• Christensen Middle School – Class Outline

    6th Grade Core: Language Arts, Reading, and Social Science. Mr. Martin 2018-19

    Welcome to Christensen Middle School (CMS).  I look forward to working with your child this year. Please spend some time reading through this class information with your student regarding his/her Core class.  “Core” includes three classes: English/Language Arts, Reading, and Social Science (Early Civilizations).  I’m excited to be sharing this part of the 6th grade journey with you.

    Class Information 

     Course Title: English Language Arts (ELA) & Reading

    These two class periods have a lot in common, but we will be exploring different aspects of each area in order to add richness, depth of knowledge and critical thinking analysis to our study of the English language.  The materials we use will follow the California Language Arts Standards and Framework, and will align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). 

    ELA will focus on the process of developing good writing skills.  We will learn to write in three key formats: Narrative (story based), Explanatory (information based), and Argumentative (evaluating two sides of a topic).  We will work through the writing process on major assignment (pre-write, rough draft, revisions, and final draft), and will work to develop good organization and clarity of thought.  A key part of effective writing will be developing good grammar.  As part of the 6th grade standards, we will give special attention to the proper (and varied) use of pronouns, figurative language, and complex sentences.

    Reading will take us through a wide range of materials in both narrative and informational text.  We will read fictional stories and information-based articles in class throughout the year. The third trimester will include poetry.  Throughout the various readings, students will be challenged to clearly identify evidence from the text to explain their reasoning and conclusions.  This will be an especially important skill in helping them master the Common Core State Standards. Along with finding evidence, students will work to expand their academic vocabulary – a very important developmental step in gaining better comprehension of the concepts they read. 

    Course Title: Social Studies

    This study will work from our course material, World History: Ancient Civilizations.  The text is correlated to the California Social Science Standards Framework for history.  Over the course of the year, we will explore the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, and China.  The material will reflect on characteristics of these developing societies in areas such as: art, architecture, geography, religion, language, government and economics. 


    One thing that is unique about our class is that I will be co-teaching at least one period, in both our AM and PM sessions, with one of our campus resource teachers. This co-teaching model offers students greater access to a teacher, and has proven itself through our CAASPP data to be a model for learning that has benefited all students in the room.


    Throughout the year, I will be assessing your student’s work through a variety of tools

    ·       Tests.  Tests will receive a number score and/or letter grade. This will be a primary tool for assessing how students are progressing toward the standards.

    Every student has the opportunity to improve a test score.  After a test is returned, students receiving less than 79% may work on the test at home to identify correct answers. Those scoring 69% or less are required to make test corrections. Students are asked to list the page number from the book where the correct answer is found, and a description from the book that demonstrates the correct answer. Corrected tests may not receive a grade higher than 80%. Amended tests may be returned to the teacher and re-graded.  Students will then receive the average of their original grade and their returned test grade, up to 80%.

    ·       Trimester Final. The 6th grade Core team has identified key standards we will each be covering during each trimester.  We will all be giving the same final every 13 weeks to assess how well students understand those concepts. Each final will be added to the grade, but will not represent a majority of a student’s trimester grade.

    ·       Projects. To assess standards in the speaking and listening category, students will occasionally work with a partner or group to complete a project together. Part of each student’s grade will include points assigned for participation.  Since part of our work together will include interaction with a partner or small group, it is important that each student contributes to the learning process.

    ·       Classwork.  Most assignments will be short, and completed in class.  On some occasions, if students don’t finish, it is then considered homework to be finished that night.

    ·       Writing Assignments.  Each trimester we will produce a writing assignment to cover each of the three major areas: narrative, explanatory and argumentative. Essays will be graded according to the state standards for 6th grade, and our rubric.  Content, organization, editing, presentation, effort and correct genre style requirements that are taught and reviewed in class will be the main factors in determining a student’s grade.  Students will always go through a writing process.  Revising and editing are critical to final draft success, and will be reviewed before the final submission.  It is my objective to help students learn and grow as writers.  If he/she earns less than 75%, they will have the option to rework the assignment for a higher score.  If it is below 65%, they MUST rework the piece.

    ·       Homework.  Homework will be written on the board, and each student is expected to copy it into his/her planner.  I will do my best to also post homework on School Loop each week. Returned homework will be checked to indicate it was completed correctly and on time.  Given the students’ other classes, we will aim to keep homework less than 30 minutes on the days it is assigned.  Homework will be given Monday-Wednesday. There will generally be no homework on Thursdays, as students will be expected to prepare for our Friday vocabulary and spelling quizzes, as well as other occasional tests. I try to avoid giving out homework over the weekends.

    In addition to homework, the Livermore District encourages students to develop strong reading skills.  Students will be asked to read 15-20 minutes a night in the book of their choice.  They will be required to complete a reading packet as evidence of their successful completion of a book. This packet will be part of their reading grade. 

    Late Work & Absences

    Any assignments turned in late will receive less credit – especially if we have already corrected it.  Points will be deducted each day a student’s work is late.  Any work turned in extremely late, but still within four weeks of the assignment, will receive 50% credit.  While that is still a failing mark, it is not the “grade-killer” of a zero.  I reserve the right to refuse to accept late work from students who demonstrate a chronic pattern of late assignments.

    Excused absences are a different matter.  If your child is sick for more than a day, please make arrangements through the office and we will do our best to prepare missing assignments.  Students may have the same number of excused or sick days absent to hand in work after their return.  If you know the student will be out form five (5) or more days, please make arrangement through the office for independent study.  Please try not to pull your student from class for personal vacations, if at all possible.


    You can access your child’s grades for all subjects anytime you would like by going to: chms.schoolloop.com.  You will know what your child earned on each assignment.  A blank in the grade column means we have not yet entered a grade.  A zero means it was not turned in.  For communication purposes, parents are encouraged to have their own School-Loop account that will track a student’s progress, and allow for direct communication with the teacher.

    Classroom Rules

    For our classroom to function well, there a few basic rules students will be held accountable to:

    1. Be Respectful: a. Respect my classmates and teachers; b. Raise my hand when I have something to say.

    2.  Be Responsible: a. Come prepared to learn; b. Try my best.

    3.  Be Safe: a. Keep my hands and feet to myself; b. Listen and follow directions.

    Warnings will always be given to students who are not following the rules. Consequences for repeated offenses will include: Reassignment of where the student sits, filling out a reflection sheet, and detention. I will call to communicate with parents if an ongoing problem develops. We will also need to set up a parent/teacher meeting if new strategies are needed to help a student be successful in the classroom.


    Students may receive detention after school for up to 10 minutes if their names are put on the board for disturbing the class.  This will only happen following a warning or direct conversation with the student.  Detention will happen ON the day of the disturbance.