Pets in the Classroom ~ What’s Your Educated Opinion?


Join the Great Debate:  Should we have pets in our classrooms?



Offer Your Opinion:  Share your opinion on this poll prior to researching the matter further.

See what others think :  Using, investigate what other people think on the topic:


Educate Yourself: Watch this video Why Do Dogs Reduce Stress in Classrooms.  As you watch, think about the important ideas and information in the video. Take notes in your Reading & Writing Binder, capturing at least one reason and more than one piece of evidence that the video offers to teach us why dogs reduce stress in the classroom.

Go Deeper:  Study this informational text “Should You Have a Pet in the Classroom?”  Annotate the text, using your “notice and note” strategies.  In your Reading & Writing Binder, write a reason the article gives for why schools should allow pets in the classrooms, and write a quote from the article that explains that reason. Remember to quote directly so that you capture exactly what the text said.

Investigate the Counterargument: Study this Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 9.30.13 AMinformational text Leave Animals Out of the Classroom, annotating the text as you read.  Choose one piece of evidence the author gives to support the central idea of the article and write it  in your Reading & Writing Binder.  Write to analyze how this evidence supports the author’s position on the topic.

Take an educated position: Researchers, you’ve done some good research now by studying this information and the ideas of these authors.  Now you’ll want to take a position on whether or not to allow pets in classrooms.  First, you’ll want to look over your notes, and the texts as well if you’d like, and decide, based on the best evidence from both articles, which side of the argument you’ll take up.

Then, imagine that you are writing an essay to send to the principal, clearing stating one side of the argument in a convincing way, and supporting that claim with strong evidence you’ve gathered in your research.  You’ll want to include information and details from the articles and video to support your claim.  Be sure to:

  • Quickly plan how you will organize this letter
  • Introduce the claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly
  • Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating and understanding of the topic.
  • Use words, phrases and clauses to clarify the relationship among claim(s) and reasons, such as for example, for instance, in addition, moreover, furthermore, etc..
  • Maintain the formal style of a persuasive letter/essay.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument.
  • Quote directly from the texts that you read and watched.

Put your best effort in your work and ENJOY the process!

Assessment:  Reading Information Texts and Argument Writing Performance Assessment.

Source:  The Reading and Writing Project



RCD Unit 1 – Early Beginnings

Vocabulary: anthropologist, archaeologist, artifact, artisan, astronomer, caravan, city-state, civilization, code, complex, consist, cuneiform, domesticate, empire, fossil, interval, irrigation, nomad, province, revolution, route, scribe, specialization, surplus, task, technology

Discovering Ancient Cultures ~ The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay


gr6_th4_sel3 This week, we are reading The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay in our Houghton Mifflin reading anthology.  Here are some resources to increase your comprehension and enjoyment of this reading selection.

Click on “Meet the Authors” to learn about the author.  Click on “Meet the Illustrator” to learn more about the creator of the marvelous illustrations.

Download and view this vocabulary powerpoint to introduce our new vocabulary words for this selection.

Click on e-Word Game to practice the new vocabulary words from the selection.

For extra practice at home ~ Click on Flashcards to study our vocabulary words and play games.  1) Start here with Flashcards, 2) Learn, 3) Speller, 4) Test, 5) Choose a game:  Scatter or Space Race.

Click on our Fluency – Royal Kingdoms page to practice your reading fluency and prosody both at home and in school.

Independent Research Project


BrainHi Great Brains!

During the next eight weeks, you will complete a Great Brain Independent Research Project.  Here are some materials you will need for success:

6th Grade Research Project (PPT Introduction)

101 Research Paper Topics (List)

Bibliography Examples (Examples and Link)

Finding a Passion for Research (Choose a Topic Activity)

Great Brain Independent Research Project (Project Description)

Great Brain Independent Research Project – Spanish (Description in Spanish)

Great Brain Independent Research Project Reflection

GATE Showcase Projects 2012 (PPT)

Independent Study Research Cards (How to Organize Your Folder)

Independent Study Research Folder (Picture of Research Folder)

KWL Chart for Research

Online Essay Map (Website to Make Essay Map)

Outline for a Research Paper

Self Evaluation – 5 Paragraph Essay

Self Evaluation – Bibliography

Self Evaluation – Final

Self Reflection – Index Cards

Self Reflection – KWL Chart

Self Evaluation – Outline

Self Evaluation – Table of Contents and Chapter Notes

What is a periodical?

Writing a Research Report (Example of Writing Stages)

Picture 1

Here are some videos to get your started:

  1. Choose a writing topic for an informational text
  2. Develop a research question
  3. Find answers to research questions by skimming texts for evidence
  4. Plan writing for an informational text
  5. Group research into categories to plan informational writing
  6. Write an introduction for an informational text
  7. Draft an informational, research-based writing
  8. Organize ideas in informational writing using headingsPicture 3
  9. Write a conclusion for an informational text
  10. Add text features to informational writing

Here are some kid-friendly online research sources:

Awesome Library

Encyclopedia Britannica

Fact Monster

ipl2 for Kids

KidsClick Web Search

National Geographic Kids

Scholastic News Weekly Reader (use Ren login)

Scholastic News (Sweet Sounds of Trash)

Time for Kids

Have fun building greater brains, Great Brains!

Ms. Rankin

Bonus Feature: (It will blow your mind!)

Comic Strip Book Club Project



i-love-books-books-to-read-18694968-500-445For our Book-Club Project this upcoming week, You will have the opportunity to design and create comic strips.  You will use an online tool to create a six-panel comic highlighting six key scenes in the book that you are currently reading for AR.  You will use critical thinking skills to distill the significant points in your book in a few short scenes.  Here are the tools for this week’s Book-Club project:

Enjoy the process, Sixth-Grade Readers and Creative Communicators!

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”― Anna QuindlenHow Reading Changed My Life




imagesThis week, we begin reading Dragonwings, an award-winning historical fiction novel by Laurence Yep.

Here are resources to increase your comprehension and enjoyment of this historical fiction novel.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 3.53.02 PM

Discover the major milestones in aviation with this aviation timeline.

See footage of San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 3.58.31 PM

Just for fun, here are instructions on how to make your own kite.

About This Book

Moon Shadow is eight when he sails from China to join his father, Windrider, in America. Windrider lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown and works in a laundry. Moon Shadow has never seen him.

Moon Shadow soon loves and respects this father, a man of genius, a man with a fabulous dream. With Moon Shadow’s help, Windrider is willing to endure the mockery of the other Chinese, the poverty, and longing for his own country to make his dream come true.

Inspired by the account of a Chinese immigrant who made a flying machine in 1909, Laurence Yep’s historical novel beautifully portrays the rich traditions of the Chinese community as it made its way in a hostile new world.

Praise for Dragonwings

“[A]n unusual historical novel, unique in its perspective of the Chinese in America and its portrayal of early 20th century San Francisco, including the Earthquake, from an immigrant’s viewpoint.” — School Library Journal

1976 Newbery Honor Book
ALA Notable Children’s Books of 1971-1975
1976 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book
The New York Times
 Outstanding Children’s Books 1975
School Library Journal Best of the Best 1966-1978

Interest Level  Grades 6 – 8

Reading Level  Grade level Equivalent: 6.1

Type of Book  Chapter Book

Genre  Historical Fiction

Themes/Subjects  1) Changes and New Experiences, 2) Immigration, 3) Chinese and Chinese American


Exploring the Indus Valley


Picture 5

This week, we  dig deeper into our research about Ancient India.  At the BBC Primary History Indus Valley website, you will  select an area to explore, research your topic, take notes, analyze pictures, graphics, videos, and timelines, test your knowledge with quizzes, and share key concepts in our comment section of this blog post.

Here is your Primary History – Indus Valley Note-Taking Paper for the research project.

Have fun, sixth-grade scholars / historians!

Ancient India


Ancient-India-Pictures2This month, we begin our study of Ancient India in our RCD unit entitled “Stability and Change.”

Overview:  The earliest civilizations developed on the Indus River where the peoples’ wealth grew from their successful economy in trading food and goods.  When the Aryans settled in India, they established Sanskrit, a caste system, and the foundation of Hinduism.  You will explore how the people in India met their spiritual needs and expressed themselves in the arts.  You will also refine your skills as you compare and contrast multiple religions, literary genres, and text structures.

Vocabulary Resources:  

Academic eFlashcards

Glossary eFlashcards

People/Places/Events Flashcards

Combined Flashcards

Research Resources:

Chapter Overview

Hinduism and Buddhism Chart

Hinduism and Buddhism PPT

Primary History  Indus Valley

Test Yourself!:

Concentration Game

Self-Check Quiz