites2018
So the kids finished their websites and showed them off for ASLA parents and students this past week for the ASLA Student Expo. It was great watching the kids take pride in their work and talking about it so well to strangers. We are all proud how the final website came together. If you haven't seen it yet, you can follow this link to browse.

Our Website Project

posted Mar 25, 2018, 6:50 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Mar 25, 2018, 6:51 AM ]

Beginning last week, our sixth grade class began work on our big Website Project. This is a project I do each year with my sixth grade class where groups are tasked with creating a website that teaches or informs the audience about a big topic. This year we are using the novel Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan as our subject material. Students will create a large amount of content based on or telling about this book, its events, and its characters. They are then to present their websites on April 12th at the ASLA Student Expo.

Below are some of the materials the kids used to get started. There is a Google Sites skill practice checklist and the project packet. The final websites will be posted on April 12th. Stay tuned!



Surviving the Applewhites: A Novel Study

posted Feb 26, 2018, 1:45 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Feb 26, 2018, 1:45 AM ]

For the month of March, the sixth graders will be working only with Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan as part of a mini-novel study unit. Surviving the Applewhites is a wonderful story about personal identity, growth, and transformation that can be enjoyed by students on many levels. It is the story of two teenagers that come from very different backgrounds who both struggle with their identities for different reasons. Through the course of their story, both have their identities challenged and changed. I like this novel because it holds a deep message for students: Find your talent. Our talents play a defining role in our identities. Some of us find it early, but others sometimes take a lifetime. Ms. Tolan's book is about the search for our talent and the joy of living a life that nurtures it.  

We have been reading this novel on and off since the beginning of the school year, but we still have about half of it to finish. That second half of the novel will be our focus for this unit. The first three weeks of March, we will be reading the novel and doing a combination of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and reading skill practice tasks related to the novel. The students will also be completing writing response activities based on the events of the book. The first of these will be to write a dialogue that is only inferred in the novel. It is a great exercise in characterization and creativity.

The real work begins in week four when students begin their final project. This will be to create a website that summarizes and introduces the characters, settings, and themes of this book. Their work will be unveiled at the ASLA Expo in April. A later post will detail this assignment more.

This Week: The Hero and the Minotaur

posted Jan 28, 2018, 5:02 PM by Jason Brunken

This week in Grade 6, we will be exploring Ancient Greece as we read a version of the well-known Greek myth "Theseus and the Minotaur" called The Hero and the Minotaur. This class is really interested in Ancient Greece and their stories of gods and heroes. Many of the kids spent the first half of the year checking out Rick Riordan's popular retelling of these myths with his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I hope they enjoy this week's reading. If you are not familiar with the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, take a minute to read more here or watch the video to the right.

The handout with this week's spelling and vocabulary words is posted below. There is also some grammar practice and an overview for what we will be doing this week. Take a minute to review this week. I've posted a slideshow below to help with reviewing the vocabulary words. This week's writing lesson will be to review narrative writing and prepare to write their own myths. I can't wait to see their stories next week.

Extension Week: Writing an Expository Essay

posted Jan 22, 2018, 6:42 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 22, 2018, 6:42 AM ]

This week students are working on their second essay of the year: an expository essay. An expository essay differs from a persuasive one in that it's purpose is to give information about a topic rather than argue a position or opinion. these essays are very common in secondary and post-secondary classrooms around the world. Therefore it is very good practice for the kids to prepare for the next level.

Again, the focus will be mostly on organization. I want the kids to learn the parts of an essay and practice structure in their essays properly. the editing phase of this project will give them opportunities to work on their writing craft and mechanics. Students will be answering on of three questions from the packet below and will be expected to construct a properly formatted essay using facts and details from our textbook.

We will begin the week prewriting our essays and organizing our ideas. Then students will be expected to draft and edit twice before producing a final copy. It is my hope that this practice helps them develop this very important writing skill. Below is the assignment packet the students received from class. Please help your child review it this week.


This Week: The Princess Who Became a King

posted Jan 14, 2018, 9:18 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 14, 2018, 9:18 PM ]

We continue our look into into ancient world history this week as we read The Princess Who Became a King. This selection is about one of the only women to become Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut had an interesting life. She grew up daughter of a great Pharaoh, married her brother when she was just 15, managed to out-compete other men to take over the throne when her brother/husband died, and became a successful and great Pharaoh in her own right. Her story is amazing and historically remarkable.

To learn more about Ancient Egypt and its place in the context of world history, watch the Crash Course World History video to the right.

As usual we will be working on vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and writing this week. This week's writing lesson will be a compare and contrast paper looking at female leaders today and in ancient times. A spelling test will be given on Friday. Please remind your child to study. Below are the vocabulary and spelling words for this week as well as some grammar practice. I also put the vocabulary slideshow below to help review.

This Week: The Emperor's Silent Army

posted Jan 7, 2018, 12:52 AM by Jason Brunken

This month, the Grade 6 class will continue to delve into ancient world history. We will touch on Ancient China and Greece, and next month we will look at Ancient Egypt. 

This week, we are reading The Emperor's Silent Army. This selection is about the famous Terracotta Soldiers that were buried with Emperor Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a unified China. The Terracotta soldiers are one of history's most interesting mysteries. While archaeologists believe the army was meant to protect the Emperor in the afterlife, the elaborate detail and craftsmanship put into each statue makes us wonder if they were not something more. We will be discussing this and more as we cover the text on Thursday.

Did you know that Qin Shihunag's tomb is one of the great archaeological mysteries of today? While the location of the tomb has been found, no one is believed to have entered it since the emperor was buried. There are legends that tell of the magnificence of what's inside the tomb, but no one has been inside to confirm them.

Also this week will be vocabulary, writing, grammar, and spelling practice. A spelling test will be given on Friday. Please remind your child to study. Below is this week's handout with the vocabulary and spelling words for this week as well as some grammar practice. I've also posted a slideshow with this week's vocabulary and a Crash Course World history video about Ancient China for students to view to brush up on their history.


This Week: The Real Vikings

posted Jan 1, 2018, 2:49 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 1, 2018, 2:53 AM ]

Welcome back! Christmas and New Year have come and gone so it's time to get back to learning lots and having fun.

This week we are reading a nonfiction piece called The Real Vikings by Melvin and Gilda Berger. The Real Vikings takes a look at a people commonly known asthe Vikings who entered history in about 700 CE and then slowly faded away by about the 1300s. For about 300 years of European history, the Vikings dominated Northern Europe. They were a scourge on other kingdoms as the Vikings often conducted surprise raids of European lands. They would attack without warning, take everything they could carry, and then be gone before help could arrive. Some historians even attribute the entire feudal system in Medieval Europe as a response to Viking attacks.

The influence of the Vikings in the world can be felt even today as many of our days and months (in English) have Viking names and their myths and stories, gods and heroes still live with us today. But who were these people? One reason Vikings are so popular is because they are such a mystery. We know little about them, but archaeologists are uncovering more and more every year. This week we look at some of what we have learned. What we do know is that the Vikings were the first Europeans to reach and settle North America, they traded with people, as far away as Iraq, and they are responsible for the rise of such nations as England, France, and Russia. I hope the kids enjoy learning more about these fascinating people. 

Below is a copy of our handout for this week with the spelling words, vocabulary words, and grammar concept. I have also posted a slideshow of the vocabulary words for students to review below and a video to learn more about the Vikings. Enjoy.  

Extension Week: Letter to My Favorite Author

posted Dec 17, 2017, 5:54 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Dec 17, 2017, 5:55 AM ]

This week, the Grade 6 class will be working on and completing formal letters. These are also sometimes called business letters. Formal letters are what we write to people we don't know or those who are of a higher social standing than us. This writing lesson teaches the children a valuable skill that they will be able to use throughout their academic and professional careers. 

Students will write a letter to the their favorite author. Their assignment is to share what they admire about the author and the author's work, ask thoughtful questions about the craft of writing, and offer suggestions for new work or invite them to Taipei for a book signing. This assignment teaches students the importance of the formal letter format, the use of a formal tone in writing, and how a good letter can get your voice heard by famous and powerful people alike.

We hope to finish the letters by the end of the week and have them mailed after Christmas Break. In the past, my students have received replies from some of the authors they have written to. I hope we are so fortunate again. Please see the materials below to review how to write a formal letter.


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