This Week in 6th ELA

What We’ve Been Up To:

We have recently started a multidimensional novel study, around the events, themes and historical setting in the award winning book, Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. bud not buddyThroughout this unit, scholars will make connections between the text and the historical time period of The Great Depression, particularly as it relates to the experiences of African Americans.  Another of our focuses while reading is a continued study of plot elements, and a new exploration of research skills and strategies, while scholars learn and apply these skills to creating their own multi-genre research presentations.

FYI: Multi-genre is another way of saying that we will not just be writing a five paragraph essay.  Each scholar will write an essay, but each scholar will also have an opportunity to incorporate poetry, drama, music, technology, etc into their research presentation.  

The novel study and multi-genre research project will likely carry us through the remainder of the school year, and I will do my best to keep updates posted here on the blog.  We are off to a great start, and scholars have been very engaged in reading and responding to the first 5 chapters.  We begin chapter 6 on Monday!

Moving Forward

This week, scholars will interact with chapters 6 through 10 of our novel, and begin work on their multi-genre projects.  Phase one involves creating a Google Slides presentation with details on the characters and plot events in Bud, Not Buddy. Phase two involves a study of The Great Depression and Flint, Michigan during 1936, which is the general setting of our story.

We will research what was going on in Flint, Michigan during this important time in our history.  Scholars will record notes using Google Docs, and will soon add this information to their Google Slides presentations. Within the process of research, we will look at what makes a source credible, and how we should correctly use citations to give credit to our sources.

Common Core State Standards for the Novel Unit:

Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.

By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Scholars will be working on research skills and writing skills (grammar, spelling, sentence structure) in the form of various worksheets, throughout the remainder of this unit.  Expect homework every Tuesday and Thursday, as usual.

Please check homework folders daily and remind your scholars to come to Homework Hub every Tuesday, for an opportunity to get assistance on class concepts and homework.


This Week in 6th ELA

Weekly Overview

This week begins with a review of autobiographies and biographies, as scholars continue to prepare for the upcoming interim assessments.  An additional focus is on writing/grammar, especially as it relates to using punctuation – particularly reviewing the proper use of the colon (:).

We continue to discuss and practice writing to inform, describe, and explain, using the RACE strategy to support our own writing process for Constructed Response items.

Interim 2 Assessment

The main highlight of this week will be the 2nd opportunity to show our academic progress, based on Interim 2 Assessment results.  Scholars will complete the 6th Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Interim Assessment on Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25.  This is a test taken during class time, evaluating student learning in the areas of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing.

End of Quarter 2:

This Friday, January 27th, marks the end of the 2nd marking period.  We are encouraging scholars to continue striving for their best quality work, and finish strong.  Scholars may still have an opportunity to complete missing work.  Homework Hub is one great way to get extra help after school (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday).



Week of January 9

Weekly Overview:

This week, scholars continue building understanding of Biographies and Autobiographies.

Through a Text Analysis Workshop, we will read, discuss, and write about various forms of non-fiction, including: memoir, personal narrative, autobiography, and biography.

Common Core:

RI 4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language
RI 6: Determine an author’s point of view in a text
RI 9: Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another

Weekly Plans:

Monday, January 9:

  • DO NOW: Vocabulary Notes
  • Scholars read and analyze a model memoir text: “from No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War” (pg 803)

Tuesday, January 10:

  • Learn and Review: Literary Language and Devices in Nonfiction Narratives (pg 804)
    Use Note Taking Worksheet Part 2

    • Imagery – language that appeals to our senses
    • Figurative Language –makes an imaginative comparison; not meant to be taken literally
    • Simile – compares two unlike things using ‘like’ or ‘as’ in comparing
    • Metaphor – directly compares two things without a comparison word
    • Tone – the writer’s attitude, or how the author feels about the subject or topic

Wednesday, January 11:

  • Reading to comprehend and analyze biographies and autobiographies…
  • Reading to identify and describe author’s purpose
  • Interactive Readers: “Over the Top of the World”
    • IR:    pgs. 290-295
    • AIR: pgs. 282-287
    • ELL: pgs. 314-321

Thursday, January 12:

  • Reading to comprehend and analyze biographies and autobiographies..
  • Reading to identify and describe author’s purpose
  • Interactive Readers: “Up and Over the Top”
    • IR:    pgs. 296-301
    • AIR: pgs. 288-291
    • ELL: pgs. 322-325

Friday, January 13:

  • Practicing Skills in reading comprehension, identifying author’s purpose, and using academic vocabulary:
  • Interactive Readers: “Over the Top of the World” / “Up and Over the Top”
    • IR:    pgs. 296-301
    • AIR: pgs. 292-293
    • ELL: pgs. 326-327

This Week’s Homework:  Review Vocabulary (Unit 2 and Unit 7)
Quizlet:  Unit 2  Unit 7  

“Shame” by Dick Gregory

Scholars are reading and discussing this dynamic literary piece in English Language Arts (ELA) class this week.  I am posting it here, because several scholars have asked for a copy of the story.

Click here to access the story in a PDF format:  shame-story

by Dick Gregory

I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that. I was about seven years old when I got my first big lesson. I was in love with a little girl named Helene Tucker, a light-complexioned little girl with pigtails and nice manners. She was always clean and she was smart in school. I think I went to school then mostly to look at her. I brushed my hair and even got me a little old handkerchief. It was a lady’s handkerchief, but I didn’t want Helene to see me wipe my nose on my hand.

The pipes were frozen again, there was no water in the house, but I washed my socks and shirt every night. I’d get a pot, and go over to Mister Ben’s grocery store, and stick my pot down into his soda machine and scoop out some chopped ice. By evening the ice melted to water for washing. I got sick a lot that winter because the fire would go out at night before the clothes were dry. In the morning I’d put them on, wet or dry, because they were the only clothes I had.

Everybody’s got a Helene Tucker, a symbol of everything you want. I loved her for her goodness, her cleanness, her popularity. She’d walk down my street and my brothers and sisters would yell, “Here comes Helene,” and I’d rub my tennis sneakers on the back of my pants and wish my hair wasn’t so nappy and the white folks’ shirt fit me better. I’d run out on the street. If I knew my place and didn’t come too close, she’d wink at me and say hello. That was a good feeling. Sometimes I’d follow her all the way home, and shovel the snow off her walk and try to make friends with her momma and her aunts. I’d drop money on her stoop late at night on my way back from shining shoes in the taverns. And she had a daddy, and he had a good job. He was a paperhanger.

I guess I would have gotten over Helene by summertime, but something happened in that classroom that made her face hang in front of me for the next twenty-two years. When I played the drums in high school, it was for Helene, and when I broke track records in college, it was for Helene, and when I started standing behind microphones and heard applause, I wished Helene could hear it too. It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine years old and married and making money that I finally got her out of my system. Helene was sitting in that classroom when I learned to be ashamed of myself.

It was on a Thursday. I was sitting in the back of the room, in a seat with a chalk circle drawn around it. The idiot’s seat, the troublemaker’s seat.

The teacher thought I was stupid. Couldn’t spell, couldn’t read, couldn’t do arithmetic. Just stupid. Teachers were never interested in finding out that you couldn’t concentrate because you were so hungry, because you hadn’t had any breakfast. All you could think about was noontime; would it ever come? Maybe you could sneak into the cloakroom and steal a bite of some kid’s lunch out of a coat pocket. A bite of something. Paste. You can’t really make a meal of paste, or put it on bread for a sandwich, but sometimes I’d scoop a few spoonfuls out of the big paste jar in the back of the room. Pregnant people get strange tastes. I was pregnant with poverty. Pregnant with dirt and pregnant with smells that made people turn away. Pregnant with cold and pregnant with shoes that were never bought for me. Pregnant with five other people in my bed and no daddy in the next room, and pregnant with hunger. Paste doesn’t taste too bad when you’re hungry.

The teacher thought I was a troublemaker. All she saw from the front of the room was a little black boy who squirmed in his idiot’s seat and made noises and poked the kids around him. I guess she couldn’t see a kid who made noises because he wanted someone to know he was there.

It was on a Thursday, the day before the Negro payday. The eagle always flew on Friday. The teacher was asking each student how much his father would give to the Community Chest. On Friday night, each kid would get the money from his father, and on Monday he would bring it to the school. I decided I was going to buy a daddy right then. I had money in my pocket from shining shoes and selling papers, and whatever Helene Tucker pledged for her daddy I was going to top it. And I’d hand the money right in. I wasn’t going to wait until Monday to buy me a daddy.

I was shaking, scared to death. The teacher opened her book and started calling out names alphabetically: “Helene Tucker?” “My Daddy said he’d give two dollars and fifty cents.” “That’s very nice, Helene. Very, very nice indeed.”

That made me feel pretty good. It wouldn’t take too much to top that. I had almost three dollars in dimes and quarters in my pocket. I stuck my hand in my pocket and held on to the money, waiting for her to call my name. But the teacher closed her book after she called everybody else in the class.

I stood up and raised my hand. “What is it now?” “You forgot me?” She turned toward the blackboard. “I don’t have time to be playing with you, Richard.”

“My daddy said he’d…” “Sit down, Richard, you’re disturbing the class.” “My daddy said he’d give…fifteen dollars.”

She turned around and looked mad. “We are collecting this money for you and your kind, Richard Gregory. If your daddy can give fifteen dollars you have no business being on relief.”

“I got it right now, I got it right now, my Daddy gave it to me to turn in today, my daddy said. ..”

“And furthermore,” she said, looking right at me, her nostrils getting big and her lips getting thin and her eyes opening wide, “We know you don’t have a daddy.”

Helene Tucker turned around, her eyes full of tears. She felt sorry for me. Then I couldn’t see her too well because I was crying, too.

“Sit down, Richard.” And I always thought the teacher kind of liked me. She always picked me to wash the blackboard on Friday, after school. That was a big thrill; it made me feel important. If I didn’t wash it, come Monday the school might not function right.

“Where are you going, Richard! ”

I walked out of school that day, and for a long time I didn’t go back very often.

There was shame there. Now there was shame everywhere. It seemed like the whole world had been inside that classroom, everyone had heard what the teacher had said, everyone had turned around and felt sorry for me. There was shame in going to the Worthy Boys Annual Christmas Dinner for you and your kind, because everybody knew what a worthy boy was. Why couldn’t they just call it the Boys Annual Dinner-why’d they have to give it a name? There was shame in wearing the brown and orange and white plaid mackinaw’ the welfare gave to three thousand boys. Why’d it have to be the same for everybody so when you walked down the street the people could see you were on relief? It was a nice warm mackinaw and it had a hood, and my momma beat me and called me a little rat when she found out I stuffed it in the bottom of a pail full of garbage way over on Cottage Street. There was shame in running over to Mister Ben’s at the end of the day and asking for his rotten peaches, there was shame in asking Mrs. Simmons for a spoonful of sugar, there was shame in running out to meet the relief truck. I hated that truck, full of food for you and your kind. I ran into the house and hid when it came. And then I started to sneak through alleys, to take the long way home so the people going into White’s Eat Shop wouldn’t see me. Yeah, the whole world heard the teacher that day-we all know you don’t have a Daddy.


I am happy to announce a new online resource that will help scholars with learning and reviewing academic vocabulary and spelling.


Please use this great resource to help with studying/reviewing our spelling words. VocabularySpellingCity makes learning our word lists fun and easy.

Scholars will use the same list for two weeks, and then begin working with a new list. This is a part of our efforts in intervention classes, to assist scholars with success in spelling as well as grade level skills and vocabulary. Though spelling is primarily a focus in intervention class, all scholars can benefit from this type of spelling practice at home. However, only scholars who are enrolled in my intervention classes will have a spelling test every other week.

Please let me know if you have any questions about VocabularySpellingCity, intervention class, or any other class-related questions.

Ms. Ward’s VocabularySpellingCity homepage: