It is difficult to nail down themes, novel choices for a school year. There are so many possibilities that my mind can spin until– well I’m just exhausted, but it also brings momentum and excitement too. That is the awesomeness that is teaching–creativity.
The following is a brainstorm of my thoughts so far for the 2013-14 school year.
The Common Core suggests that units have a unified theme to pull the texts together. It is important that students understand the bigger picture. We are not just teaching a novel with various characters, but rather an idea or message. The texts should not only increase their IQ (intelligence quotient) but their HQ (heart quotient) as well.
Last year I was able to do this with two units, but two other units focused just on a genre such as poetry and mythology. This upcoming school year, I would like to combine all the various genres under one thematic idea. So instead of just teaching a poetry unit, I will use various poetry throughout all units, and teach mini-lessons on different poetic elements and styles within every unit. Additionally, students will have set individual goals for their own private reading that will cover all genres: poetry, contemporary literature, fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, biography, autobiography, memoirs, informational, non-fiction.
(The Diary of Anne Frank, Weedflower, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice)
(Hatchet, Endurance, Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems)
These themes may be outlined in greater detail in future blog posts with alignment with the 6th grade ELA Common Core Standards.
Each of these units have the potential to be taught with great breadth as well as depth. I look forward to their progression in the coming weeks.