What did 6th and 7th graders learn in English this semester?
Persuasive essays in 6th grade
In 6th grade English this fall students just finished a unit on rhetorical strategies, ethos, pathos and logos, used in advertising and essay writing that culminated in the outlining and drafting of a six paragraph persuasive essay a main claim, 3 subclaims, evidence, a counterclaim, a rebuttal and a call to action. Students chose from a wide-range of local, national or global issues based on the idea “If I had my way, I would change…” for example: Eradicating Homelessness, Ending Police Violence, LGBTQ Rights, Banning Child Soldiers, and Abolishing Homework.
Here are the first two paragraphs of an essay written by 6th grade student Etienne M. titled "Why Child Soldiers Should Be Globally Banned": "Many people don’t realize this, but all around the world children younger than 10 years old are kidnapped and brainwashed to become soldiers. In many cases children are either abducted or forced by the government to come into war, which doesn’t make any sense. During the war children face brutality and mercilessness by their captors who become their commanders (i.e. if someone is sick the others are forced to kill that person). After the war most of the children don’t return to their homes, and even if they do they are vastly changed and impacted by psychological conditions such as post traumatic stress because they have experienced too much trauma and brutality. Child soldiers are immoral and should be banned.
One of the reasons that child soldiers should be banned is that, they are usually either abducted or forced by the government or a rebellious group, I read a historical-fiction book that talks about the abduction of children around the age of 14 from school, or at a bus stop, and even straight from their families. The worst part about when they were taken straight from their families, is that sometimes the parents would be killed. When I was studying WWII in 5th grade, I learned that children were forced by the French government to serve in a rebellion against Hitler and his Nazi army. I saw photos of teenagers being trained to handle firearms, which if you ask me is just crazy. Put yourself in the shoes of kids who were taken away from their families by force and trained to kill, how would you feel?"
Autobiographical writing and realistic fiction in 7th grade
In English this fall seventh graders studied autobiographical writing and realistic fiction by Sandra Cisneros, Gary Soto, David Sedaris and animal poetry with anthropomorphism by Emily Dickinson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Vachel Lindsay, Francisco Alarcón, Alberto Blanco, N. Scott Momaday and a traditional poem from - Dinka Tribe, Africa.
The students used these texts as inspiration for writing their six personal essays, stories and poems that they revised, polished and collected in a hand-sewn portfolio. The cover of their portfolio was created in art class. Students are now half way into a research, note-taking and essay writing unit on the theme of Language Change over time.