Ms. Heffernan


Welcome to sixth grade Reading and Language Arts! We will be learning good study skills and organizational habits. We will also be having many magical and moving experiences through literature! I hope you enjoy taking these many grand adventures with us!

Click here to learn more about Ms. Heffernan.

Follow Ms. Heffernan on Twitter:  @olwvirtues

Random Stuff


  • Check the L&G Roots section for specific info on that and scanned worksheets.
  • Week of January 15
    • Monday:
      • L&G Week 15
        • VFCs due W
        • VWS due TH
        • Quiz  Friday
    • Tuesday:
    • Wednesday:
      • “History in Fiction” assigned via Classroom – 40 minutes to work in class
        • Due by the start of class 01/18 turn in via Classroom
    • Thursday:
    • Friday:
      • L&G Quiz Week 15

Latin & Greek Root Units

Latin & Greek Roots:

  • Latin and Greek Roots routine: (pay attention to your classroom calendar just in case any dates change based on any particular week’s schedule)
    Do not count on much more time in class. You received everything you need for this unit on Friday. You need to start budgeting your time.
  • Vocabulary Flash Cards Due Wednesday 
  • Vocabulary Worksheet Due Thursday 
  • Quiz Friday (the roots/prefixes/suffixes need to be memorized; the vocabulary is matching) 
  • Every four weeks, your quiz will include an MAV portion. There is an example at the end of this post.
  • Every fifth week, we start the cycle all over again. 🙂
  • Unit 4: Wk 15
  • Week 16 is the MAV week
  • Check your child’s Classroom Feed for the worksheets

Week Thirteen:  

  • ad-, re-, se-
  • Week 13 Vocab. Know these words for the Week 13 Quiz and for the week 16 MAV.
  • adapt
  • reimburse
  • reiterate
  • secession
  • sequester

Week Fourteen:

  • labor, oper, techni, trib
  • Week 14 Vocab. Know these words for the Week 14 Quiz and for the week 16 MAV.
  • collaborate
  • operable
  • pyrotechnics
  • retribution
  • tribute

Week Fifteen:

  • -acy, -tude, -ure
  • Week 15 Vocab. Know these words for the Week 15 Quiz and for the week 16 MAV.
  • aptitude
  • censure
  • lassitude
  • literacy
  • lunacy

Week Sixteen: This week is the review week and the quiz includes the MAV portion.

  • dia-, per-
  • Week 16 Vocab. Know these words for the Week 16 Quiz and for the week 16 MAV.
  • diagnose
  • diaphragm
  • perambulate
  • percolate
  • pervasive


  • MAV (Measure of Academic Vocabulary) Sample:

MAV Score:

  • 0 = no recognition
  • 1 = familiarity with but no knowledge of word
  • 2 = partial definition of word OR partial accuracy in sentence
  • 3 = accurate definition of word OR partial definition and partial accuracy in sentence
  • 4 = accurate definition of word and partial accuracy in sentence OR partial accuracy in definition and accurate sentence
  • 5 = accurate definition sentence

Each question will include a word from one of the units – only a word the children have made a flash card for! Not the other 5-15 words. There is one word from each of the four units. I will also include an extra credit word – a word using one of the prefixes, roots, or suffixes from one of the units that was not included in any of the units.

The questions are formatted like this:

  • Have you seen or heard this word before? (This should be a YES!)
  • If you have seen or heard it, do you think you know what it means? (This should also be a YES!)
  • If yes, what do you think it means? (Students should all be able to give a definition of the word – they have basic definition of all the words on their flash cards. I have given them time to work with the words in class, and have recommended that they spend a couple minutes a few times a week reading over them. Short bursts over time is the best way to get information into long term memory.)
  • If you think you know what it means, can you use the word in a sentence? 
    • In my experience, this is where students will have the most trouble. This is because they have to synthesize several aspects of their learning to do this accurately. They need to make sure they use the word as the correct part of speech AND make sure the sentence tells me they understand the meaning of the word.
    • For example, writing a sentence like: “I tried to forewarn my mother.” at least tells me the student knows forewarn is a verb, but it doesn’t tell me that s/he knows the meaning of the verb. A sentence that would receive full credit would need to read: “I tried to forewarn my mother that my brother would be coming home with a pet snake.” A sentence like this tells me s/he knows the vocabulary word is a verb and that it means that there is something to warn Mom about before the brother makes it home.



Please remember to look at your child’s grades on Power School.

TOPIC: We have finished our Personal Narrative & are learning to write to explain critical thinking clearly in relation to our novel



Trait: VOICE – Conveying the Purpose – 

  • Think about
    • Is the purpose of my writing clear?
    • Does my point of view come through?
    • Is this the right tone for this kind of writing?
    • Have I used a strong voice throughout this piece?

Children will be expected to use excellent CUPS (Capitalization, Usage/grammar, Punctuation, Spelling & Spacing) when they answer their Reader’s Response questions. This is the Conventions Trait. They will be expected to be practicing this from now on. 🙂 

Trait of Word Choice– As children answer their Reader’s Response questions for their book club books, they will be expected to use appropriate word choice, especially in regards to adjectives. It’s not descriptive enough to tell a reader that a character is “nice” or “mean.” I expect the groups to really get in there and use specific vocabulary. 

Trait of Organization – how to write a hook/lead. We learned many different ways to write a good hook & chose one to practice. From the hook, we led into our thesis statement. The thesis statement for this paper would be the theme chosen for Snow White. By the end of class, everyone turned in an introductory paragraph for a paper discussing the theme of Snow White. This is work to prepare for an entire paper which will be written about their Book Club novel.

What did we learn about writing a hook? Check out the examples here.

Current Unit: Literary Theme. We will be focusing on Organization and writing a lead/hook & thesis statement.

Revising for Clarity Video

How to Write a Killer Conclusion

Thesis video

The writing program used in the Middle School is called 6 + 1 Traits. What follows are the basic definitions of each trait. The program is spiraled, so as we move along, we add to our expertise for each trait – and are expected to use each part with more ease. Children are also expected to use these traits in all of their other classes.

  1. Ideas:
    • Clear main idea on one small topic
      Interesting, specific details
      Lots of examples, explanations, reasons
  2. Organization:
    • Interesting first sentence and a last sentence that wraps things up
      Details are in the right order
      Title shows the main idea
      Not too fast, not too slow
  3. Voice:
    • Show the real “me” and original thoughts
      Addressing the reader or keeping them interested
      The tone is right for the job
  4. Word Choice:
    • Specific words that say exactly what you want (stroll or sprint, not go)
      Words are correct and don’t seem weird
      Describing words (adjectives, adverbs) as well as nouns, verbs, conjunctions
      Describe the sight, smell, sound, taste, feel. Use similies or metaphors.
  5. Sentence Fluency:
    • Correct, complete sentences except sometimes for fun.
      Some short, medium, and long sentences. Different patterns.
      Easy to read aloud without weird sound or pauses
  6. Conventions:
    • spelling
      grammar: no problems with verb tenses, pronoun agreement, pronoun case
  7. Presentation:
    • use your best handwriting/word-processing
    • use of proper graphics
    • show you care about your piece by making it look as lovely as possible

As the year progresses, children will also be learning to write personal narratives (with and without reflection), persuasive/argumentative pieces, a brief research paper, how to write a test response in the appropriate time frame, how to write responses to literature and to nonfiction pieces, and how to take information from multiple texts to answer a question completely.

“Good writing may be magical, but it’s not magic. It’s  process, a rational series of steps and decisions that all writers take.” — Donald Murray



Please be looking at your child’s grades on Power School.

  • ASSIGNMENTS : We may have multiple assignments with multiple due dates. Please pay attention – here, L&G Roots, and sometimes writing.

CURRENT UNIT: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

  • From the back cover:
  • “Ten . . .”
    Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious “U. N. Owen.”“Nine . . .”
    At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

    “Eight . . .”
    Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . as one by one . . . they begin to die.

    “Seven . . .”
    Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?”

  • “I had written this book because it was so difficult to do that the idea had fascinated me. Ten people had to die without it becoming ridiculous or the murderer being obvious. I wrote the book after a tremendous amount of planning, and I was pleased with what I had made of it. It was clear, straightforward, baffling, and yet had a perfectly reasonable explanation; in fact it had to have an epilogue in order to explain it. It was well received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been.”  Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None
  • Through this novel, we will be studying the mystery genre, author’s craft, literary skills, writing to support critical thinking, character analysis, and looking at how the historical setting supports the context of the novel.
  • Follow us on Twitter (@olwvirtues) and help us solve the mystery!
  • summarizing strategy from Nonfiction Notice and Note– 
    • Somebody/Something (topic)
    • Wanted (what happened)
    • But (conflict/problem/movement/change/opinion/argument)
    • So (conclusion)
  • If your child is having trouble summarizing a passage, ask them SWBS! 🙂 


Quick Reminder of Rules for Responsibility Grades:

  • 3: assignment completed satisfactorily and on time
  • 2: assignment incomplete or unsatisfactory work (if directions are not followed correctly, this could = a 2); turned in on time OR completed in the HATS room on the due date and turned that day
  • 1: assignment turned in one day late (does not apply to absence)
  • 0: assignment turned in later than one day or never turned in
  • Many homework assignments receive only a responsibility grade

What is THEME?

  • The THEME is the central idea to a work of literature. It is a literary work’s PRIMARY PURPOSE – In its simplest definition, it is the MORAL of the story; the LIFE-LESSON the author wants you to take away.
  • It does not apply just to the characters – it is more abstract than that, more universal. It often applies to all of us – at the very least it applies to the world beyond THESE characters and THIS world.
  • Theme is not a subject – a thing/a one word: family, courage, loyalty, love, etc. The theme is the idea the writer wishes to express about the subject.
    • “Family bonds last longer than friendship.”
    • “Friends are very important because they are the family you choose.”
  • Theme is an opinion, not a fact. The theme is not a thing/subject – it is an opinion about that thing.
    • The courage people can show under pressure” – thing = subject
    • “Ordinary people are capable of showing great courage under pressure.” = an opinion about the subject = theme
    • Love = no Love stinks = yes Love is magical = yes
  • Try to come up with something interesting. “It’s good to be fair” is boring and most people would agree. Let’s show some insight. People make generalizations based on their observations and the world around them and their experiences.

A work of literature is a model of the real world. The author wants you to see the world through his/her eyes. She doesn’t usually just SAY it. You learn it by looking at that world the author is showing you and making generalizations. Gain insight, understanding and abstract meaning about the world around YOU through the model of the book.

  • Literature is complex with many themes. Some are large and obvious; some are small and less obvious. If you can support your answer through text evidence, you are right.
  • Sometimes there are opposing themes purposely put there by the author. Sometimes two people can read the same book and come up with opposing conclusions. That’s fine as long as both can be supported by text evidence.
  • The reader owns the meaning of the work – not the author. The theme is what the book means to YOU – what YOU learned/took away from the book. As long as you can back it up with text evidence, you are fine.
  • How to find themes:
    • What happens to the main character? Does s/he change in some important way? Is the character for all of us? What is the author saying about all mankind? The answer is a theme.
    • Watch for statements of theme. Often near the end of a book, a character will make some kind of observation about life. There’s your theme. It doesn’t always happen, but if the author hands it to you, take it.
    • Look at the title for clues. Sometimes the title is just descriptive: Romeo & Juliet, Cinderella, Land of Stories. Sometimes the title gives you a hint: To Kill a Mockingbird (what is going on when they characters talk about killing a mockingbird), Divergent (what does the term mean?), People of Sparks (what do sparks symbolize?), Mockingjay (why is that so important?)
    • What is the main conflict? What forces are pitted against each other, who wins, why? NOT specifically, but the big ideas.
      • CONFLICT: the opposition of persons or forces that bring about dramatic action central to the plot of a story.
      • Man vs. Himself: INTERNAL: a psychological conflict within a character (conscience). Internal conflict is not always good vs. evil. It can also be between two positive forces.
      • Man vs. Man: EXTERNAL: (most common): protagonists face down an adversary or antagonist that stands in the way of achieving a goal. The conflict can be physical, emotional, or psychological.
      • Man vs. Nature/supernatural: EXTERNAL: force of nature/natural disaster/ natural phenomena/supernatural force is used to keep the main character from reaching a goal. This is symbolic of conflict between man & the universe or man’s struggle against God. Animals are often used as a symbol of Good vs. Evil. Beasts of popular myth exhibit supernatural strength but are defeated by the cunning & bravery of a human foe.
      • Man vs. Society/technology: EXTERNAL: protagonist is often an outcast of society and feels trapped, paranoid &/or feels something is very flawed about the world around him, but no one else can see it. Characters struggle to change conventions or institutions, often with little or no success.

We are continuing to work on the following skills:

  • building critical thinking skills
  • becoming purposeful and thoughtful readers
  • remembering key information & paying attention to detail
  • identifying main ideas
  • recognizing cause and effect relationships
  • analyzing personality traits, actions, and motivations
  • making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • recalling sequence of events
  • determining the meanings of words in context

We will also be focusing on introducing Notice and Note Sign Posts:

  • Contrasts & Contradictions: This is what happens when a character does or says something that is the opposite of what s/he has been saying all along. Ask yourself why? Answers help you make a prediction about plot and conflict.
  • Aha! Moment: This is when a character suddenly realizes or understands something. Ask yourself how this new understanding changes things? If the character just figured out a problem, you probably just learned about the conflict. If the character understood a life lesson, you probably learned about theme.
  • Tough Questions: This is when you realize that a character has asked him/herself a really difficult question. Ask yourself: what does this question make me wonder about? The answers tell you about conflict and might give you ideas about what will happen later in the story.
  • Words of the Wiser: When you’re reading and a character (who’s probably older and definitely wiser) takes the main character aside to give some serious advice, stop and ask yourself: What’s the life lesson and how might it affect the character? Whatever the lesson is, you probably just found a theme to the story.
  • Again and Again: When you’re reading and you notice a word, a phrase, object, or situation mentioned over and over, you should stop and ask: Why does this keep showing up again and again? The answers will tell you about theme and conflict, or they might foreshadow what will happen later.
  • Memory Moment: When you’re reading and the author interrupts the action to tell you a memory, you should stop and ask: Why might this memory be important? The answers will tell you about theme, conflict, or might foreshadow what will happen later in the story.

We are also working on introducing or 6-Traits of writing as we practice writing Constructive Responses to our novels.


Helpful Websites & Study Strategies

Spelling Bee Help

Purdue Online Writing Lab

How to Study

How to Do Homework without Throwing Up tip sheet