Hello and welcome!

Major thematic focus points for 4th quarter work include social issues (6th grade) and "coming of age" (7th grade).

6th graders will use all that they have learned about the study of individuals, events, and ideas in fiction and nonfiction during quarter to study a relevant social issue (such as prejudice) and analyze how his social issue is present in their book. Readers will be organized into smaller book clubs, analyzing what social issues are present in their book and how the social issue is depicted, using structures of negotiation and collaboration to deepen their thinking. Students will begin researching identified social issues  mid-way through their books. Readers will synthesize ideas on the social issue gained through their novel, research, and perhaps other media.  6th graders will write feature articles, using evidence from multiple sources, in order to explain and highlight this issue.

7th graders will read “coming of age” stories as a member of a book club. Students will be responsible for planning their reading, talking, and writing in order to deeply study how the events in the story unfold in order to lead the reader to a theme related to growing up. Students will identify different messages different cultures and society send young people regarding growing up. Students will explore these messages through different mediums (drama, film, art, music, etc.) Students will synthesize texts they used this quarter to develop a message about growing up. Students will create a product and presentation outlining explaining how one “grows up/comes of age” successfully using evidence from multiple texts.

Each of these novels has been selected by the district curriculum team to reflect a different aspect of the theme for the quarter. Students will be expected to read the novel along with their group, and engage in a series of discussions over several weeks. Book clubs are always a fun and engaging activity. I’m excited! 

As always, when selecting books we encourage students to consider level, interest, and family values. If a student begins a book and decides later that it doesn’t fit with their values, we can always change it up. We also remind students that it’s okay to skip parts of a novel that cause discomfort—just like we might close our eyes during a part of a movie. I sent a letter home with your child with the titles and authors of the books as well as additional information. Keep an eye out for it!

In terms of independent reading of "Just Right" books, students will need to continue to bring a book of their choosing to class every day. If students would like to leave their books in my classroom (to avoid hauling two books back and forth: their book club books and their independent reading books), they can. While we will not be collecting reading log bookmarks during fourth quarter, students should continue to read fiction texts with independence and stamina for 2 or more hours a week.

Five things you can do to help your child be successful with reading in L.A.:
1) make sure s/he has an Independent Reading book every day; 
2) make sure s/he has a "next" book on deck and ready to go when finished with the first; 
3) strive to provide a regular time and, if possible, a quiet and distraction free space for your child to read; 
4) ask to see his/her reading bookmark. This records of pages and minutes spent reading are turned in every Mon.
5) ask your child questions about the books.

I try to keep students at the forefront of the conversation about their learning, so I do not update my website every day. I write a lesson plan for each day of class, so whenever you want a record of what activities we’re doing or what concepts we’re learning, let me know and I’ll send you the plan. I also keep detailed records of students' reading habits and behaviors (page count, minute count, trends, goals, observations, and more), so whenever you want to know what I'm seeing from my end, contact me at derek.smith1@rentonschools.us or dsmith2@rentonschool.us. I've heard reports of emails bouncing back, so if you do not receive a response from me, try the other address.

Thank you so much for your concern and support!

Mr. Smith