Reading projects should engage students while meeting curriculum standards that address specific objectives, such as citing text evidence, identifying a central idea, summarizing and analyzing the author’s purpose. Literature objectives often include analyzing a topic across different genres. Informational text objectives include learning to evaluate text to locate supporting evidence. Projects for sixth-graders should address these objectives while encouraging them to enjoy reading.
Sixth-graders enjoy reading a variety of texts and having project choices. Have them choose an author they enjoy reading and complete an author study. This requires them to research the author’s life and read three to five of his books. Students should focus their research on life events that most influenced the author’s career. While reading the author's books, students should note each one's central idea, summary, purpose and theme. The students' projects should discuss the author and his books. Students then present the project, dressing up as the author if you want them to.
Multicultural Literature Study
Many authors write picture books and young adult novels based in other cultures that can be the basis of a literature study. Have students choose a particular theme such as friendship, family, war, journey or sacrifice. Instruct students to locate titles written in different cultural settings that match the theme. While reading the books, students analyze the way the theme is treated in each culture and represented in the books. Have students create a visual that communicates the similarities and differences in the way that diverse cultures address the theme. A poster presentation or a technology project is a suitable product for this project.
A genre study compares the way authors of different genres write about a topic. Have students choose a topic about which they can locate information in several genres. For example, text about historical figures can be found in poems, dramatic texts, novels, biographies and informational texts. The same is true of historical events. Have students read the texts, noting how the topic is addressed by the authors of the different genres. Text elements to analyze include the text formality and readability, factual information included, types of visuals and organization. Students can create a chart or diagram to present their findings regarding the use of these elements in different genres.
For a topic study, students formulate a hypothesis to support with informational text. For example, students read about a topic such as school dress codes to support a hypothesis that dress codes improve school discipline. This project supports student reading objectives that address the ability to locate text evidence. Have students locate informational text that supports the hypothesis and create a report of the text evidence available. Explain that students must evaluate the reliability of the sources and analyze them to ensure that the evidence is accurate. Instruct students to create a written report with a bibliography of the sources.
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