What do Students Learn in Grade 6 Language Arts?

Sixth graders are working on building strength in all aspects of the Language Arts and they are learning how important these skills are in every facet of their lives. They need to be able to read effectively and for content in every subject, they have to write reports and analyses in science, math and history and they have to speak to everyone. Knowing how to approach each of these tasks effectively comes through their studies in Language Arts.

In reading, students have built their vocabularies by using context to decode unfamiliar words, use prefixes, suffixes and roots within word structure to understand multisyllabic words and use questions about whether a meaning sounds right or makes sense (syntax or semantics) to discover new words. Sixth graders recognize words they read and see often and can fluently read grade-level-appropriate texts. They develop new strategies such as connotation or denotation to add more new words to their vocabularies.

They are able take a narrative text and analyze it according to the elements found in specific genres such as fantasy, westerns or historical fiction. They recognize main characters, minor characters, plot, universal themes and setting. Students understand author motivation and recognize imagery and the use of dialogue to drive the story. In reading expository texts, students use footnotes, endnotes, indices and other text features to further understand the facts presented. In accessing these texts, students connect universal or global themes to their own experience or knowledge in order to further comprehend it. In doing so, they are able to retell or summarize the author's meaning in their own narrative style.

Sixth graders are able to practice reflective thinking while reading or listening and use internal questioning, predicting, summarizing and inference strategies to insure they are getting the whole picture or all the details. They use metacognitive study skills to improve their reading comprehension. These techniques include PQRST (preview, question, read, study, test), SQ3R (survey, question, read, review, report), or PQ4R (preview, question, research, read, review, report.) Students can then compare their own work with others.

These students are able to write narrative fiction, writing from experience or strictly from their imaginations. They can mimic authors' styles and are able to write from many genres including fantasy, folk tales or tall tales. They know and follow each genre's conventions and thematic devices. Students can write to persuade, entertain or inform. Sixth graders may also take on a project which involves developing a topic as a thematic unit, having their peers read it and test themselves on it and rate its effectiveness. Writers in the sixth grade are also working to develop their personal style. While staying within the conventions of the class, the student will want to use emotion, humor, personal experience or history to inform or entertain. Students use a writing process that involves a series of steps to eliminate grammatical errors, inconsistencies and repetitive word choices. Students use a variety of grammatical structures and many combinations of phrases and clauses to keep their writing fresh and interesting. They are careful with spelling, making sure to use dictionaries, thesauri or spell check if they are writing on the computer. By sixth grade, most writing is done on a computer, although the students should be able to write legibly in cursive.

Students in the sixth grade have developed the skills to present their work orally and respond properly to audience proffered questions. They should use available techniques to speak naturally and in an interesting manner. All presentations should be done in proper English, leaving slang and idiomatic discourse for private conversation with peers. Sixth graders are able to engage in interactive conversations in most social situations and know to match the message to the audience.