• 6th Grade English Language Arts Course Syllabus

    Remsen Central School 


    Mrs. Mary Hollenbeck

    School Phone Number: (315) 831 - 3797  

    District Email Address: mhollenbeck@remsencsd.org

    Room: 15


    Course Description: 

    This language arts class is designed to increase your communications skills through reading, writing, speaking, and the study of the English language.  Our primary focus in language arts class will be mastery of different writing styles, demonstration of the rules of grammar, and the ability to express yourself effectively through various mediums of communication in direct correspondence to the Common Core State Standards. This year you can expect to read a variety of fiction and non-fiction text including novels, short stories, dramas, poetry, and essays. These writing pieces will model the different writing styles we will be working on ourselves.  Writing assignments will include on demand responses, journal writing, essays, critiques, constructive responses, and extended responses vocabulary, spelling, and supplemental grammar assignments (as needed) will also be an important part of this class.  Because we are a community of learners, please also expect to work periodically in cooperative learning situations and to present information to your peers in collaborative teams as well as individually.  


    Throughout the duration of the school year you will:


    • read and respond widely and deeply to foster a deeper understanding of the human experience
    • use a variety of thinking strategies to understand, analyze, and create text for personal enrichment, inquiry, and problem solving
    • collect, analyze, and cite specific evidence to formulate questions, construct arguments, make decisions, and reinforce thinking
    • obtain, analyze, and synthesize information from a variety of resources to express information, change perspectives, clarify thinking, and make informed decisions

    Please understand that you will be expected to read outside of class as a component of our course.  You will be held accountable for independent reading by various methods, which will be further explained, in a separate document. Just understand that you should be reading a minimum of 20 minutes every night! With approximately 180 school days in the academic year, that’s 3,600 minutes or 60 hours of reading you will be able to complete this school year!



    This course will focus on developing and improving your reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills in direct correspondence to the Common Core State Standards. To implement the standards the district has implemented Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Reading. This program will also be supported with the NYS Modules. 



    • 6 Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions) + presentation
    • Effective Communication Skills (listening, speaking, and viewing)
    • Elements of Poetry
    • Journal Writing
    • Literary Terms
    • Mechanics & Standard Grammar
    • Narrative, Expository/Informative (descriptive, explanation, comparison and contrast, problem/solution), and Persuasive Writing
    • Parts of Speech
    • Presentation Techniques
    • Reading Process
    • Reading Strategies
    • Various Novels
    • Literature Circles

    ***This list is tentative and subject to change as needed based on the prior knowledge and readiness levels of each child. Curriculum will be in direct correspondence to the 6th Grade ELA Common Core State Standards.


    Our first unit of study will involve a deep study of mythology, its purpose, and elements. Students will read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (780L), a high-interest novel about a sixth grade boy on a hero’s journey. In this module, students are involved in a deep study of mythology, its purposes, and elements. Some students may be familiar with this popular fantasy book; in this module, students will read with a focus on the archetypal journey and close reading of the many mythical allusions. As they begin the novel, students also will read a complex informational text that explains the archetypal storyline of the hero’s journey which has been repeated in literature throughout the centuries. Through the close reading of literary and informational texts, students will learn multiple strategies for acquiring and using academic vocabulary. Students will also build routines and expectations of discussion as they work in small groups. At the end of Unit 1, having read half of the novel, students will explain, with text-based evidence, how Percy is an archetypal hero. In Unit 2, students will continue reading The Lightning Thief (more independently): in class, they will focus on the novel’s many allusions to classic myths; those allusions will serve as an entry point into a deeper study of Greek mythology. They also will continue to build their informational reading skills through the close reading of texts about the close reading of texts about the elements of myths. This will create a conceptual framework to support students’ reading of mythology. As a whole class, students will closely read several complex Greek myths. They then will work in small groups to build expertise on one of those myths. In Unit 3, students shift their focus to narrative writing skills. This series of writing lessons will scaffold students to their final performance task in which they will apply their knowledge about the hero’s journey and the elements of mythology to create their own hero’s journey stories. This task centers on NYSP12 ELA Standards RL.6.3, W.6.3, W.6.4, W.6.5, W.6.6, L.6.2, and L.6.3.



    All students will be prompt, prepared, polite and productive.


    1. Be Prompt: You are expected to be in your chosen seat and ready to work at the start of class. Make sure you complete the “Daily Preview”/“Welcome Work” activity as soon as you enter the classroom!
    2. Be Prepared: You must bring the requested supplies to class everyday unless specified otherwise: Binders will be stored in my classroom. Students will remove necessary sections for homework, and return daily.
    •  1 Two inch 3 – Ring Binder
    •  1 Package of Tab Dividers for the Binder (At Least Five Tabs) üü Highlighters 
    •  Lined Paper
    •  Pencils or Pens                       
    1. Be Polite: You will be respectful, considerate, and polite to all people and property.
    2. Be Productive: You will come to class and use all of the resources available to learn and explore new and exciting ways to enjoy the English language.


    Homework will be given on a regular basis. It is intended to support the learning done in the classroom. Homework should be completed fully and on time to allow continuity with class activities. 

    •  Assignments must be legible in order to receive credit. I cannot grade what I cannot read. Typing is optional.
    •  Always make sure that you are clear about the homework assignment and that you have recorded it in your agenda BEFORE LEAVING CLASS. As soon as you know you are stuck, contact your teacher or another classmate for clarification.
    •  All assignments are due on the assigned due date and are to be submitted at the beginning of the class period unless stated otherwise in the directions.
    •  Homework is due the following class day unless stated otherwise. 
    • Any assignments not received on or before the due date are considered late. In order to receive credit for any missed assignments, students must have an excusable absence, tardy, or early dismissal.
    • When a child has an excused absence, the child has the same number of days he/she was absent to make up the missing work.
    • All students who do not have their homework at the time in which it is due will be required to fill out a Missing Assignment Notice to explain their reason as to why the assignment was not completed on time. This notice will need to be turned in with the assignment and signed by a parent or guardian if it is not made up by the end of the day in which it was due.
    • A note from a parent or guardian with an incomplete assignment will be considered. Repeated behavior of missed assignments will not be excused.
    • Students may attend OTI Zone (Opportunity to Improve) during recess, or lunch to complete the assignments due that day, without penalty.
    • If the assignment is not turned in by the end of the day it is due, it will not be accepted and the student will receive zero credit.
    • Please note that homework assignments for literature circle novels will be due in class on the day the reading is due so students are prepared for the discussion. Work after the chapter is discussed is no longer relevant and will become a permanent zero with no late penalties able to be applied.
    •  All assignments and due dates will be posted on my classroom website by 4pm each day!
    • If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to see me to find out what notes or activities you missed.


    Writing Assignments:

    All “on demand” writing assignments will be graded using a 2 or 4 point rubric. The rubrics are within the parameters of the NYS Common Core Language Arts Test Guides

     Independnt Reading Assessments

    Dear Families, 

    In 6th grade, students are encouraged to read regularly. Reading often and from different kinds of books has many benefits. Research has shown that it is the best way to improve vocabulary, comprehension, and reading fluency. It can also help students become better writers and better students all-round. The best way to become a better reader is to practice. So that’s just what we’re going to do this year!! 

    One of my goals this year is to have each student independently reading books that reflects their reading level throughout the school year. Our students will be given some class time to read independently, however much of this reading will need to be done outside of language arts class or at home. 

    Students are encouraged to keep track of their on-going reading using notes. We have practiced in class how to take notes about what they are reading. These notes will be used to complete a summary in class before the end of the trimester. Your child will earn an independent reading grade each trimester based on their understanding of the book they read, and the quality of their written summary. 

    We know that reading can be a very enjoyable experience. It can be an entertaining escape that allows students to live other lives, imagine great things, think, relate, and relax. Please encourage your child to read at home each night and make reading a regular part of his or her life.




    Tests will always be announced. Quizzes may or may not be announced. Tests and quizzes will vary in structure (multiple choice, short answer, fill – in – the – blank, true/false, essay questions, etc.)



    Trimester performance is determined by adding all points earned in a marking period, and divided by the total possible points.  Scores will consist of homework, quizzes, projects, journals, class participation, and tests. Scores will be available on www.remsencsd.org, Parent Portal throughout the duration of each trimester.



    ELA averages will consist of two categories:

    30% collaborative work and 70% independent

    Below are examples of each component:

    Collaborative                                  Independent

    Daily questions                                Tests

    Classwork                                         Quizzes

    Exit/Entrance Tickets                       On Demand Writing

    Homework                                       Running Records/STAR

    Participation                                    Reading Journal Writing


    The daily earned points will be averaged into a 1-4 point scale                                                   


    Academic Performance level Key

    4.0 – Exceeding New York State and District Grade Level Standards

    3.5 – In addition to score 3.0, sometimes exceeds Standards

    3.0 – Meeting New York State and District Grade Level Standards

    2.5 – In addition to score 2.0, meeting some Standards

    2.0 – Progressing towards New York State and District Grade Level Standards

    1.5 – Performing below standards, demonstrating some progress

    1.0 Performing below New York State and District Grade Level Standards


    *Extra credit assignments may be offered to all students occasionally throughout the year.  However, there will be no individual extra credit assignments or last – minute projects offered to assist students in passing the course.  Students must meet course requirements on a regular basis in order to pass the class.



    Cheating and/or plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in an automatic grade of zero. This includes copying homework, classwork, test answers, talking during a test or quiz, allowing someone to copy your work, and trying to pass off someone else’s work as your own. The participants caught in the act will receive a zero for their assignment, project, or assessment. Further disciplinary action may be taken. 


    Copying another student’s work and giving your work to another student to copy is considered cheating also. Plagiarism is the act of stealing ideas and words of another without giving them proper credit. Plagiarism will result in a zero and parents will be contacted. Further disciplinary action may be taken. 


    We will discuss how to properly receive support from classmates or other sources, to ensure comprehension of the material, without plagiarism or cheating. 


    A citation and plagiarism lesson will be taught during the first few weeks of school to help clarify questions.




    Establishing good classroom expectations is essential to each child’s success, confidence, and well – being. Every child should feel that the classroom environment is safe and secure, free from all threats of physical or emotional harm. In addition, it is important that each child learns to develop self-discipline and good work habits, to resolve conflicts peacefully, and to think independently.  My classroom is based off of providing students with the opportunity to engage in real – life problem – solving experiences while addressing content simultaneously in order to reinforce learning in an authentic, interactive, and engaging way. Students in my class will quickly realize “they get what they give.” Each situation is unique and will be handled as such.



    In order to maximize school success, it is imperative to establish a successful parent – teacher relationship early on in the school year. Therefore, throughout the year I will communicate with you through the contents of our classroom website, notes, telephone calls, report card comments, parent – teacher conferences, and most importantly – email. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns at any time. You can call me at school (between the hours of 7:40 and 7:50am or 2:25 and 2:50 pm), send me a note, or communicate with me through my preferred method of contact, e – mail (mhollenbeck@remsencsd.org). If you are interested in helping in the classroom, on field trips, or would like to assist in the planning of culminating learning celebrations, please do not hesitate to contact me so that I may work with you to obtain permission from the school. I will post volunteer opportunities as they arise on our classroom website, or flyers sent home in their blue home/school folders.