Literacy Block and Themes

Themes

 Community Building
 We begin each year by building community through goal setting and discussion of how we can help each other reach our goals.  This process includes establishing procedures and norms as well as reading literature about honesty, empathy and building self-esteem.  While working towards shared community expectations, be begin our exploration of literature and theme.

 Cells and Microscopes
 Our first content study of the year combines the study of cells, the basic unit of life, with building the skills necessary to effectively read informational text.  Students study cells and their associated organelles, while learning how to identify the main idea of a text and record details that back up that main idea.  Students the apply their knowledge of figurative language to describing the functions of organelles.

 Civics and Government
 Students strengthen their informational reading skills while we study our next content area, Civics and Government.  Through this unit students will gain understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens as well as how the US Constitution forms the framework for the three branches of government.  Students will continue learning how to effectively identify the main ideas and details of non fiction text, but will extend this to making inferences about the intentions of the authors of the text.
As part of this unit, students will take a trip to the Maine State House. 

Freak the Mighty and Literary Elements
 We will use the book Freak the Mighty as a platform for the study of literary elements.  Students will use this shared read to study characters, character traits, theme, plot and other traits that create a narrative.  Students will then apply these skills to their own independent readying.

 Young Man and the Sea and The Gulf of Maine Research Institute
 All students will read the book Young Man and the Sea.  We use this book as as jumping off point for out study of academic discussion skills.  Students are asked to use use evidence from the text to support inferences, first in writing and then as part of whole-group, small-group and one-on-one discussions.  Those inferences then grow into literary essays focusing on character and theme.
We also take a trip to the Gulf Of Maine Research Institute in Portland as part of this unit.

 Westward Expansion and Text Structures
 Students will embark on a journey from Sea to Shining Sea!  This social studies adventure will also have a focus on using non-fiction text structures to help them comprehend non fiction texts.
As part of this unit, we visit Norlands Living History Center in Livermore, Maine, to get an idea of what it would have been like to be alive during this time.  

Civil War
 We combine our study of the Civil War with research and writing skills.  Along with a holistic approach to studying the causes and affects of the war, students choose an aspect of the war to study.  Students will then turn their research into a multimedia presentation on their topic of study.

 Other
Bridges: One of our final activities of the year is to build a real, weight-bearing bridge out of toothpicks!  This engineering challenge is supported by a field trip to visit area bridges, as well as guest speakers and hands-on and digital model building before working on the big challenge!  Students must also work as a team and budget their 'money' to be successful.