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Grade 6 Happenings

Follow the latest happenings in Grade 6 below.

Extension Project: Surviving the Applewhites Website

posted Mar 31, 2021, 10:16 PM by Jason Brunken

My apologies for not posting the last two weeks. The class has  been busy getting started on a big project. For the couple of weeks, the sixth grade class will be working on a very special project. They will be using Google Sites to build an original website about the novel Surviving the Applewhites which we recently finished in class. Don't know anything about the book? That's ok. These websites will teach you all you nee to know and more. Also, the students will have them ready to present to you and all of the ASLA parents on April 22 for the ASLA Expo. I know! I'm excited too.

The project requires the students to collaborate with their teams or 3 or 4. As this is the first website any of them have ever made, this project requires a tremendous about of learning, experimenting, creativity, and good old fashioned hard work to complete well. I know these kids can do it though. To learn more about the project, read through the assignment sheet below. I'll post the final websites on April 22 before the Expo, so stay tuned. You can view the assignment details below.

Surviving the Applewhites: A partial novel study

posted Mar 10, 2021, 7:02 PM by Jason Brunken

For the rest of the month of March and the beginning of April, 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: All Alone in the Universe

posted Feb 21, 2021, 11:40 PM by Jason Brunken

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 friend 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. Students will practice with figurative language and prepare for writing short story scenes that incorporate good dialogue a d figurative language for character development. 


This Week: The Hero and the Minotaur

posted Jan 29, 2021, 4:54 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 29, 2021, 4:54 PM ]

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 for writing students will be finishing their expository essays and working on crafting engaging and compelling story scenes using dialogue.

Extension Week: Writing an Expository Essay

posted Jan 25, 2021, 5:07 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 25, 2021, 5:08 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 Emperor's Silent Army

posted Jan 18, 2021, 5:15 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 18, 2021, 5:16 PM ]

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 Shihuang'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 Princess Who Became a King

posted Jan 12, 2021, 4:50 AM by Jason Brunken

Sorry for the late post this week. I'm sorry so many students had to be absent because of exams and graduation trips this week. I will post the reading comprehension practice we are doing on Thursday when I have it ready.

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. I hope the kids enjoy reading about her.

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 preparation for an expository essay the kids will be writing at the end of the month. We will work on setting crafting and review story structure. 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 Real Vikings

posted Jan 3, 2021, 4:38 PM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Jan 3, 2021, 4:39 PM ]

Welcome back! Christmas has come and gone and New Year is days away, so it's time to get back to learning lots and having fun.

For the next two weeks 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 as the 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. We will practice comparing and contrasting ideas in nonfiction with this selection and write a short compare and contrast essay at the end of the week. 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 the Mayor

posted Dec 14, 2020, 6:56 AM by Jason Brunken   [ updated Dec 14, 2020, 6:58 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 Taipei's mayor, Ko Wen-je. Writing letters to elected officials is an important part of being a citizen of a democracy. It is one of our rights to make ourselves head by those that serve us. Students will write letters about a problem they have noticed in our city and attempt to persuade the Mayor to take action on it. We will mail the letters when they are finished, and I expect to get responses as the Mayor has been good about replying to letters from our students in the past.

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. I've put the assignment sheet below for the formal letter assignment with instructional material and assignment details.


This Week: Any Small Goodness

posted Dec 7, 2020, 12:54 AM by Jason Brunken

This week in Grade 6 we will be doing the usual, practicing grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading, and writing. Our story for this week in Journeys is Any Small GoodnessAny Small Goodness is the story of a school basketball team in inner-city California that gets help from an NBA star to teach them not only how to be good basketball players, but also good boys. It is a very positive and uplifting story about giving and working hard for a goal.

As part of this unit, we will also be learning how to write a formal letter, also known as a business letter. Students will learn the parts of the letter and how to organize and write it. This month they will be writing to Mayor Ko of Taipei about ways they think the city can be improved. We will mail the letters to the City Hall, and I am optimistic we will get replies. My students have in the past.

Below is the weekly handout sheet and vocabulary slideshow for this week. Please remind your child to study the spelling and vocabulary words. Please also help your child remember to complete and turn in her WIRSFs each week. These are due Tuesdays. Thanks for your support.


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