ISS Grade 6: Mr. Catanzaro LA/SS

Big Ideas for Quarter 4

In the 4th quarter of language Arts, students will finish their Greek research papers and wrap up their study of The Odyssey.  The Odyssey will culminate with a "Character Card" project where the students will represent a character through images and poetic words.  This will help us as we study poetry.  Students will read a book by Sharon Creech, Heartbeat, written entirely in poems.  As they analyze and make sense of the story, they will also continue writing their own original poems.  This will produce original poetry books that each student will publish and share.  The last unit will be a look at "Future Civilizations" through literature circles.

Charlotte Doyle Projects

Big Ideas, Week 16-17: Skills+Equipment+Hope=Survival (Hatchet Group Projects)

Big Ideas, Week 15: Writing Body Paragraphs

Big Ideas, Week 14: Group Survival Projects and Hatchet Essay Writer's Workshop 

This week, we are adding details to our body paragraphs as we turn our Hatchet first drafts into typed second drafts with detailed body paragraphs.  Students will learn how to use the author's words in their body paragraphs to support their thesis statements.

We are also working on our survival projects.  Below you will see examples from last year in a slideshow.  See if you can comment on the pictures using the embedded Voice Thread file.  Good luck!

Big Ideas, Week 13: Survival Projects and Hatchet Essays 

As we finish Hatchet, we shall begin to work on our group projects.  Students will also write a five paragraph essay about Gary Paulsen's survival novel.  We will focus on skills, equipment and hope as the key aspects of survival.  The essay and the project will reflect this theme.

Students will also be selecting a survival novel to read independently in groups.  These literature circles will be student run and give the students a chance to make meaning through discussions.

One program we will be introducing this quarter and then using throughout the year is VoiceThread.  You may want to check this out as foreshadowing.  Mr. Cat will explain this program to the students in the upcoming weeks before Winter Break.

Big Ideas, Week 12: Survival Skills and New Hope


Brian Robeson lost all of his hope and has made a huge change.  The "old Brian" has died and the new Brian is full of tough hope.  47 days after the plane crash, he has accepted his new life.  As we speed toward the end of the novel, we are comparing Brian with a real life wilderness survivor,
Dick Proenneke.

Students are working in their groups and will begin to put together projects next week as we finish the book.  The projects will look like the sample photos from Week 10 and Week 12.

Big Ideas, Week 11: Skills + Equipment + Hope = Survival

What if Brian Robeson loses his hope?

Big Ideas, Week 10: Hatchet and Essays

This week students practiced their reading strategies by finding many specific examples in Gary Paulsen's survival novel Hatchet. Students are charting the main character Brian's skills, equipment and hope as he tries to survive in the Canadian wilderness.  The students also wrote four paragraph essays and learned how to write conclusions along the way.Students will be getting their first drafts of their original short stories back.  The second draft is due on Monday, November 9, 2009.  It must be typed and can be turned in electronically.

Big Ideas, Week 9: Characterization, Reading Codes and Introductions


In Language Arts, students are writing first drafts of their original short stories.  These are due on Monday.  They are also learning how to write introductions for their academic essay writing.  Thesis was not only a word of the day to be included in this week's quiz, it is also a term we will use all year to discuss our topic statements in essays.  The characterization bulletin board is acting as a visual reminder to help students develop the charatcers of their short stories.  We have also reviewed our reading codes and are currently reading and analyzing Gary Paulsen's survival novel Hatchet.

Big Ideas, Week 8: Finish Short Sories and Essay Sandwich

This week we will conclude our short story unit.  Students will make characterization drawings for "Amigo Brothers" and complete a literary terms packet for "Thunder Butte."  Furthermore, there will be some essay format writing lessons and our second notebook check.  We are also strating a new list of vocabulary words for our quiz on October 23.

Big Ideas, Week 7: Leirskole: Outdoor Education

At Leirskole, students wrote reflective journals, took maritime tests and drew the plot of their daily leirskole schedule.  After break, students will turn in their work on the short stories "Amigo Brothers" and "Thunder Butte". 

Big Ideas, Week 6: Characterization, Conflict and Theme

In week 6, students use the short story "The Amigo Brothers" to better understand conflict, characterization and theme.  Felix and Antonio fight all out and when the bout is over, they are last seen leaving the ring together as friends, unconcerned about the decision, yet to be announced.  The Amigo Brothers survive a person vs. person conflict and their friendship is the winner.  We learn a theme.  The Venn diagrams will now help students create a character study of one of the main characters.  This small project will include writing, art work and class time to get started.

Big Ideas, Week 5: Reading Strategies & Literary Terms

In week 5, we will continue reading and coding short stories. "The Circuit" by Francisco Jiminez helped us review some basic literary terms (plot timelines, turning point, setting, narration, conflict and theme).  The story helped students see symbols in literature as boxes in the story.  This week students will work in cooperative groups hunting for literary terms in the story "The Amigo Brothers". Venn diagrams help us see the similarities and differences between the main characters.  Two best friends with a passion for boxing must now face each other in a bout for the ages.  Can their friendship survive three rounds in the ring?

Big Ideas, Week 4: Using Reading Strategies with "The Circuit"


In week 4, we are reading and coding our first short story, "The Circuit" by Francisco Jiminez.  We will discuss timelines of the story, literary terms (plot, turning point, setting, narration, conflict and theme) and the symbol of the boxes in the story.  In addition, students will be relating the story to their own lives.

There is also a words of the day quiz on all the words from migration to society.  Students should know what the words mean and how these words relate to our social studies unit on early people.  Flashcards, using notebooks, explaining the meaning of the words orally to a parent, discussing the words in your own native language at home or simply reading over the definitions are all good ways to study.

Big Ideas, Week 3: Symbols of Me, Begin to Use Reading Strategies, Notebook Check

In week 3, students will complete their 'Symbols of Me' pictures and poems.  Along with their timelines and portfolio covers, students have now effectively put themselves on the timeline of history.  They have also decorated the halls, their portfolios and our classroom with their own personal flair.  Our shared ownership in our learning environment is a key to keeping the students invested and interested in our shared lessons. This week we will also begin to use our reading strategies together as we read in social studies.  

There will be the first notebook check of the year on Thursday.  Students should have a hard covered, lined paper notebook with two sections: Word of the Day and Journal.  Students full names should appear clearly on the cover or inside cover.  In addition, the notes we have taken so far should be in the book.  We have written two journal entries so far and will write a third this week. We have eight Words of the Day and we will get three more this week.

Big Ideas, Week 2: Reading Strategies


In week 2 of Language Arts, students will be introduced to reading strategies to help them better understand what they read.  These strategies will be practiced through guided reading of three short stories.  Students will be asked to use some new reading codes to show me what they are thinking when they are reading.

On Friday, students will have their first word of the day quiz. Students will be asked to explain the six writing traits in their words.

Big Ideas, Week 1: Welcome to Language Arts!

In week 1, we learned that we have one notebook with two sections: Journal and Vocabulary.  Although Mr. Cat prefers a hard cover notebook, some students were willing to see if spirals can stand up to the rigors of being locked in cramped lockers, mashed in tight book-bags and dragged roughly to and from class.  Additionally, some students preferred the two ring binder.  These freedoms of expression will be allowed provided we stay organized.  Students also filled out important reflections and expectations surveys to start the year.  Their candid answers will help me meet their individual reading and writing needs.  In addition to the surveys, I was able to better get to know the students as they created portfolio covers.  This will eventually lead to our picture poem project. 

We also learned that to discuss writing, we must use common terms.  As a result, the words of the day have been writing trait words we will use to discuss writing throughout the year.  These "anchor" terms will help guide writing instruction.

Click the PowerPoint below for more on the Six Traits of Writing
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