Get the full list of nonfiction links students will access during the 6th grade C. I. A. Unit of Study, The Westing Game. Click on links to view and print each nonfiction article in this unit and book club!
The more students know about the topic of a story, or nonfiction text, the greater their understanding and learning will be as they read. Reading several texts on a single topic increases students’ acquisition of new vocabulary.
Across the Read Side By Side Reading Program, students read literary and informational chapter books. Their understanding of the concepts, ideas, and themes in these text is extended through the reading shorter, topic-aligned articles, poems, passages, maps, and primary documents.
Some of these articles are written for the program and are included in the guide, while others are electronic resources, requiring students to participate in on-line reading. It is also an option for teachers to print these articles for students if computers are not available for the lesson.
The way in which the texts are sequenced across the program is important. Each unit of study bootstraps the language and knowledge that will be needed for the next. This careful sequencing makes advanced text more accessible to less proficient readers; the sequence intentionally builds students vocabulary and domain knowledge. Across sixth grade units, students explore the topic of the American Dream and ask the question, “Is the American Dream still alive?”
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
As students read The Westing Game, By Ellen Rasking in read-aloud, they explore the topic of The American Dream. They learn, “Raskin used symbolism throughout the novel The Westing Game to communicate her own feelings about patriotism and the American Dream. In the puzzle-mystery, there is more than one mystery to solve: Who killed Sam Westing? AND is the American Dream still alive?”
They further explore the topic of the American Dream in the online article, How the American Dream Works.
Maybe one of my favorite lessons in this unit is DAY 16 when readers explore the topic of the Salem Witch Trials. As the book begins, the main character is preparing to sneak into Sam Westing’s home on Halloween, dressed as a witch. Later, she signs her receipt ‘witch’. Students will question whether Ellen Raskin did this purposefully, drawing the reader’s attention to a known American Symbol—the Salem Witch Trials. They will watch a video titled, The Story of the Witch Hunt and read an article about the witch trials (download new lesson).
Throughout the unit, students study the life of famous steel tycoon and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie to determine whether Ellen Raskin may have based the character of Sam Westing on him. Students watch a portion of the video “Andrew Carnegie–Rags to Riches, Power to Peace” (00:00 – 18: 52). Print this lesson.
Later they study Napoleon Hills’ philosophy—passed to him by Andrew Carnegie—“Whatever the Mind Can Conceive and Believe, the Mind Can Achieve”. Watch a video and read an article before researching the life of a famous entrepreneur, past or present.
Students continue to read nonfiction as they study the setting of their assigned books—high, mid, or low—during the book club time. Additionally, each book club title offers several nonfiction texts for students to read when finishing work early, or to extend learning at home. Below are links to those articles:
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
The London Eye Mystery, By Siobhan Dowd
The Hound of the Baskervilles, By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Written by Sarah Collinge